Shmeul's Story. Written by Katie Thompson

Shmeul's story

As I sat on the dirty ground, beside the wired fence that I detested so very much for keeping me imprisoned in this hideous place. I couldn't help but look back to the day it all started to go so incredibly wrong.

I was just home from school. I was eager to get my homework done as I had planned to go outside and play with my best friend Kurt. As I make my way to the stairs, mama called me and my brother Josef into the kitchen. She told us we had to wear a star, the Star of David she had called it. I ask her why but mama just sighed a sad sigh and told us it was because we are Jews. I wanted to ask her more questions but she told us to just put our star on and do our homework. She obviously did not want to talk about it. I found it slightly strange but it didn't bother me too much. So I let it go and did what I was told. When I was finished, I went out to call for Kurt. When Kurt opened his front door he screamed "I DON'T WANT TO BE YOUR FRIEND ANYMORE YOU FILTTY JEW!" hate colouring his tone.

Even as I look back at that memory now it still stings. After that event, I got the same response from all of my non-Jew friends. From that point on it just got worse and worse.

A few mouths later, we were evacuated from our home and taken to Cracow. We were forced to live in a tiny room with another family. This family were always shouting at each other. Their oldest son Luka was much larger than me. He was forever hitting me. I hated it. I loathed him!

Outside the teeny window of our tiny room was a large wall. This wall was horrid to look at because every time I saw it, it reminded me of the fact that my real home was behind it. This part of Cracow was very noisy and it was close to imposable to sleep.

I detested Luka with a passion! He had no right to hit me and the fact that he had no reason to, made it just that little bit worse. I remember that I had thought it couldn't get any worse. It's almost laughable now. I don't think I have ever been that wrong before nor do I think, I'll ever be that wrong again.

One by one the solders came, with them they brought huge trucks. I can still hear the sound of the tires. It was a hundred times worse than nails scraping off a chalk board. I can still feel the panic rising in me as we all ran to hide, not wanting to be the next victim.

But they found us. All of us, one by one they pushed us all into the blood stained trucks like cattle. We were not in there long. Though the trip to the train felt like an eternity…..and I wish it had been.

The train…..I still have night mares of that night. It's hard to NOT think about it but I try, I try not to think of the pain in my lungs, as I strained for a breath. There was too many in one carriage. So many it was near to impossible to breathe and that smell…..it smelt of what I can now identify as death. I tried to get out. We all did. But there was no door, no escape. I try but as much as I try I still remember and always will.

When the train stopped, we were all taken out and mama was taken from us. We were forced to walk. It was cold. I was so cold. I didn't know it was even possible, to be so utterly utterly cold . I tried to walk but I could barely move. I was numb I tried to move again but then it all went black. I drifted into an oblivion. I woke up in this place. Unsure how I got here. Sitting now on the dirty ground, Staring at the chain link fence, I can hear Bruno approaching. As he came into view, he smiled at me. I smiled back and for the first time, in a long time I felt a shred of hope. After all, it could only get better now….couldn't it?