"Hans Rudelsheim"

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
The following piece is actually a writing assignment I was given in college on the Holocaust. I was given a name and told to find out as much as possible about that person and how they were related to the Holocaust. The next part of the assignment was to creatively relive their experiences from that time period. I selected to create a first person perspective of the Holocaust via journal entries. I believe I even impressed myself when I read the finished product.

Submitted: May 29, 2011

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Submitted: May 29, 2011

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Hans Rudelsheim

May 22, 1935

My name is Hans Rudelsheim, I am 13 years old now and my mom and dad told me that maybe now is a better time than any to start a journal. We live in the Netherlands in a town called Kampen where my dad owns a tailoring business. Dad has been teaching me many “tricks of the tailoring trade” as he likes to put it. Reknitting and inweaving are becoming easier and easier. Even my French Weave is beginning to look somewhat like his. Yesterday in downtown Kampen, my mom and dad ran into some friends. They began to discuss something in the paper about Jews being banned from serving in the military in Germany. My mom is always telling me that music comes from the heart and in order to become a great musician I must play from the heart. I let my thoughts go for a while as I played my favorite song on the piano, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata.

August 8, 1935

Dad finally thought I was good enough to work in the shop for real customers. I love getting to be working at dad’s side every day. However, some new things have happened and dad moved his piano into the basement. When I asked him why, he just told me that it was safer. I was wondering what he meant by “safer”, so yesterday at the shop I asked him about it again. He took me to the back office for a bit and explained that the Nazis were putting Jewish performers and artists into Jewish Cultural Unions and he was just being careful. I didn’t understand and I don’t even know what a Cultural Union is but if dad didn’t want to be there, then neither did I. My mom seems to be much less talkative lately and always worried about something. I escape the world and all its problems when I just sit and play in the basement. Music seems to be the only thing that has yet to change.

September 18, 1935

There was a buzz in the store today every time someone my dad knew came in, and not the good kind. It seems that the Nazis have instated the Nuremburg Race Laws. From what I’ve gathered, these laws have made Jews something less than human. Not just that, they also now have some drawn out process for two people to get married. These laws are a spit in the face of all Jewish families. My parents are always whispering to each other, it makes me feel darker times are ahead. Even the piano seems to sound saddened these days. Relaxing is the last thing that anyone is doing in Kampen. The Nazis are targeting all Jews making everyone uneasy, including myself. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I know that my fear is beginning to grow for my friends and family.

February 12, 1936

The German Gestapo has been declared higher than the law itself. Panic for all the Jewish families in town has begun to set in. As for my family, my mom and dad want me to be with at least one of them at all times. However, my dad wants me to be with my mom and sometimes doesn’t let me go to work with him anymore because he doesn’t want to leave her home by herself. It’s understandable, but I’m angry because of this whole German Gestapo situation forcing so many changes. I still practice my weaving techniques on my clothes, mom’s clothes, dad’s clothes, and sometimes even old rags from the basement. Having spent so much time with my mom, she has been more open with me about recent events and tells me about what goes on. I am just hoping that these hard times don’t continue.

August 2, 1936

Things got worse. At the Olympic Games in Berlin, Hitler tried to promote his extermination of Jewish families. Many Jewish families here in Kampen are attempting to escape to areas further from the heart of the German extremists into areas such as Noordoostpolder, Urk, and even Lemmern. Feeling the worst is yet to come, my parents debated on how to handle the whole situation. It feels like the Nazis grip over Germany is growing stronger and more and more Jews are being mistreated and killed for no good reason. Feelings of anger, confusion, and hopelessness spread throughout the East Netherlands. The use of concentration camps grows more and more rapidly striking fear into all Jewish families. Hiding the fact that we are a Jewish family is becoming more and more frustrating. It is unbelievable that my family must now hide their beliefs for utterly no good reason. I don’t like living in the dark corners of our own hometown like some kind of animal, waiting for the Germans to come.

November 12, 1936

Hitler’s propaganda continues to gain support, as we continue to lose hope. I’m scared that Hitler and the Nazi’s aren’t going to be able to be stopped. They’ve burned our books, stripped us of our humanity, control newspaper articles that show hatred and spite towards Jews, and have placed hideous posters expressing anti-Jewish views all throughout Germany. My dad still tries to convince my mother and me that this whole thing will blow over. Darkness seems to have swept through Kampen every time I go to the market with my family. I feel disgusted hiding my Jewish beliefs from the world, like some kind of secret. I still regularly sit in the dark dusty basement and play the piano. Time seems to just barely creep by like it wants the Nazis to succeed and overtake our country. The worst part of it all is that I am able to do nothing. I just sit and feel the black and white ivory keys on my fingertips and listen as each note resonates off the walls around me.

January 17, 1937

The Nazis have officially taken away Jewish professions in Germany. I don’t know what’s next to come from Hitler and his Nazi puppets. I feel like all Jewish families, including my own, are being excluded and pushed into a world of hate. It’s getting harder and harder to smile in these advancing days of violence. The feeling is similar to that of being stuck in quicksand, you stop moving or panic and either way you’re eventually going to choke. My dad stays home a little bit more than usual and I like that. We work on our different weaving techniques together now. Although I know the real reason he’s home more is because he just wants to protect us.

November 10, 1937

We’ve received word from friends that the Nazis have opened some sick and twisted exhibition in Munich promoting the maltreatment of Jews. Apparently this display’s goal is to try and reinforce Hitler’s speeches and marches against the Jews. Mom and dad are still planning on waiting as everything around us begins to slowly collapse. The problem has spread throughout Germany and is now beginning to boil over into other countries. I’ve listened to the radio and read the newspapers and they all say the same thing, Jews are a problem needed to be dealt with. Why us? Why’s this happening now? These are two questions that skip through my mind every day. I don’t know what the future will unfold, but I hope that these ridiculous accusations be dismissed by the general public. However, waiting for this possible wish to be granted may be the hardest part.

April 27, 1938

Several things have happened since my last entry. In March, Hitler announced an allegiance with Austria. Unbelievably Austria complied and are also now harassing and humiliating Jews. Everything is happening all so fast and we just sit and wait. There’s also been an opening of a concentration camp in Linz that I can only imagine has been placed there specifically for Jews. Hitler and the Nazis show no signs of slowing down or coming to their senses. Just yesterday, the Nazis ordered that all Jews register their property and wealth. The only reason I see this action leading to next is stripping all Jewish families from these valuables. I’m completely innocent, and I know that my family has done nothing wrong so maybe this whole thing will miss us. I hope.

July 28, 1938

This month feels like the beginning of a very dangerous and depressing time for all Jews. They’ve taken almost everything from Jewish families, and now they are coming after my generation as well. Just five days ago, the Nazis made a law that people had to register for a Jewish identity card that must be presented if asked by a police officer. Apparently this holds true for any Jew over the age of fifteen. Hope has faded but still glimmers in the distance like a candle flame on the darkest of nights. In July, thirty two different countries discussed the allowing of Jews to find refuge in their country. I haven’t heard or read anything more about the topic. I fear that it is a dead end. In the meantime, Nazis continue their devious ways by denying Jewish doctors the right to practice. Only Hitler knows what’s next to come.

November 13, 1938

I know I haven’t written in a while, but it’s for good reason. I’ve been observing the false headlines, the marches, the outrageous speeches, and the destruction of a synagogue in Nuremburg, but nothing could have prepared us for the horror that took place six nights ago. From what I was able to determine is true from the newspapers, on November 7th a Polish Jew about my age had finally had enough and shot the third secretary of the German Embassy in Paris. The secretary, Ernst vom Rath, died on November 9th and sparked the retaliation known as “The Night of Broken Glass”. The Nazis burned our Torah scrolls and synagogues, destroyed Jewish businesses and stores, placed thousands of Jews into concentration camps, and beaten and killed many Jews. Not only are the Nazis responsible for all the destruction, yesterday they turned around and fined the Jews one billion marks for all damages. I can’t even conceive the evil they plan for us next.

May 2, 1939

The Nazis are on the move and have taken over Czechoslovakia. My parents are about as confused as me when it comes to what country Hitler will set his sights on next. The Nazis have also instated three new laws, Jews must give up all of their gold and silver, Jews can’t own property or housing, and Jewish children are no longer permitted to attend German schools. As if that isn’t bad enough, Czechoslovakia is instating a set of laws that closely resembles the German Nuremberg laws. When is someone going to intervene and stop this madness? My parents jump whenever a door slams or a car backfires down the street. I don’t want to live in this fear anymore. Sharing a border with the Germans, I feel like they’re just stalling much like when a cat plays with the mouse before finally ending its misery. My family is not near rich enough to escape to another country, we’re going to have to look to someone for help should the worst happen.

September 30, 1939

I wish I was thousands of miles away from this disaster, but unfortunately it is happening just across the border. I am not proud to share a border with Germany. Tailoring with dad or playing the piano has become secondary functions as I study headline after headline waiting for it to read “Germans invade Netherlands”. Each day comes and passes and I can’t turn my eyes away from the dreadfulness in the newspapers. A Nazi newspaper happened to be forgotten in the store just a couple days ago. The quote that stuck in my mind the most from the paper read, “The Jewish people ought to be exterminated root and branch. Then the plague of pests would have disappeared in Poland at one stroke”. The paper was published shortly after the Nazis invaded Poland. The hate in this quote is undeniable, and finally countries have stepped up and declared war on the Nazis. These countries include Britain, France, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Strangely, the Soviets invaded and gained control over eastern Poland and have agreed to split the country with the Nazis. I can’t imagine the kind of torment that the Jews in Poland are suffering. Sadly, it feels that an invasion of my country is inevitable.

May 16, 1940

I’m writing this in my basement because of the bloodshed that has occurred in the past five days. As of yesterday Holland surrendered to the Nazis. The Nazis came strong, fast, and easily overtook our country. During this overtaking and before they invaded our land they also invaded Denmark, Belgium, France, Norway, and Luxemburg. Kampen is now a town of complete darkness and disarray. I’m wondering when they’re going to come for us. My dad is the only one who occasionally leaves the house anymore and that’s just to get food and supplies. He won’t even let me go with him. Mom and I always are worried about his safety and hate when he leaves the house. Most of our time is now spent in the basement reading books. I can’t even play the piano because of the risk of being heard by a German. I hate the Nazis, Hitler, and everything they’ve done.

July 23, 1941

Time has frozen in Kampen. It feels like every day is the same. We’ve been hiding in our home under the control of the Germans for over a year now. I’ve lost track of what’s happening in the world around us. My dad occasionally brings back a newspaper although they never change really. The Nazi government gloats in their executions of the Jews using their sick propaganda. All the articles written are about killing or arresting Jews in Poland, Romania, and Germany. According to the paper the Nazis have also taken control of Yugoslavia and Greece. The rest of the world has started fighting for us but I don’t feel a change. The Nazis are gaining a stranglehold over almost all of Europe. We hold on, hoping that tomorrow will be the day when the rest of the world comes to our rescue.

January 10, 1942

We were ordered by the Nazis to relocate to Amsterdam, which is where we currently are as I’m writing this. A German officer came to our door three days ago. My dad answered the door, presented the officer with his Jewish identity card, and asked the officer what the problem was. The Nazi officer informed us that all Jewish families located in the town of Kampen must move to Amsterdam within the next five days. For the next couple days we packed and rounded up as much food and supplies as we could and headed for Amsterdam. Right now I’m sitting on a city bench writing while my parents are figuring out what to do next. They are talking to a young Jewish couple that we knew were from Kampen as well, their names are Johannes and Arabella. I’ll find out soon wherever we go from here.

July 17, 1942

From downtown Amsterdam, Johannes and Arabella lead us to a Jewish district where we could stay if we’d liked. We graciously accepted and followed the young couple to an older couple’s house which I later learned to be Arabella’s mother and father’s house. Over the next few months I grew to love Johannes and Arabella as the older brother and sister I never had. It was the most fun I’ve had in quite some time. Notice I wrote “was”. Three days ago the Nazis began deporting Dutch Jews to a concentration camp in Poland named Auschwitz. It wasn’t safe there anymore and my parents and I had to leave Johannes, Arabella, and her parents behind. Later that day while searching for a new house, a Christian family saw us walking down the sidewalk and called us over. The family offered to house us for as long as we needed if we helped clean the house on a daily basis.

February 8, 1943

I was almost arrested and killed yesterday while hiding out with a Christian family in Amsterdam, whom I’ve also become very fond of, I met their neighbors. That’s when I met Ina. She was our neighbor and only a year younger than me. We hit it off right away and I found myself having a good time with her in a time of peril. Ina is friendly, beautiful, and overall is just a fun person to be around. I’ll admit that I’ve developed deeper feelings for her than just friendship. Anyway, one night I snuck out of the house over to Ina’s room. I had to go to the bathroom downstairs, when there was a knock on the door. I could only assume it was a Nazi at this time of the night. I buried myself in a pile of clothes in the closet and waited. Soon enough, I heard the bathroom door open and I peered through the pile of clothes and under the crack of the door I could make out a big black boot. The door opened and I was frozen solid, although my heart would say otherwise. Ina covered for me and the German’s boot squeaked as he turned and left the house with no one harmed. Ina let me know when the coast was clear and I made it back to my house safe and sound. Never has my heart beaten at that pace before.

March 12, 1943

This is the day I will die. I’m sorry to anyone I’ve ever let down. The family I’ve been staying with for the past few months called in the Germans to come arrest us for trespassing. They came in the night and arrested us one by one. I forever spite that family for leading us down a path of death and injustice. I was struck from behind by an officer and when I awoke I was in a concentration camp with nothing but my clothes I was wearing and this journal and pen which was tucked inside my shirt pocket. Right now I’m in a gas chamber waiting for the end. I love my parents, Johannes and Arabella, my friends in Kampen, and Ina. If one of you ever has a chance to read this please know that the Nazis are unable to harm me now. In my mind I’ve escaped to the days I spent playingthe piano, before all of this. I feel death approaching, but I sit unafraid listening to the piano of the past.


© Copyright 2019 Garrett Pollock. All rights reserved.

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