The Holocaust- Helene Lebel's Diary

March 29, 2012
November 1940
Dear Diary,
I remember when I was five years old. My mother sat me down and told me that my father had died in battle. I remember crying, but not for long because my dog, Lydi, calmed me down as she always did. She was my best friend ever since I was little. Then, at age 21, they took her away from me. Them, the government, they were after me and she was their first target. I wasn’t sure why they were after me. I knew that they hated Jews, which I was considered one because my father was, even though I had practiced Christianity in Vienna for my entire life. I knew it was more than me being a Jew, though. I had such a wonderful life before their plan. I went to law school and even had a job as a legal secretary. Then the doctors, who were part of the government conspiracy I was sure, told me I had a mental illness. They called it something like Schizophrenia. That is when Lydi died, but I knew they killed her. I was forced to quit my job and be sent to live in a mental hospital. This was only two years before Germany annexed Austria. Now Hitler had been in charge for a while and I knew the government’s plan for me was now going to be set into motion. About eight months after the Anschluss, I heard nurses frantically talking about Kristallnact. Supposedly, a Jew killed a German government official in France and now the German people were committing violent acts against Jews. Synagogues were being burnt to the ground, windows of Jewish businesses being shattered onto the streets, and Jews being arrested for committing no crime. I didn’t believe the nurses at first because they were also part of the government plan, but then I heard a window in the hospital shatter to bits. I screamed and looked out of my window to see the chaos for myself. I fell back into my chair and closed my eyes, gripping the cushion. I knew that things were about to get a lot worse for me and I was right. After the two days of Kristallnact, my belongings were packed and I was forced to leave the hospital and live in the Ghettos. I was stuffed onto a train and sent to an isolated area where all Jewish people now lived. When I first arrived, I saw huge stonewalls surrounding a few small houses that held thousands of people. I noticed that many of the people wore the Star of David on their left breast like I did. The people looked depressed and dirty, like the place itself. I was told that I was only staying for a few days because of my ‘weakness,’ they called it. For the time I was there, I watched hundreds of people from children to adults working until their hands began to peal. There was never much food or water there to rejuvenate them. I saw some people die of exhaustion and others in masses being sent to camps. I decided that I was glad not to be staying here long. Like they promised, only a few days passed before I was thrown onto a train and sent to a place where I was expecting the worst to happen.

February 1944
Dear Diary,
The train I was thrown onto felt not much different from the Ghettos. There was barely any space to move and the air was stale. There was a lot of crying and screaming within the train. I tried to separate myself as far away from the other people as possible because I figured they were put on this train with me for a reason, they are from the government. The train felt like it took a year to reach our destination and as soon as the train jolted to a stop, I was relieved. I wanted to get far away from these people and I needed food and water immediately. My mouth felt as if it was full of sand and my stomach was tied into a knot. As soon as the train stopped, the doors swung open and at least thirty screaming Nazi soldiers were pulling people off. A Nazi grabbed the collar of my jacket and I fell straight to the ground. The soldier then kicked me until I crawled into the line of people. As I stood up and looked back, seeing soldiers throwing dead bodies off the train, I didn’t understand why they were treating their own kind so badly. I jerked my head forward again, to see that the line had already moved and I was next. A very tall Nazi man looked me up and down then squinted his eyes at me, silently deciding my fate. I stood up straight and looked straight into his eye, trying to look strong. He smirked at me and pointed his thumb to the right, and then whispered something to the soldier that grabbed my arm. I knew I had escaped immediate death, but when I saw the huge barbed wire fence of the camp, the death seemed welcoming. When we entered, our hair was cut off; we were sprayed with a huge hose and put into the same striped clothes. For the next few days I was forced, along with thousands of others, to do hard labor until we could barely move and our hand began to bleed. There was barely any food or water in the camps to rejuvenate us from the days work. At night, we slept about five people per bed. I saw many people die from exhaustion, shooting, or disease everyday. We also became punching bags for the soldiers. I began to think this is where I was going to die. Then, at the end of the week, a soldier herded me and about fifty other people to be sent to the laboratory. The people around me looked very ill and some even insane. We ended up at a tall, gray building in the farthest corner of the camp. When I entered, my worst nightmare came true. Metal examining tables awaited me so I could be pulled and prodded until I died. This must be the government’s plan for me. I was pushed into a room with a few other people to be ‘sterilized’. I felt tears swell in my eyes as I thought of Lydi, did they do this to her too? The radiation began to sizzle through my skin and my mind jumped back to when she and I went swimming during the summer and how I snuck her into the opera, our favorites things to do. My head began to feel light and I prayed. Then, the X-rays stopped. I already saw my skin begin to bruise. After a few more times, they threw me out of the room and told the soldiers I was now useless and I can become part of the final solution. I had heard this phrase before. Hitler wanted to get rid of the Jewish population, so he had mass shootings of Jews. When he realized that the mass shootings were very slow, he decided to make death camps. These camps were made to exterminate the Jewish population quickly and easily. When I heard the doctors say this to the soldiers, I knew that I was being sent to the gas chambers, the government’s final plan to torture and finally get rid of me.

Dear Diary,
A year ago I was sure that my life was over when I was thrown out of the laboratory. I had felt my skin slowly blister as my nose picked up the scent of dead bodies, what I would soon become. Then, the impossible happened, within a year the camp turned into complete chaos. Prisoners were running free and soldiers were herding them up. The Nazis screamed to evacuate the camp while they pushed on the boney backs of prisoners towards the front of the camp. I was confused, had the government set us free? I began to believe myself and my mouth cracked into a smile. Then I turned around to see ten Jews had been shot. My mouth quickly dropped a Nazi gun hit the back of my head. The soldier hissed through his teeth that I needed to keep moving, along with other words no one should ever let leave their lips. As I scowled and began lifting myself up, I heard the Nazi soldiers say that we were being sent on a death march to the next camp. They did this because the Allied soldiers were following their tracks and were liberating each camp on the way. So Hitler decided to have us advance away from the Allies, camp to camp. I was grabbed by the arm and dragged to the outside of the horrifying gates of the camp, along with all other prisoners. The Nazis screamed to start walking away from the camp, so we did just that. We seemed to have walked for days because the bottom of our feet began to peal off like tough leather. Many of the skeletal bodies couldn’t take the exhaustion our march made. I saw people on either side of me die off from diseases, starvation, exhaustion, and many shot by soldiers for taking a rest. Sometimes we were all shoved on a train for a while, but this was equally terrible. All the dead bodies were thrown in drenches in the dirt or burned so that there would be no evidence of their death for the Allies to find. By the time we made it to the third camp, my body began to shut down. I fell to the ground and tried to suck in another breath. My eyelids slowly closed and I thought of my mother who remarried when I was 15 and prayed she was safe. As I lay still as stone, the Nazi soldiers called to keep moving. Thinking I was dead, they left me lying on top of the hundreds of dead bodies. Only a day later, the Allies showed up to liberate the third camp. Many British soldiers ran in with video cameras, taking video of the horror in camps to show the rest of the world. I saw them rush to the skeletal people that still seemed to be alive. Surprised that I was still alive, I slowly lifted my hand from the pile of dead bodies and one rushed over to me. The soldiers washed the feces and dirt off our wounded bodies and gave us the largest amount of food and water that we could possibly digest. The evacuation of the dead bodies began as mass graves were made to bury the thousands of corpses. As I watched this happen, a British soldier lifted me up, with much more care than the Nazis, and started examining my burns. I knew he was trying to save me, but I was too sick and wounded like many of the other living prisoners. I took the soldier’s hand in my mine and kissed it, thanking him for all he has done. I closed my eyes once more, knowing the nightmare was over. My life then slipped away from my limp body. Looking down from heaven, I watched the liberations again and again until finally all the people that could be saved were rescued. I was just a woman that was targeted by Hitler because of my ‘weakness’ and the religion my father had. If I could have changed anything, I wouldn’t have. My life was meant for me to live so that the world could know the truth about the gruesome and inhumane Holocaust. I kissed Lydi on the head and walked towards the light, leaving behind history and starting a new beginning.

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Chareenicole said...
Oct. 27, 2015 at 12:47 pm
when was this article posted? month, year, and day?
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