On hearing witness Bob Behr speak at the National Holocaust Museum on April 16, 2015

He said the thing that kept
his family from leaving Germany during
the atrocities
in the 1930s was the hope
life would get better under
the Nazis. It didn’t.
We know the rest of the story.

He said at the darkest point in the concentration camp
he was on the verge
of suicide, because he didn’t want to give the Nazis
the satisfaction
of killing him.
But he saw people marching from East
to West, pushing baby carriages, pushing
farming carts. He knew if they were going East,
it meant they were running from the defeated side,
that the Nazis were losing
the war.
That gave him hope.
Hope to carry on and live because the war
would be over soon.
Sometimes hope is hard to find. But he found a reason
to go on, to keep on living, to find meaning.

Hope is a crushed magnolia blossom. Even though
the blossom falls from the tree,
it will bloom next year,
and every year after that,
until it falls down, or the world ends,
whichever comes first.


Photography © Shannon O'Connor

Photography © Shannon O’Connor


Shannon O’Connor holds an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College. She has been published in several journals including The Wilderness House Literary Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Meeting House Magazine and others. She writes during the day and at night she works for the corporate grind.