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My Doll's Journey
I slid my doll Hannah into the crook of my elbow and kissed her. I watched my little brother gurgle quietly. Hannah looked bored and so I started talking to her. “You are so charming,” I told her.
Then I heard a rattle, a jiggle of the doorknob. My father rushed to the door and opened it. A German soldier stood there telling him that we’d need to come with him. My lip started trembling, but I forced myself not to cry. I burrowed my little brother into my arms. The German began shouting at my father to gather his family and come outside immediately. When my father resisted, the German pulled out a gun and told my father, “One more word and I’ll shoot.” My father brought my brother and me outside. I walked out of my home for the last time.
My mother ran from our garden with tears falling down her face. She told Eshton and me it would be all right. I asked why she was crying. I received no answer.
As my father came out of the house with my older sister Naomi, the German soldier told us to follow him. We reluctantly obeyed. The German brought us to a small caravan filled with at least two dozen Jews. The soldier poked us in with his gun and told us to keep quiet. I gazed up into my mother’s eyes, hoping she would give me some encouragement. I only saw hopelessness radiating around her. It was at that moment I knew everything would not be okay.
We spent days living in that tight caravan. The few times I found myself falling asleep, the car rocked suddenly and I was awake. Naomi suggested that she hold me,
but I told her I was too heavy for her, for I was nine and she was fourteen. The German threw one piece of bread into the caravan, but that caused a fight. I asked my father where we were going. “God, I wish I knew. Say your prayers.” He answered. I listened to my father and prayed to God. I asked God what was happening. Rage surged up inside of me when I didn’t get a reply.
I held onto Hannah throughout that horrible ride. I told her secrets. I asked her if she knew where I was going. She told me I was going to America and would be there soon. America was what I fantasized about for the rest of the trip.
When the caravan stopped, I thought I would feel relief when I stepped off. But, somehow the land I stepped onto was even more horrifying. The German soldiers were lined up across the camp. Their guns were pointed towards us. My hand reached out for my father, but when I turned I saw him walking away from the rest of my family. I shouted, “Papa over here!” and he ran to me and told me that we would have to part ways. He stated that men had to be separated from their families, but he would see me soon. I kissed him quickly on the cheek and told him I’d pray for him. Before he could hug all of my family, a Nazi soldier knocked him in the head and told him to keep moving. I screamed as I saw my father’s blood in his hair. I felt my mother grabbing my hand and leading me into another line.
We walked silently for several minutes. The Nazis told us we were being taken to showers. I was relieved. After staying in a caravan with at least fifty other people, I felt disgusting. We walked close together because it was in the middle of winter and it
was snowing harshly. Eshton’s lips turned blue and I told him to think of the blazing sun. He turned to me and asked “Why no sun here?” I told him that God doesn’t give warmth and happiness to those who take others from their homes.
I began hearing moans and cries. They probably don’t have warm water here, I thought. We were stopped before entering the building and told to wait until the last group was finished.
When it was our turn, we were pushed into a vast, dark room. The Nazis quickly left. I saw a man in a gray mask holding something large. He released a green gas. I wondered what kind of shower this was. Naomi started weeping and gasping. I couldn’t find enough air either. I tried to yelp to my mother for help, but nothing came out. Eshton had giant tears rolling down his sweet rosy cheeks. My stomach began throbbing and I could feel my lungs trying to take in air. After fifteen minutes of trying to resist the torture of the poisonous gas, I felt darkness surrounding me. The last image I saw was my mother kissing my brother’s cheek and her hands in our hands. A strange peace replaced my fear. My grip on Hannah loosened and I realized that she was no longer whispering in my ear, telling me it was all right.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
After all of the Jews in that gas chamber were determined dead by the Nazis, the soldiers came in to gather the bodies and their belongings. One German picked up the doll, but dropped it onto the ground on his way to the crematorium. A small girl picked
up that doll and tucked it into her shirt, afraid someone would take it from her. As she turned around, she saw an American flag waving in the sky. An unfamiliar soldier stood in front of her with his arms outstretched. The small girl rushed into him and nestled her head into his shoulders, knowing she was safe. With her dry, thin fingers, she clutched a beautiful doll.