Skip main navigation

“Hunger”

dvf sdf sdf df
Photograph of Peter Kest on the cover of the Hebrew translations of his early poetry

And now to the young boy in a concentration camp.

Itamar Yaos-Kest was born in 1934 in Sarvash, Hungary as Peter (Petr) Kest and after the Germans invaded in March 1944, he began his childhood Holocaust trauma as a boy of ten years old. Fortunately, he was surrounded by his family right through the terrible camp conditions of Bergen-Belsen in northern Germany and against all probability, both parents and the two children survived more than six months in the camp. This camp was not one of the six extermination camps built by the Germans, all of which were in German occupied Poland, but the death rate in this concentration camp was particularly high from typhus outbreaks and impossibly low food allocations. On scraps of paper his parents procured for him, he began writing his first poems as a ten-year-old in the camp. Itamar Yaos-Kest has a large oeuvre of poetry written over the years and lives in Tel-Aviv.

We present to you a short poem called “Hunger”, written in the Bergen-Belsen camp in the winter of 1944 by the ten-year old Peter Kest. Itamar Kest, the adult, testifies to the fact that he found a piece of packing paper on which he wrote his first poem which he claims today is a symbol of, and representative of all the poems he wrote thereafter.

Hunger

My stomach complains and I mumble quietly to myself:

To eat? Not to eat?

It is such a small piece of bread after all.

To drink? Not to drink?

What is there to drink? Tell me, you folk

Filthy water with blood?

Fire will I send through the land,

Curses will I aim at the heavens

And I will dream of my next meal.

This article is from the free online

Poetry and the Holocaust

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education