under the oak tree
Motioning to me,
He gestures for me to sit with him.
“Come; let me tell you a story.”
His eyes distant,
He told me of life during Hitler’s reign.
He told me of when he was a boy
And his shame and humiliation
While wearing the canary-yellow 6-point stars
That labeled him a Jew, apart from others.
He told me of one thing happening after another-
Restrictions, separation, hurt.
He told me of being rounded up like sheep
And sent to the ghetto;
Of parting with his family, home and friends.
And he pauses-
I look up into his face;
His eyes are filled with pain,
Every line of his face is etched
With anger and grief. In a low voice,
He told me of labor in the concentration camps,
Of the starvation and receiving
Only stale bread or wormy soup.
He told me of the killing,
The roundups, the deaths;
He told me of the sickness, the hurt,
The blood, the fear.
He told me of being afraid,
Staying up each night and wondering,
‘Am I going to die tomorrow?’
He told me of watching his relatives
Walking into the gas chambers-
Seeing them go in
And never come out,
And being helpless and vulnerable,
Not able to do anything about it.
He told me of being piled in trucks
And shipped to an unknown destination.
He told me of the Germans,
Barking orders and insults,
And their cries of “Heil Hitler!”
Ringing through the camps.
He told me of unspoken hatred-
Of the belief that everything will be alright;
Which acted as a small beacon in the
Vast span of darkness.
He told me of the Nazis’ surrender
And the victory of the Allied countries.
He told me of enduring through a year
That lasted a millennium;
Of his joy of liberation
And his sadness of being
Alone and isolated; a single survivor.
He told me of continuing on with life,
And not dwelling in the past.
And when he was done,
I looked at him once more.
I saw the tears that spilled down his sad face
In remembrance of all of his
Friends and family who perished.
So I kissed his tearstained face
And together, we wept.
This page was last updated on August 31, 2006 by the KIWW Webmaster.