The Holocaust Survivors

Hello! This is my movella for historical fiction contest.
It is about a man-Lev and his band of eight 'monkeys' who are living in the Warsaw Ghetto. How they escape from the resettlement and concentration camps forms the crux of the story.

The story is fictional but the background is real. I have attempted to state only authentic facts. If there is any mistake or error, I'd be happy to correct it. It is not meant to hurt anyone or defame any religion or person .

I hope you enjoy....! Thank you...

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3. Summer 1942

 

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All Jews will be resettled to the East regardless of age and sex.

 

With the exception of:

 

Jews working for German institutions or companies

Jews working for the Judenrat

Jewish Hospital staff

 Members of the Jewish Order Service

Wives and children of the above mentioned persons

Patients in Jewish Hospitals on the first day of the resettlement action

Every resettled Jew will be allowed to bring 15kg of luggage and all valuables, gold jewellery, money etc.

Provisions for three days must be taken.

The resettlement will start on 22 July 1942 at 11 o’clock 

The Judenrat is responsible for the delivery of 6,000 persons daily until 4 o’clock

 Assembly point is the Jewish Hospital at Stawki Street has to be emptied so that the building can be used for the people being resettled.

The Judenrat has to announce the German orders.

 

Punishments

 

Any Jew who leaves the ghetto during the resettlement action will be shot

Any Jew who acts against the resettlement will be shot

Any Jew who does not belong to the above mentioned categories and who is discovered after the resettlement action will be shot.

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Mr Schmitt read the instructions and reread it.

“Resettlement?” He shot a confused look at his colleague.

“Ja,” replied his fifty year old counterpart. “The Jews will be sent away either labour or concentration camps. Fuhrer thinks this will solve the ‘Jewish Problem’.” He let out a cold laugh.

“What about Judenrat Czerniakow? What does he have to say?” asked Mr Schmitt- his voice bearing a tensed feeling.

“Adam Czerniakow?” The fifty year old looked at him with surprise. “He’s dead. Swallowed a cyanide pill, he did. But before that he promised six thousand Jews everyday ’fore four o’clock.”

“They will be exterminated…..” said Mr Schmitt in a low tone.

“Some…most of them,” his colleague replied nodding carefully.

Mr Schmitt sat in his plush office thinking about the situation. His stiff uniform made it difficult for him to breath. He was uncomfortable and the swastika banner didn’t matter to him anymore. His colleague seemed cheerful enough while the fatherly side of Mr Schmitt prevented the latter from being optimistic.

“I reckon it’s time to contact some people,” said Mr Schmitt. The door swung open and he stormed out leaving his co-worker bewildered.

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Lev woke up with a start. He glanced at the eight boys who were sleeping tranquilly. Lev sat up and stared at the floor.

Schneider Works had closed down. No one-why or how. Herr Schneider moved away from Warsaw overnight leaving hundreds unemployed. It didn’t matter presently though.

Lev remembered the promise which he had made to the children-that he’d let them go hungry, alone or sad. But it seemed like the day when he was going to disappoint them was nearing.

This day Stawki Street or the Umschlagplatz wore a dull look. Hooting of trains reverberated all over. The Nazis and the SS police kept a careful watch on the people. There was deadly silence. The soldiers were allowed to execute anyone.

People had lined up and they were being ‘resettled’. All they knew was that they were going to be transferred to some other place. They were unaware of their future.

They waited patiently for their turn. First to go were the children, elderly and the sick. The unemployed were to follow.

Lev, Rosa and Helga were in one line whereas the boys were in another. Chleb was on guard. Lev and Rosa were together but Helga and her husband were a little ahead of them. Lev would turn left every minute or so to check on the boys.

“Pa?” Rosa shrieked as Mr Schmitt came to picture. Behind him, were David and a grim-looking Nazi soldier.

Everyone stared them with curiosity.

“Come with me Rosa,” he said in a low tone. His eyes fixed on the floor with embarrassment. Rosa shook her head as she put took Lev by the arm. Lev was still looking at the boys.

Mr Schmitt scanned the boys. He also whispered something into his colleague’s ear. The latter paced towards the boys.

“Just come with me,” he grumbled. “Listen there is no much time…..”

Chleb walked in and stopped in front of the old Nazi soldier.

“Chief Herr Schmitt is there any problem?” he asked trying to sound as polite as he could.

Mr Schmitt looked tensely at Rosa. He was sweating.  Lev didn’t know what was happening. He was hoping that no one would get shot presently.  The Nazi soldiers looked optimistically at Chleb. And the people were equally eager.

“I am here on Herr Mueller’s orders,” replied Mr Schmitt.

“Mueller?”

“Yes, you must have heard that his house had been robbed recently. His butler witnessed the crime and they feel that a young woman, a man and few-odd children are behind the crime. We suspect that they are the culprits,” he continued. The other grim-looking returned with ten boys.

Chleb examined them carefully. Cale’s torn clothes, Dovev’s tensed expression, Jedd’s hungry and longing face, Seth’s dirty fingers, Yoel’s dark face and Lev’s cold stare and Chleb was assured of his doubts.

“Here are the papers,” said the grim-looking Nazi as he handed the documents to Chleb.

Chleb examined the papers and twice. “If this is the case then, I won’t stop you,” said Chleb still eyeing the boys suspiciously. “But they are supposed to return for the resettlement.”

“I will see to it,” assured Mr Schmitt. “Herr Mueller feels that if they are guilty, it might save them the trouble of transporting them to Treblinka.”

Chleb let out a cold sneer. Mr Schmitt smiled back.

“Dovev!” cried Helga as she rushed to the scene. Chleb tried stopping her but Mr Schmitt allowed her to come.

Seeing Chleb smirking at her, she quickly embraced Rosa. Mr Schmitt came closer to them.

“What is going on?” whispered Helga. “They didn’t steal anything.”

“We know we are trying to…help take the children out of here” answered Mr Schmitt.

“Take care of the boys then…”said Helga. “Tomas and I will help our brothers and sisters….”

“We should leave then. Let us not keep Herr Mueller waiting.” The grim-looking soldier spoke up.

“Yes. Yes we shouldn’t delay,” replied Chleb. He walked toward Rosa and attempted to pull Helga away from her.

“Come!” Mr Schmitt snarled as he, his colleagues tried to take the so-called suspects out.

“Take care,” Helga called out her voice wavered with fear and nervousness. Lev looked at her for the last time and Chleb dragged her away.

 “Come.” Mr Schmitt said politely.

The group walked out under the watchful eyes of 

Chleb and other Nazis.

They marched out of the Stawki Street and stopped in front of a large van. Spikey was there waiting. Who knew when he had walked out the conversation?

He quickly helped them into the van. He also loaded the luggage into it.

“What is all this?” asked Lev finally. 

“They were going to send to away. Make you to toil to death or it’d have been good riddance by Treblinka” replied Mr Schmitt. “I couldn’t leave Rosa. As Rosa couldn’t leave you or the boys, we figured that we should take you along too.”

The van was in motion now.

“You should get away and quick” said Mr Schmitt.

“Where can we go? We are surrounded by enemies on almost on all sides,” replied Rosa.

“Yes. I’ve got a plan. A certain Gestapo officer is flying to southern France from here. Here are his documents.” Rosa’s father said handing the papers to Lev. “He isn’t going. You are, instead.” He paused to catch his breath. “From there, I have arranged a ship. Well, it’s a cargo ship heading to Africa. You will be safe there. I have had a word with the captain. He’s willing to cooperate.”

Lev nodded. “I am going to be impersonating him, aren’t I?” he asked.

“Yes. On the flight, do not talk to anyone. If anyone asks about the children, tell them they are yours and nothing else,” said Rosa’s father. “You should get to safety as quickly as possible…Do not leave the children,” he said to Rosa.

Rosa nodded quickly.

“What about the others?” Yoel spoke out.

“Save yourselves while you can,” he replied.

The large van paced through the streets of Warsaw. Lev gazed around. Even the boys enjoyed the view although they knew that they wouldn’t be coming back here again. Finally, the van stopped at the airport.

Spikey managed to get tickets for the flight. Lev wore a Nazi uniform while the boys changed into their best-looking clothes.

“Here,” said Spikey handing the tickets.

“David isn’t it?” asked Lev as he accepted them. David nodded. “Thank you…” said Lev. “For everything…for letting us in and out, for getting us food and…everything.” Lev was struggling for words. “Thank you.”

David, touched by Lev’s words, embraced him. “You’re welcome…” he 

said as he moved away from Lev. “Take care of the children and yourselves.”

“You too,” nodded Lev.

“Aren’t you coming with us, father?” Rosa asked.

“No, my dear,” Lev heard Rosa’s father speak. “I won’t be coming. You take care. The boys need you, so does Lev.”

“You take care too,” said Rosa trying to wipe her teary eyes. She gave her father a kiss and said, “We’ll visit you when… the fog clears.”

The announcement buzzed- it was time for them to leave.

Rosa’s father nodded. He bade the goodbye and watched them go with a heavy heart but a vague smile on his lips.

The group boarded the aircraft- a Junkers Ju-52, carrying civilians from Warsaw to Southern France. 

Few minutes later, they were flying.

Much to their dismay, they came across a German gentleman who seemed intrigued by Lev. Somehow, Lev, who didn’t know German, pretended to be deaf and Rosa ended up doing most of the talking.  

Finally when the aircraft docked at the German-occupied French airport, Lev was most relieved. Outside, they were greeted by the captain of the cargo ship. Captain Jacques who led the ship Songerie was part of the French Resistance. He was acquainted with the Schmitts even before the Second World War. As they had the same aim-to counter the German attitude, Lev and the boys were rescued. 

They were taken to the port and soon, they were on the ship. Lev and the boys were to pretend as workers and Rosa had to play cook. They watched with bated breath, hoping not to get caught. They saw the port go further away from them and when land got out of their sight, only did they breathe freely.

 

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