As I left the bakery, I heard the soldiers before I saw them. When they spotted me, they immediately they identify me as a Jew, and I turn and start to run. Icy wind crashed into my face, causing my eyes to tear up. My lungs scream and protest at each breath, and my legs are pleading their agony. I can’t listen to them, I have to keep running. I have to make it back to the ghetto, back to my home further more. I can’t stop running because the SA will catch me. My red hair streams behind me, and I am for the first time appreciative for my torn clothing. It is easier to run in, not that I had a choice anyway.
They don’t seem to know the streets as well as I do, so I took some back alleyways. A memory floats into m mind and I try to push it away. Brown uniforms, guns, hard faces, that gleaming patch of swastika in their shirts. “No,” I tell myself quietly, “No, you shouldn’t think of that now. Swastika, the bent red cross, this sign of the Nazi they show it off to me and laugh. Their laughs are evil, I can’t escape their taunting. They tell me my religion is wrong, all that I believe in is wrong… I finally succeed to push the memory from my mind. Fast footsteps are approaching behind me, and adrenaline flows through me, allowing me to run even faster. Almost there, I thought as the tall, wire fence, I scaled earlier, came into view, just a few ore feet to safety. Safety, hardly, it’s just a fake feeling of safety. There really isn’t any safe place in my city for the Jews anymore. The world was a blur around me, and yet I knew perfectly well where I was. I reached to fence, that now loomed above me, and began to climb.
“Halt!” a familiar voice called up to me. I froze, and slowly turned my head towards the voice. Many young boys (about the age of 13) stood in a half circle around the bottom of the fence. I looked into the crowd, hoping to see that my ears had deceived me, but as my eyes fell on the middle boy, and I knew I had hear right. John, my ex-best friend, had been the one to yell up at me. He had joined the Hitler Youth about 5 years ago, when Hitler came to power. I didn’t feel like thinking about him, so I pushed old memories away and locked them there.
“Come Down and you will not be harmed.” John instructed.
“Yes, you will hurt me. I’m no fool, and I am not coming down. I guess you’ll just have to make me.” I spat bitterly, “besides, why would I come down? I’m not Aryan, not like you.”
“Come down, by order of Hitler!” a new voice broke into our conversation. I took my eyes off of John and saw, to my horror, that a real patrol of the SA was heading towards the fence. Hurriedly, I scrambled up the rest of the fence, and jump off of the top. I landed with a loud thud and I lay for a moment, dazed. Loud noises on the fence brought me out of it, and I sprang up and ran in the direction of my house. My house was not far from the fence, and I reached it quickly. I chanced a look behind me, and I saw that the soldiers were still climbing the fence. I smiled and entered my house.
Inside, my house was quiet, the hallways were dark, and it had an eerie feeling. Yet, as I walked through the silent hallway, I relaxed.
“It’s ok, it’s just me!” I called into the dark as I walk slowly along. My mom appeared out of a doorway, looking sullen and distraught. “Mom, what…” I started, but she shushed me, and then motioned me into the ‘safe’ room. Once I was safely beyond the doorway, she shut the door behind me then motioned for me to have a seat on the floor. I did so, quietly and carefully.
We sat in silence for a while but Mom was the first to beak it, “Honey, there’s something I need to tell you,” she started, “You father has been arrested. They left this letter on the doorstep; here take a look at it.” She handed me a piece of paper, and I read:
Dear Caterman Family,
By order of Hitler, Kenneth Caterman is hereby arrested. He has been charged with treason and political opposition. He will be sent to one of our concentration camps until his sentence has been decided. There, is where he will finish his sentence. You will be informed when his sentence has been decided immediately. Furthermore, he will be sent to Third Reich to carry out his sentence. Do not fear, for Kenneth will be very well taken care of by the SS.
Leader of the Gestapo
I looked up from the letter to find my mother in tears, “Mom, I don’t understand. Why would someone do this?” Worry laced my question, and I think I already knew the answer, I just didn’t understand it.
“Kyra, it is because they believe in Anti-Semitism, dislike or hatred of Jewish people. Also, because they have a genocide, or a planned killing of racial, national, ethnic, or religious group of people, for getting rid of us, of Jews.” She paused, and sobbed for a minute then continued, “That is why we must be separated from everyone else like sheep. They think we are different, that we are wrong.” It seemed she could no longer hold in heavy sobs.
I moved over to her and embraced her; tears were running down my cheek too. “Mama, don’t cry. The Allied Powers will stop the Axis-Powers eventually. You should know this deep inside your heart. We will find dad and everything will be alright. Just you wait and see.” I paused, and then whispered, “A dictatorship never lasts forever.”
My mom sighed, “Kyra, your right, but this Holocaust will last forever in our hearts.” I moved even closer to her and hugged her harder and we both sobbed for a few minutes.
“Mom,” I said after many long minutes of silent crying, “We’ll make it through together. As long as we stick together, anything is possible.” At these words, Mom smiled and I followed suit. Everything was going to be alright, we had love and each other.