2nd volume, no. 14

Introduction to the content

Bloch’s poems have generally addressed the war in Europe but now he looks beyond his immediate surroundings on the continent, to Japan, which allied with Germany and Italy to form the Axis Powers. In February 1944, due to “urgent wartime measures,” the authorities in Tokyo order a year-long closure of Japan’s tea houses and geisha houses and geishas were ordered to work in the munitions factories. Poor Little Geisha … is a sardonic taunt, ridiculing the Land of the Rising Sun. Bloch mocks that they are finally forced to take the war seriously, the romance is over, and the genteel strangely costumed entertainers must now instead manufacture grenades.

Three newspaper articles – one from March 1938 and two from March 1944 – form the prompt for Bloch’s poem The Big Mouth. Hermann Göring’s 1938 speech in 1938, which boasts of the Germany’s “invincible air force” fades over the ensuing six years and two articles from 1944 describe the Allies “cruel bombing terror” and a “duel to the death” with the American aircraft industry. Bloch shows how Nazi leadership’s saber rattling, which promised security and freedom – peace and prosperity – has actually brought war and ruination.

The Nazi press calls to the Dutch citizens to enlist in the navy. Five lines from a famous Dutch poet and clergyman Petrus Augustus de Génestet (1829–1861) precede the announcement, which Bloch sees as a Misuse of De Génestet. The youth of the Netherlands should not heed this Nazi call. It’s a lose/lose proposition. Serving the German occupiers would be a “contemptible betrayal” and mean certain death.

With Joseph, Oh Joseph, I Feel So Sick, Curt Bloch offers his readers a “new OWC hit.” He lightheartedly presents a dialogue between Hermann Göring and Joseph Goebbels in stanzas. The Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich and the Reich Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda complain that they don’t feel at all well, now that they realize that there is no salvation in sight, either Germany, which lies in ruins or for themselves.

Dr. Theo Morell (1886–1948) served Adolf Hitler as His Personal Physician during World War II. He was responsible for the Führer’s medical care and became known for his unorthodox medical treatments, which involved long lists of medications including cocaine, barbiturates, and painkillers to enhance the Führer’s strength and relieve gas. On the occasion of Morell being awarded the Knight’s Cross, Curt Bloch is annoyed that Morell does not kill the “monster” and protects it from harm. Adolf Hitler is the “cancerous tumor of the world,” and when Hitler eventually goes to hell, Morell will accompany him.

The Atlantic Wall was an extensive fortification system built by German occupation forces along the coasts of Western Europe during World War II to prevent an Allied invasion. The poem Those at the Atlantic Wall is written from the perspective of Wehrmacht soldiers stationed at the constructed bunker complexes for a long time. They wonder how their families in Germany are doing, why they continue to serve despite the hopeless situation and certainty of defeat. They wake up every morning wondering when the British troops will arrive and why they are still alive.