I’ve posted a few times about Abramek Koplowicz (see here), a 14-year-old Polish boy from Lodz whose life was snuffed out by the Holocaust (he was sent to Auschwitz). But before he died, he wrote some lovely poems, poems kept alive by his stepbrother Eliezer Grynfeld (who recently died at 97), who donated Abramek’s book of poems to Yad Vashem (see below). The poems were translated into English by my friends Malgorzata Koraszewska and Sarah Lawson (see post here) and were turned into a wonderful illustrated and hand-printed-and-bound art book by Kelly Houle, which you can still buy here.
Koplowicz’s most poignant poem is called “A Dream,” about his wish to soar above his life in the ghetto and travel the world in an airplane, his “motorized bird.” You can read the English translation here.
Now, in a lovely story published at Aish.com, Abramek’s wish lives on, in the form of a pilot for the Israeli Air Force. You can read the story by clicking on the screenshot below:
Look at the subtitle above, which makes me tear up, for I’ve lived with Abramek’s poem for a long time.
For Lieutenant C, one of Israel’s newest air force graduates, a poem written by a 13-year-old Holocaust victim about flying an airplane to the Holy Land has been a source of daily inspiration ever since he read it nine months into his training.
“When I am twenty years old,” Abramek Koplewiczwrote in his poem entitled Dream, “In a motorized bird I’ll sit, and to the reaches of space I’ll rise. I will fly, I will float, to a beautiful faraway world…”
The only son of Mendel and Yocheved Gittel Koplewicz, Abramek was ten years old when he and his parents were ordered into the Lodz Ghetto by the Nazis in 1940. A talented writer who wrote stories, poems and a diary in a notebook his parents gave him, he was deported to Auschwitz in 1944. Dream was written in 1943 when Abramek was just 13 years old and is now displayed in multiple languages in Yad Vashem’s gallery dedicated to the Lodz Ghetto.
The names of Israeli pilots are not given lest they be shot down and survive, for, if identified as pilots, they’d be dealt with “harshly”. At any rate, the pilot went to Vad Yashem, saw Abramek’s book (below), and so Abramek’s name lives on:
Along with the other air force cadets, C had taken a week out of combat training for a weeklong IDF educational seminar. One of the days included a trip to Yad Vashem.
“I don’t know how long I stood there reading it but I was literally shaking and weeping as I realized I was living out his dream. I couldn’t speak.”
“In the air force, the planes are named after birds. So when I read those words ‘I’ll sit in a bird with an engine,’ I felt even more connected to this little boy’s dream. He wrote down the poem and memorized it. “When I first began flight training, I said over the poem before takeoff and every time since I have stepped inside a cockpit to fly. It reminds me that I am living his dream every time I fly.”
Here’s Abramek’s notebook in Yad Vashem, and a photo of the donation by Eliezer, whose nickname was Lolek):
Here’s Abramek’s half brother donating his poems to Yad Vashem.