“Stehen sie stuck of filth! Stand up you piece of filth!” Those are the first words I heard when I entered the camp. I was only nine the day of the arrival. Nazi’s stood on every side of me. It smelled of mud, body odor, and the ultimate thing-death. The smell of death was so overwhelming. I puked the second I was forced to my feet. All I can see is the faces of Nazi’s and all I can hear are the cries of Jews. Their faces are too horrible to even describe. Hairless, pale, starving faces stared at me as the Nazis pushed me forward. I was eventually sent to a sort of barrack. It was wooden and had no front and back wall. There was also no door. It was filled with only four other people. Later I would find that only two of us would survive…no, not out of the four of us. But of the 70 other kids that were going to be crammed into this barrack. By the time I entered the barrack I had heard the word, “Auschwitz” several times. One of the other kids approached me. She was probably eleven or twelve.
“Do you know why we’re here?” She asked.
“Because…we are Jewish?”
“Good girl,” she replied. She had a glimmer in her eye. She was determined to get something out of me. “Do you know where we are?”
“No.” I studied her closely. She had dark brown hair, matching her eyes. She stared at me heavily. “What’s your name?”
“Auschwitz, the largest camp they have to offer. Oh, and the name’s Abeline.”
“How do you know that? What are we even supposed to do here? Sit and rot?” I was so overwhelmed from everything I didn’t notice the other thirty girls enter the barrack.
“If you’re lucky, yes. If not, work till the death.” The whole place was crowded with so many people. The whole pack was here, seventy girls in one small, cold, unprotected barrack; one unprotected world.
“My name’s Lena.”
* * *
Seven months passed with little food and water, much work, and no pay. Disease was spreading throughout the camp. Nearly 300,000 people had already died from the time I arrived here. Imagine having your birthday alone with no one there but strangers. Imagine how it would feel. When I turned ten I had no family or friends to give me presents. I had no one there to even care. Yet, I did have hundreds and thousands of people there to hate. Why did they hate me? Because they had no one to love. All their families were either taken away or dead. The only thing we could look forward to was to sleep at the end of working.
So what have we learned so far? Jews, millions of Jews were sent to camps where they were crammed into these things called barracks. Then, some were sent to die as others were sent to work until death. Nazi’s were cruel no matter what age you were. I hear they used babies as target practice but I never saw that happen. Should I pick back up on the story? Honestly there’s not that much to tell. But I guess the sooner the better.
Three years continued and the same thing happened over and over day after day. We worked, got fed little rations, and slept. Except now about fifty out of the seventy girls were dead. Some died from heat stroke, some died from disease, and some died from execution. Do you remember that girl that approached me when I was nine? She was one of the first to die from disease. Her last words to me were, “Maybe death isn’t so bad. There’s no work, no sickness…no Nazi’s.” She died April 19, 1942. Another three birthdays after that were once again spent with people who hated me. Hmmm what part of the story comes next? Oh, yes, I remember now. The best part comes next-freedom.
I spent seven years in that one, small, barrack with seventy teenage girls. Then it happened. The year was 1945 and the Americans came charging through the camp. The twenty-seven girls screamed for them to come. Then the Nazi came into the camp with his gun. “Sie wird nicht gewinnin!” He fired at all of us and didn’t miss once. Another twenty-five of us-dead just before we were going to be released from this Hell. It isn’t fair, the way God works sometimes. Me and another girl I have never met before were the only ones alive. We both had two bullets in our arms, one in our legs. The Americans rushed into the barrack and shot him dead before he could finish us off. I blacked out for a long time and don’t remember how long it was before I woke up. But when I did, I never saw the other girl again.
Story by: Abeline, because I know Lena would have wanted to live, not me as it turned out.Lena died of an infectious disease called polio. I knew she would have wanted people to remember her. That is why I write this story.
So why should we remember? Because of people like Lena.