Jewish lawyer confronts Holocaust with poetry

Menachem Rosensaft was born within walking distance of a place that was conceived for death and where his mother barely survived.

The Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

The international lawyer, expert on genocide law, and American Jewish community leader, has tried to reconcile his life story and a conflicted relationship with God.

Poetry has helped and he’ll be releasing a book, “Poems Born in Bergen-Belsen", in April to mark the Jewish day of remembrance for Holocaust victims.

Children inhabit many of the poems, inspired by his mother's five and a half year old son Benjamin, killed along with his father and grandparents on arrival at Auschwitz in 1943.

Here he reads one of his poems and explains his reasons for writing.

"Ashes, not dew, covered Your mornings, dying children saw your back, did not hear Your voice.

"My mother's last memory was her son asking her, this is a five-and-a-half year-old child, asking her: "Mummy, are we going to live or die?" And my mother said she did not answer the question, she could not answer the question. Perhaps my poems are a way to give my brother and through him the million to million-and-a-half other children, a measure of immortality. As we go forward, yes, we need to keep the presence, the memory of the Holocaust alive not just to commemorate the dead, which of course is critical, and to keep the remembrance as a kind of a spiritual element, which is critical, but we also need it in order as a warning. This is what can happen if racism, if fascism, if white supremacy are allowed to go unchecked, are allowed to go to their unfortunately very logical extremes."