Wednesday, March 07, 2012

In memory of the comic genius of Karel Svenk (1907-45)
Terezin was a
model ghetto created
to dazzle the Red
Cross not all that far from Prague,
with a cafeteria,
a kindergarten,
a school, a synagogue,
shops and concert halls.
For more than a year the trains
cancelled passenger service
to Auschwitz, and life
was a cabaret: Mahler
and Mendelssohn were
more than fashionable and
the musical theater
of Karel Svenk's "Last
Cyclist", an inside gander
at dictatorship
that begged nothing from Chaplin,
tunneled under the structure
of the Reich to packed
houses most every night.
The cyclists wore Cs
on their jackets: No doubt their
grandfathers had shamelessly
pedaled through the streets
of Prague on their bicycles.
When the starry-eyed
Red Cross folks left Terezin,
the trains began to recruit
passengers en masse,
and Svenk caught a quick one for
a roundabout trip
to Meuselwitz, near Leipzig,
where forced factory work on
an empty stomach
punched his ticket--just as this
small child began to
listen to the V.E. Day
hooplah on the radio.