When my mother's friends wrote their poems and proverbs in her poesiealbum in 1938, they could not possibly have imagined what lay ahead in their lives, or in the world's history.  My mother escaped Nazi Germany before that country unleashed the worst of the anti-Jewish terror, later called the Holocaust, on millions of innocent people throughout Europe.  Many of her friends were not so fortunate.  Many died in the Holocaust.

I hope that when you read The Year of Goodbyes, you are as awed by the emotional power of the handwritten poesiealbum entries reproduced in that book as I was when I first saw them.  I hope they will remind you that every target of hate and bigotry is a person, with thoughts, dreams, laughter--and a distinct handwriting.

I invite you to send me your own page for this Poesiealbum Project.  Students, adults--you are all welcome.  And if you (or a family member) lived through the Nazi era, I would be honored if you would share some of your experience here.

Here are some ideas to help you get started.

I.  Say something, in six lines or less:

       - about a wrong in the world that you want to make better
       - describing what you will do to combat bigotry and hatred
       - to inspire someone who faces great adversity or fear
       - reaching out to someone who's different from you--or who's an "outsider" in the community
       - to Jutta (the main character in The Year of Goodbyes--and my mother)
       - to one of Jutta's friends in The Year of Goodbyes
       - to the young people in Nazi Germany in 1938 who chose to discriminate against, or torment, their  Jewish neighbors
       - to friends or classmates today who choose to ridicule people they deem "undesirable" or unacceptably different

II.  Goodbyes:  In the book, Jutta must say goodbye to many friends. If you had three lines in which to write a goodbye message to someone important to you, what would you write?

III.  A Suitcase:  Jutta must leave behind many treasured possessions. If you had to leave your home forever--and could pack only one suitcase--what would you take with you?

IV.  Your Story.  Please share a few lines about your own, or a family member's or friend's, experience brought about by the the Holocaust.

You can write your poesiealbum entry in the comment form on this page.  I also welcome handwritten pages, which you can scan and send to me as attachments to an email.  Regular emails are fine, too.  Write poetry, write prose; send drawings and scans of documents related to your entry.  Send your page to

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