WHEN THE DEVIL WAS BORN MAN
The world died in 1941.The tongues of the Warriors were cut off. Horror crept into my home on the 7th day of November, 1941 as Nazi armies barged into Kazimierz district at the dead of the night. 17 armoured vehicles blasting their horns and shattering the maze of our slumber.
I awoke to the chaos of stumping boots and loud orders. Throwing my bed sheets aside, I crept to the window, slightly opening the edge of the window. Our front yard was as busy as a market place, 50 soldiers in red and black uniforms shouting orders as they barged into homes. I saw two soldiers walking towards our door. I heard Father answer their knock. I saw him climb down our front porch with his torch lighting his path as he walked to their vehicles.
Father would rectify any chaos, that I was sure. He was Rabbi after all. I watched him speak with the tall soldier with over grown moustache who led the troupe. He barely glanced at Father as he flashed a paper at father’s face – a government permit perhaps. The entire Poland territories have been swarming with these Nazi soldiers. Fear hung in the air. Father reached for the paper, his eyes peering as he scanned through it with his torchlight. I saw his head nod rapidly the way it does whenever he was angry. Father was not a man to cower. He didn’t look at the man’s stern face nor his soldiers’ long guns. I could tell he was arguing from the his gesticulation. The night permitted little light yet I saw the man reach for his gun and shoot my father without blinking an eye.
I let out a scream as I dashed to the door. My pink night gown swirling as I sped to mother’s room. Little Arek awoke in fright.
“What’s wrong, Ruth,” he asked wide eyed. His thumb stuck in his mouth as he sucked.
I had hardly made it through the door when mother charged in. She was trembling badly as she held Arek and me in tight embrace.
A loud knock.
We remained silent. Only mother’s heartbeat drummed in my ears.
A crash! Our front door came down. Soldiers swarmed into our home. I looked outside the window, I saw a line of people guided into a black truck by Nazi soldiers. I peered harder. I saw Maggie’s mother and Maggie behind her. I saw Robert, the Torah teacher at the synagogue. I saw Steven, Edith, Jonathan and a lot of other Jews, all being packed into the truck.
“What’s going on, Mother?” I cried.
“Shhhh,” She hushed, holding us firmly, tears burning in her gaze.
We heard a footstep approaching our room. Mother’s breath came in hot pants almost burning my neck. I looked at the door. A shiny pair of black boots stood by the wooden edges of the door.
I looked up from the length of the trouser up to his face. It was the same smirk – the same chilling eyes – the same man who had killed my father.
“In the name of Adolf Hilter, the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Wehrmacht, German Armed Forces, I hereby command every Jew to be taken to the chelmnc camp at once.”
“Chelmnc? No! Not Chelmnc! Not with my children. Take me!” Mother cried, her eyes wide with horror as she hid us behind her back, tears flowing from her eyes.
The man paused in his tracks. He looked down at mother, the tears running down her eyes. I saw something flicker in his eyes.
The hope crawling into my heart stilled as I saw him reach for his gun.