World War II Poetry

Annotated Bibliography

A Web Page by Sorelle Friedler

Photograph of a mess line at Manzanar Relocation Center


Welcome to a page about all of the wonderful sources that I used. I apologize for any possible copyright restrictions that I may have overlooked.

If you click on any of the book names you will be sent to a web page where you can order it if you wish.

Aaron, Frieda W. Bearing the Unbearable; Yiddish and Polish Poetry in the Ghettos and Concentration Camps. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990

In this book there are many poems written in ghettos and concentration camps. The editor also comments on these poems and talks about how they relate to other poems written during that time period or about that time period. Many of these poems are depressing, but some are also happy and look back on old times fondly. The editor has chosen to discuss a wide variety of subjects and moods in the poems. The authors of the poems and their lives are also discussed so that there is some background for the poems. This should all help me understand the poetry and compare it to other poems written in ghettos and concentration camps and to poems written in Japanese internment camps.


Daniels, Roger, Sandra L. Taylor, and Harry H. L. Kitano. Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress. University of Washington Press, 1986. 28-30.

These are three poems written by Tojo Suyemoto Kawakami when in a Japanese internment camp. They helped me to compare the poetry written in Japanese internment camps to the poetry written in the concentration camps in Europe. The author talked directly about being in the internment camp in the poem "Barracks Home" and described the living conditions. The other two poems mentioned the camp, but one described the desert around it and the sounds and voices and the other dealt more with thoughts. 


Downing, Ferne. Cactus Blossoms. Pasadena, California: b s.n.,1945?

It was very hard to find poetry written by children in the Japanese internment camps and I am very grateful to have found a copy of this booklet at the Swarthmore College Peace Collection. This booklet contains lots of poetry written in the Japanese internment camps by children in a school set up in Gila Relocation Center. The poems are sweet and simple. They show the hope, sadness, perseverance and the strength of the students who wrote them.


Ravitch, Diane. The American Reader: Words That Moved a Nation. New York: Harper Perennial, 1990

This book contains three poems written in the Japanese internment camps. These poems are in a three line format called senryu. Background information about the Japanese internment is also given.


Schiff, Hilda. Holocaust Poetry. New York: St. Martin's, 1995

This book is a perfect source of Holocaust poetry. The poems are in sections by time period so I can tell which ones were written during the Holocaust and which ones were written afterwards. These poems were mostly written by adults and I think it is interesting to see that this poetry is much different than the poems in Cactus Blossoms and I never saw another butterfly.. These poems are more descriptive of the hardships and seem less hopeful.

Volavková, Hana. I never saw another butterfly.. New York: Schocken Books, 1978

This is a book of drawings and poetry written in Terezín Concentration Camp by children. There is a wonderful epilogue by Jirí Weil and short biographies about the authors and artists about whom there is information.

The World War II Poetry Main Page

A Paper Comparing World War II Poetry

World War II Poetry

Annotated Bibliography

Other Sites That May Be Of Use

The Japanese Internment

Concentration Camps and Ghettos