PART TWO - Felix
Father was very excited today because a new lot of Jews were brought into Auschwitz. I keep asking him when I will be able to work in the camp as a soldier but he always delays it. He thinks that I'm not old enough to see what is inside yet. But honestly, I'm almost nineteen. Most high-ranking German soldier's sons, and daughters, were already in the ranks. I'd gone through training when I was younger, of course, but ever since Father was put in charge of Auschwitz he's been hesitant about the subject.
"No you may not." Father had said one day.
"No, no, no, no. That's all I heard from you, I am old enough to work beside you Father." I argue.
"You are not and you will not. You are my son and you are living under my roof so you will do as I tell you to." He says sternly, clearly indicating that the conversation is over.
He interrupts me before I can finish, "I'll make you a deal. Mother wants some help around the house so I have commissioned the search for an eligible maid to be found in the camp. Lieutenant Volkard is bringing over a couple suitable females soon. I will put you in change to pick one and monitor her when she is here. If you prove yourself within… one month, I many decide to rethink our previous discussion."
"As you wish Father," I sigh.
He quarks a smile, and then salutes me. I mirror him, we click out heels, and we say the oath of devotion together with our hands and heads high.
Lieutenant Volkard shows up in a large truck minutes after Father leaves off towards the camp. I know I can't screw this up. I have to show Father that I am responsible and that I can handle all this. I need to be strong. I brace myself for what is to come. Lieutenant Volkard opens the back of the truck, and with a gun, motions for people to exit the caboose. One by one small, fragile figures emerged, all wearing striped pajamas with caps. The Lieutenant yells something and they all scurry into a straight line, faces down. He waves me over.
"I rounded up the best ones for you. They are all new, just arriving today. There are a couple in quite pristine condition, if I say so myself. Look at the one on the end; she could almost be a German." I peer over at the girl standing at the end of the line. She was taller than most girls, with a tuft of golden hair peaking out of her cap but she looked like she was made of skin and bone. I bet she had blue eyes as well. Lieutenant Volkard is only twenty-one, and with the short supply of German girls around here I could see him taking some for his attention out on Jewish girls. They couldn't say no. It was forbidden but there had been rumors going around through the Rike that one had even gotten pregnant by an officer like my father. They had both been severely disgraced and punished. "It's too bad about her heritage, she defiantly looks the part."
"Is she the one you would recommend?" I ask.
"I certainly would. Her looks might even put her in your father's good books. Well, as good as she can get. You could save her life… at least for a little while." Volkard isn't like all the other soldiers. He's less harsh, and even though he fully supports Nazi Germany, he has a soft side which he doesn't show to just anyone. I suspect that he only acts this way around me because of my father but I do not mind.
"I'll take her then." We smile brotherly at each other.
"You on the end!" he yells and the blonde's head snaps up. He raises and hand and motions her to come over. She complies, staggering on shaky legs towards us. When she is finally in front of us she takes one look at me and I get a glimpse of her aqua orbs before she looks away.
"She has very small hands which will be great for polishing," Volkard points out. "You know how your father likes his silver."
"Show me your hands," I demand with a curt nod.
The girl slowly raises her hands and I get a sight of her brittle fingers. They are unhealthily thin and boney, but I understood what Volkard meant when he said that they would be good for polishing. As long as they didn't fall off or break before she got around to that. I was surprised at how much she looked like the girls who used to attend my private school. This got me thinking about how she would look not so malnourished. Some may have even called her beautiful before this.
I shook my head in attempt to get those thoughts and images out of my head. I had no time to worry about girls, let alone Jewish slaves. Father had a plan for me, and so did our leader.
"I will take her and bring her back at dawn. I'm sure your father will tell you the rules of keeping one such as her in your home for the day." We stand together and say our oath before he grasps the young girl's tuff of her jacket and pulls her toward the vehicle. I watch unseeing and then made my way back to the house.
Had she looked back at me?
I went through the rest of my day with my thoughts revolving around that girl. I know that I should not have been thinking about her but I couldn't seem not to. I thought about her tall overly slender physique, her weak hands, and most of all her blue eyes. I had never really seen a prisoner up close and my reasoning for thinking about her was just that.
My thoughts were shattered when my father's voice boomed through the household, "Felix?"
I bounded down the stairs from my room to the entrance way where my father stood waiting for me. I stopped in front of him and stood at attention, "Yes Father?"
"How did your day go? I assume Lieutenant Volkard and yourself made a wise decision for our house maid?" He raises a challenging eyebrow. It's almost as if he wants me to fail, like he doesn't want me to be like him. As soon as the war started everyone wanted their son to be an officer, except for Father.
"The lieutenant and I have picked a young woman, yes." I say proudly.
"And why did you pick her?" he challenges, inching towards me.
"She had small but nimble fingers which will be great for polishing," I say and then paraphrase Lieutenant Volkard, "I know how much you love your silver."
He smiles and tousles my hair like he did when I was a young boy while stepping past me. I stay at attention until he exits the room. Then a large grin protrudes my face and I do something of a dance. He had looked proud. Father was finally proud of me.
Supper was not much later. Mother always had it ready by the same time everyday, which was when Father got home from work. We sat at our small table with Father at the head and Mother and I at the sides. We usually ate in silence, but today it seemed that we would not.
"I am quite excited to get some help around the house," Mother said after swallowing a sip of wine.
Father quickly jumps in, "Now Rosa, you know that you are not allowed to treat this girl as a daughter. She is a Jew, she is our maid and will do what we say when we say. She is not to be treated with respect or any mercy. She is just here to do chores and then she will be sent back to where she rightfully belongs—"
"Walter you mustn't talk like that."
"Do you know how much trouble you would be in if the Feure heard you, the wife of a high-ranking German officer, say that?" Father raised his voice higher than I had ever heard him.
Mother cowered against Father's wrath and went back to her supper.
"Do you hear me Rosa?" he pressed.
"Yes Walter, I hear you." She said bluntly with her eyes still averted from his gaze. She poked at her food for long minutes after as silence overcame the room.
It was Father who broke the silence, "Felix, did you hear what I said to Mother about how this girl is to be treated around her?"
His voice was much calmer now. "Yes Father, I heard you."
"You must know the rules inside out because you are the one monitoring her visits." He tells me trying to reemphasize his point.
"Yes Father, I heard you." I say again and the silence returns.