The Last Train
September 3, 1944, Holland
Westerbork Transit Camp
It was a gray and bleak day in the camp of Westerbork. The prisoners, who mostly consisted of Jews, were gathering outside their barracks. They were being transported to another camp. Many feared what lay ahead. Among the prisoners was a young girl who was fifteen years of age. Her shoulder length black hair hung loose about her. Her dark eyes darted back and forth as she clutched the small leather suitcase in her hands. A cold wind blew by and the girl pulled her coat tighter around her.
"Are you cold Anne?" her father who was known as Otto, put his arm around his daughter.
The young girl, Anne, smiled faintly at her father's comforting touch. Not only was she shivering from the cold but she was shivering from a hint of fear. Having spent two years in hiding from the Nazis in the building above her father's office, Anne had thought she had grown used to fear. When she had been in hiding there was always the constant fear of being discovered. When she, her father, sister, and mother, along with another family and a middle-aged man, had been discovered by the Nazis on August 4, 1944 Anne had been devastated. After all the years of hiding, all the years of hope, everything seemed to have ended in an instant.
As the prisoners stood waiting in the cold suddenly a train pulled up and came to an abrupt halt. In shock the prisoners realized that they would not be traveling in a regular train but they would have to travel in boxcars. They were being lowered to the likes of an animal. Anne looked up at the boxcars and tried so very hard to imagine the whole gruesome scene away. She glanced over at her seventeen-year-old sister Margot and noticed the same fear in Margot's eyes. The older sister clung to her mother and look as if she was about to cry. Margot had always seemed so afraid and quiet, unlike Anne who seemed to be so full of life.
The prisoners were herded into the boxcars. Sixty or seventy people were crammed into the boxcars. Anne and her family were all put into the same boxcar.
"If I could put down my thoughts in my diary at this very moment they would be nothing but chaos and fear. My mind is racing and all I can think of is the terrible things that may lie ahead," Anne thought as the train chugged along.
She lay her head against the shoulder of her father as she, along with the rest of the passengers, tried to make themselves as comfortable as possible in the overcrowded boxcar. The train chugged along through the ice and snow and everyone in the train feared what was to come. Anne's mind began to drift back to her life before the Germans had taken over her homeland. And she wondered what she would be doing at that moment if the Nazis had never come.
Three days passed and still the train continued to travel on. No one knew where they were headed but many of them guessed.
"Oh Otto, what will become of the children?" Edith Frank, Anne's mother, whispered to her husband as the train chugged along.
After two years in hiding Edith had grown used to fear but now it was even more real and more terrible than ever before. Otto clasped his wife's trembling gloved hands in his own but never offered any words of comfort. He couldn't offer his family any form of comfort or protection. He knew their fate was no longer in his hands, but in the hands of the Nazis. Looking intently upon his wife's frightened face and his daughters' terrified expressions, Otto, himself grew afraid. He felt helpless and knew not what to do.
Anne and Margot sat closely together. The cold winter wind blew through the cracks of the boxcar and both girls were becoming cold. Anne pulled her coat tighter around her and Margot did the same.
"Anne, I'm afraid. Are you?" Margot whispered.
"Yes, of course I am. But you mustn't fret Margot. All will be well in the end," Anne said trying to believe her own words.
On the third night that the prisoners had been traveling, the train finally came to an abrupt halt. At first all was silent and Anne clung to her father's arm in fear. Then suddenly the doors of the boxcars were pulled open and the prisoners were ordered out. Anne stood and she, along with her family, began to climb out of the train. The atmosphere was catastrophic as families were torn apart.
Anne and Margot, along with their mother and Mrs. Aguste Van Pels, the lady who had been in hiding with them, were put into the line of women who were being inspected. Anne, in all of the confusion and fear, glanced up at the large sign that was above the gate entrance to where they were being taken. Auschwitz, Birkenu. The words brought fear to her heart as she read them. They were about to enter the most feared death camp of all.
To Be Continued. . .