Adara clutched her little brother Mica as she limped and stumbled on a jagged rock that tore a hole in her two sizes too small worthless shoe. She cried out in pain but couldn’t stop now. She’d come too far! Thoughts about her hometown were running through her gore-filled mind. She had to get through that gate!! It was her last hope to get back to the sweet sensation of freedom. She still remembered how she had gotten there in the first place…
“Get in the pantry! There’s not enough room for me! I need to guard the door anyway. Get in! Get in!” Father said demandingly, yet in a hushed tone.
Adara hesitated. How could she let her father become so exposed? She knew that dawdling wasn’t going to help the situation. She grudgingly followed her frantic mother that practically threw her two year old brother into the unimaginably microscopic pantry. She knew that her father had a plan, but she wasn’t sure what it was.
Her mother locked the door from the inside. Adara pressed her ears up against the thick, wooden door and strained to listen. She heard their front door crash to the ground. She clamped her hand over her mouth so she wouldn’t scream in terror. Men stomped in so loudly it was nearly deafening. She heard them turn her house inside out searching for any residents. It was a miracle that Mica wasn’t making a fuss! The Lord had watched over them.
Sounds echoed through the cellar as men began pouring in. Adara’s eyed bulged with fright. She held her breath.
“Come with us, now!!! You are being arrested under government law!!” shouted one of the massive men as he shoved Adara’s father into the pantry door with great force.
She heard her father groan from the impact. He was taking sharp, deep breaths. The room was immediately sullen. Murmurs and laughter slowly filled the cellar.
Why are they laughing so cruelly? Adara thought.
The men began to file out of the room with chuckles and murmurs. Adara listened as hard as she could so she would know when to come out. She waited a very long time and was surprised when her father did not let them out.
Adara signaled to her mother and brother to follow her out. As she very cautiously opened the door, she heard her father gasp for air painfully, and sink to the dirt packed floor.
“FATHER!!!” Adara shrieked. She rushed to her father’s side and embraced him.
“Adara! Quiet yourself!” said her mother who hadn’t yet realized what Adara had.
Adara slid her hand across her father’s gasping face, tears streaming down her own. Her mother threw herself beside her dying husband, her arms draped limply across his heaving chest.
“What happened, my dear Boaz!!? Please don’t leave us!! Please!!” She wept softly. “The Germans are still around, my love; you can still escape with us!”
“My daughter…c-come to me, take this. It was your great-great-grandfather’s. I kept it with me always. Never part this. In remem……” He thrust a strung ruby into her trembling hand.
“Father! Please! No!!” She wept with her mother. Little Mica sat near his father’s waist, fingering a puddle of crimson red blood. He did not understand. Adara looked up from her mother’s comforting arms, and saw what her brother was doing.
“Mica, get away from that. Mother, look,”
“It looks like he was planning to stab the Germans with that dagger. When they shoved him into the pantry door, it… it.” She couldn’t finish her sentence. It was too tragic.
“Adara, grab Mica! The Germans have heard us and are approaching quickly!” said Chaya hastily. She slammed the pantry door, locked it and pushed open the small cellar window. She murmurs under her breath, “This will confuse them.”
Mother has quick wits, Adara thought. I wish I would’ve inherited that from her.
Adara threw her brother towards the window as her mother pushed him through. Chaya and her daughter followed quickly after. They scurried into the forest, and looked back to see the German ripping their house apart only hoping to find them. Mica tugged on his mother’s ragged skirt.
“We forgot Daddy, Mama.” He said in his small voice.
Chaya didn’t bother answering, she just picked him up and perched him on her hip. Adara heard the Germans far off saying, “Open the door or you’ll be sorry!!!” CRASH!
The small family, now of three, rushed deep into the forest of their backyard. They searched high and low, and finally found a small abandoned boat overturned and propped it up with a limb and crept inside to spend the night.
Adara woke to the sound and feeling of men binding her in thick, scratchy rope. She opened her eyes wide and searched the landscape for her Mother and brother. They were slung over the shoulders of the husky Germans as she was being lifted into the air and thrown into the back of an old Jeep.
Chaya and Mica were soon thrown at her side. Mica was heavily sniffling, for he bumped his head when he was hurled upon the rough interior.
There was a sudden jerk and they began moving west. Adara looked at her surroundings and realized that she and her family were tightly packed in with three other families of four. After about four hours, they pulled under an arch that said ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’ which means ‘work makes you free’ over Auschwitz-II/Birkenau.
“Oh no,” whispered Chaya to herself.
They were rushed to the showers, where they were ordered to take off all their clothes or they would be whipped. They started marching off in rows of five. Mica, Adara, and Chaya luckily got to stay together, for they had smuggled in Mica. One by one they marched up to a desk and painfully got a number tattooed on their arms, and that became their name. Little Mica shrieked in pain. He did not know why this was happening. Adara and Chaya had to keep straight faces for Mica.
Chaya leaned towards Adara and whispered, “Do you know what your name means?”
“No,” Adara said in a hushed tone.
“It means bravery, my little one. Stay true to your name, and watch over Mica.”
The SS Soldiers caught her and whipped her back, frail with hard labor, three times. Adara scooped up her brother and tucked his head on her shoulder so he wouldn’t see it. She felt cold water on her shoulder which was his tears. She wiped them from his chubby cheeks.
Their heads were then shaved bald and they were taken to another shower where they had to quickly grab a brown ragged dress woven with previous Jew hair.
They were led to the bunk area only to find out that the overload of hostages left no room for them. They were given a rat-filled cellar with carelessly laid pieces of wood for bunks. Mica and Adara were shoved into the cockroach infested cellar, but their mother was held back by an SS Soldier. It was a woman, but a harsh, gruff woman.
“In the morning you will be playing in the band or orchestra. We are expecting some of those…those….nasty, bloodthirsty Americans.”
“But, I don’t play any instrument! I dance….”
“It doesn’t matter; you are going to play a clarinet. Or, for that matter, so that you won’t be squeaking when you blow into it, take out the reed!” She violently thrust the rusty woodwind into Chaya’s protruding collar bone. Chaya backed away like she received a blow. The woman then retreated to gather more people for the band/orchestra.
“Mother, what happened?” Adara asked quizzically.
“I am to play in the dreadful band as a decoy to the Americans…the Nazis are AWFUL!!!!!! That isn’t anything to worry about now. Let’s go to bed.” She replied wearily.
The next morning, was when all of the madness just got worse. They got “soup” for breakfast, which was actually green liquid with thick grains of sand, and some people found worms in their “food”. You knew that, because people screamed when they looked at their bowls.
Chaya was led away from Mica and Adara to the “death gate” where she was to play to greet the Americans. Their mother always had looked back on her children when she went away, but the Germans always shoved her back in place when she did. Adara couldn’t stand it any longer. She had to follow her mother to the gate! She grabbed Mica with no explanation and clamped her boney hand over his mouth.
The SS soldiers lined up the Jews to play in the band/orchestra to play the songs they had arranged. They put some soldiers in randomly, who knew how to play an instrument, to help make it sound more welcoming and friendly.
Adara positioned herself and Mica inside a bush, so that they would be positively hidden because they knew that if the Germans found them, they would be sent to the gas chamber. The scratchy thistle beneath them tore at their legs and rags. Blood trickled down Adara’s legs, and the only way she could keep from screaming in agony, was to take her free hand and clamp it over her mouth.
“The Americans are here!! The Americans are here! Start playing you imbeciles!” The SS soldier bellowed and started waving his arms around. Frankly, he did not know what he was doing. “Put a smile on, you filthy mongrels!”
Mica was now tugging at Adara’s hand, which was over his mouth.
“Mmm. Admm. Wahmmmm!” Mica complained, struggling to get Adara’s hand off his mouth.
“Mica, listen. Mama is over there, see? She’s just fine. Look!” Adara coaxed.
As the two siblings peered at their mother looking around frantically, she started yelling.
What is she doing!? She knows better than that! She has GOOD wits…..I-I don’t understand! Adara’s thoughts had her dumbfounded.
“IT’S A DECOY, IT’S A DECOY! THIS IS A FAKE!! PLEASE….I’M BEGGING YOU! DON’T FALL FOR IT! PLEASE!” Chaya couldn’t stand it any longer. She had to do something! She spoke what was right, and she felt like she had accomplished something grand.
“What are you doing, you naïve Jew! Oh….um,” the German cleared his throat, realizing the Americans were staring awkwardly at them.
The children’s mother stood firm, because she knew the consequences for what she had done. The SS stomped through the crowd of band members and grabbed Chaya by the arm, dragging her out of sight, her heels peeling the dirt from the ground.
Adara stretched her hand out towards her mother and cried out. She wished she could do something, but she had to be brave for Mica. She had to look up to her name.
She clutched her ruby and looked Mica in the eye.
“Mica,” she struggled to continue without crying, “We have to go. We have to leave this place. You must listen to what I say.”
BOOM! The sound of a gunshot. It was too late.
It had been two years since their father and mother had been taken from them and they were ready to escape the death camp.
Adara clutched her little brother Mica as she limped and stumbled on a jagged rock that tore a hole in her two sizes too small worthless shoe. She cried out in pain but couldn’t stop now. She’d come too far! Thoughts about her hometown were running through her gore-filled mind. She had to get through that gate that let nobody out who came in. It was her last hope to get back to the sweet sensation of freedom…