Silberbauer Comes for Anne

After all the necessary investigations,
Interrogations, stamps on the
Relevant memorandum,
He followed the scent,

A man well trained in the art
Of ferreting out survivors,
Down the cobbled and crumbling streets
Of war-torn Amsterdam.

And he found that family,
Huddled in their tight annex,
Eking out life on the
Hemorrhaging trickle of goodwill,

Still left in the dry humps of nations,
And he was the spanner poised over the faucet.

And this was how they met death’s bureau,
Buttoned down, good-natured fellow.
Sure he tossed things around,
Hunting for clues,
Or just following standard procedure,

Lit a cigarette, flipped out his notebook
While the family were escorted away,
While he remarked to the man of the house,
My your daughter is pretty isn’t she.

And that was the long and the short of it.
He sent the pretty one off
To the emaciated pit of his awful century,
To starve on a bunk, covered in scabies.

But he’d raised the alarm,
He’d done a fine day’s work,
filed them away, a report in a cabinet,
A stamp in the relevant corner.
Soon after the war he was employed

In intelligence,
a hunter of radicals against the authorities,
A smart shirt and a tie
And a clean shaven face.

And he read that small book,
in his hours of leisure,
In which she’d gone deep
Inside her own annex
And found the horizons of herself,
In the center of a noose.

And he was the noose,
And her diary ended where he’d picked it up
And let it fall carelessly to the floor,
For it contained nothing of importance to the state.

Copyright Ricky Barrow 2014


Heads shaved,

and patches of scalp

showing through.

And naked skin,

pink, young and supple,

and old leathery flesh.

And bodies

herded into dark rooms

and huddled in circles

on cold wet stone.

And the smell

of mildew and

urine and fear,

and something


And outside, the sun,

turning young, green shoots


on the trees of Treblinka,

is quietly smothered by


falling like impossible petals

on the soul of man.

And you must

live your life

knowing this.