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by Paul Celan

Deathfugue Suffering Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (line)

Quote #4

he shouts scrape your strings darker you'll rise then in smoke to the sky
you'll have a grave then in the clouds there you won't lie too cramped (lines 26-27)

Another kind of suffering faced by the prisoners is humiliation and loss of dignity. No doubt the Jewish musicians who play the "Death Tango" love music. But from now on their thoughts of music will be associated with graves and executions. To force the prisoners to dance while they dig grave is to make them do what is most painful and least appropriate. It was all part of the Nazi method of dehumanization.

Quote #5

he shoots you with shot made of lead shoots you level and true
a man lives in the house your goldenes Haar Margarete
he looses his hounds on us grants us a grave in the air (lines 32-34)

Notice how the poem draws the reader in here: he shoots you. We are placed alongside the Jews in the line of fire. These prisoners have suffered so much that the execution scene can only be understated and ironic. There is nothing to be shocked by anymore. Instead of "he murders us," which is the reality, the speaker says that he "grants us a grave in the air."

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