I walk in front of the cold stare of the German soldier. He glances at me and sends me to the right. My great-aunt is sent to the left. My God, my God! She can't be to the left! I scream her name over and over until I feel a sharp pain lash across my shoulder. Another soldier stands there with a whip in his hands. I quickly move behind another woman. We are pushed into a room and told to get undressed.
There are men in this room. SS men are swarming all around us. But we quickly forget and get undressed. Naked and sweating we are led into another room. A woman with a knife roughly shaves my beautiful golden brown hair. I am put in another room where water is poured on our heads and we are sprayed with disinfectant. I cry and cry. I am put with four other women into a barrack filled with thousands of others.
A month later.
My God, the lice! The typhus! My God, my God! Oh dear God, the pain. The scratching! I have nothing but a thin, gray dress. It is in the middle of winter and I haven't had anything to eat since yesterday. The woman who slept next to me died last night. Her cold empty eyes stared into mine. I took her shoes. Oh God, forgive me!
I stare past the barbed fence into the dark, gray world to nowhere. German soldiers patrol and stare at me as though I am some kind of filth in a golden palace.
Dinner. I grab my bowl and receive my soup. The dark green lumpy mash slides from the end of my bowl into my mouth. There's sand and cloth and glass in it. I do not taste it. The food silences the dull pain in my stomach. The girl next to me cries and vomits. Her sick is splattered into my bowl. Still, I eat, teaching myself to be blind about what I am eating. In Auschwitz, you must eat to survive. You must not have pity on anyone but yourself. Fight for food and eat it.
The typhus! The typhus is gone! Thank you my dear God! I woke up this morning with no pain.
This morning a cattle car full of people came. The little children were roughly led to another room. The smell! The gas! My God, the children! They were put to death! I saw . . . I saw a mother with her child. I saw her shot in the head before she reached the gas chamber. The child cried out. He was shot too. My God, what is happening to this world?!
Hitler is dead! Rumors swarm the camp but work is not lifted. I am forced to dig endless ditches. Move impossible rocks. I am forced to swallow inedible foods. I found a hard lump of bread yesterday. I ate it. Thank you God, thank you for the wonderful miracle.
My hands. My hands are swollen. They are bleeding. They are leaking strange liquids. I cut them on the barbed wire over three months ago. They are still not healed.
Cattle cars! They arrived this morning. I am being moved to another camp. Treblinka. A death camp. 100 people to a car. We are squeezed in and the doors are shut. I am stuck behind a woman with typhus and behind me a girl my age with diarrhea. I hear her moaning. I feel no pity. My heart has hardened along with my calluses and blisters on my swollen hands.
I am shoved off the train. I stare once again into the cold face of a German soldier. But this time I am sent to the left. My God! My God! The left! Dear God, I don't want to die!
I am shoved in a big room with several other sickly women. Then suddenly there is a sputtering noise. And then it is impossible to breathe. God, I feel dizzy. I can no longer feel pain. Dear God, thank you. Thank you for no pain.
Author's Sources: "I Have Lived a Thousand Years" by Livia Bitton-Jackson.