Stones in the Landscape: Memory and Postmemory in the Yiddish Poems of David Fram

In: European Journal of Jewish Studies
Author: Hazel Frankel
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Until the Holocaust in Lithuania annihilated 90% of its community between 1941 and 1944, Yiddish was a fully lived language with its own rich history and literature. David Fram escaped the genocide, having left his shtetl, the market town of Ponevezh in 1927. Once in South Africa, committed to the preservation of his mameloshn, his mother tongue, he created a rich body of Yiddish poetry. Though little known, his poems offer insights into the understanding of a particular Jewish survivor testimony as well as into the Lithuanian Holocaust more generally. Through detailed analysis of specific poems, this paper argues for their continued relevance, providing a valuable space for an account of aspects of memory and postmemory. In making them available to a wider audience through my own translations and transliterations in this small act of retrieval, my hope is to preserve a literary heritage and to memorialize a lost world.


Until the Holocaust in Lithuania annihilated 90% of its community between 1941 and 1944, Yiddish was a fully lived language with its own rich history and literature. David Fram escaped the genocide, having left his shtetl, the market town of Ponevezh in 1927. Once in South Africa, committed to the preservation of his mameloshn, his mother tongue, he created a rich body of Yiddish poetry. Though little known, his poems offer insights into the understanding of a particular Jewish survivor testimony as well as into the Lithuanian Holocaust more generally. Through detailed analysis of specific poems, this paper argues for their continued relevance, providing a valuable space for an account of aspects of memory and postmemory. In making them available to a wider audience through my own translations and transliterations in this small act of retrieval, my hope is to preserve a literary heritage and to memorialize a lost world.

“Ikh fil, ikh trog oyf zikh tsurik di gele late”/ “I feel I wear the yellow star once again.”

“An entfer der velt” / “An Answer to the World”1


David Fram left his shtetl of Ponevezh, Lithuania for South Africa in 1927, and so he escaped the Holocaust. What he lost was his family and community; what he took with him, besides his bundle of personal possessions, was his mameloshn; what he built was a rich body of Yiddish poetry far from its original locus. Although little known, the poems offer useful insights into the understanding of a particular Jewish survivor experience. Where singularity implies the universal, this personal narrative of loss may offer a fine-grained understanding of greater historical processes in a specific time and place. Referring to my own English translations and transliterations, this article discusses his poems as they serve memory and offers some insights into the ramifications of postmemory.

Until the Nazis occupied Lithuania2 and annihilated 90% of its Yiddish- speaking community between June 1941 and December 1944, Yiddish was a fully lived language with its own rich history and literature. Nevertheless, despite its almost total destruction, it remains central to many aspects of Jewish identity, history and culture; as the cultural weight of maintaining its memory shifts to subsequent generations, the timing of this paper may also be associated with the recent upsurge of memoirs of Holocaust survivors.

In that Fram’s poems reflect, and reflect on, the nature of cultural memory both in the choice of Yiddish as the vehicle in which he could express himself most vividly, as well as through their content, they affirm the relevance of Yiddish and memorialize the lives of its speakers. While Solomon Liptzin drew attention to how Fram “began in 1923 with idyllic poems of Jewish life in Lithuania,”3 Joseph Sherman affirmed that Fram’s “knowledge of and sensitivity to the Yiddish language are everywhere apparent [in] his distinguished verse.”4 As Fram’s poems perpetuate his heritage, his memories embedded in the language of a personal and historical past, my hope is that by making them accessible and bringing them into the consciousness of the wider reading public, this small act of retrieval may contribute to an enriched understanding of these concerns.

Fram’s publishing history represents the full gamut of literary and political attitudes of the times. His poems first appeared in Kveytn (Blossoms) (Ponevezh), Yidishe Shtime (Yiddish Voice) and Folksblat (People’s Paper) (Kovno). Later poems, written between 1924 and 1931, were published in Der Velt (The World) (Lite), Literarishe bleter (Literary Pages)5 and Haynt (Today) (Warsaw), Nayes (News), Mir Aleyn (Myself Alone) and Kovner Tog (Kovno Day) (Kovno), Der Shtral (Libau, Latvia), Der Vokh (Riga, Latvia), as well as Zuntog (Sunday) and Oyfkum (Arrival) (New York). In South Africa, Fram’s poems appeared in Dorem Afrike (South Africa) Yidishe Tribune (Yiddish Tribune), Foroys (Forward) and Ekspres (Johannesburg), and Fri-Stayter Baginen (Free State Dawn) (Bloemfontein). His first collection Lider un poemes (Songs and Poems) was published in 1931 in Vilna, followed by A shvalb oyfn dakh (A Swallow on the Roof), which appeared in Johannesburg in 1983.6

Disconnected from the upsurge in Yiddish literary creativity and the Modernist thrust of the Yung Vilne and Di Khalyastre groups in Eastern Europe, Fram never became a part of any literary movement with a specific agenda, either international or South African. Thus, he may be considered an individualist, a group of one.7 His oeuvre includes poems set in Lithuania such as “Shney” (“Snow”), “Shikye” (“Sunset”), “Harbstik” (“Autumnal”), “Shotns” (“Shadows”), “Shtilkayt” (“Silence’), and the extended lyric, “Baym zeydn” (“At Grandfather’s”). Those that reference the landscape and peoples of South Africa include “In an afrikaner baginen” (“In an African dawn”), “Oyf transvaler erd” (“On Transvaal Earth”), “Fun shop tsu shop” (“From Shop to Shop”), “Matumba” (“Matumba”), “Matutule” (“Matutule”) and “Burn” (“Farmers”). Fram also wrote numerous poems of diaspora and exile, such as “Mayn opfor” (“My Departure”), “Mayn mame hot mir tsugeshikt a kishn” (“My Mother Sent Me a Cushion”), “Iz vos?” (“So what?”), “Efsher” (“Perhaps”) and “In tsveyen” (“Two Fold”).

1 Fram’s Poetry of Memory

This article focuses on Fram’s poems that reference the notions of memory and postmemory, which include “Ikh benk,” (“I Long”) (1931), “Dos letste kapitl” (“The Last Chapter”) (1947), “An entfer der velt” (“An Answer to the World”) (1971), “Lesterung” (“Blasphemy”) (1969), “Unzere kedoyshim” (“Our Martyrs”) (1969) and “Oyfn mayn dakh hot amol gesvitshert a shvalb” (“Once a Swallow Twittered on my Roof”) (1983). While the first and the last-mentioned concern his homeland as he remembered it, the others refer to the destruction of the Jewish people, particularly during the Holocaust. Discussed in the order in which they were published, this article also argues for development and change in the poet’s outlook over time, specifically with regard to observance and religious ritual.

Fram always referred to Lithuania, his place of birth as home, di heym, as did many other immigrants. Its language and landscape shaped his literary identity, and his shtetl, the market town where he was born, is memorialized in poems written after he left. Hence, “Ikh benk” (“I Yearn”),8 composed soon after Fram’s arrival in South Africa, describes the people and animals going about their labours in the fields and forests surrounding the village where he grew up. Recollecting the intimacy of family and his sense of belonging and comfort there, the poem draws on what Cesarani referred to elsewhere as a “rich store of memories of place … evok[ing] in some small measure the familiar environment of the old country.”9 By recording the way of life as the poet remembered it, the poem bears witness to a way of life, and also serves as testimony for all that was lost:

Ikh benk azoy mid nokh a shtikele shvartse, tsekvolne erd

Nokh harbstike regens oyf felder un blotes oyf endlozn trakt,

Vu shlepn zikh mide, tseveykte, farshpetikte, elnte ferd,

Mit dorfishn umet balodn un poyerisher pratse gepakt.

(“Ikh benk”) (1–4)

I wearily long for a piece of black, swollen earth

After autumn rains on the fields and endless mud,

Where tired, swaying, late and forlorn horses trudge along,

Heavy with village sadness and peasant toil.

The title “Ikh benk,” reiterated as the first line of each verse, draws attention to the theme and to the poet’s state of mind. Elaborated on in each stanza, his memories trigger the pain of loss, as suggested in each vignette:

Ikh benk nokh di Yidn10 fun velder, vi kuperne yodles farpekht,

Vos shmekn in friyike reykhus fun shvomen un varemen mokh,

Vos shlepn aheym zikh oyf shabes durkh osyendik-vintike nekht,

Un garn nokh ruike shalve fun shverer farmatete vokh.

“Ikh benk” (5–8)

I long for the Jews of the forests, solid with firs,

Reeking of warm moss and mushrooms,

Who drag themselves home for shabes through windy autumn nights,

Craving tranquility from the exhausting weekday gloom.

The use of repetition offers a sonorous echo of the content, which combines with specific images of dark soil, rain and gloom, fir trees, moss and mushrooms, trudging horses and relentless mud to arouse associated emotions of “dorfishn umet” / “village sadness” (4).11 In addition, the laboured rhythm emulates the physical movement of both man and beast, exhausted after the “shverer farmaterter vokh” / “heavy, exhausting week” (8), as they “shlepn aheym zikh oyf shabes” / “drag themselves home for shabes” (7), the continual difficulties of the “mide, tseveykte, farshpetikte, elnte ferd” / “tired, soaked, late and forlorn horses” (3), the endless “poyersher pratse” / “peasant toil” (4) in their “groyer, farshvigener velt” / “grey, silent world” (16). The “blote” (“mud”), was incessant, a constant sludge in autumn with the rains and in spring with the melting snow. However, stanza three describes the contrast, the benefits of nature’s abundance, when the “kelers farfult mit a vayniker gilderner last” / “cellars are filled with their wine-like golden store” (10).12

Still, no matter what the conditions were, whether favourable or not, the poet’s memories persist and he remains filled with longing for the familiar, the communal way of life. Whereas the first stanza describes the particularity of the landscape, the final verse links the physical location to his emotional state,

In teg fun farlozn di seder ikh benk azoy elntik-shtum,

Nokh yidn fun pekhike velder oyf soflozn, blotikn trakt.

“Ikh benk” (19–20)

Now, when I have lost those orchards, I long, alone and silent,

For Jews of the pitch-dark forests and the endless, muddy ways.

In evoking the poet’s memories of place, the poem becomes a container of his longing for it. Although Lithuania changed drastically within Fram’s lifetime, at the time he wrote the poem, the country was still as he remembered it.

2 Memory, Postmemory and the Holocaust

Fram’s later poems that specifically refer to the Holocaust grapple with a different reality, that of a lost people in a shattered world. Recording the impact of the khurbn, they uncover and reveal the depth of the poet’s personal wounds caused by the loss of his family and friends. With recourse to what Peterson terms “metaphorical defamiliarization,”13 the use of metaphor, comparisons, description, repetition and rhyme to express the unspeakable, these poems struggle with the horror. In doing so, they provide a valuable aesthetic space for recording history and offering testimony, in this way functioning as both literature and memorial.

In addition, Marianne Hirsch’s construction of the notion of postmemory may shed light on the understanding of Fram’s poems. According to Hirsch, “Postmemory’s connection to the past is not mediated by recall, but by imaginative investment, projection and creation…. It is to be shaped, however indirectly, by traumatic events that still defy narrative reconstruction and exceed comprehension. These events happened in the past, but their effects continue into the present.”14 Thus, retaining “strong nostalgic memories of a culture that had long since disappeared in reality,”15 Fram’s Holocaust poems evolve in the “realm of remembrance, image and recreation.”16 Writing at a remove from the arena of destruction, the poems may become evocations of postmemory, perpetuating “what Svetlana Boym has characterized as inherent in all nostalgic constructions: the longing ‘for a home that no longer exists.’ ”17

The term postmemory is later used by Kaplan to refer to “a kind of collective, cultural memory that reflects the after effects and after images of the multinational landscape of the Holocaust.”18 This expanded definition articulates the reach of the Holocaust across generations as well as its effects on the development of creative expression, in this case Fram’s in particular. In exile, Fram was not a survivor in the conventional sense; yet, he recorded how the forests and fields became killing fields and burial barrows when the Aktions swept through Eastern Europe. This destruction is one that corresponds to the poet’s loss, so that the landscape itself memorializes and bears witness to both the personal and the greater catastrophe. The poems he wrote subsequent to the Holocaust “move beyond the more immediate experience of survivors towards a reflection on the traumatic events of the Nazi genocide no matter in or through which landscapes they are remembered, referenced, discussed.”19 Although removed from it, the poet was aware of the destruction, the full extent of which only became apparent long afterwards. Fram’s poems “enable[s] us to reflect … on how memory and transmission work both to reveal and conceal certain traumatic recollections and how fragmentary, tenuous and deceptive our access to the past can be.”20

The poem “An entfer der velt” (“An Answer to the World”)21 describes what happened in the killing fields more directly, its long lines, slow rhythm and lack of verse breaks implying the weight of mourning,

Ikh fil, ikh trog oyf zikh tsurik di gele late.

Fun vaytn knoylt zikh nokh fun kalkh-oyvn der roykh,

Vu s’hot zayn letstn Shma Yisroel22 oysgelebt mayn tate,

Vu s’hot mayn mame oysgehoykht ir letstn hoykh.

“An entfer der velt” (1–4)

I feel I wear the yellow star once again.

In the distance there still billows the smoke from the lime-kiln

Where my father lived out his last Shma Yisroel,

Where my mother breathed her last breath of air.

The central image, the infamous yellow star, is an all-too-familiar referent. However, disrupting any possibility of automatic response on the part of the reader, the poet offers himself as one of the victims, imagining that he is pinning it to his own breast. In this way, he aligns himself with them so closely that their experiences become his own.23 The notion of postmemory suggests a process of “re-remembering”24 where a “secondary … relationship with times and places … never experienced or seen … [may be] vivid enough so that it feels as if they are in fact remembered.”25 Thus, when Fram writes the poem as though he himself were present and marked for death, the poems manifest multiple levels of recuperation.

In the poem’s next image, the poet’s father breathes his last, his prayer merging with the billowing smoke from the chimney above the ovens. While the chimney with its rank cloud is also a well-known one, the horror intensifies with the reader’s realization of its physical components and with the dawning comprehension of the poet’s personal involvement: these are not anonymous victims, but the poet’s parents and members of his community,

Vu brider zaynen tsu dem toyt farlitene gegangen,

Vu oyfhelekh geshtelt hobn in vakl zeyer shtiln trot

“An entfer der velt” (5–6)

Where brothers went to their deaths with resignation,

Where infants trod their quiet shaky steps

As relatives and children walk wearily onward, they are well aware of what awaits them,

Ven laykhtste shtrof gevezn iz:—“farbren im,”

Dos iz der psak—dem henkers shvartser kol.

“An entfer der velt” (11–12)

When the lightest penalty was: “burn him,”

That is the judgment—the hangman’s black voice.

Emphasizing the all-inclusiveness of the devastation, the poet goes on to enumerate the cities that were destroyed and the number of victims who perished. The factual enormity of the mass deaths that took place in the shtetlekh as well as in the camps is juxtaposed with the stark image of the death machines:

Azoy zaynen gegangn yidn tsu dem shayter—

Fun Varshe un Pariz, fun Kovne un fun Bon.

Milyonen hobn zikh getsoygn vayter, vayter

Tsum shvartsn eshafot … oy, gantse zeks milyon!

“An entfer der velt” (17–20)

Thus did the Jews go to the pyre—

From Warsaw and Paris, from Kovne and from Bonn.

Millions were drawn further, further

To black execution scaffolds … oh, a whole six million!

The haunting rhythm and the tone of disbelief and anguish of the passage augment the impact of the visual images as the perpetrators show no mercy for their victims: “Hot men keseyder unz geharget un gevorgn—/ Vos greser s’iz der mord—alts freylekher iz zey.” / “They constantly killed and choked us?—/ The greater the killing—the happier they are” (13–14).

In the long poem “Dos letste kapitl” (“The Last Chapter”),26 the poet speaks directly to the perpetrators on behalf of his silenced people,

Di hent dayne zaynen mit blut haynt bagosn,

Dos blut vest shoyn keynmol fun zey nit farvashn,

Es hot zikh in dir dayn bizoyen farloshn

Un s’zaynen farfoylt itst mit mord dayne gasn.

“Dos letste kapitl” (58–62)

Your hands today are drenched with blood,

That blood you will never be able to wash away,

Your shame became extinguished within you

And your streets are rotten now with murder.

Addressing Lithuania as “Mayn Lite, mayn heymland” (51), the poet indicates a possessive affection for it, even as he accuses it of the heinous destruction of his people. Viewing the ruler-murderers from the standpoint of the oppressed and destroyed, the poem expresses emotions that have no place in official histories,

Mayn Lite, mayn heymland, vi ken ikh dos gloybn,

Az du host di yidn bay zikh dort geshokhtn,

Du host zey dervorgn,

Mit dayne farblutikte negl atsinder,

Du host zey dershtikt—dayne eygene kinder!

“Dos letste kapitl” (51–55)

My Lithuania, my homeland, how can I believe it,

That you slaughtered the Jews there in your midst,

You strangled them,

Now with your bloody fingers,

You choked them—your own children!

The poet is the more devastated because the systematic annihilation of the villages was perpetrated by his own neighbours and countrymen, the Lithuanians, the inhabitants of his homeland, not only the German invaders. Actively participating in the process, they ordered their victims into the market places, marched them into the forests, forced them to dig their own graves before shooting them, or herded them into synagogues, locked them in and burned them alive.27 The tragedy contrasts with the memory of what preceded it, a time when the land was

bagosn mit flamen

Fun gilderner hits un fun gilderner shefe

Un breyt hot di erd ire orems tseefnt.

“Dos letste kapitl” (4–6)

flooded with flames

Of golden heat and gilded abundance

And then the earth spread her arms wide.

The extent of the depredation is highlighted by the abundance that was there beforehand, a time when the motherland embraced her Jewish children, “Azoy vi a mame” / “like a mother” (7), before the pastures became killing fields and the mother turned murderess. Hence, the love-song to Lithuania becomes a dirge, all that is left is the “meysim, harugim un kupes mit beyner” / “murdered, the dead and piles of bones” (49), which was overrun by “A yomer fun kreyen vos pikn di beyner” / “A lamentation of crows that pick the bones” (47).28

The subsequent list of personal artifacts memorializes the individuals who perished. It also metonymically represents the community’s traditional observances, providing a litany of what was lost:

A shleyer ikh ze fun a Yidishe kale,

Ot ze ikh a shtraymel, a Yidishe hitl

Un ot iz a vayser, a heyliker kitl.29

Ot valgert zikh elnt a zilberner bekher

Fun velkhn mayn tate gemakht hot nokh kidish30

“Dos letste kapitl” (69–73)

I see the veil of a Jewish bride.

Here I see a fur hat, a Jewish hat.

And here is the holy white robe,

Here lies in desolation a holy silver cup

With which my father made kiddush.

Each item of clothing and jewellery becomes representative and symbolic of its owner. While the reference to “shleyer” (“wig”) (69) and “shtraymel” (“fur hat”) (70) are signifiers of an orthodox way of life, the “kitl” (“holy white robe”) (71), also signifies the active performance of a specific observance, embodying too the rhythms of a traditional Jewish life cycle. By individualizing these, the description becomes more than a collection of arbitrary detritus, each instead containing within itself the presence of the owner who made use of it and whose life was enriched by it. The disregard for and the destruction of these artefacts thus evokes the loss of the lives of their owners as well as of an entire lifestyle and culture,

Ot trogstu di hemder fun unzere zeydes,

Vos oysgeton hostu fun zeyere layber.

Ot trogn mit khutspe atsind dayne vayber,

Di tsirungen fun mayn gehargeter bobn,

Vos unter mayn shvel du host tsinish bagrobn.

“Dos letste kapitl” (61–66)

Here you wear the shirts of our grandfathers,

Which you stripped from their bodies.

Here your wives wear now with impertinence,

The jewellery of my murdered grandmother,

Whom you cynically buried at my lintel.

The objects together with their verbs “ongeton” / “stripped,” “gehargeter” / “murdered” and “bagrobn” / “buried” here provide an incremental intensification of tension.

Identifying with the victims, driven to take up arms against the perpetrators, the poet vengefully considers his weapon and modus operandi,

Nor ven kh’volt itst kenen a meser a sharf ton,

A sharf ton a meser azoy vi a britve,

Volt ikh dayne merder, mayn yidishe Litve,

Di gorgls tseshnitn mit heyser nekome.

“Dos letste kapitl” (78–81)

But if I could now sharpen a knife,

Sharpen a knife like a razor,

I would cut the throats of your murderers,

My Jewish Lithuania, in burning revenge.

The element of fire, which was used earlier to indicate the warmth of the earth, here offers instead the possibility of a “heyser nekome” / “burning revenge” (81) as the poet aims to wreak havoc, to take “Nekome far alte farpaynikte zeydes, / Far gantse fartilikte yidishe eydes” / “Revenge for old tortured grandfathers, / For entire annihilated Jewish communities” (85–86).

Un hoykh volt ikh veln atsind a geshrey ton,

Di velt zol derzen, di velt zol derhern,

Un demolt vet efsher azoy dokh nit vey ton,

Un s’veln nit shtikn azoy mikh di trern,

Un efsher, efsher mayn veytok vet laykhter dan vern….

“Dos letste kapitl” (91–95)

And now I want to scream out loudly,

That the world should recognize, the world should take heed,

And then maybe it would not hurt so much,

And maybe my tears would not choke me,

And perhaps, perhaps my pain would then become lighter….

The poem ends with the death knell of the final prayer and the image of the destructive flames,

Oy, Got, ot hostu shoyn gezen, vi iz avek tsuzamen

Tsum shayter-hoyfn nokhamol dayn gantser groyser kool,

Un zikh gelozn far dayn shem fartsukn fun di flamen—

Fun vanent s’hot aroysgeshpart der letster Shma Yisroel….

“Dos letste kapitl” (79–82)

Alas, God, now you’ve seen, how together they’ve gone

To the pyre-mounds once again, your whole great community,

And they let themselves be gobbled up by the flames for the sake of Your name

Where they sighed the final Shma Yisroel …

As the final prayer dwindles and dissipates, the words and their speakers meld with the air, and the poem itself becomes their final kaddish,31 a fitting memorial. This is particularly poignant, given that the victims were denied all the rites of death and burial. These poems may be read within a tradition of mourning literature, which “began with the Book of Lamentations.”32 By speaking out about and memorializing the fate of a silenced people, the lines also function as testimony.

In addition, turning attention back to the poem “An entfer der velt,” the poet notes the world’s indifference and lack of intervention,

Oyf dem—di gantse velt gekukt hot un geshvign,

Geshtanen glaykhgiltik mit aropgelozte hent,

“An entfer der velt” (21–22)

On this—the whole world looked on and kept silent,

Stood by indifferent with hands hanging at their sides.

That the great powers did nothing to intervene is recorded historical fact. Placing this beside the poet’s emotional despair at the tragic outcome, the reader recognizes the vast and also personal implications of the inaction:

Un meysim kupes-vayz hot men gelozn lign,

Un nokhanand gebrent, geshokhtn un gebrent …

“An entfer der velt” (23–24)

And they left the dead lying in piles

Burning continuously, slaughtered and burnt…

By creating a record of who was there, “An entfer der velt” also bears witness for the men and women, grandmothers and grandfathers, brides, grooms and children who were unable to do so for themselves,

Oy vey iz mir, Lite—ot zaynen, ot lign—

Azoy fil harugim:—mayn khaver, mayn bester,

Mayn shokhn, mayn korev, mayn eynstike shvester.

“An entfer der velt” (74–76)

Oh woe is me, Lithuania—here they are, here lie—

So many slaughtered:—my friend, my best friend,

My neighbour, my relative, my only sister.

In this reflection, the poem provides an example of how with reference to the Shoah, “the past remains a part of our everyday lives,”33 suggesting both a “landscape of living memory” and a “landscape of loss.”34

In addition, in “Lesterung”35 Fram continues his memorialization of the dead, decrying the way his Jewish compatriots were doomed. In this poem, he contends with his own country’s aggression and the world’s inaction as he did in other poems, but here he also expresses his anger, accusing and blaming God for what transpired, “Hostu aleyn zey gor gefirt tsu shekhtn in Treblinke” / “You yourself took them to be slaughtered in Treblinka” (70).36 Calling God to account in this manner is a common Jewish trope: Abraham did so at the time of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; Moses spoke up on behalf of the Israelites when God planned to destroy them for having worshipped the Golden Calf; Habakkuk, one of the Hebrew prophets, openly questioned God’s workings and the inexplicability of suffering, “O Lord, how long shall I cry, and though wilt not hear! I cry out to thee of violence, and thou wilt not save!” (1.2). Further, Rabbi Levi Yitschak of Bardichev in his “Kaddish,” known as the “Din Toyre mit Got, Lawsuit with God,” challenges Him on behalf of His people, demanding to know why they are punished despite their commitment to His commandments. “Lesterung” includes a similar accusation here,

Derfar hostu di gaz-oyvns farfult mit mayne brider,

Un hostu dem gzar aroysgelozt—dayn stade tsu farbrenen?

“Lesterung” (77–78).

Therefore you loaded the gas ovens with my brothers

And pronounced your decree—to burn your flock?

The description of the Jewish community as His “stade” / “flock” (78), both memorializes Fram’s pastoral way of life, and also echoes the psalms of the shepherd, David, for example in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” The peacefulness suggested there provides a powerful contrast to the implications of the hell fire of the extermination camps.

As a result, the poet suffers a crisis of belief and abandons all rituals:

Ikh hob mayn altn Got in hartsn merer nit getrogn,

Un kh’hob zikh keyn al-kheyt fartsitert nit geshlogn,

Hob ikh shoyn merer nit gezogt ma toyvu ohalekho….

“Lesterung” (35–36, 39)

I no longer carried my old G-d in my heart

I no longer in trepidation beat al kheyt37

I no longer said ma tovu ohalekho.38

Giving up the ritual of the donning tefilin,39 the poet no longer binds the leather thongs around his arm and head every morning, and his talis40 bag lies forgotten.

Di tefilin-zekl hobn lang gefoylt shoyn mayne tefilin.

Es hot zikh der shel rosh badekt dort mit a grinem shiml,

Un s’hot mayn talis heyliker farshemt geblibn lign.

“Lesterung” (42–44)

The tefilin bag and my tefilin have long lain untouched

And the shel rosh has become covered with a green mildew

And my holy tallis lay shamefully unused.

The poet expresses his inner conflict, the feelings of shame on abandoning observance voluntarily when the victims were forcibly prevented from doing so. In his anger and despair, he interrogates God’s actions, even going so far as to align God with the enemy in “Hostu aleyn zey gor gefirt tsu shekhtn in Treblinke” / “You alone took them to [the] slaughter in Treblinka” (70), accusing Him outright with a rhetorical question, “Derfar hostu di gaz-oyvens farfult mit mayne brider / Un hostu dem gzar aroysgelost—dayn stade tsu farbrenen?”/ “For that you filled the gas ovens with my brothers, / And pronounced your fateful decree—to burn your flock?” (77–78).

Fram’s poem “Unzere kedoyshim” (“Our Martyrs”)41 develops these themes, using the ritual of the rending a garment as the central image and framing device. In order to show his support for the victims, the poet performs an act that is usually carried out when mourning the death of a personal loved one. He tears his shirt on behalf of his entire doomed community to whom he feels as close as if they are members of his own family just as they are being torn away from him. Locating himself with them, the poet binds himself to them, addressing the people directly:

Nokh aykh, ir brider mayne, hob ikh haynt gerisen kriye—

Dem sharf fun heysn meser bizn leyb mit veytik ayngeshnitn

Es shteyt nokh far di oygen mayne yene shvartse tliye

Oyf velkher ir hot ayer toyt oyf kedushe eybiker tsebisn.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (1–4)

For you, my brothers I rend my garment today—

The sharpness of the burning knife cutting through to the body with pain

Those black gallows still remain before my eyes

On which your death was wrenched in eternal martyrdom.

The reference to “brider” / “brother” (1), is used to evoke a blood tie, which, like the fabric of the poet’s garment, is destroyed, as the thread that connects them is broken when the loved ones are wrenched away. Simultaneously, the poet’s body is also wounded when the blade cuts through the cloth; he feels physical pain as well as feeling their pain. While the adjective “heysn” / “burning,” may infer the burning of the victims at Auschwitz, thus extending the parameters of the poem, the reference to the “shvartse tliye” / “black gallows” (3) is metonymical, encompassing not only death by hanging, but also the other ways in which the Jewish people have been destroyed.

The victims’ fate seems all the more unjust to him, given their piety,

Ikh ze aykh nokh, ir kedoyshim heldishe, ir geyt tsu der akeyde

Mit festn trot, derhoybene fun shrek, baloykhtn mit a shmeykhl

Azoy vi s’volt farbay a frume, shtralendike eyde

Fun yedn gleybike tsu Gots gebenshtn heykhl.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (5–9)

I still see you, heroic martyrs, you walk towards the sacrifice

With steadfast step, elevated in terror, illuminated with a smile

As if were passing by, a pious radiant congregation

Of faithful Jews towards God’s holy temple.

The moment of death comes as they make their way to prayer, a “frume, shtralendike eyde” / “pious radiant congregation” (7), lifted up by terror “derhoybene fun shrek” (6). Lit up by their belief and faith, “baloykhtn mit a shmeykhl” / “illuminated with a smile” (6), they, his “brothers” become “kedoyshim” /“martyrs” who go to their “kedushe” / “martyrdom” (4), in “heldishe” / “heroic” (5) fashion.

Ikh ze aykh nokh, giboyrim Yidishe, gehangene fun sheker,

Fun sine un fun has, un khayishe retsikhes,

In blutikn geklang fun shrayendike gleker

Ven s’filt der talyen oys zayn merderishe shlikhes.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (10–13)

I see you still, heroic Jews, strung up because of lies,

In malice and hatred, and savage murder,

In bloody peals of screaming bells

When the hangman fulfills his murderous task.

The terror is heightened by the bells’ death knell, which seems to run red as the destroyers foment hatred to justify their deeds. Murdered simply because they were Jewish, the victims become “mutike derleyzer” / “courageous redeemers” (13), who reach a state of sanctity after their deaths:

Azoy min shtil un reyn, on tsorn, on gebeyzer,

Vi Got volt aykh gekusht mit getlekher neshike.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (15–16)

So quiet and clean, without wrath, without anger,

As if God would have kissed you with a holy kiss.

The reward for their martyrdom is eternal life, “Vi Got volt aykh geshikt tsu lebn vayter eybik” / “As if God would have sent you to live again forever” (17), which the poet sees in their purity and resulting freedom from earthly travail, “Geleytert ze ikh aykh, vi durkh a loyterer yeriye” / “Clear and pure I see you as through a transparent curtain” (18). In addition to his feelings of kinship towards them, he takes pride in the way they carry themselves:

Mispalel zayn mayn folk far aykh vet frum un gleybik

Un unzer greste shtolts—iz itster ayer tliye.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (19–20)

Praying my people for you, observant and believing

And our greatest pride—now is your gallows.

It is during Ne’ila, the concluding hour of the Yom Kippur service, that the members of observant congregations have their last opportunity to ask forgiveness before the doors of heaven are closed. Extending these implications, the poet suggests that it is the world that must ask forgiveness of the victims for its failure to save them:

To rut in ayer shlof, ir Yidishe giboyrim,

Di kedushe hilt aykh ayn azoy vi tsu ne’ile.

Farovelt vet di velt far aykh faln koyrim

Un betln farn toyt vet zi bay aykh mekhile.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (21–24)

So rest in your sleep, you Jewish heroes,

Sanctity envelops you as if it were Ne’ila

Bereaved the world will still prostrate themselves before you

And beg forgiveness of you for this death.

This reference relates back to “An entfer der velt,” to the mention of how the world stood by and watched the “akeyde” / “sacrifice” (5, 28) of the Jewish people.

Un ir bay unzer folk farblaybn vet ir heylik!

Oy vey, lemai bin ikh nisht eyner fun der eyde!

Mit velkher kh’volt gevolt zikh teyln ayer kheylik

In shtoltz tsuzamen geyn mit aykh tsu der akeyde.

“Unzere kedoyshim” (25–29)

And you will remain holy among our people!

Oh, woe, that I am not one of that congregation!

With whom I would have wanted to share your destiny

And proudly walk together with you to the sacrifice.

The reference to the “akeyde” / “sacrifice” is specific to the binding of Isaac, the inclusion of the familiar biblical narrative broadening the implications of the outcome. However, in this instance, there is no ram in the thicket and there is no staying of execution. The reference also implies the binding together of the community members, and the ritual act of shredding of fabric. These concluding lines affirm the poet’s kinship to those who perished, his brothers, his people, his congregation, close community, martyrs and heroes, as he regrets that he was not there with them. Since his own family perished while he survived in far off Africa, this may also infer feelings of survivor guilt at his own escape.

The poignant references to God and to Jewish ritual objects and customs in the poems indicate Fram’s knowledge of Jewish observances; given his shtetl upbringing he would have been well-versed in these customs. However, in this poem, the reference to the performance of religious rituals is also ironic: for those who were gassed and incinerated there were no graves and no kaddish, mourner’s prayer, was intoned. And, although the poet appears accepting of God’s will in “Unzere kedoyshim,” his struggle to do so manifests in the poems “An entfer der velt,”42 “Dos letste kapitl” (1984),43 and “Lesterung”44 where he rails against Him and subsequently abandons his own observance and faith, as has been shown.

3 Remembrance after the Destruction

By providing evidence of the lives of the dead, Fram’s poems may be likened to the intoning of the kaddish, at the graveside of the dead and thereafter on the yortsayt, the anniversary of the day of death. In this way the poems provide a memorial, as a tombstone for those buried in mass graves or incinerated, there was no such honour or ritual of remembrance.

While asserting the survivors’ “need to bear witness not only to the Nazi destruction but to the world the Nazis sought to destroy,”45 the poems also affirm what Kugelmass and Boyarin describe as “the desire to pass along something of the Eastern European heritage to coming generations.”46 They may be also associated with the yiskor-bukhn, memorial books created after the Holocaust by survivors and landsmanschaften, community groups, which memorialized individuals of a lost town, or pinkes-bukhn, which chronicled histories of the towns and their annihilated communities. Where there were no graves, these collections came to be regarded as “substitute gravestones, to honour the homeless dead.”47 This drive to record and preserve may also be associated with the wartime projects such as that carried out by the Oneg Shabes group in Warsaw and the Paper Brigade that operated in Vilna.48 Like the yizkor-bukhn, the poems become an affirmation of life, maintaining the connection between the lost past and the present, a symbol of, and memorial to, a culture.

Fram’s poems deploy images of the yellow star, the columns of people, the gas ovens, the lime-kiln and the chimneys vomiting out black smoke, countering Walter Benjamin’s fear that, “Every image of the past that is not recognized by the present as one of its own concerns threatens to disappear irretrievably.”49 By offering lines of continuity to the ruins, the poems record a landscape of memory and a personal response to history. In so doing, they enable the imaginative reconstruction of past events and a reassembling of the shards of the Shoah, with reference to specific individuals, particular incidents, and the broken artifacts of the lost culture of a once-vibrant Jewish community. By creating this poetic record, Fram offers personal testimony of the suffering of a people, providing a reminder of the past that would otherwise have been lost, and offering a vessel for the preservation of its memory.

After the khurbn, Fram continued to write about Lithuania, focusing on its beauty and his youthful enjoyment there, rather than the cruel reality. In these poems, the landscape remains unaltered, filtered through the lens of memory. Thus, in “Oyfn mayn dakh hot amol gesvitshert a shvalb” (“Once a Swallow Twittered on my Roof”),50 the poet longs for an idyllic past.

Un di lonkes bashotn mit tsheredes shof,

Un di oygn fun likht ikh farzhmure oyf halb,

Un es khapt mikh arum aza gliklekher shlof—

Oyf mayn dakh hot amol gesvitshert a shvalb.

“Oyfn mayn dakh hot amol gesvitshert a shvalb” (17–20)

And the meadows were shaded with flocks of sheep

As I half close my eyes against the bright light

And I am seized by contented sleep—

On my roof once a swallow twittered.

Here, the presence of the swallow evokes a sense of possibility and hope, the image engendering feelings of warm togetherness at home, recalling the redolent “tsufridenem broyt” / “satisfying bread” (2), the baking of the shabes loaf, the fragrance of the “farshikerter bez” / “intoxicated lilac” (9), “tishn gegreyt mit ladishes un kez” / “tables bedecked with jugs and cheese” (11), as well as the “Fule donitses milkh” / “Full milk pails” (14), in a time of fruitful abundance when “es tunkt zikh in gold dos farakerte feld” / “the ploughed fields were dipped in gold” (15).51 As the poet recalls the pasture filled with “tsheredes shof” / “flocks of sheep” (17), he is seized by “gliklekher shlof” / “contented sleep” (19), so that, in his imagination, the swallow remains on the roof and his home survives intact, the “difficulties … forgotten…[or] replaced by images that glorify the past.”52 Through the act of writing, the poet conjures the place as he remembers it.

Had Fram returned to his shtetl after the war, he would have found everyone gone, as his mother Shifre Mine, father Yoysef Ber and sister Ester were murdered in the Ponevezh death camp.53 The impact of the poet’s personal loss is all the more heartbreaking when one extrapolates the tenderness of his feelings for his family described in an earlier poem “Mayn opfor” (“My Departure”),54 which describes their mutual anguish when he immigrated to South Africa:

Un kh’hob in nakht in harbstiker farlozn zey aleyn,

Tseshnitn hot mayn shtume harts a trukn-sharfer vey,

Un s’hot a vildn shpar geton mit trern a geveyn

Farshtikt in triber elntkayt an elntn geshrey.

“Mayn opfor” (13–16)

And in the autumn night I left them on their own,

My quiet, severed heart is full of pressing, sharp pain,

And many lonely tears we moan,

Pierced with dismal loneliness we cry in vain.

Fram’s poems record the “traces of an existence”55 of a lost place and people in a shattered world, epitomizing how individual lives are shaped by historical forces. As Ezrahi states, Jews have “preserve[d] for nearly two millennia a community of rememberers,”56 and Fram preserves the memory of Lithuania before, during and after the khurbn. His poems “Ikh Benk,” “Unzere kedoyshim,” “An entfer der velt,” “Dos letste kapitl,” “Lesterung” and “Oyf mayn dakh hot amol gesvitshert a shvalb” affirm Elie Wiesel’s assertion in another context that the telling of their stories gives those who did not survive “the voice that was denied them.”57 In evoking Fram’s personal responses to the fate of a silenced people, and focusing on “individual anecdotes, images and objects, the poems serve as ‘points of memory’ opening small windows on the past.”58 Thus, in the situation where “the plaintiff himself is divested of the means to state his own case,”59 Fram gives this voice, his poetic texts offering a means of testimony. By evoking the impact of the Shoah on himself and his family, the poems throw some light on “the history of a culture” within “the troubled experience of the individual.”60 Fram’s poems transformed what he had witnessed and endured into art because “[i]t had to be said or sung somehow.”61 In that they “distil … the complex anguish of the event into a few perfectly finished lines or pages,”62 the poems connect to a destroyed past, going some way to resist historical amnesia of the Lithuanian Holocaust.

Once the apocalypse passed, “S’iz erd gevorn faykht, bafrukhpert fun di toyen, / Vos ayngezapt hot zat do yeder boynt un kveyt” / “Earth became moist, fertilized by the dew, / Which each tree and blossom absorbed” (35–36), “An entfer der velt” closing with an affirmation of the spirit of hope:

Di retshlekh fun a folk, der iberblayb fun plite

Vet opvaksen tsurik un lindern dem brokh….

“An entfer der velt” (53–54)

The remnant of a people, the remaining refugees

Will grow back and alleviate the disaster….

Despite the decimation of their ranks and the “lamentation of crows that picked the bones” (47) described in “Dos letste kapitl,” the remainder of a people survives to pass on the flame. After the fire, a “still small voice,” like the voice of God that Elijah heard,63 continues to assert the survival of the whole. So, “Der faygnboym in ru vet vaksn bay dayn tir” / “The fig tree begins to blossom by your doorway” (50), perpetuating the memory of the victims through their testimony,

Un himlen iber unz gekukt hobn derfreyte

Mit shabesdiker ru oyf pratse fun der vokh….

“An entfer der velt” (55–56)

And heavens above us look down gladdened

With Shabbos-like rest after the toil of the week….

4 Conclusion

Recording the bloodbath that erased his fellow Lithuanian Jews as well as his personal response to it through “a combination of beauty and horror,”64 Fram’s poetic texts offer a cultural site for remembering, an independent testimony; in memorializing his particular community and culture, the poems bear witness for the destroyed. While historical documents note dates of offensives and tally the dead, poetry’s images instead represent what may otherwise be unrepresentable, express the otherwise inexpressible, and, in speaking the unspeakable, may offer the reader some way to access the unthinkable.

In providing a valuable space to speak to the tensions between traumatic memory and aesthetic representation, poetry bears the double responsibility of functioning as testimony as well as literature. The metaphors evoke the wounds and the metaphors survive, where “art is what we go back to when everything is over;”65 Fram “translated memory into metaphor to commemorate a lost community.”66

As an emblem of Fram’s resistance to the erasure and amnesia of a language with the annihilation of its speakers, Yiddish remained the poet’s linguistic homeland in which he could record, recover and reconstruct the world of the shtetl. For us, the last generation who will be able to hear Yiddish spoken by survivors of the Shoah in the flesh, his poetry offers an important vehicle for bearing witness and offering testimony. Foregrounded through my research and my translations as a double act of recuperation and preservation, Fram’s poems provide a testament of their Lithuanian and South African heritage, a memorial of the past for future generations. Emigration saved Fram’s life and he never returned to Lithuania, but its memory played itself out in poems written far away.

Hazel Frankel, Ph.D. (2012) University of Sheffield Hallam, United Kingdom; Postdoctoral National Research Foundation Fellowship (English; Creative Writing), University of the Witwatersrand; Publications: Drawing from Memory (Gwynedd: Cinnamon Press, 2007); Counting Sleeping Beauties (Johannesburg: Jacana Literary Foundation, 2009); Memoirs: Our Stories, Our Lives (Johannesburg: Chevrah Kadisha, 2010); Illuminating Love (Johannesburg: Jacana Literary Foundation, 2011); “Journey with Two Maps: Longing and Belonging in the Yiddish Poems of David Fram,” The English Academy Review 32(2) (2015): 22–37; “From Tundra to Veld: The Yiddish Landscape Poems of David Fram” (forthcoming); Wunderkind: Memoirs of a Latvian Holocaust Survivor (current).


David Fram, “An entfer der velt” [“An Answer to the World”], Dorem Afrike July–August (1971): 50. Translated by Hazel Frankel in her PhD dissertation: Hazel Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet of the South African Diaspora, and Illuminating Love (PhD. diss., Sheffield Hallam University, 2013), 39. Also available online at (accessed 1 June 2017).


When Fram refers to Lite, it is specifically to Lithuania, whereas the area referred to in Jewish historical sources includes Belarus, Latvia and parts of Russia.


Solomon Liptzin, The Maturing of Yiddish Literature (New York: Jonathan David, 1970), 251; Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 1.


Joseph Sherman (ed.), From a Land Far Off: South African Yiddish Stories (Cape Town: Jewish Publications, 1987), 14; Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 1.


Literarishe Bleter was the leading Yiddish literary journal in interwar Poland” (Nathan Cohen, “Literarishe Bleter,” The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe, trans. Rami Hann (2010), [accessed 16 August 2017]).


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 11.


Kenneth Moss e-mail to 6 June 2010; Frankel David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 24.


David Fram, Lider un poemes [Songs and Poems] (Vilna: D. Krejnesa, 1931), 89. Translated by Hazel Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, Addendum, 2.


David Cesarani et al. (eds.), Place and Displacement in Jewish History and Memory (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2009), 2.


In theory, Yiddish does not use capitals. However, personal names have been capitalized throughout this article for reasons of clarity.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 31; Hazel Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet of the South African Diaspora,” Jewish Affairs 68(1) (2013): 28.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 32; Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,” 28.


Nancy J. Peterson, Against Amnesia. Contemporary Women Writers and the Crises of Historical Memory (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2001), 7.


Marianne Hirsch, The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 2012), 107.


Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer, Ghosts of Home. The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory (Berkeley: University of California Press. 2010), xvii.


Ibid., xvii.


Ibid., xv.


Brett Ashley Kaplan, Landscapes of Holocaust Postmemory (New York: Routledge, 2011), 5.


Kaplan, Landscapes, 5.


Hirsch and Spitzer, Ghosts of Home, xix.


Fram, “An entfer der velt”, 50. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 39.


“Hear Oh Israel…” the first words of the prayer recited morning and evening, and at the time of death (Deut. 6:4–9).


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 60; Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,” 31.


Hirsch and Spitzer, Ghosts of Home, 9.




Fram, “An entfer der velt”, 50. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 68.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 64; Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,” 31.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 64; Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,” 31.


White garment worn by many religious Jews on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement; also the garment in which every Jew is buried.


Blessing over wine and bread made every Friday night.


The Mourner’s Prayer. Under normal circumstances, sons intone the kaddish for the dead at the graveside, for eleven months thereafter in the synagogue and on the yortsayt, the anniversary of the day of death.


Jack Kugelmass and Jonathan Boyarin (eds.), From a Ruined Garden. The Memorial Books of Polish Jewry,trans. Jack Kugelmass and Jonathan Boyarin (New York: Schocken, 1983), 6.


Laura Levitt, American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust (New York: New York University Press, 2007), 43.




David Fram, A shvalb oyfn dakh [A Swallow on the Roof] (Johannesburg: Kayor, 1983), 127–129; (Extract) Dorem Afrike May–June (1969): 3. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, Addendum, 46.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 74; Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,” 31.


“For the sin wherein we have sinned …,” repeated as a refrain in prayer on the Day of Atonement.


Words of prayer said on entering the synagogue (Numbers 24:5).


Phylacteries. These ritual objects include the shel rosh that is mentioned in the verse, which is bound around the head, as opposed to the shel yad that is bound around the hand.


Prayer shawl.


Dorem Afrike March–April (1969): 17. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, Addendum, 37.


Fram, “An entfer der velt”, 50. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, Addendum, 39.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,42. The translation is of an extract from David Fram, Dos letste kapitl [The Last Chapter] (London: Narod Press, 1947), which appeared in Dorem Afrike January–March (1984): 12. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,Addendum, 42.


Fram, A shvalb oyfn dakh, 127–129. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 46.


Kugelmass and Boyarin, From a Ruined Garden, 5.


Kugelmass and Boyarin, From a Ruined Garden, 14.


Ibid., 11.


Emanuel Ringelblum launched and oversaw the secret Oneg Shabes Archive, collected reports and testimonies about life in the ghetto, the resistance movement, and the deportation and extermination of Polish Jewry. The materials were preserved in three milk cans, two of which were located after the war, cf. (accessed 1 June 2017).


Quoted in Peterson, Against Amnesia, 160.


Fram, A shvalb oyfn dakh, 67. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 37.


Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, 31.


Nancy Foner, “Migration, Location and Memory: Jewish History through a Comparative Lens,” in Place and Displacement in Jewish History and Memory, eds. David Cesarani, Tony Kushner and Milton Shain (London: Vallentine Mitchell, 2009), 138.


Yad Vashem testimony documents (6332599, 6332600, 6332601) submitted by Fram’s nephew.


Fram, Lider, 14. Translated by Frankel in: Frankel, David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet, Addendum, 4.


Annette Wieviorka, “On Testimony,” in Holocaust Remembrance: The Shapes of Memory, ed. Geoffrey Hartman (London: Blackwell, 1994), 25.


Sidra DeKoven Ezrahi, Booking Passage. Exile and Homecoming in the Modern Jewish Imagination (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000), 26.


Quoted in Richard Kearney, On Stories (London: Routledge, 2002), 48.


Hirsch and Spitzer, Ghosts of Home, xix.


Jean–Francois Lyotard, The Differend: Phases in Dispute (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1988), 8.


Barbara Everett, “Alphabetised,” London Review of Books 25(15) (2003): 10.


Marie Syrkin quoted by R. Omer–Sherman, Diaspora and Zionism in Jewish American Literature (Hanover: Brandeis University Press, 2002), 83.


Susan Gubar, Poetry after Auschwitz: Remembering What One Never Knew (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 558.


The Holy Scriptures (Koren Publishers: Jerusalem, 1989), 1 Kings 19:11–13.


Simone de Beauvoir quoted in Claude Lanszmann, Shoah: An Oral History of the Holocaust (New York: Pantheon, 1985), iv.


David Albahari, “My Husband,” in If Salt has Memory, ed. J. Langer (Nottingham: Five Leaves, 2008), 13.


Frankel, “David Fram: Lithuanian Yiddish Poet,” 33.

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