It was a rainy night. Sarah was standing by the window in her room and thinking about morning. Her mother said that in the morning they will go to the train station and the German train will take them somewhere. She asked all of her friends, where does the German train take people? But no one knew for sure. Some said it’s a town built just for Jews, some said it was a kind of hospital, but again, no one knew for sure. Sarah needed to know. Her best friend, Rebecca, went there just last month. She promised to write and send messages, but so far, none came. She heard the adults talking about a place called Auschwitz. There was fear on their faces every time they spoke about this place, but when she asked her mother about it, she just smiled, brushed the hair out of her face, and told Sarah that everything will be fine. She asked her mother that if everything will be fine, then why does Uncle Mikhail sit and cry on the couch every day? Is that because the German’s took his family on the train, too? Mother told Sarah to go to bed, but she just couldn’t fall asleep. All that Sarah could think about was the train, where it would take her, and why she was going away. Nothing came to her mind, she and mother were happy here, in Poland. They had friends, family and mother had a job as a seamstress. Sarah tossed and turned in bed, only thinking that she won’t come back, like Rebecca, but why, she just can’t figure out. She wonders why her mother wouldn’t tell her, maybe it’s a surprise, but it can’t be good if Uncle Mikhail cries whenever mother mentions it. It’s already past midnight and Sarah starts to get tired, her eyes close and she slowly drifts off to sleep. When she wakes up, mother is ready and tells Sarah to pack her belongings, but not to take much. Sarah got a small bag from her closet, took a few clothes, her hairbrush and a doll named Ana that her father gave to her just before he died. Sarah got dressed and went to her mother in the kitchen, telling her mother that she is hungry. Her mother told her to eat up, that there won’t be a meal like this for a very long time. Sarah ate her breakfast, leaving only the very little that her stomach just couldn’t take anymore. When she and her mother were done, they walked for about twenty minutes to the train. The station was packed, everyone there were Jews. Sarah notices a few kids from school and people that she passes regularly in the marketplace. As she and her mother boarded the train, Sarah was very scared. She didn’t know what to do, and hesitated as she walked onto the steps. When she was on the train, there were no seats. It was just many people crowded into a tiny space. It took them about an hour to get off the train. Sarah was already sore from the pushing and shoving in that train. She and mother walked off of the train, following all of the other people. When they were inside, they were told to form into lines. Sarah stood right in front of her mother. In front of them, walking around, was a man in green uniform, light haired, blue eyes, and an unfamiliar symbol on his jacket. There were men coming in, with many cloths in their hands and draped over their shoulders. When the man came up to her, he tied a cloth on her arm, and looked at her in a disgusted way. When she looked at the cloth, she noticed the Star of David, and wondered why the man looked so unpleased. She and mother were later separated into two different cabins. Sarah could not stop crying, and cried herself to sleep. She has already lost her father and her best friend, this could not be happening. She could not bear losing the only family that she has left. That next morning, Sarah was awakened by an alarm at only five o’clock. They were all told to wake up, get undressed, and to go take a shower. All of the women and children walked towards a wooden building, and Sarah found her mother, standing very close to her, the people again lined up – to take a shower. They walked into the building slowly in groups of about twenty, but whoever went in never came out. Mother stood there, whispering prayers from the Torah. When it was their turn to go inside, mother told Sarah to be brave, and that she will always love her. Sarah didn’t understand why she needed to be brave to take a shower, but she hugged her mother tightly, and told her she loved her, too. When they were inside, a man closed the door and laughed, it was the same man that gave her a disgusted look the day before, and locked it behind him. Sarah, mother and many others burned inside of that “shower”, or gas chamber. Now Sarah knows why Rebecca never came back.
April 5, 2009