Author’s note: I was quite young, still in elementary school, during World War II, but I do have vivid memories. My cousin Mario was in the army, and we exchanged letters often. I recall the time when he was caught up in the Battle of the Bulge, that long, horrific struggle when the German army made a fierce attempt to turn back the allied armies that were heading for Germany. It lasted about a month and a half, and I remember how I rushed home after school hours, eager for the latest radio reports. Mario survived that battle, and he survived the war. But many, some who had lived in the neighborhood where I grew up, never returned. Throughout the war, our local movie house usually showed a brief News-of-the-World report before the feature film. I remember the hissing and booing whenever the face of Hitler appeared on screen. And the awesome silence, the sense of horror, when we saw images of the concentration-camp victims, the living and the dead, filmed when American soldiers reached the camps and liberated those who were still alive. More than half a century has gone by since those terrible times, yet I’m quite aware that some of the scenes in The Lüftwaffe in Chaos will be difficult for those who lost relatives during Hitler’s violent persecution of the Jews. My intention, in writing these poems, was not to add to anyone’s grief, but to contribute, in the small way that poetry can, toward the prevention of such horrors in the future. More than a century ago, George Santayana wrote: “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Or, as others say, those who forget the devils of the past, are condemned to fall victim to the devils of the present.
Rinaldi, Nicholas. (1985). The Lüftwaffe in chaos : poems . Mobile, Ala. : Negative Capability Press.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/nicholas_rinaldi/1/