Holocaust: A Scene in Hell (a short story)
Back in my country, Poland, I had heard that sensory deprivation could drive a man mad. I only wish that this was the reason why so many others and I are going insane. Instead our state of insanity is brought on by the lack of this deprivation it is this kind of sensory overload. Every day that I live I feel as though I am already dead...dead and in Hell. Each day I can expect the same thing. There is no hope. At least in the ghettos we could have hope, no matter if this was the result. But now our hope is gone.
Treblinka. I will never forget the name of the concentration camp that I was placed in, it is scarred on my brain, burned into my memory, like so many other unpleasant things. Every morning I awake with burning, cold air in my throat and lungs. The scent of death that lingers in the air has resided in my mouth during my sleep. It is dark...always dark. I lie down in my bunk listening to the raspy breathing of all of my fellow Jews that are imprisoned here. You can hear the pain in each breath, like the winds of a graveyard.
My bunk mate has been in Treblinka longer than I have. He hasn't been properly nourished, none of us have, but his malnutrition is extremely noticeable. He has started to rouse from his sleep. His knee slides over the back of my leg and I can actually feel his bones. Suddenly, I am reminded of my nightmare that I was having. I saw myself in a ditch full of bodies. I was swimming through them trying to get to the top, but every time I surfaced a giant swastika made of bones would push me down to the bottom of the pit again.
I hear the muffled mumble of the Nazi soldiers outside coming to our barrack. Then the clean clank, thud from the bolt sliding out of the lock. Then my eyes begin to sting and throb as if I were just punched in both of them. As my eyes get adjusted to the light I had a horrible image come before me. I thought my dream was a truth. As I looked around I saw at least fifty stark white skeletal figures rustling about the barrack getting out of their bunks. Then I realize that they were people. Sick, mistreated people just like me. A cold wind rushes in so I grabbed the vomit ridden rag that I was given as a shirt and put it on. I start walking to the doorway, I'm sure that they want us to dig more of those holes that I dream about. On my way, I notice someone who hasn't responded to the noise, the movements, or the cold. I turned him over to face me and I felt like vomiting, and I would have if there was anything for me to vomit. He had been dead for a while, probably early into the night. His jaw had been locked open, his eyes were open too, and that was the worst. His eyes were a cool icy blue, but they were covered in a foggy film. He is one of the lucky ones, he doesn't have to suffer anymore.
We leave the barracks and grab our shovels to begin our digging. We never get breakfast, but recently I have begun to find rats and bugs. They aren't good, but they keep some of the hunger at bay.
After we dig the holes, the guards tell us to begin filling it with the dead bodies. A few hours pass and I placed the last body on the pile. It was the same man that I tried to wake this morning. The fires begin. I have have smelled burnt flesh before and it is not pleasant, but this...this smell is unbearable. Hundreds of innocent dead men are burnt. I'm sure that some of them might be alive just too weak at the time to respond or resist being placed into the pit. Dark clouds of smoke fill the air. I look beyond the flames and see a guard standing there with a grin on his face. And that is when I began to weep. How could a human be delighted in another man's pain. That wasn't the face of a man...no, I can't accept that. It had to be the Devil, no human could be that evil.
I want to end this hellish ordeal. I want to die, but I will not take my own life. It is not that I can't because sadly, I know very well that I could. No...no, it is because I won't, for my daughter's sake. She is my guiding light. I pray God will see me through this just for her. So that one day I may be able to kiss her, hold her, and tell her that I love her just one more time.