I’m rounded up with 12 others and we’re being escorted to a church. The others are quite. They don’t know why they were just abducted from their daily routine and I don’t know either. It looked like some were only on their way to the market and some were on their way to school, like me. I’m only 15. What could they possible want from me? The soldiers are bringing us to a church on the other side of town, but what for? It wasn’t too long ago that they occupied our town and disrupted our lives. I don’t understand. Why are we going to a church? Something is off. This doesn’t seem right. I need to get out of here. I need to run. I must run. I have to run NOW.
I take off in a sprint and I know the soldiers are running after me. Chasing me. Hoping they can round me up and bring me back with the others. I don’t look back though because I’m afraid it will slow me down. I keep running. I make my way back to the center of town and look for a place to hide but I’m not really sure where to go. I need to get off of the streets. I need to be inside. Houses!
I start knocking on the doors of the locals. The first house is white with a red door. I hear people inside but they won’t let me in. I move on to the next house. They open the door at least but also won’t let me in. House after house I’m rejected. Is it because of my age? My clothes? There is still nowhere to hide until finally someone welcomes me into their home. I can see the fear on their face though. Their mild reluctance to let me in. Their hesitation. How could they not be afraid? I’m out of breath and desperate for a place to hide. I would fight them right now if they won’t let me in, but they do. They finally let me in and I sit on the floor to catch my breath.
Hours go by. I haven’t returned home from school and my family must be worried. They don’t know where I am but I can’t go home. I can’t leave yet because it’s too dangerous. I must stay here for the night at least until the soldiers have given up on my search. If they are even searching for me at all. Yes, I need to stay here and I’ll go home in the morning.
When the sun rises I know its safe to make my way back home but I’m compelled to go back to the church first. I need to see what they wanted from us and what awaited for us at the church.
The earth is bright red and there is a giant, fresh mound of dirt. I have never seen anything like this before. A mass grave. I was just with these people. I was one of these people.
I feel sick. Confused. Lucky.
I run again, but this time I run home and when I get there I know my life will never be the same.
It’s 1940. Germany has invaded our small town in Poland I’m terrified of what will be next….
Yesterday was Holocaust Remembrance day and this story is one of many my grandfather has from the Holocaust. There is one saying that all holocaust survivors and family members have engrained in their DNA and that saying is “never forget.” I know I will never, ever forget.