This is my memory of that terrible time. My years of hell. Actually, it may have only been one year, I had no sense of time then in that place. I'm sorry that I can't bear to say the name of the camp, but I'm sure you've heard of it (it's rather famous now). I am Jewish as far as nationality goes. I became a Christian through my fiancé, Duncan, a few months before the Nazis came to take my family to that place. But I guess they didn't care whether we were Jewish in religion or nationality. All of us were alike to Hitler I suppose, as long as we were labeled "a Jew".
Duncan wasn't Jewish at all, in either sense. Actually, he was German. He was one who realized how horrible Hitler and the Nazis were. He was a writer. He wrote his own news letter for a while, criticizing the Nazi party even before Hitler started his genocide. Duncan was with me and my family when the nazis came though, and he told them he was Jewish because he didn't want us to be separated. We were all packed into a filthy train like animals to go to the camp. There were no seats or anything, it was no more than a rat-infested freight car. The trip alone was horrible. There was hardly any food or water. The weak ones died in the train and because we were so crowded and there were no stops, the bodies weren't removed from the car, so they rotted. The stench was nauseating and the thought that there was a dead body near you somewhere was sickening. There was also no where to go to the bathroom so the car stank of urine also. At the time, I thought that no other place could be worse. I was so very wrong.
When we arrived at the camp we were taken off the train and led inside. The guards pointed us to go either to the left or the right. I didn't know it at the time, but if you were ordered to the left it meant death in the gas chambers, if they pointed you to the right it meant living and working in the one place closest to hell on earth. The extremely old, extremely young, weak, sickly, or ones not able to work were sent to the left, never to be heard from again. They sent my grandparents and my four year old nephew to the gas chambers. Later, when I learned what going to the left meant, I was sad for them, but glad that they didn't have to endure the torture the rest of us suffered.
Living conditions were terrible. We were always cold, hungry, and exhausted at night, and in the daylight hours, we were worked like dogs. And we had to keep working if we wanted to survive, because if you didn't work, even if you weren't physically able, you were sent to the dreaded gas chambers. Soon, as a result of our lack of nourishment, we began to see what the phrase "nothing but skin and bone" meant when we looked at each other. I couldn't believe how any of us could move, let alone work. We all were literally only skin hanging over our bones. Hardly anyone had any amount of muscle. Duncan was one of the few who had some left, but it was only a little. When our lives were normal before, he was as big as an ox, with broad muscular shoulders and arms. And he stayed strong, even when all that muscle was gone, even in this hell. He's the one thing that kept me strong. He's who kept me alive. I wanted to end it all and throw myself against the electric fence to get away from all the pain and torture. But he wouldn't let me. He told me that that would be giving up and giving in to the Nazis, and that I had to survive as long as I could to prove to them that they wouldn't break my spirit.
One day, they wanted to take me out of working and take me to the lab, another dreaded horror of the camp, and use me for all their horrifying, agonizing, twisted experiments. Duncan wouldn't let them take me. He told them to take him instead, convinced them that I was strong and that they could still get work out of me. He loved me enough to take what torture I was going to have to endure. The torture that would have been worse than my daily pains. I was told a few days later that Duncan had died when they tried to have a brain transplant, and that he had died well, with no screaming, only tears. But tears not mostly for the torturous pain, but because he would miss me until I saw him in heaven. A few weeks later the war was over and the good soldiers came and freed us from the hell. And I am alive today to tell you of my experience.