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Spotlights on me (a holocaust story)
I’ve always seen other people in the spotlight; I never thought it would be my turn. They always looked like they were having fun, to me; it was painful, no matter what! I was always in pain. A painful life, my life, its like a show, as you observe, you find more and more that you want to know how the show ends. Like, who wins and who loses. Some people don’t find out there endings; others wish that they never would have. But its not about them………this is my show, after all, I am the hostess, and now the spotlight’s on me.
“Shhhh….. Quiet Naomi, you have to act healthy.” My sister Ashira told me, “enough coughing! Do you want them to take you away?” I shook my head gently from left to right and tried to do as she told. I remembered back when we didn’t have to worry about being separated and if I had a cold, I took medicine. I remember sitting with papa in the big comfy chair in the Family Room while he read me my favorite story, and with every character there was a different voice. The memory of papa making the lady voice brought back great memories and sent me to a silent giggle which led me to a sad quiet crying.
“Naomi, what’s wrong?” Ashira asked with great concern. As soon as she asked the question I knew that she had found the answer as she stared deeply into my dark brown eyes. I knew that she could sense the sadness. We stared at each other for a long moment and finally she spoke.
“Quiet my sweet young sister, everything will be okay, everybody has a passing time, even papa and soon all of this will be over.”
“But what about Hitler?” I questioned “I overheard the Nazi Guards talking about him while I was working in the factory. They say he is a very smart man and that he will not give up until every last Jew is killed, just like papa?
“Naomi, that is just foolish talk, you can’t believe everything you hear.”
“Can I believe what I hear from you?”
“Of course sister dear, I would not lie to you.” She took her hand and stroked my hair. “You have nothing to worry about Naomi, now get some rest; we have to be up by four if you want your rations to be served warm.”
“But what about our showers?” I asked, “When will take a warm shower?”
“We will have no time for that if we want warm food, the lines will be to long, we’ll go another day, now let me sleep. Okay?”
“Okay.” I stayed up for a long time after that thinking about everything that we had just talked about. Maybe all of this would be over soon, but where would we go? Papa’s gone, and mama too! Maybe we won’t even make it out okay. NO! That’s a foolish thought; of course we would be okay. I hope.
I woke up to the bright sun coming through the windows of our barrack………. and everybody frantically moving around. I quickly got up, I had no idea what was happening.
“What’s going on?” I shouted out to anyone that would listen.
“Achtung! Attention! INSPECTION” a loud voice boomed! Oh No!!!! The head guard of the barrack stepped forward as the girls ran to there places beside there bed.
“Good morning Ms. Satwikki” everybody sang together.
“It is not a good morning!” The head guard snapped, “and do you know why?” the girls slowly and cautiously shook there head.
“Because first thing every morning I have to see you dirty Jews!” She slowly made her way past each bed and person, shouting rude comments in there face. Finally she reached me; I turned my head to face the floor.
“Filthy Jew, Why is your bed not made? Are you better than the rest?”
“No, Ms. Satwikki.” I answered as I slowly raised my head and faced her.
“Why is you’re hair not combed, and why are you not fully dressed yet?” before I had a chance to answer she took her bat and hit me across the head I fell to the floor blood on my face as I heard the other girls shriek, she looked back at the other girls
“Ruhe! Silence! I glanced up and she hit me across the back. I let out a cry of pain, as the girls backed up.
“See girls, its people like this that get you the names you have.” she turned back to me disgust written all over her face.
“Get up filthy swine!” I quickly got up; as I did I glanced at my sister who had tears in her eyes. Ms. Satwikki left the room. Without speaking my sister made her way towards me. She grabbed my arm and gently pulled me to the sink where she washed off my face after a while she spoke.
“I’m very sorry.” She looked up at me. I noticed how tired she looked and how dirty her wavy long brown hair was.
“Do not be sorry for my mistake, I should have woken up when the others did. It was very greedy of me to take advantage of my sleeping limit.” She looked at me with her dark eyes. I’ve never realized how much we looked alike. We had the same hair, same eyes, even the same facial features. The only difference was that my hair went to my shoulders, and that she was two years older than me.
“Come sister, we will go and take a shower.” Ashira shook her head in a confused manner.
“But the water will be cold!” she said in protest
“And we are filthy!” I quickly added “Don’t you want to be clean?” She nodded in agreement.
“Well, I suppose I do want to be clean. I really need to wash my hair.”
“Then to the showers we will go”
“And what will we do after that?” Ashira asked me
“We will collect our rations; then we have to head straight to the station to board the train to the factory.”
“Then we’d better hurry!” Ashira grabbed my arm and we ran to the showers.
“Wow, now doesn’t it feel good to be clean?”
“I can’t believe you Naomi, how could you have talked me into taking an ice cold shower?” she tried to look serious but ended up laughing.
“Dear sister, it is called skill, I am still puzzled though, how did you get me to eat our rations? The bread was black and we had no cheese today.” Ashira let out a little giggle.
“I have my ways” she smiled. We made out way to the train station before we boarded the Nazis had to do a head count.
“Achtung! Attention!” We sat in the cold waiting for the Nazis to finish the head count.
“I wonder why they do not let us board the train after we were counted.” I asked aloud. Just then a German spoke, I was immediately startled for I had no idea he was behind me.
“Because then you Dirty Jews would try to escape, foolish child.” Startled I turned around to face him. He looked at me with his surprised baby blue eyes, in a calmer tone he spoke once again.
“What is your name?” he asked
“I am Naomi, my sister here is Ashira.” Ashira turned to him with suspicion in her eyes.
“Excuse me” I cut in “May I now your name?” The German boy turned back to me looking as if he was deciding to answer my question.
“My name is Shai”
“And may I know your age?”
“I am nineteen years old” he finished, Ashira stared at him hard.
“Why must you know our names?” he looked at Ashira and simply replied
“I am in charge of finding people to come and help clean up all of the ruble in some of the ghettos.
“Are you a Nazi?” I asked. “And are you asking us to volunteer?” He looked at me with a puzzled expression. Then he answered.
“No, I am not a Nazi, and yes, that is why I asked you your names.” He finished. The whistle blew and the line to board the train started moving including us. Over the crowd he yelled
“Come here tomorrow at noon if you decide you would like to help.” After about five minutes it was our turn to board the train. I glanced back into the crowd but I did not see the German boy any where. All the way through work and on the way back home, I thought about Shai’s offer. Finally Ashira asked my opinion on whether we should go or not. I answered a little too quickly.
“Yes, of course.” I had made my mind; tomorrow we would meet shai at noon.
“Yes, of course.” Ashira mimicked me.
The train halted to a stop, the doors flew open to reveal the darkness of night. One by one the Jews exited the train. Just as I was getting off I noticed a pregnant woman sitting in the corner of the box car. She whispered quietly
“My dear, will you help me before the guards take me away. I am about to give birth. I am too weak to stand up on my own.” I quickly went to her and helped her up, as we left the train a guard looked at me, and then at the pregnant woman leaning on me for support. He turned around and began speaking to the other guards. About halfway back to the barracks I heard a gun shot and the lady jolted forward. I cried out in surprise as I saw the pregnant woman sprawled out in front of me, blood coming from her back. I turned around to see one guard laughing and another heading towards her, gun in hand.
“She was no use” he said as he glanced at me “A waste of time, she was too weak to work and she would have held us back.” I thought of saying something to defend her but realized that I was the mouse in the situation and he was setting up the trap. I looked at him with frozen furry, turned my body and walked on, if he decided to shoot me, well, then he would shoot me but it wouldn’t make him a better person , I was a decent worker and if he would shoot me then it would be his own loss. I glanced back and noticed that he was walking back to his buddies laughing, gun in hand.
By the time I met back up with Ashira, it was late. If we wanted our rations we would have to hurry.
“Naomi! I can’t believe you okay! I heard a gun shot and then about ten minutes later somebody mentioned your name as they walked by.” She looked at me with that type of look that just wants to make you break down and cry.
“No my sister, I was not harmed, but a pregnant lady was, they shot her Ashira! They said she was too weak to work. That would have changed after she had her baby.” I started to cry.
“When was she due?” Ashira asked
“She asked me to take her to the barrack so she could have her baby.” I sobbed, “I feel so horrible. We should not have made it so noticeable that she was weak.”
“What do you mean by noticeable?”
“She was leaning on me for support.” She looked at me as if she were going to cry too. Then she said
“Dear Naomi, it is not your fault may the lord take pity on the shooters soul. And may the baby and the mother rest in heaven.”
“Amen” I said
“Amen” she repeated. And we went to our beds in the barrack.
I woke up to the howling of wind the cold air circled me looking for a place to escape under my blanket. Beside me Ashira was softly snoring. I smiled, at least that hadn’t changed. I sat up. The cold bit me; I looked around the room to see everybody still asleep, some were shivering others lay in there beds looking deathly ill; I lay back down and looked at the ceiling.
“Papa,” I whispered “where are you now?” I heard Ashira stir next to me; I reached over to her and patted her head. Ashira opened her eyes and looked at me
“Naomi, you must get some sleep.”
“I cannot, it is too cold and I am hungry.” I looked at her and immediately looked away. I knew that I sounded greedy. I looked at my sister and her extremely thin body. She looked extremely ill, for a moment I had a thought of embracing her for a hug and she snapped in half. I shuddered.
“I’m sorry Ashira; I guess that was a tad bit greedy.”
“Just try to sleep, tomorrow we will find some good food, or at least in our dreams” I snorted.
“Mazel Tov. Good Luck. Because for that type of dream, you’ll need it.”
“My dreams can be pretty realistic; maybe if you’re nice I’ll bring back some dream pies.”
“Ruhe Jude Mä•Del” a guard yelled.
“I didn’t catch that, what did he say?”
“He said, silence Jewish girls.”
“How did he even here us?” Her question lingered in the air as I thought on how to answer, I gave a sly smile.
“Didn’t you know?” I paused for dramatic effect, “the Nazis are like bats.”
“They bite?” she asked with a puzzled look.
“No, no, no” I quickly said “They’re blind so they can’t see how horrible they are treating everyone and that they’re losing the war. But they listen; listen to anything that sounds familiar, they depend on other people to get to what they want.” I stopped to think and then added “so you see my sweet sister, that’s why so many bad things have happened. Because instead of seeing with there eyes, they see with there ears, and hear what they want to hear.”
“There are other ways that they are like bats!”
“And how is that?” I asked
“Yes, how is that?” a Nazi guard asked. I Froze. He bent down and swung me over his shoulder and grabbed Ashira by the hand. I screamed in protest but immediately stopped when I heard his voice.
“Quiet!” I stared at him in horror as he dragged me and Ashira through the hallway. Suddenly we burst through a door, and we were standing in the cold as the winter snow swirled around us. He set me down.
“Shai! Why, how…..what are you doing here!” I demanded, Ashira looked at him noticing for the first time who he really was.
“I’m helping you escape.” He calmly answered. Ashira looked at him in amazement. She answered
“Wait……., you aren’t really looking for volunteers are you?” he looked at her with a sly smile.
“Look who caught finally caught on, now do you want to get out of here or not?” he picked us back up and hauled to the gate, with me and Ashira kicking and screaming, going along with it.
“What is your business?” The guard asked Shai as he suspiciously looked at me and Ashira.
“These young women are to come with me immediately, I was ordered to grab them by Hitler himself.” The guard stared at him and then turned to me I looked him straight in the eyes.
“What is your name?”
“My name is Naomi” he studied my expression. I showed no fear. Just as he was about to ask another question Shai spoke up.
“Sir, this is urgent there is no time to waste!” he demanded before we knew it Shai pulled out a gun and shot the guard, causing me to scream. He flung the gate open and ordered me and Ashira to run. We ran as hard as we could. Before we were just out of site of the camp, I glanced back and saw Shai, and 4 guards surrounding him. I could not help him, no one could. I turned my head forward and ran into the night as four painful guns were fired.
_______Three Years Later___________
It was a bright sunny day, birds chirping and my healthy sister Ashira laughing beside me as we walked down the street.
“Naomi, smile! It’s a beautiful day!” I knew that it was a beautiful day, but no matter how many times I tried I could not get past the fact that Shai risked his life for me. We continued to walk down the main road when I heard my name, it sounded so familiar, and I turned around to see him! It was Shai, smiling down at me.
“Hello, Naomi” I looked at him with a smile plastered across my face.
“Hello Shai” The spotlight turns off and one thing is for sure I found out my ending. My sister is safe and Shai came back into my life. I have certainly won the prize on this show.
Only a short time after Naomi and Ashira had escaped from the concentration camp, the Russians had come and freed all of the Jews. Naomi had thought that the four gunshots were towards Shai but Shai actually fired them. Thank God for all of the hunting trips that his father had taken him on. Of course in the end, they were reunited. Naomi and Shai started a life together; they live in Krakow, Germany. Ashira moved to the U.S. shortly after Naomi and Shai reunited. She married a man named Bill they are pushing old age but live happily in New York.