"In the woods. No water, no fire — great hunger.
Where could the children sleep? No tent.
We could not light the fire at night.
By day, the smoke would alert the Germans.
How to live with children in the cold of winter?
All are barefoot…
When they wanted to murder us,
first they forced us to hard labor.
A German came to see us.
— I have bad news for you.
They want to kill you tonight.
Don’t tell anybody.
I too am a dark Gypsy,
of your blood — a true one.
God help you
in the black forest…
Having said these words,
he embraced us all…" Papusza 1908 – 1987
This is a story of pain, suffering and kindness of the Romanies who fled the danger of the German Nazis. The pain and suffering of walking for days barefoot through a rocky forest with no food or water, shivering from the cold, in consent fear of being found. A consistent theme throughout the poem is of Papusza describing nature and often asking nature for help, which reflects the peaceful and harmonious lifestyles that the Gypsies lived. This poem has given me a haunting look into what the Romani people experienced during the war and has helped to inform and inspire my work.