“My how tall you’re growing!” my mother exclaimed only one week ago, but it seems like years and everything has changed since then. The day after she said that, a man arrived at our door and made us leave without any of our belongings and load onto a train. There were hundreds alongside us, many were crying and all wore the same distinct patch as I did.
That train traveled along a well-worn strip of railroad to a camp where everyone was taken off by men with guns pointed at us. After being stuck inside with every person on the planet, the fresh air brought relief like no other; though later I would learn to hate the air that smelled like dying and dead things. One man in a uniform next to me started shoving me and my sister along. He smelled so strongly of cologne I felt like fainting and I could tell Elsa was thinking the same thing. She was holding my hand and I looked down at her, she was smaller than me even though we were the same age, and our long brown hair made us look exactly the same. My younger brother Jakob was snuggled in my mother’s arms as she walked forward unsteadily.
We continued forward and up ahead another man in a uniform was directing people where to go. I noticed that most young children and older women were going right and the men and young adults were going left. I hoped that my family wouldn’t get separated, but maybe we would still be able to see each other. As we shuffled forward he told me and papa to go left and mother, Elsa, and Josef to go right. I didn’t really know why we were being separated but from all the crying people around me I could tell it was a bad thing. I looked over at mother with pleading eyes, I wanted her and Elsa to just sneak over and join us, and surely no one would notice. My mother was tearing up and pleading with every ounce of her to let everyone come with and pa. I couldn’t understand why she was begging with all her strength, we probably would just be living in separate houses.
Just then a powerful looking, extremely well-dressed man walked up to Elsa and I could hear him sternly but somehow still politely asking, “You, is that your twin over there?” as he pointed straight at me. Timidly Elsa hesitated and finally replied, “Yes, Klara’s my twin.” He ordered us to follow him and turned and I saw his shiny shoes travel briskly away. I barely had any time to glance at my family and give a parting farewell before I had to run off in order not to lose him.
Months and months came and went, all filled with unending gloom. Elsa and I lived in a brick building with many other twins and there were also adults who were shorter than even Elsa. I soon learned that the man who took was Dr. Josef Mengele and he was the head doctor of the camp. We didn’t hear much of anything about the world outside our block and my heart constantly ached for mother and papa, whom I never heard from or saw.
The rooms were damp and cold, and we rarely ever went outside. When we did we found that Mengele’s patients could keep their own clothes and not have to wear the striped clothes like all the other Jews we saw were wearing. I always hoped that I would glimpse mother or papa in the shifted line of striped clothing but I never saw them. It was hard to tell because again unlike us everyone had shaven heads. The soldiers would sometimes come round and I quickly learned to despise them. My parents never taught me to be proud of who I was, and I just knew I was different from the soldiers in the pressed and decorated uniforms who were always near. They carried guns and pointed them at the people in the striped clothing, and we never knew if they would decide to shoot that time. They called us horrid names and made every day filled with unfathomable misery. I soon forgot everything I knew about being Jewish and only believed what the soldiers told me. Jews were horrible creatures that weren’t even human and should be punished. We should be isolated and sent to work. My days of grief were constant reminders of how imperfect I was.
I could tell everyone was growing weaker by the day; the sparse amount of food we ate was not enough to satisfy our grumbling stomachs. Elsa grew thinner and thinner each day, until she was half the size she was when we got here. She was so small to begin with and I could knew how much she suffered, some of my black bread always somehow managed to get in her bowl every day.
From the meager amount of time we had to socialize with the other twins I heard gruesome tales of experiments he did on twins and the other people in our building. Of coarse it couldn’t be true though; no one could ever perform surgeries on people without any anesthetic and get away with it. They probably just imagined it or highly exaggerated it as some can.
‘Uncle’ Mengele as he sometimes called himself, never did anything like those stories to me or Elsa. He measured us like regular doctors, although he took quite a lot of blood samples, and my arm always felt pinched and numb. The worst thing he did was make me and Elsa sit on the high marble table naked as he examined us for hours. It was incredibly cold and humiliating but he told us that it had to be done for science. Like the ignorant kids that we were, we trusted him and thought that he must always be right since he was an adult and a doctor at that. We had reason to trust him though, he was a sort of confusing man, and he always spoke nice to us and sometimes tried to carry on conversations. Also, he brought us sweets and candy every time he visited us, and he never let any of the guards harm us like I saw them do to other people wearing the striped clothing.
One day came, and early in the day Mengele came to fetch me and Elsa. He said he had some more tests to do on us. I assumed he would measure us and draw blood as usual, and maybe some other confusing, mildly painful tests he sometimes did. Elsa must have drawn the same conclusion and asked, “Will you have to draw more blood from Klara and me again? My arm still hurts from yesterday.” He turned around with a sort of frown that quickly turned into a smile and his eyes gleamed as he said, “You know what? I’ll make sure there are no blood tests; we’re going to do something extra special today. If you’ll just follow me we’re going to another block and we can travel in a van. You’ve never ridden in a car before have you?”
The smile I rarely saw on Elsa’s face appeared, except when she Dr. Mengele or his beautiful secretary talked to her in this kind and considerate way. I could tell that she had an absolute trust in Mengele even after what he did; we were identical but for some reason she seemed much younger sometimes. “Oh no! I haven’t, neither has Klara,” she exclaimed and then turned to face me, “Papa always said we could only afford necessities, but we’ve always been dying to ride in an automobile!” As she said this, her smile widened as she said the long word that Papa always used when discussing cars.
We climbed in the back doors of a white van with a red cross emblazoned halfway on each adjoining door. Elsa, and even I, was very excited after our ride and hardy noticed where he was taking us. Before long he brought us into the basement and into a room where some of Mengele’s Jewish assistants already were. The stench hit me and it was sickening. The smell was vaguely familiar but I couldn’t tell what it was, Elsa had to hold her nose and she struggled to climb on the marble table ingrained with dark red blotches that Mengle was motioning us on. The Jewish doctor came forward with a scalpel, his face showed no expression except when you glimpsed his eyes and they were filled with despair. But even so, Mengele was right behind him and he went on with the procedure.
And right then I died, the last breath of my soul whimpered and disintegrated into nothing. Pain stabbed as harsh as could be in every part of my body, no place could hide from its wrath. It was indescribably brutal and torturous, I remembered thinking that I had died and gone to Hell as my punishment for being a Jew. I was conscious, but just barely, my head cried out so dreadfully I thought it had blown up. I vaguely heard screaming in my nearly comatose state. I wanted so badly for that painful screaming to stop but it shrieked on never-endingly. I don’t know how I got through it, but I still have the scars showing where they took my ovaries out in an attempt to find an easy way to sterilize women.
Elsa didn’t talk for two months after that, even when Mengele brought her sweets and told her how brave and courageous she was. Her spirit was torn and she remained a shell of the lively girl she once was. My soul too was suppressed and I think it helped her somewhat that her only best friend knew what she was going through. After the liberation, we became closer now that there was no war or starvation to tear us apart; but we never spoke of the torture we went through. Our scars and tattoos were all that we needed to remind us.
Some believe that I am not real, that my life never happened. They refuse to believe the stretch of facts and evidence before them. My tattoo, A4671 with the ZW for twin permanently imbedded in my skin was never some fashion statement, it is a mark that will forever remind me of my haunted past. This is my and millions of others’ life that they are trying to erase out of history like it was never there, and we don’t want to be forgotten.
- Title: A Child of the Holocaust
- Artist: Hh Aa Ll Ee Yy
I wrote this story as a historical fiction, but its based on many facts I've learned about the Holocaust from a unit at my school. I became really interested in Mengele and am reading a book about him. The girls in my story aren't real but there are real people that went through everything she went through and much more.
...At least nine million people died because of the Holocaust, and roughly estimated 2,800 twins died because of Mengele’s experiments. And that’s not just a number...
- Date: 10/15/2008
- Tags: holocaust historical jews