The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942

by Karen Alkalay-Gut








Copyright © 2015

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In 1942 the British army decided to look for escape routes from Palestine in the face of the threat of the German invasion. They decided to build a bridge over the large and might Euphrates river in Syria that would be large and strong enough for tanks and military equipment, but were unable to build a structure of this nature within the time and budget limited need.  Arpad Gut, a well-known engineer who had abandoned his burgeoning career in Budapest in the face of violent antisemitism, agreed to help.  Using recycled war materials and radical techniques, he was able to build the bridge in the few months of the highest tide, and created nothing short of a miracle.   The bridge, called the Gut bridge until 1948 when it was sold to Syria, stands today.

                                                Karen Alkalay-Gut

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Dedicated to

Arpad Gut

Bandi Gut

Peter Gut

Yehoshua Fourer

Ezra Gut

And all their ancestors of bridge-making

 

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BUILDING THE BRIDGE

 

To build the bridge over the mighty Euphrates

One begins from both sides at once. 

 

The shallow side is constructed with concrete

And the deeper waters traversed

With a cantilever, section after section

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

Until the two parts meet at the middle,

Join together to become

One noble construction.

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

In times of peace, the bridge becomes a pleasure dome

carrying water, transporting lovers, 

making well-deserved magic…

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

It may be easily destroyed

This glorious connection

Vulnerable to the slightest affront

The most delicate misunderstanding

 

And once crippled,

May never stand again.

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

Blessed are the builders of bridges

The peacemakers

Even in the midst of war

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

THE MAKER

 

 

Grandfather Arpad created this construction,

The Gut Bridge, what can be understood

As the good bridge, made from oil tanks

Bombed by Italy, from recycled pieces brought

From all over the war-wounded world.

He enlisted Pele to build in Rishon,

Bandi to assist in Raqqa,

Shuki to bring the parts,

Falachin from town to build,

and the British to support

The delicate balance.

 

 

 

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

THE DRIVER

 

 

Uncle Shuki helped bring it together

Brought the precast iron all the way

From the factory at Rishon, drove the truck

Through uncharted paths, straight north.

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

THE HELPER

 

Bandi in his white overalls

Worked side by side 

With uniformed officers

with men in Didashahs

 

Driving through the wilderness

From Tel Aviv to Raqqa

Syria to Palestine

 

Leaving his family

to protect them

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

NEVERTHELESS

 

 

there is another side to this tale.

The bridge was built for the British troops

 

To escape from Palestine

When Rommel invaded,

 

To leave the land and the Jews

To the Aryan nation.

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

 

But bridges are bridges

 

Make connections possible

As long as they stand

 

Make connections possible

As long as they stand

 

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Artwork from the book - The Bridge at Raqqa: 1942 by Karen Alkalay-Gut - Ourboox.com

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