I have not written a short story in a long while, (and I’m fighting my bad case of Writer’s Block), but I have been wanting to do some historical fiction. This piece I actually wrote for my English class in November 2016, but as I was looking back on it tonight to find some inspiration, it reminded me of how bad things happen, and we can learn from them. To be warned, this story is not happy. The topic of research was different perspectives of the Holocaust, from Nazi Soldiers to lost children, and I decided to write about Kapos, the traitors within Nazi camps. It is a story I came up with as a representation of what the Holocaust was like in some cases, not all. It was merely up to my interpretation as a 17-year-old girl who had visited Dachau Concentration Camp once and research from websites. I hope yo enjoy the writing, not the subject, and take time to reflect.
After several shifts of tiring labor in the sweltering days and an abundance of uncomfortable rests in the shivering nights, I slept quite well on my new bed, one that was just to myself, and it even had actual padding. I clambered out of my bed, relieved to find that no waste had fallen on me from the top bunk of my room because I had no roommates to sleep under. I felt cleaner than I had been at Auschwitz for the past year, so I postponed my shower time to look out the door of my barracks, watching the sun reflect off the barbed wire fence that locked us up tight, like a pig pen. They called us Schweine, so I knew it was the intent. As an older man, I wished to be called a gentleman, but we were stripped of every title including ‘human’. The crisp air made me gullible; I began to deeply inhale the serenity, something that did not come often as a Jew in 1940. The camp was a poison that never left our systems; it consumed our homes, our air, and our own blood. We were not safe anywhere, and it seemed we never would be. In the presence of reality, I chose to diminish the thought of our daily lives and focused on my new home and the light ahead of me, one of plenty of food and plenty of shelter. As I stood there, a shadow came into my view, and when I looked up to see what it was, I realized it was Frau Schneider. She was a wicked, old woman, and her crinkled face held a sour expression as if something foul had crept into her mouth. Her eyes were deep, black holes, and if one dared to look too long into them, that person would be swallowed whole into a world of unescapable darkness. She glared at me, her dark eyes following my every move. I gulped. She watched me stand at the door, judging me, and I recalled why I had the new home, no waste covering me while I slept, no roommates, and no misery. The reason was my promise. I was recruited by the guard outside my old barracks, assured that I would receive a much better treatment if I would just keep a watchful eye on my people, report any who disobey the guard, and sign off on a list of names. It was to be a list of fifty to be exact, and I chose them all. I knew what the list meant because everybody did. I knew that if I signed this paper of fifty names, they would die, and I would be responsible. Only, what did I have to lose? I was already on my march towards death, and I figured dying comfortably was my best bet. Honor never crossed my mind until Frau Schneider showed up, staring at me as if I were Adolf Hitler himself, but I knew she was wrong. I was a Jew like her, and we had gone through the same ordeals such as losing our children and then our spouses, and finally being left with nothing but the skin on our bodies, and even that is threatened to be taken away. We understood how survival worked, but it seemed to me like Frau Schneider was the one misinterpreting it. After all, I protected myself, and I did not see what the problem was. Perhaps my thoughts were false. She scowled and stood there for a long time. The intimidation broke my heart, and I immediately rushed to the pen and paper that sat beside my bed. It was blank, but soon it would be a list of teardrops and scars, people lost and forgotten. I do not know what possessed me to write it, but the first name appeared on my list. It was Frau Schneider. I convinced myself that at her age, she was better off, and she would see her family once more. She was a cruel woman after all, and I hated her very much. Many people did, but hardly any would admit it. She deserved it. Ironically, that’s what the Nazis said about us. After I had written her name and signed off the other forty-nine people, I went back to look out the door, but Frau Schneider was not there. I gazed out into the setting again and wondered why my gut twisted in nausea. The next and last time I saw Frau Schneider, she was in a wheelbarrow with the other victims I had assigned, her dark eyes still glaring at me, but this time, they were cold and dead, much like my soul. I was a Kapo, a traitor to my people, and my actions could not be changed. I felt it in my gut again, and I have felt it every day since.