Over 80 editions of Vedem magazine- 800 pages of original manuscript - survive thanks to Sidney Taussig. Below is a selection of entries that were considered for inclusion in The Last Boy, but were not due to time and narrative constraints. Each and every word of the magazine is a gift worthy of contemplation. The art work below was created by the boys as well. Each weekly edition included drawings. NB: These are careful translations of the original writings.
Where can I rest my soul, where can I let me body carry me?
What should I toil for, where should I sow my seed?
I lean over you, I stand at the crossroads,
The wall crumbles under me, my age weights me down.
A thousand unknown voices call me from afar,
Whatever I am at I cannot attain,
A terrible loneliness chokes me to death,
And everyone waits for the funeral pyre.
What use are the calluses on the weatherworn faces,
Proudly waiting for the old age to come?
What use is this fading, this piteous sobbing,
Idleness, indifference, what are they to us?
Where can we turn, and to whom surrender?
Where seek salvation, in whom to believe?
Whose advice can we take, and who will return?
Oh, who will pity us, treat us with trust?
Who gave us life to live to the full?
Why myst we die when we just want to live?
Before going forward our footsteps would falter
Our bell is now tolling, and we don’t want to die!
I woefully ask myself, where shall I return to?
Where is my place now, and where will I stand?
I have not gone far. Now I stand at the crossroads
And do not know what I’m to make of my life.
Where can I rest my soul
Where can I let me feet carry me?
Familiar voices call me
Whatever I am at I cannot attain,
Where can I turn, and to whom surrender?
Oh, who will pity me, treat me with trust?
Who gave me life to live to the full?
Why must I die when I just want to live?
My bell is now tolling, and I don’t want to die!
Before going forward my footsteps falter
I have not gone far.
I do not know what I’m to make of my life.
I should like to write as you do, poets,
Of summer’s end, of love and sunny days
Of tender evenings spent in the moonlight
Of birds and flowers, of trees in bud
I should like to say farewell, as you who are free,
With a walk in the woods, with a river, and fruit,
As in times of old when we were like you are
When I was not, today, broken and forlorn
I would like to take leave of the summer as you do,
In the sun, stopped short by my prison grate,
To fondle a fading bud for a while -
I cannot, I cannot - for I live behind bars
I, a tiny creature, beg the world for alms,
That it might not pound me down with its elephant feet,
That it might not burn me up with its fiery brand
Let me live till I’ too old to suckle the breast,
To flight like a man in this age-old struggle
I want to live! I’m hungry. I thirsted after knowledge,
Fate offered it to me soft and smooth
Like a bag of candies with bitter filling
I, a sweet-toothed child, took and tasted
A candy, sweet at first, then an apple of knowledge.
The saves conspired against me, and fate was smooth
Laughing at me, laughing. From the clouds the snow burns.
The waves drive me, the flames devour me.
Time passing throws faded flowers on the rubbish heap,
And many I know used to live from the sun.
I suckle, I drink, and fate offers me its breast,
Though the milk it gives me is no longer sweet,
I and my thoughts are alone together now
We swallow more milk than we need, like smoke
This morning at seven, so bright and so early
Five novels lay there, sewn up in a sack
Sewn up in a sack, like all of our lives,
They lay there, so silent, so silent all five.
Five books that flung back the curtain of silence,
Calling for freedom, and not for the world,
They’re somebody’s novels, someone who loves them….
They called out, they cried, they shed tears, and they pleaded
That they hadn’t been finished, the pitiful five.
They declared to the world that the state trades in bodies
Then slowly they vanished and went out of sight.
They kept their eyes open, they looked for the world
But nothing they found. They were silent, all five
Thirty-three boys took part in the intelligence test this month. There were one hundred questions on all sorts of subjects. Here are a few howlers from the competition. Big Bertha is a name given to: a fat women. The highest mountain range in Europe is: the Himalayas: St. Wenceslas was murdered by: His grandmother. These were just some of the stupid figments of our imagination.
In that gray house, an old woman
Suffered on her bed.
No one knew her.
And as she shriveled away, with God her only succor,
She secretly hugged something to her:
A kind of cardboard box.
When she dies
The ghetto will be her only heir.
How she cried, that helpless woman.
She wanted to live to see her children one more time.
She did not want to die;
She wrung her hands (or clung to her faded souvenir)
Then in the night, dry for lack of water, she died.
I was upset for fully half a day.
When they came for her things in the morning -
Such a beautiful balmy day -
All they found was four simple flowers
And a picture of her son clasped
Tightly in her twisted, stiffened hands.
They took it from her, clumsily roughly,
And tore it up.
I looked at her.
I learned nothing more. But I believe -
That mother and son were burned together
It stopped at the wooden barrier, whistling woefully.
It can’t have wanted to go on,
To a place beyond the grave,
And destroy the colors painted on its body.
Step by step, it covered the new track.
Three children with large wondering eyes
Watches as the wheels turned
And the train drove down the street.
I closed my eyes. So this is what an unbeating heart
Of steel, driven by steam, looks like
It gives the world no choice at all
UNder your wheels, my dear I go a little further
And worms turn green on the iron tracks
They groan, because they’re made of muscle,
And whisper aloud their song of live,
You monster, I’m alive. I too am alive.
At the beginning of this week, a great change took place in the cultural program of our Home. This is due to the extension of the regular school program, which is now taking up the time formerly devoted to the learning circles. Professor Glutty has therefore decided as follows: all existing circles are to be cancelled and replaced every evening by a lecture (on literature, natural science ,etc.) Furthermore, there will be amusing evening programs given by our comedian, H. Beck. Two evenings will be given over to deathly silence when everybody will read or study. After these evenings we shall read to each other in bed from various entertaining or instructive books. The evening lectures will not be held as before, only for interested parties, but for the entire Home.
I stood outside the window and looked in
To a room where hearts are divided
On the bed, a near lifeless skeleton.
Suddenly it lifted its hand, crying:
Come let’s play!
Hug and run and chat!”
The poor miserable figure
was a child again
Rallying against the cold -
and death -
shouting before his days were done:
“Mummy, catch me, I’m a leaf about to fall!
Look how I shiver!"
As his awful song echoed across the barracks,
I - swept up in it - sang along with him.
I should like to give you a short report of the Young People’s Library. The library contains about 35,000 volumes and interest among the youth of Terezin is constantly growing. Valuable books are only available in the reading room. Others may be taken out. The library contains Czech and German literature, boys’ books, various scientific texts, and books on Judaism and Zionism. The library also contains a permanent exhibition of visual art. Every evening there is a program at the library, either a musical evening, a lecture or a slide show. It has never happened before in Terezin, that by combining something private, something public has been created.