I Saw It All: Life in the Ghetto. No, not that Ghetto.

This was an assignment from one of my high school English teachers. She gave each student an image depicting a victim of the Holocaust; then we were to write a short story describing what life for that particular victim might have been like. My image was of a young boy whose clothes were tattered and torn with a smudge of mud grazing his cheek. He looked into the camera with dead eyes, as if what he saw in there changed him forever. I can only hope my description does the kid justice.

 I Saw It All

I saw it all in The Ghetto. Life, death and torturing. This was a place of horror. When the secret police raid The Ghetto we crawl into small holes in the wall and day after day one by one we would come out until it is all safe. The police would take older people first and then the children. The conditions were terrible yet we were forced to bear it. One day we were captured and sent to a camp. There we sat cold, wet and damp…

I saw it all. The black smoke and gray ashes fell like snow from the furnaces within the camp. This wasn’t snow though, snow is pure, this was something much more sinister. The stench was unbearable; they were burning dead bodies in those furnaces. Flesh, human flesh, was melted off the soul of some poor woman or child. Walls all around me with towers that look like sharp knives cutting through the thick black smoke. As ash lands on my cheek a tear wipes it off of my face. I was sure that I would end up in the furnace.

When we entered, the guards had us strip to nothing and they washed us off with disinfectant. Although by now the only thing they had left to strip us of was our dignity. I could feel it burn on my skin but that was the least of my worries. Where is my mother? They led us into the next room and they shaved off all of our hair; lice they said. After that we were all thrown outside onto the dirt and sand. They yell at us to get into a straight line and if anyone talks we get a whip across the face.

So we stand still waiting for instructions and then a few guards come out with boxes of what looked like cloth and as the guards unveiled it, it showed a white tunic to wear as a prisoner. On this tunic it had the Star of David with the letter “P” in the center. we had to wear these constantly back in Poland. I always saw it as a form of enslavement and had thought I got rid of it forever, but now I am back where I started though now in a more terrible place.

The first day passed and already I felt weak. Nothing to eat for 48 hours and only very little to drink. I am worried about how I’m going to get out of here.

 

Finally four icy months later our camp was liberated by the U.S. army and we were finally free. But, the feeling of freedom didn’t feel like it had before. It was empty, like the stomachs of my fellow captives. I saw a photographer and as he aimed his camera at me, I had a look of sadness and disappointment because what I have seen inside these walls will haunt me forever. My mind is still trapped.

 

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