Sunday, January 27, 2013

Holocaust Memorial Day

27 January is Holocaust Memorial Day. Last night, I was making one of my frequent trawls through the excellent Ubuweb, where I found a mesmerising recording of Paul Celan reading his poem 'Death Fugue' ('Todesfuge').
File:Celan .jpg
Paul Celan (soure:Wikipedia)
Celan was one of Germany's most important 20th century poets, and arguably no other writer in the German language after World War Two wrote as much in the shadow of the Holocaust as he did. He committed suicide, drowning himself in the Seine, in 1970. You can read a translation of 'Death Fugue' here.


  1. Terrifying! I have a book of Paul Celan in translation and this particular poem haunts me whenever we are shown footage of the death camps. The stark imagery and constant repetition works brilliantly like some terrible menacing beat that resounds in the mind long after reading. 'Death Fugue' must sound even more compelling in the original German.

    1. It's well worth trying the link to the recording, Jennie. Even if you don't follow the German, you get a sense of how Celan imagined the poem should sound, like a prayer or chant.