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Holocaust Survivor Gilbert Metz This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Were you in a
concentration camp?

My family was sent to Auschwitz - my mother,
father, aunt, and sister. We were herded into cattle cars until there was room for no one else.
Then they closed it up and there was only one small hole for air. There was no bathroom, and we
were not given water during the four-day trip. Many died from dehydration, but that was only the
beginning. My aunt also died on the trip.

Did you lose your
mother, father and sister?

When we arrived at the camp, we were
given chalk and pencils to write our names on our luggage. We were told we would get it in our new
home, that we could live together as a family. Young men under the age of 15, the sick, the
elderly, and the women with small children were separated. I used my knowledge of upper-class
German to stay with my father, telling them I was 16 rather than 14. I believe that if I had gone
with the other group, I would have been gassed that night. My mother and ten-year-old sister died
in the gas chamber that night.

What about your father?

My father and I were in the same camp, Auschwitz, but he was
eventually sent to Block 14, to be gassed. The people there had to continue working during the
day, knowing they were going to be gassed at any time. Through a miracle I was allowed to visit
him for ten minutes. I brought him soup and he wanted me to eat it, but I told him I had already
eaten, which was a lie. It was hard to say good-bye under those conditions. Then, the next day,
Block 14 was empty.

What is one thing that stayed with

You get used to the hunger, but thirst follows you anywhere
you go.

One memory that still haunts me is having to drag people to ditches,
douse them with gasoline and set them afire. Some were still alive. There were children, babies . . .
I still hear their screams. Even after I was married, I would wake up screaming in the middle of
the night because I could still see the faces. The death of my father is also an experience
that haunts me.

Why did you come to speak to us? You said
that you did not speak to middle school students, but you came to our class.

Your teacher sent me your writings. I was so touched. You experienced
the Holocaust through your words. They were so full of emotion and depth, I knew you were prepared
for my story. Most students do not understand what happened, and you did. Your teacher should be
credited with this. She has prepared you well. I'm doing this for one reason only - for the ones
who didn't survive.

How did it make you feel, to be treated
that way because you were a Jew?

I didn't understand, it was
unbelievable, so unreal.

Do you hate those who did this to
the Jews?

No, because you don't hate or dislike the Germans today for
what their grandparents or parents did. That's just like you don't hate whites for what
their great-grandparents did to the slaves.

How do you think
you survived?

Shoes were vital for survival in the camp because they
kept our feet warm and free of wounds and diseases. Shoes were also beneficial during the hours of
labor we performed daily during my two years in concentration camps.

night, others thought I was dead and threw me out in the snow. When I woke up I went into the
barracks and said, "Which one of you SOBs stole my shoes?" I went in and got them

What advice would you give teenagers today?

Be tolerant of others, polite, and have ambition. Then you can
succeed. Nothing good comes from hatred.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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