Kira’s Flat, Amsterdam Netherlands, May 12th 1940
“Kira!” Father screamed out of breath still trudging up the stairs.
“They came! They came! The bad men!” He continued shouting but lowered his tone once he made it under my door frame.
I was in utter confusion how could this be happening without a warning. I never thought the bad men would come so soon, I never guessed they would come for Holland the same way they had invaded Poland, Denmark and Norway.
“What do you mean?” I shuddered furrowing my eyebrows.
“The Nazi’s, Kira. They came Kira hide” He instructed me, but before he could leave my room to alert the others, I cut him off.
“Father? When did they come for us?” I asked putting my novel I had been reading down.
“They started coming a couple of days ago. I never told you I didn’t want you to be scared. They are coming down the road” He rushed to finish his sentence and hurried down the stairs.
I used all my willpower and darted for mother and fathers room and attempted to hide in the chest which they kept locked. I took advantage of the intense amount of adrenaline running through me and tugged at the metal lock. At first, it would not budge. But I kept tugging and tugging. Till it became undone. I crawled into the chest and lay there. I clutched the broken lock to my chest and breathed rapidly.
I heard a loud knock and shouts in German. The shouted continued and I could feel my stomach start to curdle.
Then a loud bust echoed through our large flat. Marching echoed up the staircase.
I couldn’t breathe I felt as if I was being suffocated in fear. I didn’t try to breathe either. If I were to gasp for air they could find me.
I heard my eldest brother shout at the men while they chuckled a little then commanded him to tell where the others were. My brother would not speak. Till I heard my mother start to sob, loud sobs. And the men must have taken her as well.
I heard my mother mutter out the words “I don’t know where the rest are; They were at the mart when I last saw them” My mother lied trying to spare our lives. The soldiers just mumbled something then asked something again.
“Valuables; Where are they.” A second voice barked. Mother headed to the kitchen and gave them what I supposed to be our gold rimmed painting.
“Eh.” The first soldier's voice I heard said.
I heard some shrieks from my mother and my brother, as they marched them down the stairs. And was a presumed to have exited. I felt sick as if I could vomit.
I hastily opened the lid of the chest, and moved the velvet curtain to see my mother and my brother board a large truck. The Nazi’s got them. I could feel my anger start to boil.
I tiptoed down the steps and saw my father emerge from the coat closet and put his slender finger over his lips signaling me to hush.
“What?” I mouthed wrinkling my forehead.
He shook his head and pointed up the stairs.
I obeyed and tip toed up the steps, I dared to peer out the curtains again. I fought back tears seeing my neighborhood friends be loaded on the truck as well.
Father crept behind me and laid his rather large palm my shoulder.
“God has control” He mumbled out closing the curtain.
“If he has control why did he let this happen?” I questioned my eyes starting to release the held back tears.
“Kira, do not fear we will see them again someday” He attempted to reassure me. But he was lying.
“But for now we need to go hide somewhere. So we are of safe keeping” He told me as tears starting to well up in his eyes.
My throat started to close in. I was in such a shock. In the last 15 minutes I had experienced a life changing moment. I was having a hard time coming to terms and acknowledging that fact my life was going to change.
“Did they take Parker or Hetty?” I asked tilting my head and scratching the back of my neck.
Parker was second oldest brother and Hetty was my sister who was turning four soon.
“No, they are still hiding in the coat closet. Thank the lord Hetty didn’t cry” Father grinned a little trying to lighten to dampened mood.
“I guess.” I muttered back shrugging.
Kira’s Flat, Amsterdam Netherlands, May 14th 1940
Father had informed me and my siblings that he caught word, that a Christian man he knew was helping the Jews that were seeking a safe hiding place.
I had spent the last days deprived of sleep from the horrific events that had happened only days ago. Me, My Father, Parker and Hetty were “packing”. I layered all my shirts, and sweaters leaving about 8 layers.
“Kira-Kira!” Hetty whined tugging at one of my layers of clothing.
“Hetty, shh!” I scolded.
“Help me put on my shirts!” She pleaded throwing her small hands up in the air.
“Okay-Okay shh Hetty” I answered grabbing her first plain pink shirt she had somewhat outgrown.
I continued to layer Hetty’s clothes, when Parker entered the scene his layers made him seem abruptly larger.
“Parker! You look as if you have gained weight” I whisper-laughed.
Parker responded with a loud obnoxious laugh.
Hetty threw her small finger over her pouting lips and whisper-yelled
“Parker, Shh” She scolded.
Father joined in on the chatter.
“Children, we must go now before they come again.” He instructed. Which those words alone made the reality hit, which was just previously masked by me and my siblings laughter.
Father picked up his small leather satchel packed with our families Torah, and him and Mothers wedding photos.
“Be quiet, and follow me” Father commanded me and my siblings as we crept down the steps. I didn’t want to come to the reality this may be the last time we ever see our flat.
We walked out the door which was now only a door frame, A result of the Nazi’s that had vigorously kicked it down days prior.
We walked down the sidewalk, I kept an eye on my feet-and Hetty. We rounded a corner every so often, and got a few stares, but luckily no confrontations.
We arrived at a large brick home, with a tall white door. We stood in front of it for a while, in a confused silence.
“I would suppose you would knock” I suggested to father.
Father awoke from his daydream and answered in an embarrassed manner
“Yes I suppose you do.”
He knocked on the door and a woman with curly ginger hair that laid in tight curls atop her diamond shaped head answered.
“Welcome.” She said signaling us to come in.
I hastily entered the building, following my father and my siblings. I was approached by a shorter man with neatly cut dark hair.
“Ah, You must be James” The man said to my father promptly putting out his hand; my father shook it firmly.
“Yes, you are Calvin Correct?” My father asked.
“Yes, Yes and this is my wife Esther” He introduced the lady with the ginger hair.
“Nice to meet you both! These are my children, my second eldest son, Parker, my Eldest daughter Kira, and my youngest child Hetty” He grinned introducing us.
“Great! Now we must settle some rules shall we” Esther smiled waving me and my family over to the kitchen.
“Take a seat!” Calvin encouraged sitting next to his wife.
I took a seat in the small wooden chair that was just to the left of Hetty, who I was keeping a close eye on.
“Now, We established these rules to keep you safe. Not to be a cruel captor” Esther informed grinning a little.
“Okay.” I nodded fear dawning on me again.
“Rule One; do not leave the attic unless instructed. Rule Two; No making a ruckus. Rule Three; No opening the curtains. Rule four; no leaving the house” Calvin informed us his hands resting in a fist against the green table cloth.
“Now, go settle yourselves up in the attic” Esther shooed.
I carried Hetty up the steps to the small cramped attic that we would be our now home. Luckily the attic was clean. But the walls were plastered in an uncomfortable shade of yellow. The attic smelled horrid as if something was rotting before us. They laid out four small mattresses for us to rest on. The curtains were bolted shut.
“This place is horrid” Parker whined carelessly falling onto one of the mattresses.
“Well, it is safety” Father argued.
“For now” I said under my breath.
Calvin and Esther’s Home, Amsterdam Netherlands, August, 27th, 1940
It has been months since our first arrival. Months since I have even locked eyes with my mother, or my brother.
Calvin and Esther have shown compassion towards our family. Which we are very grateful for. For Hetty’s 4th birthday; Esther went to the Mart to buy her a birthday cake.
I lay awake on my mattress from the ruckus going on downstairs. I assumed Calvin and Esther were having some type of argument. Hetty was gripping on to my waist asleep. The same way she would lay by mother when she was still with us. She must have been longing for mothers presence.
I carefully pried Hetty’s little hands off my side, I crawled off my mattress and put my ear against the rough edged wooden door, trying to make out the muffled words.
“But Calvin! Someone had turned us in. They are inspecting our home. Calvin do you know how bad this is?” Esther panicked.
“Esther, stop pacing we will just keep them hidden and hope for the best” Calvin said soothingly like a mother trying to calm a crying infant.
“Hope for the best? Calvin are you kidding? It’s bad enough they are getting sent to a death camp. But us too!” She said yelling now.
Out of the corner of my eye I could see father propped up on his mattress and looking at me.
“Kira, what are you listening to?” He questioned his face signaled concern.
“Nothing.” I lied not wanting to set fear in my families minds.
“You seem scared, nightmare?” He asked getting up and walking towards me, where I sat back facing the door.
“Yeah.” I lied trying to give him the mutual stop asking questions look. He must have not received it because he asked yet another question.
“Are they coming?” He asked bluntly
“No.” I said before he could even say more.
“Okay, well why don’t you go read your book a while” Father suggested, finally receiving the mutual message I sent him seconds before.
I tried to read my book but all that I could think about was what my Mother and Brother might have seen. The horrors of these “Death Camps”.
Pop, a gunfire went off in the streets below us. I shook with fear, Parker awoke glancing at me and father his deep blue eyes were struck with fear.
Pop, Pop, Pop Three shots went off making 4 gunshots now. This time awaking my sister who started to wail, Father rushed over and started to coo at her hoping to silence the loud abrupt wailing.
Pop, Pop, Pop, Pop, Four gunshots went off they seemed to be nearing the house.
Pop, Pop Another Two went off this time it sounded as if it was ricocheting off the main door.
I heard Esther shriek and Calvin shout angrily in German. I had forgotten Calvin had informed us he spoke German.
My family and I all looked at each other in fear, no one knew if we should get down and pray or stay put.
“Sir you must be mistaken” Esther pleaded as footsteps echoed up through the house
“Where are the Jews!” The soldier's voice barked. This soldier could have been no older than me; it must have been one of those delusional Hitler Youth boys Esther told me about.
“What Jews?” Calvin tried to deny what the boy was saying.
“You were reported of housing Jews, tell me where they are and you will be most possibly may be spared” The boy barked. How could such a young boy be so cruel.
“Up there” Esther said helplessly.
Marching echoed up the steps and the door swung open. We were greeted by a boys face he had dark eyes and short dark hair he somewhat had a resemblance to wicked Hitler himself. He wore a beige jacket with a black silk tie and a bulky belt with a golden buckle, and the awful red and white striped swastika on his right sleeve.
He scowled and then opened his mouth to say something I most definitely didn’t want to hear.
“You dirty, dirty, Jews. Go down the steps, or be shot” He threatened pulling out a small handgun.
We walked down the steps doing as told Hetty wailing. I forced myself to not think of what was happening but I couldn’t we walked out of the door which was defaced with bullet holes.
We were marched out to the Nazi-Invaded train station not far from Calvin and Esther's home, villagers neither gave looks of sympathy or distastefulness.
We boarded an on to a small little wagon that I suppose was once used for hauling animals. One other family was in there. The man sat on the tin bucket and was clutching their infant to his chest while the woman sobbed into his shoulder.
Another couple entered the small wagon, it was Esther and Calvin, I thought they would be spared. But that was the least of my questions.
I couldn’t cry I was too in shock. What was I going to see? Was I going to live to tell the tale? Was poor little Hetty going to live past 4? Will my father ever see my mother again? I forced myself to stop thinking, because tears were starting to sting my eyes.
Auschwitz, Oświęcim Poland, August 27th 1940
Multiple hours have passed. Nobody talked. Nobody wanted to. All we did was sit and ponder of what our fate was going to be. But before I could think anymore about my fate the train came to a halting stop. We were hauled off the wagon like disobedient cattle, and through the front gates in tin letters it read, Auschwitz; May work set you free.
I stood there for a minute my feet planted into the soft soil below me. In disbelief. How can one group of people led by one man, let hatred overtake their hearts, and make such a catastrophe for themselves, and many unwilling others.