Friday, 2 January 2015
One Minute in a Death Camp
You’re probably asking how I first met her, and I would have to say that it was around sometime in the late 1940s; down in the boon docks.
She’d been born in Mainz, Germany on January 1st, 1900 and had seen more than her fair share of everything in this life.
She was a Jew, and a proud one and, as you can probably guess, watched most of her family disappear into concentration camps.
She was feeding the birds by the docks that day. I remember it was a warm sultry afternoon in New York.
I asked if I could help and she said sure, I could. I had some coffee and we sat and shared it, sitting on an old crate. She had an almost permanent smile on her face, as if to say, I’m happy world, just get used to it.
Boy did we talk. I told her about my family who lived upstate and how my great uncle helped invent the automobile.
“You must be very proud,” she said in a thick German accent.
Sure I was, I told her, sure I was. And her grin became a huge smile.
I asked her about her own family, and she said that there weren’t no one left.
“All gone,” and then she nodded her head as if to say into the showers of those camps.
“All of them?” I asked.
“Yah,” and then she took another sip of her very cold coffee.
“Where were you?” I asked.
And she told me she had been there too, along with her three brothers, three sisters and her mother and father.
“At the end, there was only me,” she said sadly.
So I asked her, how or why she survived.
“Only the good Lord knows that one,” she said.
Then she told me how she got through those days of death and hatred. She said that she would close her eyes for one minute every day. One minute when things were getting really bad and she would remember who she was. It was as simple as that.
“Just close your eyes and recite your name and then remember who and what you are. Some things or someone in the universe went to a lot of trouble to get you here. Just think of that.”
It was just as the sun was on its last legs that she said she must get back home, and that it had been very nice talking to me.
Here’s the funny bit - every day after that I did the very same thing. One minute with my eyes closed just to remember who I was.
I have to tell you, it’s got me through a lot of life’s stuff.
bobby stevenson 2015