MILLBURN, NJ — When West Orange resident Mark Meyerowitz found a collection of poetry in his mother’s belongings after she died, he decided to pair them with his own photos and publish them. He didn’t know where they had come from, who wrote them or why his mother had them. All he knew was that they had been written during and just after World War II. Both Meyerowitz’s mother and grandmother were survivors of Auschwitz, where he has visited and where the photos in the book were taken.
Months after Meyerowitz discovered the poems, musician Harold Levin set two of them, “Ten Little Grumblers” and “Once Again Wander,” to music and performed them at the Millburn Public Library on Sunday, Nov. 17.
“My mother and grandmother never said anything about them,” Meyerowitz said at the event about the poems, which are collected in the book, “When You Say Your Last Goodbye: Lost Poems from the Holocaust.” “But they didn’t say a lot of things about that time,” he added.
Levin, along with the members of the Blue Mountain Chamber Music Players, performed the pieces at the event in conjunction with the Museum of Human Rights, Freedom and Tolerance in Millburn. Levin played the viola, Amy Goodman Wulfman played the violin, Luba Sindler played the piano and Susan Gaylord sang.
“My mission is Holocaust education now, so I thought we should do something with them,” Meyerowitz said of the poems. “Obviously there’s a certain sadness to them. It’s important to understand there was no communication between the people in the camps. Walking around Auschwitz, I realized the incredible odds that had to be beat for me to be here. It’s a tough place to visit, but it’s an important place to visit.”
Copies of “When You Say Your Last Goodbye: Lost Poems from the Holocaust” can be found at www.facebook.com/Markmeyerowitzpoems/.
Photos by Amanda Valentovic