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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing (01/11/07)

TITLE: Mein Name Ist...
By Ruth Neilson


This was a daily thing for Werner. He had to remind himself that he was human—and no longer a prisoner of the Nazi government. He had survived and he had beaten the odds. Now, he had to pay for it. He knew that the orderlies never understood; they were all too young to understand why he was doing this. With a wrinkled hand, he gripped the calligraphy pen and pulled a piece of stationary across the table. In his tight cursive writing, he penned.

Mein Name ist Werner Weiss.

That single sentence was an act of rebellion. He had performed this act every day since he was herded first to the Łódź Ghetto and then finally into Auschwitz, often writing on a brick with a piece of charcoal. Werner found himself immediately smudging away the writing, ignoring the smearing ink.

Mein Name ist Werner Weiss.

“Herr Weiss, are you okay?” One of the orderlies, Fräulein Adalia asked. She smiled at him, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder. Her dirty blonde hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail and her green eyes were studying him with concern.

“Ja, I am fine.”
“I’m new...but I want to know your story. Why do you constantly write that same sentence?”

Mein Name ist Werner Weiss.

Werner frowned and glanced down at his covered left arm. Werner glanced down and fiddled with his sleeve for a long period; Fräulein Adalia was being stubborn. Almost as stubborn as he was when he was determined to survive. Someone had to continue to carry his family name.

Werner took a deep breath and began to write again. He couldn’t speak the horrors that he saw, but he could write them. Maybe it was time for someone else to know the horrors of what he saw.

He paused and glanced into her eyes. Adalia was blinking rapidly. He could see silver tears forming despite her attempts to wipe them away. He could hear her labored breaths as each nightmarish description fell from his pen. After several minutes of writing, Werner dropped the pen and rubbed his hand to ease the cramping.

Mein Name ist Werner Weiss und ich bin ein Jude, der überlebte.*

She placed a gentle hand on his shoulder and squeezed gently. “Herr Weiss, that is all that matters. You survived...and I know your story, I will not forget it.”

Werner smiled and with a trembling hand, reached up and patted her hand. With a wane smile, he whispered, “Danke.”

*My name is Werner Weiss and I am a Jew that survived.

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This article has been read 701 times
Member Comments
Member Date
darlene hight01/18/07
This writing is high impact! Thanks for sharing your gift
Sharon Singley01/18/07
This is beautiful. Nothing more needed to be said. Thank you.
julie wood01/18/07
I enjoyed reading this. A beautiful, moving character sketch--the old man comes alive in such a way that I can see, hear, and feel with him. Can also see and hear the caring nurse. Great descriptions and dialogue!

Concerning "wane smile" near the end: I think the word needed there is "wan."

The story's exotic title grabbed me right away. I also appreciate the English translation of the German statement at the story's end. Very powerful and moving. Great job!
Amy Michelle Wiley 01/19/07
Powerful! I was a little confused as to the setting, but I'm not sure it really mattered anyway. The important parts came through loud and clear.
Joanne Sher 01/20/07
Love your use of German - definitely had an impact on me. Very engaging and poignant.
Marilyn Schnepp 01/21/07
An enlightening story with great depth. I wasn't sure where Werner was or is, but the rest of the story was powerfully explanatory. Nice job, well done.
Holly Jensen01/21/07
A great story. The impression that it is important for Werner that someone "understands" is clearly evident. I agree "high impact."
Leigh MacKelvey01/21/07
I love stories about Jewish survivors. This one was well told and the main character so vividly real.
Kathleen Morris01/22/07
I really enjoyed it...made me go, "Awwww," at the end. Nicely done!