After Isaac’s death, Mother keeps me locked in the house as if I am her prisoner.
Isaac was always the favorite child.
Some boys from the neighborhood caught him walking down the street – risky business for any Jew now days. They enjoyed smashing his violin to pieces and decided it would be sport to beat Isaac as well.
I look at my mother. Dark circles fill the hollows below her eyes. Father was her only strength, and Mother died inside the day he was taken.
The waiting is torture. Mother is silent, as usual. I wish the soldiers would come soon. I hate being in this prison, staring at this shell that used to be my mother. I wish those boys had murdered me instead of my brother.
Pounding fists on the door downstairs startle us. We jump to our feet, grab our luggage, and hurry down the stairs. We are not quick enough. The door comes crashing down.
“Ein koffer! One suitcase!”
Our life’s possessions reduce to one carrying bag each. I stumble over our discarded baggage and topple down the remaining stairs, landing at the feet of one of our angry escorts. For a second, I see my reflection in the shine of his boot before he plants it squarely in my mouth. Blood splatters his polished shine and I spit teeth to the floor amid the laughs of his comrades.
Mother kneels beside me only to feel the sting of a German whip slashing through the back of her shirt. She allows nothing but a gasp to escape her throat. We both refuse to cry.
The train station is a sea of people, their hearts embraced by yellow stars. Wave after wave is loaded into boxcars.
Suddenly, rifle fire bursts through the calm exodus. Screams of terror rip through the crowd ahead as they turn and rush for the exits. Mother clenches my arm, her fingernails drawing blood. The force of the bodies cut through us, separating us forever.
She is silent.
I struggle to remain standing as many fall around me – trampled, wailing. I make a desperate grasp for a light post and cling for my life, as the iron fist of the German army stills the mayhem.
For hours, I watch swastika wrapped arms load their cargo for the slaughterhouses of the east. There is no trace of my mother or our luggage. Still, I do not cry.
Running forward, I scoop up an abandoned carpetbag similar to my father’s.
“Steigen sie in den zug ein! Get on the train!”
The stench of urine and feces gags me. I sit near the door, where a glimmer of sunlight allows me to investigate my new luggage.
It is not my father’s. Digging beneath the clothes, I am encouraged as my hands wrap around a book. The clothing spills to the floor as I pull out my treasure – The New Testament.
Oh, I’m cursed! I am alone in this world. God has abandoned me, and now this – a book of more murderers, killing Jews in the name of their Christ god!
The flood of anger and heartache, buried within, finally breaks free. I bury my head in my hands and weep hot, bitter tears.
My thoughts turn to the kindness of Anna. She is a Christian. She tried to help my mother and me, offering to hide us in her attic, but Mother was too proud to accept.
Maybe the wicked things spoken about Jesus are untrue. God knows I have heard enough lies about the Jews.
“Elohim, Creator of heaven and earth, do you have a son?”
I open the book. The sunlight gleams on the page before me. “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”*
This is a Jewish book! These are the Psalmist David’s words. I check the cover again to make sure there is no mistake – The New Testament.
God Himself guides my eyes across the holy pages, “The Letter to the Hebrews.”
I am a Hebrew. A fire is sparked within me. Trembling, I ask again, “Do you have a son?”
He answers through another prophesy of David, “But of the Son He says, ‘Your throne, O God, is forever and forever.”*
The veil is removed from my understanding.
“The Son is God!” I shout to the captives around me.
In His presence, an overcoming hope grips my heart. Wherever these tracks lead, I know I am no longer alone.
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