Go back

                                                                                                Erich Fried



Erich Fried (1921 - 1988) was born in Vienna, Austria.  He began to write at an early age and with German invasion of his country in 1938 transformed from a honor student into a pursued Jew.   His father was murdered by the Gestapo, and he fled to London where he helped his mother and seventy others escape.  After the war, Fried became a commentator on German-language transmission with the BBC.  He gave up this position in 1968 over a disagreement on cold war politics with the BBC.  During his lifetime, he published many volumes of poetry, a novel ("A Soldier and a Girl," 1960) and translations, include the complete works of Shakespeare.  He often took open and critical positions on political topics in his poems.  Only near the end of his life did he receive recognition with the Bremen Literary Award, and the Austrian State Prize.


The Survivor

        After Auschwitz

Luck wishes me
into this good fortune
that I live

What is life
after so much death?
the guilt of innocence?
the counter-guilt
that weighs
as heavy
as the guilt of the slayer
as the blood-guilt
of the forgiven
the blame-shifters

How often
do I have to die
for the fact
that I did not
die there?



A Jew to Zionist Fighters— 1988

What do you actually want?
Do you really want to outdo
those who had you down-trodden
a generation before
in your own blood
and in your own excrement?

Do you want the old tortures
passed on to others now
with all the bloody
raunchy details
with all the brutal enjoyment
of the torturers
like our fathers suffered
at that time?

Do you now really want
to be the new Gestapo
the new Wehrmacht
the new S.A. and S.S.
and make the Palestinian
into the new Jew?

But then I too,
because fifty years ago
I myself was tormented
as an Jewboy
by your tormentors,
want to be a new Jew
with these new Jews
you are making
of the Palestinians

And I want to help lead them
as a free people
into their own land of Palestine
from which you have driven them out
or in which you torment them
you apprentices of the Swastika
you fools and changelings
of world history
whose star of David
on your flags
transforms ever faster
into that cursed symbol
with its four feet
that now you do not want to see
but whose path you are following today!



Conflicts Between Sole Heirs

My Marx will yank out
the beard of your Marx

My Engels will bash in
the teeth of your Engels

My Lenin will break
all the bones of your Lenin

Our Stalin will shoot
your Stalin in the neck

Our Trotsky will split open
the head of your Trotsky

Our Mao will drown
your Mao in the Yangtze

so that nothing is left
to stand in the way of victory  




How large is your life?
How deep?
What does it cost you?
Till when will you pay?
How many doors does it have?
How often do you begin a new one?
Were you already forced
to run around it once?
Did you do it without stopping
or did you have to take
a break along the way?
What did you think about it?
Did you recognize
when you arrived back at the start?
Did you run around it several times?
Was the third time like the second?
Would your rather drive
that distance in your car?
Or be driven?
In which direction?
With whom? 


— Translated from the German by Jim Doss


                                                                                                © James B. Doss

triple rule

Loch Raven Review Winter 2005 — Vol. I, No. 2
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