THIS IS A FICTIONAL STORY BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS. THIS STORY DEPICTS THE HOLOCAUST AND TRIES TO SHOW BRAVERY AND LOVE DESPITE OVERWHELMING EVIL. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.

February 17, 1943. Warsaw, Nazi Occupied Poland.

Otto Gotthardt tried not to jostle the soldat sitting next to him, but it was no use. The street upon which their truck ride was quite bumpy. The truck was carrying seventeen men, if you count the two drivers. As the vehicle continued its journey, Otto looked at the reflection in his helmet. He had a gorgeous head of thick brown hair and a set of brown eyes that you could fall right into. Once he was done admiring himself, Gotthardt looked around at the faces of his fellow soldats.

Sitting across from him was his long time friend: Bastian Ohly. He had a talent for being outspoken and always tried to be positive in every situation. It was a good trait. They were always together, even though Otto outranked him as while Bastian was a lowly Soldat, Otto was an Obersoldat.

Sitting to the left of Bastian was Private Alex Fleischmann. Alex had a real knack for finding food and money; especially when there was none to be had.

Sitting on Bastian's right was Oscar Schnitzer. He had wanted to study law but due to his being drafted, his studies had been postponed.

Finally, the private that Otto kept bumping into was Johannes Heimbach. At 20, he was the youngest man in the truck. His father had encouraged Johannes to volunteer for the army branch of the Wehrmacht, believing that the experience would make a man out of him.

"Any of you ever been to Poland before?" Fleischmann inquired as the men shook their heads.

"Isn't it called the breadbasket of Europe?" Heimbach asked.

"Nein, that's Ukraine, dummkopf." Ohly shot back.

"What are we doing here anyway, we conquered Poland back in '39." Fleischmann pointed out.

"We're going to police the ghetto, some of the officers say that the Jews can get rowdy." Schnitzer explained.

"You think they'll give us much trouble?" Johannes wondered out loud.

"Not as much trouble as we will give them." Gotthardt remarked as this earned a laugh from the other soldats. Otto smirked as the sight of everyone laughing made him remember his school days, before the war changed everything.


May 5, 1938. Steingarden, Germany.

"You are our Iron Youth." Professor Muller had said on the last day of class. "Iron Youth becomes Iron Heroes. It is my duty, my privilege, to prepare you for the part you must play in our great struggle." Everyone was sitting with rapt attention. except for Otto Gotthardt.

"The Führer has need of men of character and strong will." Muller continued. "It is my duty to prepare your minds so you will be better able to train your bodies for the Führer, for Germany, for God." Muller noticed Otto's distraction and moved over to him as he kept speaking. "Germany is the nation of progress, the nation of culture, the nation of science, the nation of ideas... the nation of Beethoven, of Hegel, of Von Bismarck...Gotthardt." Otto stopped what he was doing and gave the professor his full attention.

"Ja Herr Muller."

"What is that you are writing?"

"A poem, sir."

"A poem?" Muller asked as he took the paper and read it aloud.

She looks so pretty, they whisper,
they can't help but stare.
with a face like an angel's,
and sunshine colored hair.

a small, little rosebud mouth,
set in a sad, determined pout.
you could see the pain in her eyes,
but she wouldn't let it out.

people stared at her and wondered,
just how she must feel.
to be so beautiful, yet all alone,
its just couldn't feel real.

"This is very good, actually." Muller admitted as he returned the paper to Otto.

"Thank you, sir." He replied.

"But you don't come here to write poems, do you Gotthardt?"

"Nein Herr Muller." Otto said as the teacher returned to his desk.

"Gentlemen, you have all passed your examinations!" he announced. "As you know, you have graduated. The time for class is over, the time for duty has begun...You are dismissed." Everyone filed out as Muller spoke again.

"Here Gotthardt, You may stay." He said as Otto stood before the teacher's desk.

"Ja Herr Muller?" Otto asked as Muller came around to the front.

"If I may leave you with one final piece of wisdom, there is a time for work and for play. You were once a child Gotthardt, You drew sketches and wrote poems...But now you're a man, you have your duties as a man, your duty to the Führer!"

"Ja Herr Muller." Otto agreed.

"Will you wait to be called up of will you enlist?" Muller asked his pupil.

"I'm planning to enlist next month sir." he replied as Muller patted him on the back.

"Of course, you'll respond to duty." he agreed. "You will all respond. The entire class will go as one man to serve our Führer in his quest to save Germany from the Jewish scourge. I know I will be proud of you, Otto Gotthardt." Otto shook the man's hand before walking out of the classroom in silence.


That had been years ago. Otto was now a man of 23 years. He had fought against the armies of France and Norway. He had indeed become a man. He was no longer the young poet who dreamed of lying in the meadows next to a beautiful girl. Now, he was a soldat in service of Adolf Hitler and of Germany. As the truck pulled up to the barracks, Otto knew that the time for reminiscing was over and the time for duty had begun.

IS GOTTHARDT READY FOR LIFE IN THE WARSAW GARRISON/GHETTO? REVIEWS NEEDED AND APPRECIATED.

SOLDAT-SOLDIER

OBERSOLDAT-SENIOR PRIVATE

WERHMACT-GERMAN ARMED FORCES

DUMMKOPF-BLOCKHEAD

NEIN-NO

JA-YES