Emilia's Escape

May 22, 2010
My name is Emilia. I am a holocaust survivor. I still don’t know how I managed to do it. I suppose I was lucky. Though sometimes I wish I had died with the rest.
It was 1939 and I was living in Warsaw, Poland. It was a beautiful city, really. It was my home. Then, on September 1, 1939, the Germans invaded my beloved Warsaw as well as the rest of the country. Jews were no longer allowed to do anything. No one bought anything from my father’s clothing store, we could no longer attend schools, and we had to wear the Star of David on our clothing. It felt horrible, being isolated from the rest of the people. I felt just as Polish as anyone else in Warsaw, yet they isolated me as well as other Jews. All my Polish friends were no longer allowed to talk to me either. Their parents forbade them. I didn’t understand why. But now I do. They were afraid that they would be killed by the Nazis if they had anything to do with Jews. I don’t blame them. I would do anything to keep my family safe as well.
Later on that year, the Nazis forced us to move to an isolated neighborhood called the ghetto. My parents, little sister, and little brother were forced to move into an apartment on the fourth floor of a building. We shared this apartment with two other families. Everyday spent in the ghetto was both a curse and a blessing. Every single day, I would come out in the street seeing little children crying, looking for their mothers. I would see elderly people wandering about the streets of the ghetto. Elderly people that had gone completely mad. I saw dead bodies of many people. People like mothers, with their children by their side.
It must sound mad when I say that I felt blessed. But I did. I felt blessed because I was lucky enough to be still alive. And my family too, was alive. The Gestapo came to buildings at night, taking away innocent people. People were shot by the SS in broad daylight. I was lucky that none of these people that were my family. Regardless, I felt agony. They may not have been my family, but they were my people.
Soon, they came after my family and me too. I suppose God was angry with my egoistic thoughts, and he decided to punish me. It was nighttime. Everyone was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, really. Everyone was too afraid to fall asleep. We heard trucks, stopping in front of our building. My father got up to see. Terror covered his face. My father then nervously went to a bookshelf along with one of the men living with us in the apartment. They moved the shelf. There was a little secret box, where few could fit. There were five children. My siblings, one child from the two other families, and me. Our parents pushed us in there and told us not to speak or move. And that they would be back. Then, they covered us with the shelf.
That was the last time that the five of us saw our parents. We heard the Gestapo barge into the apartment, yelling. Then, I heard one of the children’s mother scream in agony as they beat her and tried to pull her out of the apartment. They all left the apartment. The apartment was very still. Then, from the outside, I, along with the rest of the children heard gunshots. I knew mom and dad were gone. The little ones did not.
We then heard the cars drive away. It didn’t matter to me. I stayed in the hiding with the little ones anyway, cuddling them all up to me. After what seems like forever, I started to push the shelf to the side. Then I heard the trucks again. I quickly moved the shelf back, and told the little ones to not budge. I heard the men shouting in German and laughing. Then, I heard glass shattering. Then, I felt smoke. They had set the building on fire.
It no longer mattered whether the Germans would find us. I doubted that they would come into the building now anyway. I pushed the bookshelf out of the way, and scrambled out. I pulled the four children with me. We ran downstairs as fast as we could. The entrance was covered in fire. The little boy from the other family pointed to a door. It was the basement door. We ran for it. As we got downstairs, we all looked around for another door. Luckily, there was another one, leading to the backyard. It was locked. I didn’t know what to do. Then, that same little boy passed me an axe. I took it, and I crashed the door open. We all got out safely. Then, we saw a small opening in the fence. We all fit through it. We were completely away from the building. Regardless, I felt insecure. The Germans were still out there, waiting for their next victims to show up.
The little ones kept asking about their parents. I patted them on their heads, hugged them tightly, and told them that they’ll be back. Even though I knew they were all dead. Then, we all fell asleep.
I was woken up by the screams of my siblings, and an awful pain in my rib. I realized that I was kicked. Then, I slowly opened my eyes. When I did, I saw the Gestapo standing right above me. I quickly rose to my feet and held the four children closer. The Germans laughed at me. They laughed as if they heard the funniest show on the radio. Then, they grabbed on to the little ones, and pulled on them. The children began crying, trying to not let go. I held on to them tightly. One of the Germans came up to me and slapped me across the face. I fell down and hit the ground with my head. I lost consciousness.

I woke up once again. I was all alone. “Why didn’t the Gestapo shoot me?”, I wondered. I got up, looking for the children, hoping they were still there. Suddenly, I saw four small bodies, lined up in a row, lying on the ground. I ran up to them. They were the children. My two siblings and the two other children that I came to love as if they were my own. I let out an agonizing scream. I screamed for a long time. I fell to my knees. I cried until I had no tears left to cry with. Then I sat there, rocking back and forth, as if I’d gone mad, thinking about nothing. I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want to live.

I got up, and went ahead of me. I walked in the middle of the empty street, not caring if the Gestapo found me or not. I ate anything I found. I drank the water from the puddles. I was ready to die.

The Gestapo found me eventually. They came across me and started pushing and slapping me around. I didn’t care. I told them they could kill me. They thought this was hilarious. And they didn’t. They left me to drown in my misery. I fell to the ground and began weeping. I just wanted to die, right then and there. I was starving. I knew I’d die of starvation if I did nothing.

But then, I thought of my father. My wonderful father, who always told me to never give up. And then I got up. I got up on my two feet, my balance not being all that good and I walked ahead of me. I moved quietly around the ghetto, trying to find all the food I could. I found all the hiding spots I could. And I hid there, when the Gestapo came. And I lived in this manner for six years. If anyone came, I either played mad or dead. I was lucky no one wanted to put a bullet in my head, just to make sure I was dead.

It was 1945 when I saw airplanes in the sky. Something in the air felt good. Then I realized that the airplanes were not German. I heard screams of victory from afar. Poland was being liberated! At last! I was happy to be free!

As time passed, I found my family. My parents and siblings were dead, of course. But some friends and family remained. I felt empty inside without them. But I knew that they would be happy to know that I was still alive and that I made it all this way.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

shannon said...
Jun. 7, 2010 at 7:49 pm
nice nice nice.! lovedd the story...its sooo amazing. (:
Kit689 said...
Jun. 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm
Nice job I love your imagination to all your stories I feel really lucky to be in the same class with you =]
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