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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Melody (08/24/06)

TITLE: Arbeit Macht Frei
By Ruth Neilson
08/28/06


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How that ironic a place of death greets the newest prisoners with joyful music from composers such as Beethoven and Bach. This is my only way of survival because I am not strong enough to be a worker and I know that I would have been escorted to the chambers if not for my violin that somehow managed to escape being crushed in the cattle cars.

This is Dachau. Arbeit macht frei.

Most of us have given up hope...the sound of the German composers only signify two things to us here: death or work. Work leads to death and death leads to work, so they are entwined endlessly with each other. The carefree sounds of Ode to Joy welcome our brothers and sisters to their end.

It is often hard to read the music that is placed before me because of the ash that lingers in the air. That is no great secret of the camp. Surely, YHWH has forgotten of his people. And now, as the corpses are cremated without a proper burial, they fall back onto this godforsaken ground, eager to create their own falling melody; the falling ash sounds like snow falling, if you choose to listen close enough.

But, who wants to compare something so beautiful like that to a grotesque image of my brother or father or mother raining down on me? The Nazis have ruined another favorite thing for me...I can no longer listen to the rain without thinking of my brothers and sisters here. Those are dead—or slowly dieing.

I was a promising violinist...playing for weddings, Bar Mitzvah’s, and with the symphony. But now, I struggle just to stay alive. The melodies of the compositions are lost to me. All I see is notes, rests, and pencil markings. The wonder of the music has vanished.

It’s like the falling ash around me. It doesn’t matter; all that matters is life.

Arbeit macht frei.


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This article has been read 712 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 08/31/06
I'd like to see this expanded. I want to know the rest of this man's story! You drew me in at the beginning, and didn't let go until the end.
dub W09/01/06
Very tight - like a journal entry, or from a Diary. Cynthia Ozick (sp.) writes in much the same style on the same subject. Well done, chilling.
Sharon Singley09/01/06
wow, this is chilling. very well written for subject that is so ugly. good job.
Lynda Schultz 09/02/06
Yes, I would love to know more. This was so well done. One little detail: "dieing" should be dying. Good job.
Marilyn Schnepp 09/02/06
I spent the first five minutes trying to decipher the first five words and how they are to be read. I never did figure it out;...but other than that..a well written story. Nicely done.