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Grade
8

***The Beating***

 

“Why do you think it’s okay to look me in the eyes? Do you know that you disgust me, you filthy little Jew!” He balls his fists up as tough as steel, lashing blow upon blow on the frail boy’s head. “Stay down, you revolting piece of trash! Don’t even think of getting up!” The boy whimpers and doesn’t fight back, not only because he can’t, but because he knows he can’t win. They always win. The guard continues to beat him and doesn’t stop - and will not stop - even after the pool of blood protrudes from the boy’s mouth, then his nose. The boy can hear his own ribs crack with every punch, like a stick being snapped. Arthur pulls off his belt and begins whipping him with it, harder than he ever has before. The boy is growing monstrous size welts all over his body. Tears roll down his face, they go straight down his face into his mouth, he can taste the salt. Seeing him be so weak and limp makes Arthur just want to go harder. He throws one last punch, as hard as stone, directly into the boy’s throat.

“That’s right. You know your blood is not pure, that’s why you weep. You’re not worthy of a life!” he raves like a madman as a silent and solemn crowd of prisoners forms around the lifeless boy.

 

***The Tables Are Turned***

 

“Guard, the Commandant needs to speak with you. Immediately.”

“Heil, Hitler! I will report to him, immediately.”

“Welcome, Private Arthur. Please have a seat and don’t talk until I’m done,” the Commandant declared. His back is turned away from Arthur. The office has numerous stacks of unorganized papers, you can’t even see the surface of his desk. It is a very unwelcoming place, filled with intimidation and silence.     

“I have overheard your friends making jokes about you looking like you’re Jewish. As I have come to realize it, you’re not the average looking German. I decided to have a background check done on you because this is not something to joke about,” the Commandant spoke with fury. “After researching for awhile, I found that you grew up in the Oswiecim German Orphanage, correct?” Arthur’s dark brown eyes are filled with confusion, half covered by his shaggy brown hair that needs to be trimmed. His tall, skinny torso slumps sitting in the cushioned swivel chair in front of the Commandant’s desk. His feet lay flat on the ground, while his legs, like branches of a tree, droop down from the chair. “That is correct, Commandant.”

“Then I searched further into your history and wondered why your parents didn’t want to take care of you,” the Commandant says calmly, yet fascinated.

“I’m sorry to interrupt, Commandant, but I am confused on what this is about. Is there something I don’t know about?” Arthur’s voice was quivering, which was unusual for him, being the big dog of the camp.

“I told you not to talk until I was done!” the Commandant roared.  “Now, if you’ll do as I say, I will continue,” he said irritatedly. “Where was I? Oh, yes, your parents dropped you off at the orphanage for no apparent reason. You better tell me why right now!” he screamed, louder than Arthur has ever heard before.

“I am very sorry, Commandant, but I don’t know that answer. I was just a baby, I don’t even remember my parents,” Arthur nervously said, his palms drenched in sweat.

“Since I knew you wouldn’t tell me, I kept searching and the information I found is so unpredictable I almost went insane!” he howls. “You knew your parents were Jewish! They left you at the German orphanage to protect you!”

“What are you talking about, Commandant? I am not Jewish! I am a pure German Nazi! To protect me from what?” Arthur starts shouting at the Commandant telling him he is wrong and this has to be some sort of practical joke.

“From being killed in World War II, of course! This is the truth, Arthur, and that’s why I am taking you into the camp yourself, where you will be a prisoner! You betrayed us your whole life! I still can’t believe this, you need to get out of my sight right this instant or I will beat you bloody until you’re dead!” the Commandant yells as he loses his control.

 

***The Flip Side***

 

They escorted Arthur past the guard shack and through the gates. He looks back and sees the high barbed wire fence. To his left, there is a small gathering of prisoners. They watch him like a pack of hyenas in the Sahara, waiting for their prey to grow tired before they pounce.  

Arthur feels a lump in his throat, and he tries to steady the nerves in his hand. The pain and indignities that he had perpetrated on the prisoners arose in their souls.  Arthur is still in such shock, it was all just a blur, he is still utterly flabbergasted. He has been lied to his whole life. He thought he was so much better than the Jews, but it turns out he is one himself. For this reason, he hates himself. Thinking of all the things he’s ever said to a Jew: “You’re not worthy of a life!”, “You know your blood is not pure!” He wants to kill himself. He now realizes that he has now become one of them. A prisoner who gets beaten up daily, gets shouted at daily, gets mistreated daily. “How did this happen?” he asks himself. “I can’t be one them! I’d rather die than be recognized as one of them!”

Prisoners who he has beaten are shocked, too. No one would have ever thought this would happen. First a Nazi, then a Jew in a concentration camp? Insane. He caused almost all of them so much physical suffering that they are permanently damaged. They want him to be tortured, beaten until he can barely breathe, then dead.

And they do just that. All of the prisoners chip in, strikes to the head, they hit him to the ground, knocking the wind out of him, smashing his ribs inward, cracking with every bash. The other guards just sit back and relax. None of them actually liked Arthur, he was just a cruel jerk. He busted up innocent little kids, who didn’t even have a clue what was going on. Sure, they enjoyed a little show here and there, but he just took it too far with the little ones. So, yeah, they didn’t mind another show. Guards were even chuckling watching him get attacked and knocked around. After all, he did deserve it.

It is all an endless fight: 200 and counting against one. The prisoners don’t care what happens to him, they just keep on going. Blood is pooling out of Arthur’s mouth, just like the innocent boy he killed. Some of his teeth are in the dirt around him, knocked out from the strong punches. He is barely breathing now, punches are still coming in on his gut. This moment is just giving Arthur flashbacks of that little boy. He can’t help but think about it. His mind is snapped out of that memory when a fist as hard as concrete smashes into his temple, a weak, fragile spot.

The prisoners have created an evil ritual-like circle around him. “Keep going! He doesn’t deserve to live!” shouts a middle-aged male. “Remember what he did to us? Let’s do it to him!” They all start chanting, “Kill him! Kill him! Kill him!” Any of them will do anything to make him as miserable as they were, even if it means cutting him open and taking out his guts with their bare hands.

Unfortunately for them, they don’t have to do that. The King of the camp winds up for the last hit and whacks him in the back of the neck. Everyone could see the bone jolting out, blood pouring everywhere. The brown, dusty dirt has turned a dark deep red and is no longer dry. The whole place is like an abandoned military force, only with people living in it. The ground isn’t covered with grass, it’s only dirt. The officials drag his lifeless body to the dig pit and throw him in. People look around in awe. “I never thought we could actually do that,” whispers one prisoner, his voice quivers in confusion. Arthur never thought what went around, would ever come around. The hunter had become the hunted. And the flaws had seen in others had become a reflection of his own.

State
MI
Zip Code
48103