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Under The Waves Stays With You My Heart


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Unter Die Wellen Bleibt Bei Dir Mein Herz

 

Frau Elena Proschkow, 92, remembers her first husband, her abiding true love, Kapitaenleutnant Hans-Christian Meier, commander of the submarine U-263, lost at sea on November 9, 1942.

-------------------------------------------------------

 

O Christian

how it all comes back --

I can see you now

so young, so eager,

so resplendent

in your tailored uniform,

your dark eyes gleaming,

your shy lovely smile,

the proud glances of your father,

the apprehensive eyes of your mother,

and, there, both laughing and fearful,

little me, three months pregnant

with Johann, our firstborn,

the child you would never see.

 

I weep now to remember;

I can see it all so clearly

even now, after sixty-eight long years,

like a photograph, like an image

burned into my brain;

you, my darling husband,

you, the best of all men,

on the night before you went to sea

for the last time, never, never

to return to the warm bed of love.

 

We had been married two years

and your parents had made

some initial old-fashioned fuss,

but you, my dear, had insisted politely,

with the hidden steel of a German officer

(I think they were a little afraid of you),

and I loved you all the more for that.

Christian, you made me so happy!

 

Father had an eye for a pretty girl

(yes, you smiled when you told me!)

and your mother soon capitulated

when she saw how much I loved you.

O Christian, Christian,

in those early days, we were

so happy together, so proud!

 

The degenerate filthy French

had been soundly trounced,

and the cold treacherous English

were left snarling on their island,

as the new Germany, under Adolf Hitler

became triumphant!

 

The shame and the stain

of the First War had been erased

(in which my father fell, as you know)

and the German nation, reborn,

was holding a lamp to the world:

Kraft durch Freude, Strength through Joy,

a bulwark against godless communism,

a shining example of will.

 

Do you remember, my darling,

that day we first met?

You were a young lieutenant

and I was a girl with the BDM,

(a Gruppenleiter, you never knew that!)

and we were lost in the crowds,

all the celebrating thousands

cheering for Goering and the Fuehrer:

that was June, after the fall of France,

such a day of heartwarming pride!

 

I was pushed this way and that,

lost one of my shoes, such enthusiasm,

and you, my dark-eyed knight,

came to my rescue, plucked me forth

from the surging multitudes;

you carried me off for coffee and cakes

at the Adlon Hotel. Such class!

I fell in love immediately.

 

The courtship was exciting,

but correct and approved,

and we were married within six months

after the usual blood tests

and racial examinations;

I thought my heart would burst

with sheer joy. O my darling!

 

The War continued for some reason

although it was perfectly clear

we had already won. The British

behaved very badly, in my opinion,

but you fought like a lion, naturally,

gaining a Knight's Cross (First Class!!)

followed by well-deserved promotion.

Then came your first command.

 

When you were away at sea

I would pray for you each day.

In one corner of my little room

(we had had to move to your parents'

after the cowardly bombing began)

I had a picture of the Sacred Heart,

and in another, the divine Fuehrer,

and with my arms outstretched,

I prayed to both of our saviours.

 

Keep my Christian safe!

 

Such joy whenever you returned!

I would rush headlong to the docks

(along with your mother and father,

now my dear friends, lovingly united

in our adoration for YOU, dear Christian)

and you would hold me in your strong arms,

there in full view of your crew,

who were lustily cheering and smiling,

waving their caps, even whistling!

My dear, how they loved you ...

but never so much as me.

 

Then came the attack on Russia.

We were surprised, but understood

these swine were the real enemy,

the Bolshevik dagger at the throat

of western civilisation: the foul

English, blind to decency and reason,

continued their useless resistance,

and you, my dear, punished them

remorselessly. Your name was respected.

I was proud to be your wife.

 

I noticed with concern how

haggard you had become; with each

successive homecoming from patrol

you became more withdrawn, less

enthused for the dream of Greater Germany.

Naturally, I restored your patriotism,

even when you were snappish and surly,

but I was a bit taken aback, darling,

when you removed the portrait of the Fuehrer,

and once (almost) I had the feeling

you were about to strike me:

silly, silly -- my imagination!

 

America (negroes and mongrels!)

came into the war, and the bombing

became much much worse.

They are such hateful, despicable

opportunists, everybody knows that,

bought off by the British and the Jews;

they came in for the money, nothing else.

Can't they understand anything?

The Bolsheviks want to destroy civilization!

Only Germany can prevent disaster.

 

Strange news is coming from the East

which I can't believe: the BBC

is spreading vile propaganda

about German actions in Russia.

These people will say anything.

They also say that the Jews,

having been removed for their own safety,

are being eliminated. Nonsense.

Our enemies will go to any length.

 

I worry so about darling Christian .....

--------------------------------------------------

At this point Frau Proschkow broke down and was unable to continue. The news of her husband's death shortly before the birth of their first child is something she still cannot discuss. There is evidence that Frau Proschkow entered into a liaison with an American sergeant after the conclusion of hostilities and was thus provided with food and, it would appear, cigarettes and nylons which she was able to trade on the black market. Charitably, one must assume that this was done to protect her young son Johann. This relationship seems to have led to a breach with her late husband's parents. In 1955 she married a prosperous factory owner named Werner Proschkow with whom she lived amicably until the death of Herr Proschkow in 1970. Johann Meier-Proschkow is now a senior executive with Siemens in Munich but was unavailable for comment. Frau Proschkow lives alone in a tiny apartment in Berlin surrounded by photographs and memoribilia of the early 1940s, most prominent of which are citations from the BDM and a large studio photograph of her first husband in naval uniform. He looks remarkably young.

-------------------------

 

-- BDM- Bund Deutscher Maedel - female equivalent of the Hitler Youth.

-- Gruppenleiter - group leader

Edited by dedalus

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Aleksandra

Wow, Bren. What a controversial poem. How did you write this? Amazing. Your ability to write such a poem based on someone's life and views demonstrates your writing skills.

 

Frau Elena Proschkow's memoirs print out a scanned image of the Nazi mindset. But one thing is sure: love is love, in every kind of brain.

 

In this poem, you talk about a hard time in history, and probably you are only poeticizing something that you heard and learned from a German speaker. There are few truths in this poem, spoken by the narrator. But definitely the pain from that time is still not forgotten, and Nazism was one of the worst ideologies that has hurt society.

 

I wonder why Frau Meier never told that she is a member of the BDM? Weird. And that makes me wonder what else this woman is hiding, perhaps something else she has never spoken of. Everybody has his own "truth" after all.

 

There is a long chain even before and after the Nazi period. Even today, we have one from the "Youth of führer" who is at the highest level of catholicism. So it's a really complicated situation.

 

Ok I am afraid that I went too long into another subject, but you, Bren, did a nice job and wrote about a very sensitive matter with courage and narrative poetry skill. I like your controversial spirit.

 

Aleksandra

The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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This is well written, and I admire and envy how you can turn every phrase into its best. However, the hashing over of items already said too many times to like satirize her blindness re falsehoods the nazis told her seems excessive.

 

The German uded for the title needs some refurbishing.

Edited by waxwings
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goldenlangur

Blindness works well as a metaphor throughout the poem.

 

This is hard-hitting and thought-provoking.

 

 

Thank you.

goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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I lived in Germany as a kid (my father's job) and I met people like Elena, then middle-aged, sort of dazed and forlorn after the devastation of the bombing and the final defeat of Naziism. They had really believed in it. It was like old hippies (NOT a good analogy!) going back to the glory days of the 1960s. As young people they had never felt so alive before. They couldn't believe the whole thing was finished and over ... and as it turned out, rotten to the core. Their youthful ideals had been stolen. Even faced with evidence of Nazi horrors they simply couldn't accept it. This is the real sorrow and pity. They were mourning the demise of (misguided, manipulated) youthful idealism. The contrast in the poem between Elena's cheerful belief in the New Order as a civilian and Christian's growing realization as a participant that the war was unwinnable and that the Nazi leadership had led patriotic young Germans into a situation that would end in self-destruction lies at the heart of the poem. It could have been more subtle, I know, but then it would have been much longer. I get enough criticism about long poems .... !!!

 

D.

 

ps -- Waxwings: I think the German title is OK as it stands: I'll check it out with Herr Doktor.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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I lived in Germany as a kid (my father's job) and I met people like Elena, then middle-aged, sort of dazed and forlorn after the devastation of the bombing and the final defeat of Naziism. They had really believed in it. It was like old hippies (NOT a good analogy!) going back to the glory days of the 1960s. As young people they had never felt so alive before. They couldn't believe the whole thing was finished and over ... and as it turned out, rotten to the core. Their youthful ideals had been stolen. Even faced with evidence of Nazi horrors they simply couldn't accept it. This is the real sorrow and pity. They were mourning the demise of (misguided, manipulated) youthful idealism. The contrast in the poem between Elena's cheerful belief in the New Order as a civilian and Christian's growing realization as a participant that the war was unwinnable and that the Nazi leadership had led patriotic young Germans into a situation that would end in self-destruction lies at the heart of the poem. It could have been more subtle, I know, but then it would have been much longer. I get enough criticism about long poems .... !!!

 

D.

 

ps -- Waxwings: I think the German title is OK as it stands: I'll check it out with Herr Doktor.

 

I started to get fluent in German in 1940 but have little use since about 1956 which tends to diminish the vocabulary. However, my syntax should be tolerable. There are three parts to that sentence you are using for a tittle.

 

The one that should be first is: "Mein Hertz bleibt ..." meaning "My heart remains/stays..."

 

The order of these two parts can create a slight nuanc re sense/feeling/empathy depending on what the speaker/narrator intends. The two choices are:

"...unter die Wellen, mit Dir.", meanig: "...with you, below the waves."

or "..mit Dir, unter die Wellen.", meaning "...below the waves with you."

 

Obviously, both languages being Germanic, the two overall ways are near word for word equivalents, except for the pronoun "unter" whose more poetic denotation is "below" and not "under", although "under" would be OK if instead of Waves" the speaker would have chosen "sea" or "water".

 

I hope this explication is helpful in genera of the difference between prose and verse/poetry, not an empty argument about this poem in itself.

 

I truly appreciate the added information, esp. how many, perhaps most, if not the totality of Germans felt. One must recall tha they had some very wretched times which the nazis exploited with false promises and unfair prejudgment of other peoples. That is comparable to why Latvians, rescued from the brutalities of the Soviets perpetrated in just one year of occupation prior to 1941, did not immediately see that a different kind of loss of freedeom was to be braught by the nazis.

Edited by waxwings
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Leaving the grammar aside for the moment (however fascinating) I met a young guy from the Rumanian Banat yesterday, a German-speaking community near Timisoara that had existed since the days of Marie-Therése back in the 18th century. He told me all the males in his grandfather's generation had joined the SS ( " Prinz Eugen" Division) and fought for the Germans against Russia. Most never came home. He and his family had left the area when he was a kid and he says the whole community has since disappeared. Europe ... so many stories, such untold misery! The poem above doesn't even scratch the surface ....

 

Siochán leat,

B.

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Leaving the grammar aside for the moment (however fascinating) I met a young guy from the Rumanian Banat yesterday, a German-speaking community near Timisoara that had existed since the days of Marie-Therése back in the 18th century. He told me all the males in his grandfather's generation had joined the SS ( " Prinz Eugen" Division) and fought for the Germans against Russia. Most never came home. He and his family had left the area when he was a kid and he says the whole community has since disappeared. Europe ... so many stories, such untold misery! The poem above doesn't even scratch the surface ....

 

Siochán leat,

B.

 

For whatever special/historical/protective against Russia/UUSSR reasons, many European nations (and not only those groups in them, that were early German settlers) either joined existing or formed their own SS divisions. Unfortunately, the nazis put those (distinguished by wearing a miniature flag shoulder patch on the SS uniform) in locations where thier own were not successful, perhaps for not knowing the territory. The result was, as B. tells, that they were often sacrificed to preserve the numbers of the Wehrmacht ant the true German SS.

 

Some of these fought to protect their homes and in revenge for atrocities perpetrated by the Soviets after the division of Europe between the 3rd Reich and the USSR by the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and until Hitler attacked the USSR. By an large these did not engage in the atrocities the Nazis were later found to have incurred in turn.

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So they were, like, Little Bastards instead of Big Bastards? Basterds, if you're Brad Pitt. :unsure:

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Hi Brennan, I just finished reading Skeleton's at the Feast which takes place in Germany in 1945 and follows a refugee German family across Germany as they flee the Russian invasion. A protector and companion they pick up along the way is an escaped Jew who has disguised himself as a German soldier. It is a powerful story and carries a similar theme to your poem.

 

Maybe it is because I just read the book that I found your poem less dynamic, too telly. I am a huge fan of your writing and this is the first piece of yours I have read that I felt you missed the mark a bit. I know you had to set the reader up but in places I felt you explained too much. I had little sympathy for your character, she didn't quite come alive.

 

I love the idea behind the poem and as usual the cadence of your words sets the tone. I could almost hear the German accent.

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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Hiya Tink,

 

I'm actually kind of chuffed to hear I wrote a poem you didn't like ... strange as that may seem. I never consciously write to please people and every now and then they are not pleased, and waste no time in telling me so!! Tough: shrug and move on.

 

It's hard to get things right, to get them accurate ... you know? ... without sounding like a dictionary. I try and fail. Every now and then I try and succeed. It's the trying bit that makes it interesting and worthwhile

 

I love the way you consistently mispell my name. No worries, it's a totally different spelling in Irish!

 

Siochán leat,

Da Fella Over Dere, da Weirdy inda Corner.

Jayz, 'ja ever see such a fuckin eejit, Mary?

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Hello my favorite Irish poet, Sorry about the name thing :icon_redface: .... Bren sounds curt to me and dedulus too impersonal and I guess I have been consistently unsure of the Brendan, Brennan, Bren??? thing. I apologize.

 

As for not liking your poem, I liked it, it just didn't move me as most of your others have. I totally admire, respect and envy your writing talent and skill. You have the perfect balance of soul, intellect and craft in most of your poetry. I wish I could write like that just a tenth of the time. In the case of this poem, I think the intellect got the better of the soul and the skill. I don't want beat a dead horse but I wonder if you truly empathized with your character? (soul) And I think you should have trusted your readers more to get it without spelling out "Adolph Hitler". (skill) Just my perspective. It is no big deal, it is still a good poem. Past time to "shrug and move on" ;) .

 

~~Tink

~~ © ~~ Poems by Judi Van Gorder ~~

For permission to use this work you can write to Tinker1111@icloud.com

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None of these things really work, you must know that. Every poem is an exercise in frustration. It takes 10, 15, 20 years to finally get a poem to the point where you can say, OK, that's the definitive final form! And that's only the poems you care about. Dozens and dozens of others just simply slip away.

 

But you were so nice and tactful and lovely ... ahhhh!

 

Bren

Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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None of these things really work, you must know that. Every poem is an exercise in frustration. It takes 10, 15, 20 years to finally get a poem to the point where you can say, OK, that's the definitive final form! And that's only the poems you care about. Dozens and dozens of others just simply slip away.

 

But you were so nice and tactful and lovely ... ahhhh!

 

Bren

 

That is a good attitude to take, friend Brendan, but ,please, I enjoy your telling and hate to see you turn this pessimistic. When a poem springs to your mind, just write down whatever comes. It will not come again, not in that rightling though crude shape. We all have time enough later to shift the shit to keep the gems. And if not? So what! At least we have had the fun of doing. The other is for the wallflowers.

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