On October 18, 2009, at the Bethesda, Md., The Writer’s Center held a reading of Holocaust survivor Hilda Stern Cohen‘s work, published for the first time in English–translated from her native German–in Words That Burn Within Me.
Her husband Dr. Werner Cohen laid the groundwork for the reading by describing how he came upon her journals after her passing and how he strove to bring those writings to publication. She wrote about 150 poems in addition to her prose.
Initially his wife’s writings were published in German: Genagelt ist meine Zunge. The Words That Burn Within Me, which is the English publication, took its title from one of Cohen’s poems, which “bitterly laments how her own sense of self is tied to a language and culture that sought to destroy her.”
He also did a delightful and impassioned introduction of the unique qualities of her writing, particularly since she observed not only her own suffering but that of those around her in the Lodz Ghetto and the concentration camp of Auschwitz.
Gail Rosen read from Words That Burn Within Me, which include not only Rosen’s interview material with Hilda before her death, but also Hilda’s essays and poetry. I’m going to let the videos I shot during the reading speak for themselves.
For more about the reading, please visit my D.C. Literature Examiner page.
I wanted to point out that Hilda Stern Cohen lived in Baltimore, Md., with her husband and children, though most of her writing did occur in a “displaced persons camp” following WWII and the Holocaust, I think Marylanders can claim her as their own.