And whilst this ghastly circumstance is not yet clear,
Remain you do at front of thoughts and tip of heart.
I write this letter to you as my hours wane
So that I may not leave you questioning the blame.
For six days now we have been here beneath the ground.
It shakes most terribly from moon to rising sun.
The thunder never stops, it echo’s all around
And we, like rats trapped firm within the adders run,
Live out the final days amongst beloved friends,
As our most revered Fatherland meets dire ends.
Beneath the ravaged city streets we make our stand.
Our glorious and honoured leader comforts me
And puts to rest the fears I had for our great land.
For I will stay against your fathers protestings
And see the final days out with your dear siblings.
And treated other nations with untold cruelty,
For this the victors will exact their retribution
But cannot let them think that we are cowardly.
The right to life is rightly left with whom it fits
But we have lost this right and now must forfeit it.
And as you sift through it with but the finest brush
All the beauty I have known in life and style
Will dirty and befoul your thoughts of me, of us.
The world that comes after the Fuhrer is no more,
Is not the world that I would wish us to endure.
I hope that you, my darling son, will understand.
I cannot see, or wish to see, the rising sun
Over the fallen cities of our Fatherland,
And neither do I wish your siblings eyes to bear
The buried dreams above, beneath the Russian air.
And as their mother, knew that it was mine to task,
For we have only one goal left, in death we stand
With our most noble father, this he need not ask.
And were the children old enough to have a voice,
We know with little doubt they would support our choice.
(They had been so exhausted from the shell shocked streets)
Their little eyes stared fairy like from tiny beds.
Their golden hair in ribbons fell upon the sheets.
But I had no anguish, and felt no need to weep,
For I was sending them to their most blissful sleep.
And drearily they slipped into their peaceful rest.
I looked upon the cyanide without remorse
And lent before them, one by one, upon their chest.
Their little teeth I opened up a fraction, then,
I slipped the capsule in and brought them down again.
The slightest crack and within moments it was done,
They did not suffer, here I was most merciful.
I then repeated this and quickly, one by one
Your six sweet siblings no more had to fear our fall.
I covered up their faces most respectfully
You are my blood and know that you will see me pure,
That only by my love did I perform this deed.
A mothers love is complex but I must assure
That mine is no lesser than others embodied.
They will not grow and age will no more sully them,
Their future is no longer such a vile burden.
But far greater a tragedy happened last night,
(I do not know that I can write this woeful tale!)
Our dearest father, architect of our great Reich
Had locked himself with lovely Eva in his jail.
And though I begged I could not stop their wretched plot,
A double silence followed but a single shot.
We are bereft, our misery is all too rife,
But do not grieve, for this is how we choose it all.
I want to give to you what I have learned in life;
Be loyal to yourself, loyal to the people.
Stay loyal to the Fatherland, to your country.
Be proud of us and keep us in dear memory...
My son, my game of patience now has reached its end
And with it too my life, my soul, will now
Copyright © 2014 by Simon Austin
|Magda Goebbels - 'The First Lady of the Third Reich' |
Pictured with Joseph, Harald (son from her first marriage)
and her six youngest children, whom she murdered on April 30th 1945.
Johanna Maria Magdalena 'Magda' Goebbels was the wife Nazi Germany's Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels. A prominent member of the Nazi party, she was a close ally and political supporter of Adolf Hitler.
As Berlin was being overrun in late April 1945 by the Red Army at the end of World War II, Magda, along with Joseph and their 6 children moved into the Führerbunker underneath the Reich Chancellery, along with Adolf Hitler himself and his closest supporters and advisors. There they awaited the coming Russian army and when it became apparent that there would be no victory, Hitler chose to remain in the complex with Eva Braun, whom he married just 40 hours before he and she committed suicide.
Joseph Goebbels was one of Hitlers most loyal and trusted allies and refused to leave Berlin or Hitlers side, resolving to die also. Magda supported her husbands decision, and on the morning after Hitler and Eva Braun committed suicide, Magda drugged her six children, aged between 5 and 13, and then murdered them by crushing a cyanide pill in their mouths whilst they slept. Her and Joseph justified this act in that they believed had the children been old enough, they would have made this decision also. They were found 2 days later, still in their beds, in their nightclothes with ribbons (which the name of this poem is based) tied in the girls hair.
Immediately after she had murdered her children, Magda was then said to have sat and played a game of patience, before her and her husband left the Führerbunker, where Joseph then shot his wife, before turning the gun on himself. Their bodies were then burned in a shell crater, where they were discovered only partially destroyed the next day but the Red Army.
This poem is based on the letters that Magda sent to her eldest son Harald, whom was a prisoner of war at the time, and letters sent to her sister in law clearly divulging her and her husbands horrific intentions to both themselves and their children. It shows how unbelievable the depths a woman, a supposed mothers, is capable of plunging to in the name of fanaticism and misplaced loyalty.
I finished the poem with the crossing out of the word 'ascend' and replaced it with 'descend' - Magda believed that what she did was truly for the right reason (and therefore assumed that she would ascend to heaven - her words '... and a merciful God will understand me when I will give them the salvation') however as a reader, and as a humanitarian, I have scored this out, replacing it with 'descend' - symbolizing not just the common belief that the soul of a murderer or suicide will be thrown into Hell, but also represents the inevitable downfall of the entire ideology of Nazism and evil.
May she, and so many other thousands like her in those dark times, never rest in peace.