1942

My old Uncle George in his leder hosen
His Bavarian jacket and Tyrolean hat
Strolled the sidewalk smoking
A carved pipe curling wings of slate and white.

It didn’t seem fair when the children taunted
Nazi!
Uncle George was so kind. Mama said
Those kids were plain ignorant.

My Japanese neighbors grew begonias.
I cried when they were taken to the camp on the hill,
Greenhouse windows shattering, crackling, broken
By pugilistic children jeering loudly

Dirty Jap!
My neighbors were so kind.
Those kids were plain ignorant.

Today those kids are grown up and
still yell–Nazi! Dirty Jap!
Hypocrites!
Now they drive Mercedes and Toyotas.

Copyright © 1987 Janice Kollitz

“1942”. New American Poets. American Press, 1989

Janice Morris Kollitz is a grand niece
of the late Mr. George Ding, to whom she refers
in the above poem. George was a son of Wenz
and Eva Marie (Jung) DING.

21 responses to “1942

  1. As we grow up, we are heavily influenced by our families, we learn acceptance and tolerance or we learn racism and bigotry. It is the responsibility of our current generation to surpass the fear and ignorance and rise to tolerance and change

    • Your statement is so accurate. Though I was only a small child when I saw man’s inhumanity to man when my neighbors were hauled away and had their property confiscated, I understood the severity of the situation. My parents wanted me to grow up “seeing” and “hearing” the world around me. I loved my Japanese neighbors. The wife would always give me a flower when I walked past with my grandfather or Uncle George. What tiny girl doesn’t love a person who gives her beautiful flowers?

  2. There are many ignorant people even in todays time, how about calling a christian arab a terreorist?

  3. People are even more ignorant now days. Its sad to hear someone speak like that about someone else is very sad because we are all equal.

  4. It goes to show how ignorant people really are.

  5. People are born igornate but can change with proper guideance, but the parents are not willing to properly educate their kids with morals. If the parents act igornate then their childern are more like to behave the same way. The world is filled with hateful and disrespectful people but it how the rest react to these people that make then better.

  6. Its amazes me how people are so ignorant. They will do whatever it takes to get what they want and don’t appreciate what they have.

  7. Its amazes me how people are so ignorant. They will do whatever it takes to get what they want and dont appreciate what they have.

  8. Ignorance is something anyone comes between with with anyone in life. If it’s from family, friends, or classmates. It will not get anyone anywhere with that behavior. Everybody should just be more understanding and not closed minded.

  9. Ignorance is such an ugly thing, same for misplaced anger. It is even more frustrating when people do not realize the things they are saying are possibly harmful and offensive. This also reminds me of how bad stereotyping can be. It is true that sterotyping, to a point, has some sort of validity, but to say that every German or German descendant person is a Nazi is unfair.

  10. wow. this poem is very powerful and yet very true. it makes me wonder what kinds of people were driving the benz’s and bmw’s

  11. I really find it sad on how much ignorance and hate there is in this world. We are often faced with ignorance on daily basis however sometimes we just have to be the bigger persons and just ignore these people.

  12. Unfortunately, this behavior comes from people chosen not to think on their own. Its easier for some people to believe the mainstream than comprise their own opinion about situations.

  13. I like this poem, becaus it’s a your reflection on the history that was in the making. It also goes to show that how your raised effects your personality. And thos kids grew up to be exactly what they were raised to be, followers.

  14. I see this type of ignorance every day. You cant beleive every think you hear. You cant be affaid to have your own opinion, seek the truth before you speak.

  15. It is so sadning that someone is willing to call someone names without knowing the meanings. There ignorance is somthing that many will not admire especially if it is done with the intent to hurt someone.

  16. I guess ignorance is applied on both sides on this. Although a person’s views may be intolerant to a cetain group of people, it doesn’t mean the other person should stoop to their level. The circle of hate would never end.

  17. Unfortunately people turn a blind eye to the source of material things and leave the historical side of things out of mind. Its easy to grab a Mercedes or Toyota and not understand that the people that are being called names are in fact the ones that are manufacturing the vehicle. People are ignorant today and it saddens me to think that my children are going to grow up in the generation that seems to have forgotten about the history of our world, more importantly the history of our nation.

  18. I can’t put my finger on it, but I am really fond of this poem. It captures so emotion without having to use charged words. Who was the poet who wrote this?

  19. I love this poem, it really shows how ignorant and intolerant that people can be. People go along with the trends of society and take on others views. This is not how the world should be.

  20. When I look at events in history such as the persecution of Jews, slavery and most recently segregation in the U.S.; it’s amazing how narrow minded individuals can be. The line about hypocrisy is great.

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