In her poem Bashert, Irena Klepfisz attempts to create a summation of reasons for why one either survived or died in the Holocaust. Written without any punctuation, Bashert may be looked at Klepfisz own attempt to convince herself that there did exist explanations to why some died while others lived. However, at the end of each dedication Klepfisz comes to the conclusion that the only real reason for living or dying is because it is Bashert (inevitable).
The poem starts out as a dedication to those who died. The dedication to the dead contains 23 explanations to why the dead died. Many of these reasons are contradictory. For example, "These words are dedicated to those who died
because they played it safe
because they took risks." Klepfisz ends her dedication with the solitary Yiddish word Bashert.
The poem then turns to a dedication to those who survived. The dedication to the survivors contains 18 explanations to why the living survived. Like in the dedication to the dead, many of the reasons contradict themselves. Klepfisz presents several images of poor human character within this dedication before ending the dedication with the word Bashert.
Klepfisz ends both dedications with statements about life and death. Some of those who survived did so by: acting like primate animals, living off others and having no principles. In this regard, Klepfisz calls to the reader's inner sense of human dignity and morality to distinguish when the true gift is life and when it is death.
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