Forward and Forward!!!

gans

Dál a dál!!!
Vždy dál a dál, stále jen vpřed,
života bojem k zářné nebi blíž,
nedbáti bouří, přijímat rány,
neklesnout.
Jéti bliž a blíž.
Starý rváč s životem, ryl ve svuj
štít.

Forward and Forward!!!
Always moving forward and forward, constantly just ahead,
Through life’s struggles, closer toward the bright sky.
Not worrying about storms, accepting wounds,
Not falling back.
Moving closer and closer.
“The old warrior of life” — engraved on his
shield.

— Peter Gans
(Trans. by Karina Slovakova and S. N. Johnson-Roehr)

Petr Gans was living in Plzeň, Czechoslovakia. He was sent from Plzeň to the Terezín (Theresienstadt) concentration camp on January 22, 1942. While at Terezín, Petr wrote this poem in his diary, which he then gave Michael (Misa) Grunbaum, another boy at the camp. On October 19, 1944 Petr was sent to Auschwitz, where he was murdered.

[Research note: though it’s signed “Petr Gans,” this poem is sometimes attributed to Petr Ginz, another Czechoslovakian boy who was imprisoned at Terezín (Ginz was murdered at Auschwitz at the age of 16). A comparison of drawing styles and handwriting shows these were two different boys. Czech transportation and death records support this conclusion.]

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