How Aimee Remembers Jaguar: War Poem

Felice Schragenheim and Lilly Wust were gay lovers, who managed to survive together for a brief period in Nazi Germany in 1942-44. Felice was a Jewish resistance fighter, and later died probably on the march between concentration camps in Poland to Germany on December 31st 1944. She was 22. Lily Wust survived the war. Their story is told in the novel ‘Aimee and Jaguar‘ by Erica Fischer, and the movie of the same name, directed by Max Farberbock.  After Felice’s arrest, Lilly Wurst made an audacious attempt to seek out Felice in Theresienstadt, which ended in her being thrown out by the camp commandant. This is Felice/Jaguar, her with Lilly and Lilly in old age:

Felice Schragenheim


And this is a poem by Erin Hopson about them:

To sustain a loss without sinking under it: How Aimee remembers Jaguar

For Felice Schragenheim and Lilly Wust

I. Sepia
photographs of women whose lips rejected
the stretched curve of smiles, instead waited
plump and teasing. It was better if water clung
to pinned curls, trickled and pooled in gullies.
Cattails should fringe the water’s edge.

II. Afternoon
teas that smell of fruit and spice, when brewing
produce more steam than common kinds. See
how stunning an iris in a chipped vase looks.
Add lemon scones and clink of cups held by hands
whose touch caused fires just that morning.

III. Sheets
sink into the spaces between knees, brush bottoms
of feet. The softest parts pursue something equal
to spoon, fingers trace patterns over smooth
and slick terrain. How pliable, the chasm between lovers
where welcome linen soothes the burn.

IV. Dancing
with head rested on satin covered shoulder
the smell of war and sweat is more palatable.
Dizzying twirl and liquor makes the laughter
of fleeing friends less harsh. This was the only place
where women could whisper their true names.

V. On Outings
there would have been sadness. One used to carry
the blanket and one the wicker basket. With only this set,
comparing the size of footprints is less important.
Beyond the cattails, ash and soot cling to the pond,
but comfort is in the scent of spice and fruits and smoke.

This is Erin, who is an HIV/AIDS case manager from Muskegon, Michigan and is unpublished:

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About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Book Reviews, Conflict History, Conflict Movies, Conflict Poetry, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to How Aimee Remembers Jaguar: War Poem

  1. Victor says:

    The facts are that the HIV infection rate amongst teenage have increased by 11 percent this year and among young blacks in the US by 14 percent
    50 percent of US black homosexuals and bi sexuals are now infected by HIV/AIDS

    These programs are not working –in fact they are failing– big time-

    We need a new approach

  2. Victor, how good to hear from you. I trust you are well.

    As you will have seen on my post on post- Apartheid South Africa I was appalled by Mbeki’s attitude on AIDS, and by the failure to step up to cultural as well as scientific treatment issues. I agree wholeheartedly about a new approach for the African American population, but where are the African American leaders to drive this??

    On another old subject, Dylan still seems to be in position, and I heard the head of HR left the university. Any more news on that front that you know? What did you make of the High Court judgement: I thought it very amateur in style and logic.

  3. Its like you read my mind! You seem to know so much about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you could do with some pics to drive the message home a bit, but instead of that, this is fantastic blog. An excellent read. I will certainly be back.

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