Sunday, May 22, 2011

Simply a Fine Poem by Jan Kot

Jan Kot. Photo courtesy Danuta Reah

I read the poem, below, on the webpage of the facebook group, "The Way Back." I immediately fell in love with the poem for its embodiedness, its spontaneity, economy, authority – for its joy, for its heartbreak.

The poem's author is Jan Kot. His photo is above.


I didn’t see you


Was too late

Do you remember when

you came to see me

standing there on Gorzow Station

Where is Janek? Did he forgotten to meet me?

And when I crept behind you

pick you off the ground

and twirl. And you pleaded

Put me down. Put me down Janek.

What all this people will say.

And then you kiss me and ruffle my hair


About the poem, Danuta Reah, Jan Kot's daughter, wrote:

"I'd like to share a poem my father wrote. He was an officer in the Polish cavalry and escaped after the invasions of 1939. He joined the Polish Free Forces in Britain as a paratrooper, and was seriously injured when a parachute drop went wrong. He wasn't able to return to Poland for decades after the war – and by the time he was able to return, his mother was dead. This poem is about the last time he saw her."

Danuta, under the pen name Carla Banks, is the author of the highly recommended WWII-related murder mystery, "The Forest of Souls."

Danuta also shared the photo, below. The photo is from the Museum of the Great Patriotic War in Minsk, Belarus. The young woman is Masha Bruskina, a 17 year old Jewish partisan.

I want people to look at this photo. The media feeds us Sexy Nazis. Many buy it. I do not. This is what real Nazis looked like, as they snuffed out human lives, lives like our own, like our friends, like our parents, like our children. They looked ugly.


  1. My father had a picture of Poles hanging on a gallows in Buchenwald. He carried it with him everyday so that he would never forget what the Nazis did.

  2. Thank you for posting my father's poem on the blog Danusha. Its like hearing him speak.

  3. a lovely poem and a terrifying photo. sad juxtaposition.
    I have my father's PoW diary from 1941-1945. it's very plain, very prosaic, he was just a boy after all, had his 21st birthday in a PoW camp - far too much is made of war, of that period and now, that makes it seem shiny and bright, even in the darkness of pain and death. It's not, it destroys our humanity, always.

  4. Sue and Stella, thank you for reading and commenting.

  5. It isn't just the Nazis. I recently saw a movie "Copying Beethoven" which valorized the portrayed (maybe he wasn't like that really?) arrogance and cruelty of the man as part of his genius. Some people's cruelty is part of their genius, and others are Bieganski. Nemo

  6. Thank you for posting my Grandfather's poem. It's a wonderful view into his life and it really touched me.


  7. Thank you again for posting this and for such thoughtful comments.


Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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