Hope, Persuit, and Disappointment

January 23, 2008
By Hacer Sifanur Bayram, Istanbul, ZZ

A young man staidly walked out of the work-camp’s door with other several middle-aged men who were the only ones left. He was free from then on. He watched the immense skies that looked very different than it had been for the last few months. He walked on the narrow, empty streets without knowing where they took him. He did not notice that every person who saw him on the street was scrutinizing him because of his dirty face, torn, threadbare clothes, and messy hair that seemed uncombed for five years. At last he arrived at the banks of an almost dry river and settled down on a wooden bench as he sighed loudly, which attracted the attention of a group of old women and made them look at him. Apparently, there was something that made him restless. “I don’t even want to think about the possibility,” he muttered anxiously. One side of him was sure that her mother had died, but the other side, which was more powerful, still hoped.
When the sky got darker and the street got empty, he realized that he needed a place. The first person he thought of that he could rely on was one of his intimate non-Jew friends, Heinrich. He set out for his house. While he was walking; he couldn’t get rid of the awful thoughts in his mind.
A few seconds after he knocked on Heinrich’s dusty house door, it opened creakily and made a reverberating sound in the old apartment. Two doubtful eyes examined him for a few seconds and the doubts abruptly turned into amazement and exhilaration.

Heinrich told him that he would be very pleased to host him and convinced him to stay
a few days to have a rest. He told Heinrich what he experienced in the camp, how they regarded the Jews as animals and how he helplessly watched people die. In the evening that he was going to leave his friend’s house, he inquired whether Heinrich got any news about his mother. Was she dead or alive? If she was alive, where was she? Were there any problems with her health? Unfortunately, Heinrich knew nothing about his mother.

It was time for him to leave. When he was leaving, Heinrich gave him a pack of money which was not so surprising for him, because he knew his friend very well; he knew that Heinrich was too compassionate to ignore other people’s pains and sufferings. Heinrich also gave him a box wrapped with old newspapers. He didn’t open the box until after he left, but when he opened it, he regretted that he did not thank Heinrich adequately for this precious present. It was an old fashioned camera. He wouldn’t think that he could resume his job so soon. Yes, he was a competent photo journalist before the war. He decided that it was a very good idea to take the photos of the dismal scenes right after the war to show people how bad the conditions were.

As he was traveling to the city that he thought he might find his mother in, he took many photos. He saw the debris of a university building that was eradicated by Nazis. He spent more than an hour there because it was a great chance for him to take good photos that would prove to be substantial evidence. Just as he was deeply engrossed in taking photos, he noticed a graveyard next to the place. He slowly entered the graveyard. He saw awful things that gave him the creeps. There were unburied dead bodies lying on the ground, covered with big, black insects. When he was about to leave, he noticed a further grave which was conspicuous among the other ones because of the colorful, fresh flowers on it. He slowly walked through the gloomy path with small but confident steps and suddenly stopped when he read the inscription which was written bold and big on the flat, white stone:
27 September 1882- 9 July 1945
She hid herself from the Nazis for three years under very bad circumstances.
She was safe when the war was over.
The bullet from the gun of a drunk Nazi soldier caused her to die.
Her last wish was to see his son. "
Alexander Joseph, a man who hadn’t cried in a concentration camp, cried at that moment. The flash of his camera boomed unintentionally and he lost his balance. That photo was on the first page of the next day’s newspapers which was July 15, 1945, six days after his mother died.

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