Theresienstadt Tree

Sapling from the Theresienstadt Tree, Philadelphia Holocaust Memorial Plaza

“There are times when dreams sustain us more than facts. To read a book and surrender to a story is to keep our very humanity alive.”

—Helen Fagin, from a letter recounting the clandestine school she set up in the Warsaw Ghetto. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began April 19, 1943, on the eve of Passover.


From the ghetto,

we rose strengthened by dreams,


bolstered and braced by



we escaped

through stories of hope


and love



to rise.


We fought

for survival


We fought

for our humanity.


We fought

to keep magic alive–


but remembering always

the ghosts.

This is a quadrille for my dVerse prompt, using the word rise.  The Theresienstadt Tree seemed a good symbol, especially on Earth Day.

61 thoughts on “Rise

  1. Wow, a powerful message; so much tamped into 44 wonderful and sad and hopeful words. Passover, Easter and Earth Day; what a magnificent melange

  2. Thank you for sharing Helen Fagin’s words, Merril, and for reminding us of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. It’s heartbreaking to think that human beings survived on memories and ghosts.

    • Thank you, Kim. It is tragic and heartbreaking–and those words don’t seem strong enough. My daughter posted something about how Friday night, which was the first night of Passover this year was also the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, and then I saw this post about Helen Fagin, so I felt compelled to write about it.

  3. So many who survived those years in incredibly dreadful conditions were yet able to rise above somehow. You’ve managed to encapsulate their journey in 44 words. Amazing!

  4. Heart wrenching. Thank you for sharing the story of Helen Fagin. You honoured the courage of survivors in a beautiful way. This is powerful….”we escaped through stories of hope and love determined to rise.”

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