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The Diary of Everard Randulph: A Narrative of a Holocaust Victim
Time: 1939- 1945
Place: Nazi Germany
My name is Everard Randulph. I lived in the city of Berlin, Germany with my mother, father, and younger brother- my elder brother died of pneumonia when I was no more than four years of age. We had a nice house with a beautiful porch in the back, and a small pond with a dock. Our house was a one- story building- that is, a basement and one floor. Family friends usually remarked that we had the nicest house in all of Germany. My father was a builder, and I, being the oldest sibling, found work in an automobile assembly factory. This, of course, was before Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich came to power in 1933. After he gained control of Germany, our lives changed drastically. Like many of our neighbors and friends, we were Jewish.
Overall, we were a normal German family. Our country, economically and politically, was a mess from the effects of the Great Depression and Treaty of Versailles from World War I. Germany and its people were suffering from lack of prosperity. We were affected as well, although I must admit that we were progressing quite nicely during those hard times. When Hitler stepped in during the early 1930’s, he promised that our Germany would be rich and powerful again- that we would be the most powerful force the world has ever known. How could we refuse? How could anyone give in to such a fantastic offer? Thus, like most of the German citizens, we welcomed Hitler into our lives with open arms. I regretted this act up to the very moment of my death. If only we knew what was to come in the near future, if only we knew what he planned to do with Jews like us, we would have immediately left our homeland and saved ourselves. When we finally realized our mistake, it was too late to react.
Hitler, once in power, immediately published Anti-Semitic laws against normal Jewish citizens like us. He started using us as the scapegoats, blaming innocent citizens for Germany’s faults, including the defeat in World War I, the unfair affects of the Treaty of Versailles, and even the Depression. The German people followed him blindly without question, absorbing his propaganda. This infuriated me to the point of screaming, and I asked myself over and over again, “How can Hitler do this? How can he have so much hate toward Jews, innocent people who are loyal to their fatherland like everybody else? We are no different.” I couldn’t help but think that my country and fellow citizens that I had loved so much had betrayed me.
As time passed, Jewish rights were slowly taken away, and hate turned into violence. It was then that I witnessed a taste of the Nazi’s brutality for the first of many times to come. In 1938, shortly after the “Night of Broken Glass,” or Kristallnacht, as we called it, five rowdy Nazi soldiers broke into my house. They threw vases, ruined furniture and took our money. When my mother and I ran upstairs from the basement to see what the commotion was all about, three of the soldiers pinned me to the floor and started hitting me again and again. I heard my mother cry, begging them not to hurt me, that they could beat her instead. When I screamed and tried to struggle, they only laughed, held me down tighter, and punched me harder. They actually laughed! What kinds of ruthless monsters enjoy beating and torturing innocent people? Blood was all over my shirt and face, and with each hit, my head and mouth grew numb until I was finally knocked completely unconscious. When I was out they must have taken my mother, because when I finally woke up, she was nowhere to be seen. I never saw my poor mother again, and I never found out what really happened to her. I heard rumors that she was beaten, raped, and then shot by the five men, but if those were true statements or not, I never knew. For many nights after the skirmish, I cried myself to sleep thinking about my mother- I missed her more than anything, and imagining her in my dreams drained out all other thoughts of the Nazis and fear.
Word about what had happened at my house soon spread, and in time, the news about the event was all over the neighborhood. The information eventually reached the ears of the Gestapo, and one afternoon, during supper, I heard a heavy knock at my front door. I knew that knock so well, for the Gestapo came to our house regularly to make sure we were following the Anti- Semitic law codes. This time, however, they were here for a different reason. As soon as my father opened the door, the head of the force, along with three other henchmen, walked right in. “Get ready to leave immediately,” they said. I looked at my younger brother and then at my father, and saw expressions of fear and anguish written on their faces. We knew that many Jews had already been deported to certain concentration camps all over Germany, and that most of the time they were separated from their families permanently. With this in mind, we obediently scrambled to our rooms and packed whatever clothes, photographs and food products we could carry. We were then led outside, where two trucks were waiting to take us to our fates- either to death or to work. As I slowly, sadly stepped through my front doorway, I looked back at my home where I had lived my entire life. “Good-bye,” I whispered. “When this is all over, I promise that I will come back to you.” With that, I left my house for the last time.
In front of me, there were two groups of about fifty people, all of which were Jewish or a different minority. My brother and I were told to go to the first column, the one that would be taken to a work camp. My father was led to the second column, the group of people taken directly to Auschwitz, an extermination camp. “Dad! NOOOO!” I screamed. “Please, don’t take my father from me! PLEASE! I’ll give anything! Don’t make him go!” I was crying hard, tears streaming down the sides of my cheeks. My brother and I ran toward him, and he reached out and hugged us tightly. He whispered in my ear, “We’ll be together again, don’t worry. It’s alright, my boys.” We gave him one last hug, and then the S.S. guards and Gestapo pulled us away. My hand left his, and I watched as his column was marched into the truck. I saw him glance back, and he shouted to us, “I love you, my sons!” We were then forced onto our truck, and heard the starting of an engine. Our trucks started to move in opposite directions and soon Dad’s was out of sight. I hugged my brother, and together, afraid and alone, we cried in each other’s arms.
After what seemed like years of driving without food, water, or breathing space, we finally arrived at the concentration camp of Buchenwald. We climbed out of our truck, only to be met with Nazis, whips in hand. At the crack of the whips, an agonizing groan of one of our companions, and a rigorous “Forward, march!” we subserviently tramped to the entrance gate. The gate opened brusquely in front of us, and we became prisoners of our own native soil.
At this place, working one hour seemed like working a month, and working for one whole day seemed like working for two years. For long fragments of time (I couldn’t even call them hours, for they felt like they were much longer), we were forced to labor in armament factories. If we made one mistake, Nazi guards would whip us until our backs were completely soaked with our own blood and sweat. We sometimes went for days without nourishment or rest. Those who were incapable of working for any reason whatsoever were either put to death on the spot, or sent to a camp to be exterminated. If we grew too old, weak, or worn out to work, that would also mean certain death. Therefore, living in this camp meant that we had no options; one could either work or be killed. After working for many months in this repulsive place, where death was nearly always present, I sealed my fate. When I was working one of the machines that fused metal together to make war accessories, my left hand got caught in one of the pivots. Instantaneously, excruciating throbbing rushed up and down my arm. I screamed in pain, grabbed my arm and pulled on it with all my power. My arm broke free of the pivot successfully, but my hand remained in its grasp. I looked at my severed stump that used to be where my hand was, and vomited. The pain in my arm increased considerably, and I could see a mixture of blood, body fluid, bone, tissue and stomach acid everywhere. Without warning, I felt a hand grab me from behind and turned around, only to find the glare of an angry Nazi S.S. guard. “Come with me,” he ordered fiercely. I knew right then and there that this would certainly mean my demise.
The guard took me directly to a train outside the camp and threw me into a boxcar, which I knew would shortly depart for Auschwitz. There were at least sixty people in the car, all of which either sick or crippled, as I was. I climbed in and stood in a corner, and the door slammed shut. I spent my time in the dark looking back on my bad mistake, which had cost me my life. I wondered what it would be like to die at Auschwitz. “Will it hurt? Will it be painless? Will I see my family again?” Then, I thought about my younger brother who was still working in the factory. “What will he do without me? Does he know what happened? What will happen when he comes back from work and I’m not in my bunk? How will he overcome the fact that I am dead, that he is the only one in our family who is alive?” Just as I was thinking, the boxcar door opened again. A figure stepped in, and through the glare of the sun, I saw that it was my brother! “Oh, my God!” I said, and embraced him, crying. “What happened to you?” “I found out what happened,” he said, “and I just could not bare to be alone. I want us to be together, even to the very end. I stole a piece of bread, and they caught me.” I was choked up and speechless, and I just could not say anything to him. He intentionally got caught, only to share my fate. We hugged, emotions finally spilling out, while the car jerked forward. Thus, I began my final journey- the journey to my death.
We arrived at Auschwitz. The place smelled like decaying corpses, rotten eggs and burning wood. The boxcar door opened with a sharp screech of metal against metal. Armed Nazi troops ordered all sixty (or so) of us to climb out and assemble in an orderly line, in alphabetical order. Once the command was completed, we were all marched into a one- story building, where we were told to undress completely. Our clothes were put in lockers, along with all of our other belongings. A Nazi supervisor then announced that we would be taking showers. By then, my brother and I knew through multiple rumors that the showers were actually gas chambers. I looked into the eyes of my company. I felt their expressions of despair, sadness, and depression. Instead of feeling panicked, as most of my company was, I actually felt calm, maybe even a little comfortable. I had accepted my death with ease, for I knew that I would see my loved ones soon. “So this is what it feels like to be close to death,” I thought to myself. As we marched into the huge shower room, I reflected back on my whole family. I remembered my mother’s smile, my father’s laugh; my younger brother’s jokes that brought me happiness. Then, I remembered my elder brother. I recalled the times when he babysat me, when he comforted me while my parents were out. He was the only one who could ever keep me from crying… The shower doors locked, and the showers were turned on. No water came out, but instead, pellets dropped out and landed on the floor, immediately releasing a brown cyanide gas. People screamed and cried all around me, for they knew that this was their end. My brother and I grasped each other’s hand and stood there, waiting peacefully.
I closed my eyes for the final time, and I saw my family vividly in my mind. They were smiling at me. “Welcome home,” my elder brother said. I took a breath, felt a quick soreness in my lungs, and ultimately felt at peace. “I’m here,” I whispered…
End of Entry.