Author's Words - Imagine yourself!29.11.2014 13:54
Imagine that you were Jewish, that you were Homosexual, a Gypsy, a Prisoner Of War or even imagine that you were simply Polish or spoke up against the Nazis. Perhaps you had simply been denounced by your neighbour. It doesn't matter. You’re on a train, approaching the most terrifying concentration camp ever conceived. You’ve just spent twenty, thirty no forty hours in cramped unsanitary conditions. Some dead bodies are in the carriage next to you. Imagine that you are frightened out of your wits, because you’ve heard terrible stories of brutality and murder. Mind you! They’re only rumours. You shouldn’t believe everything they say. The train slows and you can hear barking. This can’t be real.
But it is! Sevety per cent of you in this carriage will be dead within an hour and the rest will be punched, bitten by dogs and mishandled before being subjected to an arbitrary selection process. There, the handsome face of Doktor Mengeles, his face set with a kind smile, his uniform impeccably tailored, cleaned and pressed, cheerfully whistling his favorite Wagner opera, eyes betraying nothing but a cursory interest. To the right, you’re dead, to the left you’re in the camp. Once in, you’re shaved and reduced to a nothing, clothed in lice infested striped pyjamas. You’ll be assigned to work groups where a Kapo will beat you mercilessly and within two weeks, likely as not you’ll be joining the selection queue as a Muselmann, having given up on life and too exhausted to resist.
Is there any room for compassion here? Could it be that love could blossom on such bare ground.
Now imagine yourself as a young girl who has been worked into the ground digging a ditch. The woman in the bunk next to you is sick with typhus. She tells you of a place in the camp where you get well fed and where the guards don't beat you. She offers to swap identities knowing that she will be selected tomorrow. Imagine you take up the offer and imagine that you were discovered. You now face certain death tomorrow. Your Kapo, a homosexual, has taken your fancy and offers you a way out by allowing you to sing at a concert that evening. A concert in Auschwitz? It can't be possible. It was and did happen this way. This is even the song she sang 'Mein Herz hat Heimweh', and through this a guard was instantly smitten, falling in love, an emotion so profound that it would cast a shadow over the rest of his life.
Love blossomed on this bare ground and you can read this story in Whispering Birches.