Reading time: 3 min


An old geezer down our boozer

He says his name is Joe.

The numbers on his arm explain

A life of pain and woe.

Someone said he was a German –

Or he might have been a Pole

Who as a child saw the pit of hell

And never grew up to be whole.


He tells of children from windows thrown,

Starvation, disease, hope gone,

He stood helpless, scared and alone,

While others, just looked on.

He never saw his family again

Taken away and gassed,

While he had to face his future apart

Just another of the damned amassed.


In a nightmare world where all hope had gone

He was marched from camp to camp

Trying to stay alive on the road

In the biting snow and damp.

Then at Buchenwald’s door salvation came

From soldiers to rescue not slay,

Finding new homes for these children of pain

In a land not too far away.


Joe drinks his pint, says he once met the Queen

We asked him ‘What did you say?’

He told her, ‘Ma’am this could happen again

‘If hatred has its way.


‘For everywhere there are those that jeer

‘At others ‘not quite the same’

‘With darker skins, or different clothes, or beliefs with another name.

‘We must unite and challenge these views

‘Whenever we hear them spoke,

‘Together we stand, united we fall

‘Under the terror of racism’s yoke.’


I didn’t see old Joe again

I heard he moved away.

It’s now our turn to spread his words

And recall what he had to say.

To break the wheel of racism’s hate

To love and value all –

Or else we’ll face a dreadful fate

Because we ignored this call.




  • The 45 Aid Society came about after the British government offered to allow 1,000 children who had survived the camps to settle in the UK, but the Nazi killing machine had been so brutal that only 732 could be found. ‘Joe’ was one of these children – he was 17 when he arrived here in 1945. Find out more here


  • Beaky is a Unite activist and occasional poet

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