I escaped from the concentration camp yesterday. I am walking now, through the woods, to France. I am hungry, cold, and extremely tired. But it’s still better than Auschwitz. The forest is dark, but I keep walking. Today, I saw a bear when I was walking. Everyone says that bears are so mean and scary, but they’re actually nice. It let me walk straight by, without harming me. It looked so huggable, so friendly. I’d rather live with the bears than the Germans, at least they are likeable…
I need to eat, but there is no food anywhere. Bread doesn’t grow on trees. I need to figure out what plants I can eat, or even what animals. I’ve seen plenty of squirrels. I think I might try to catch some of those for dinner. Maybe, I can build a fire and cook it. I’m far enough into the woods that no one would see me if I built a fire. Yes, that is a good idea. I won’t be so cold.
Building the fire is easy. The woods are very dry, and there’s lots of dead wood. I had managed to steal some matches from one of the guards back at the camp. He didn’t even notice that they were gone. It’s so easy stealing from those people. They’re so stupid. And yet they are the ones that have so much power. Why is it that stupid people are put in charge? They can barely read, and yet, they have the power to burn hundreds of Jews whenever they want. It’s sickening.
The fire is warm. Small, but warm. I think I’m going to keep it going for a while and stay here and rest. I can probably stay here for a few days, so I can get some strength for the rest of the journey that lies ahead. I drift off to sleep next to the fire. It’s so much better than in the camp. When I was back at home, this would have seemed horrible, but right now, it feels amazing.
I wake up in the morning to the sound of chirping birds. It’s so peaceful here. I think that I’m going to try my luck with some plants. I know that some ferns are edible, so I’ll start with those. They’re bitter, but they still taste much better than the food in the camp, at this point anything tastes better than the rotten, mushy, brown shit they fed us. I quickly eat more ferns, and some grass. I remember someone telling me once that ground ivy is edible, so I eat that. It actually tastes pretty good.
There’s the bear again. He’s just looking at me, but not in a “I am hungry and want to eat you” sort of way. I can tell it’s the same one. It has the same look in its eyes; that friendly, huggable look. It almost seems sort of sad. Maybe the Germans killed his family too, It wouldn't surprise me. The Germans will kill anything they can get their filthy hands on.
The squirrels are everywhere now. Running around and climbing up trees. They seem so innocent, so nice, and I don’t want to kill them, but I’m so hungry. I try spearing them on a stick for a while, but they’re too quick. I try a number of methods, but they’re harder to catch than one would think. I finally get one. I sneak up to the side of the tree, and jump around the trunk to the side it was on and grab it by its tail. I step on it to kill it. I feel horrible, but I have to eat it is the only way one can survive out here.
I skin it with a knife that I stole from a guard. He didn’t notice when that was gone.
It was a big knife, the blade was about 10 cm long. It’s pretty easy to skin the squirrel. I cut down the middle of the belly and the meat comes right out. There isn’t really that much meat on it, but it’s still better than nothing and way more than the nutrition factor from the plants, and it tastes amazing.
I lay on the soft grass of the ground and day dream. It’s so relaxing out here in the forest. It’s almost hard to imagine all the cruelty and hatred that was just a few miles away at the concentration camp. The wind is a nice, cool breeze, and the sounds of the forests are so calming. The sickening screams of Auschwitz seem so far away now. I fall asleep. When I wake up, it’s almost sunset.
I feel so much stronger than I did yesterday. It’s amazing what some rest and food can do. I don’t feel cold anymore - I’m actually pretty hot. I decide to continue walking at night. I feel well rested, and strong, and it’ll help stay warm if I walk at night. I wrap some tree bark around the end of a stick and light it on fire. I will carry my fire with me, that way I don’t have to waste matches.
The walk is nice. I go pretty slow, there’s no need to go fast. It almost seems as if everything is normal, like a leisurely walk through the woods. The only difference between this and home is the pajamas. They’re scratchy and uncomfortable, but they’re good enough to get me to Denmark. Hopefully no one will see me in these. I could pass as being a German otherwise.
I keep walking until about noon. I sit down to take a rest. The torch burned out in the middle of the night, so I don’t have a fire. I don’t really think I need one anyway. From now on, I’ll walk at night, so as not to be seen. The fire would defeat the purpose of that. I eat some more ferns and take a quick nap. I wake up at sunset again. I look around. Whoa!
There’s the bear again. It’s definitely the same bear. Its ears are different. The right one is a little longer than the left. It must have followed me all the way. I had to have walked at least 10 miles, and it followed me. Maybe I’m imagining it, hunger will do that to you. I walk towards it, and it walks away. I need some more food, I think. I spend about an hour trying to catch a squirrel. It probably takes more energy to catch the squirrel then I will get from eating it.
I finally realize right now that I really have no idea where I am. I don’t have a compass, nor do I have a map. I am just wandering aimlessly through the woods. There is no way I will ever make it to France. Maybe it is just best to wander around and live in the woods. The war has to end eventually. Maybe it already has.
I have an idea. I’ll wander around until I find a small town or something like that. Then I’ll live in the woods just outside the town. This way, I can steal food from the town, and I’ll be able to find out when the war ends.
I continue walking. The squirrel didn’t give me much energy but enough to gain some strength. I am getting stronger already, and I need more food if I want to keep it that way. I’ve been walking for almost 5 hours, and it’s night time, when I hear a noise. It seems to be coming from right in front of me. I walk a little further and I can see some lights. It’s a small village.
I see smoke rising high above the tree line, hear screams of young and old, and smell the stench of death in the air. I can only assume and hope that this isn't on purpose. As I get closer I am startled by a man. “Hey you over there” as he points his gun at me. I see a nazi symbol on the left arm of his uniform. I see my life flash before my eyes, to think that I had come so far only to be killed. I start back towards the woods, running as fast as my tired limp body can go. “No looking back” I keep telling myself as I run. I hear a sickening scream and I went against my word and looked back. I t was the bear. It was the man. If you had to pick one of these two to survive a fight, who would it be? I personally would go with bear… I hear another scream and this time the the soft white long fur of the bear is drenched in thick red and purple blood.
I have come to the conclusion that this bear is not just any bear. Maybe it is a relative that has died in a camp, coming to protect me on my journey to safety. I dont know what or who he is, but he sure came in handy on my journey to France. I was able to make it a few years later with the help of my friend the bear. I named that bear after my father “Charles “. When I got to France the bear decided that it had lived out his life destiny, and went to help another kid lost in the forest trying to escape the awful things in a concentration camps.