The Dancer of Melody Palace

by Paul Hartal

How is your beer?

Good. Bavaria brews the best beers in the world.

That is true. So what did you do in the war?

I was in the Russian front, wounded three times. How about you?

I was an SS guard in Auschwitz and Birkenau.

Was not that boring?

It was routine work. But unusual things had happened.

Don’t tell me that you ran out of Cyclon B for the gas chambers.

No. But on October 23, 1943, we had some trouble
with a transport of 1,700 Jews who arrived from Bergen Belsen.

What sort of trouble?

Well, as usual, before gassing them we told them to undress.
In this group was a young and beautiful dancer, Franceska Mann.
She worked at the famous Melody Palace nightclub in Warsaw.

This sounds to me more like a musical than real trouble.

Just wait. Ogling Franceska, Sergeant-Major Schillinger
ordered her to undress completely. Yet she stood there hesitating.
Since others were slow as well we began to deliver blows
to the women to speed up the process. Then suddenly this Jewess,
the dancer, threw her shoe or something into Schillinger’s face.

What? Are you serious?

Yes, I am.

And he did not shoot her on spot?

Well, the sergeant-major tried. Astonished and furious
he opened his gun holster but Franceska was faster. She seized
his pistol and shot him twice in the stomach, wounding him mortally.

It is hard to believe this.

Yes, indeed. And she also managed to fire a third shot
injuring SS Sergeant Emmerich. In the ensuing commotion
the desperate women attacked the guards,
severing the nose of an SS soldier and scalping another.

How could you let this happen?

We were taken by complete surprise. This thing never happened before.
I am embarrassed to tell you this but we fled from these women.

So what is the end of the story?

We returned of course soon with machine guns and grenades,
led by camp commandant Rudolf Hoess.
We took the women outside and shot them one by one.
This ended the revolt of the Jewish women in Birkenau.

What about Schillinger? Did he survive?

No. he died of his wounds. Some say he was groaning
and asking God why he has to suffer like this.

Paul Hartal, Postmodern Light; Montreal and San Diego: Orange Monad Editions, 2006, p. 99

Paul Hartal's picture

A man of many Odysseys, Paul Hartal is a Canadian poet, author and artist born in Szeged, Hungary. His critically acclaimed books include Postmodern Light (poetry, 2006), Love Poems (2004), The Kidnapping of the Painter Miró (novel, 1997, 2001), The Brush and the Compass (1988), Painted Melodies (1983) and A History of Architecture (1972) ., In 1975 he published in Montreal A Manifesto on Lyrical Conceptualism. Lyco Art is a new element on the periodic table of aesthetics, which intertwines the logic of passion with the passion of logic. In 1980 the Lyrical Conceptualist Society hosted the First International Poetry Exhibition in Montreal., In 1978 Hartal exhibited his paintings at the Musée du Luxembourg and the Raymond Duncan Gallery in France and his canvas Flowers for Cézanne won the Prix de Paris. He also has displayed his oeuvre in museums and galleries in New York, Montreal, Budapest, as well as many other places., He approaches poetry with the credo that the heart of poetry is the poetry of the heart. A recurring theme of his recent work explores the human tragedies of wars and genocides.

Last updated March 12, 2012