Author's note: I was interested in the Holocaust after I learned about it in a history class. So I looked into... Show full author's note »
Learning How To SurviveThe next day I learned from someone who had been there a long time, that the weak ones wouldn't be put in a different job. They would be burned. I thought she was awful for saying such an absurd statement. I had to believe my little sister was safe. She just had to be. Could it be true though? Was that what the gross sweet smell was last night, burning bodies? I shuddered as I thought of that.
At lunch the newcomers, which included me, were able to eat for the first time since arriving yesterday. For some reason we never received supper last night.
We received some soup that was hardly anything more than water.When I went to take my bowl to the people who were serving, they said I needed to keep it, so I did.
After supper I saw Reuben standing on the other side of the fence that separated the men from the women.
I ran up to the fence, “Reuben! How is everyone? Are you ok?” I asked him. I knew that it was ok to speak to him because I saw others speaking to their friends and relatives through the fence too.
“Everyone is fine. Except… Mr. Torin. He wouldn’t shut up he just kept yelling at the Germans. A German shot him right on the spot,” he said.
“So he’s dead!” I cried softly.
“No, he didn’t die yet, but he will. He’s in terrible condition. Oh Dalia I really shouldn’t have told you. I don’t want you to be scared. We need to stay strong. It’s probably best that you inform Mrs. Torin and Marnie though. They have the right to know. I just hope that it doesn’t cause them to lose hope.”
“How am I supposed to tell my best friend her father’s dying?” I remarked.
“Dalia, you have to,” he said, “ I love you sister, and I want you to know that no matter what happens you need to stay strong, seems like that’s the only way to stay alive around here. Do you understand?” he asked with a serious face.
“Yes, I understand,” I replied, “I will do my best.”
“Ok dad, Hersch, and I send our love to you all, hopefully see you soon.”
That night in the barracks I told the Torin’s about what happened to Mr. Torin.
Mrs. Torin and Marnie wept. We decided it would be best not to tell Atara. She was very sick, and probably couldn’t handle to hear it. I heard Marnie crying almost all night.
Weeks went by. We received word of Mr. Torin’s death. Atara just became sicker and sicker. Mrs. Torin couldn’t stand that there was nothing she could do for her little girl. One morning I awoke to Mrs. Torin leaning over Atara weeping hysterically. Atara’s lifeless body just laid there.
I was concerned about Marnie, all she had left was her mother. I hadn’t seen her smile in weeks. She was like a ghost walking around with not even a hint of emotion. She never spoke anymore either, so I never knew what she was thinking. We both worked in a room where we sewed clothes for the Germans. Mother, Maya, and Mrs. Torin worked in the kitchen with some other women. Maya almost had to do cleaning at the hospital, but one of the kitchen workers, Mica, was able to put her with mother. I don’t know how Mica did that though. She became a dear friend to us, after her kind deed.
Every few nights I would see Reuben by the fence after supper. We shared info about how everyone was. Sometimes mother would come over and talk to him with me. Father and Hersch hardly ever came. Reuben said that they were put to work right after supper. They only come to the fence usually about once every week and a half or 2. It was scary never knowing when the last time you would see them would be.
I later learned that the burnings were true. Those Germans tried to hide the true meaning of the showers, but we knew from the screams that it was not water that they were being exposed to. After they were gassed they would be taken to be cremated every night. The smell was sickening, and seeing the smoke from the building was worse.