I always stare into the blue, gentle and lazy clouds with wonder on what went wrong and why the world kept its eyes wide shut. January 1933, brought in a new command for the country of German. The Nazi leaders like Hitler, Herman Goering, with their party, the Swastika came into power and used the Newspaper, Der Sturmer to spread propaganda about Jews. The German secret police (Gestapo), was used to bring untold suffering to Jews. They felt that they were the superior race and any other race especially the Jews were a non-race. All Germans of the superior “Aryan Race” were made to believe that Jews or mongrels were responsible for all the social, economic, and political failures of Germany and Europe. They made a plan to annihilate or eliminate the Jews and other targeted groups were the disabled people being housed in institutions, the Gypsies, Russians prisoners of war, and the Slavic people. Hitler attacked Poland, put the Jews in isolation in concentration camps and ghettos that lacked food, water, proper housing, heating and sewerage system as they built death camps. The poor living conditions at the ghettos made Jews to live under desperation. When they were told of going to work in “better places,” they gladly accepted and their journey to death started.
The Auswitchz Death Camp was located in an isolated area in Poland. It was originally used as army barracks before Nazi Germany took control of the area. It was used from the start of May 1940 to January 1945, when it was liberated by the Soviet Union. However, it had a railway transport system that aided the transportation of millions of Jews for annihilation using gas chambers, my father’s work. My home was three miles away from the camp, a place that I had mastered like my way to the toilet because my grandfather worked there and now my father. As a young boy in my early teenage years, I dreamt of good things, but everything was hard to come by. Food, bread, coal, and even cloth were being sold at very high prices. In general, nothing was affordable! People who did not have money were very desperate to do anything to put food in their mouths. Increasing level of despair was capped with the promises of Hitler and his men. He told the superior tribes in Europe that if they eliminate Jews, then they have eliminated economic stress, and life would be better.
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Schutzstaffel or SS operated the camp and the main man was Heinrich Himmler. Himmler was a man of terror, his yes and no meant death, terror to the Jewish laborers and slaves at the camp.I knew the place because as a small boy, my father worked as a cleaner at build the camp. He always boasted that the camp was to host many “bad people” who have brought the economy of the European Continent. As a young boy, I often though that, if the bad people are kept out of the way, I would have a good Christmas suit, many toys and above all, good food every day.
My father and his fellow village men knew of the full plan to execute the Jews. In the dark and silence of the night, my father and his friends would talk with his friends over the devilish extermination actions that would take place at the camp. I was often filled with horror, pain, and disgust over what my father knew and why he would not do anything.
After camp construction ended, my father was again jobless without a penny in his torn pocket. Our family hardly survived on watery oatmeal soup and hard-baked bread. At times, our family had nothing. I played with my kitten at the doorstep of our wooden house, as my stomach grumbled with hunger pangs. I stared death in the face as I ran into the house, gobbled three to four sips of water as I waited for the only meal; dinner. Luckily, the Camp was looking for a gas chamber operator and my father successfully got the job.
The rails rattled, bearing thousands of coaches full of Jews ready for extermination. They embarked to be received by well-dressed Ukrainian workers and some even got “tips” for a job well done. Jews were fooled to a point that they were given written documents that they could use to claim their belongings or luggage. The women were separated from their husbands as they said goodbye with hugs and kisses filled with love and hunger. Some people showed confidence, feeling that they were in the right place with good people to take care of them. The children cried loudly with hunger pangs. The Ukrainian and Polish workers informed the women on the directions to the canteen. At the canteen, they were told to leave personal valuables like handbags, chains, and even gold rings.
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Many people were informed that they were going to see the doctor because they were going to work in Europe thus had to be examined if they have any disease. Women and children undressed read to go to the showers or see the doctors. They went into the gas chambers, locked in and my father ran the engine that supplied thousands with death warrants. Some women would scream in horror, awe, the feeling of life slowly ebbing away. They fought; struggles in the darkness of humanity gone bad till the last life went out of them back to the universe.
These were the stories that made my father and his friends to laugh until their ribs would ache as their eyes filled with tears. I felt a sick feeling in the stomach, but would not vomit the disgust because there was nothing to eat. At times, I would comfort myself that the world would become a better place and see my father as a hero. I felt that things would look better and there will be plenty for the “good” people. My kitten and I, quiet and secretive as the graveyard waited in earnest for a good life.
I was the bystander that knew and watched everything but from a distance. I feared that if the bad people continue to live, I would lose all the gains that my father has made and life would be very dreadful. I was scared to the bone of what my hero; my father would do if I reported what they do at the Camp. If he lost his job, then my mother and I would be forced to toil all year round to feed and barely clothe ourselves. I stood and kept quiet with my eyes shut as innocent mothers, young girls and boys, and men lost their lives! I felt shame because I knew wrong, and kept selfishly quiet for bread without thinking of the millions of lives that were lost.
In 1945, the Red Army of the Soviet Union came in to destroy the machineries of Hitler at Auschwitz. 2.5 million Jews had been exterminated by the gas chambers at Auschwitz alone! Himmler ordered for the destruction of gas chambers and crematoriums. About 20,000 Jews were ordered to walk on foot into Germany, where they were saved by the British Army. Soviet Union’s Red Army rescued the weak and ill Jews who were left behind.