Ava Marie

Canada

Hi I'm Ava
15
She/Her

Aspiring Author
Dancer
Rock Climber

Always laughing
Beatlemaniac
Favourite book: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Bad jokes are the best!
I draw occasionally
I love constructive criticism!

Joined: 11/14/2020

Message to Readers

This is a historical fiction piece set during the Second World War, I hope you like it. Please review

The Thought of Freedom

February 7, 2021

FREE WRITING

2
Arbeit Macht Frei; Work Sets You Free. Or so they say. 

I guess I was one of the luckier ones. Being only twelve, I was still young enough to qualify for the school in the family camp. It wasn’t school like I was used to back home, but it was better than what the teens and adults were put through.  
The school was situated in block 31 and was run by Fredy Hirsch, whose arrival was probably the best thing that had ever happened in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Sitting inside the crowded building, we did our best to learn. Teachers would try their best with the group they were assigned, attempting to distract us from the world of death in which we were surrounded. They would teach us geography and history, play games, sing songs, and recite sections of the books they could remember. Teaching was risky, even the youngest out of us knew that if one word about it was overheard by a Nazi, we would all be sent to death. So, we would have drills. One kid would stand outside, and if they saw an SS officer approaching, they would run inside to tell the class. In a few seconds, lessons turned into games, and songs were sung in German.

This had been happening every day for six months. But now those six months were over, and we would finally discover the meaning of the Sónderbehandlung, special treatment, written on our identity cards. 

This morning, after roll call, the SS moved us all to the quarantine block. Most thought that we were going to be transported to another camp, like Dachau or Bergen-Belsen, others believed that we were all going to the gas chambers. I didn’t know what to believe.  

“Izabela,” my mother called out. I watched as she came towards me. “I know there is still a while before curfew, but if we head to the barrack now, we can probably get a top bunk.” 

I agreed and followed her through the crowd of agitated people, all who had been forced to work, day and night, like a colony of ants with the Nazis as our queen. Except this colony wasn’t working so that its species could survive, it was
working itself to death. 

On the way, we listened to snippets of conversation. We heard many things, but what intrigued me the most was a rumor
of an uprising, one led by Fredy Hirsch himself. 

We found our assigned barrack and claimed an empty top bunk. This was a blessing, as the bottom bunks were overcrowded and full of disease. We laid there and chatted about the possibility of a rebellion until my mom fell asleep. I reached down and brushed a piece of her chestnut, lice infested hair, that looked so similar to my own, out of her eyes. She looked so tired.  

I rested my head against the wooden bed frame as thoughts raced through my head. Would there really be an uprising? Could Fredy pull it off? Would he even consider it?  

As much as I tried to push the pestering questions out of my head, they just kept coming back. More and more swarmed into my mind, so much that not even the usual relief of sleep could keep them away.  

Troubled voices jolted me awake. I arched my back, trying to ease the flawless, relentless ache that lived along my spine. Looking over, I found that my mom was already awake, her dull, grey eyes scanning the crowd, trying to make sense of all the commotion.  

There were still a few hours before we were supposed to be up. Was this the uprising? Were we really going to fight back against the monsters in pressed green, grey, and black uniforms?

“Is this it?” I whispered, leaning into my mom’s comforting shoulder. She wrapped her arm around my back and pulled me in closer. 

“I don’t think so.” 

The rumbling of a fast-approaching truck startled me. As fast as we could, my mom and I hopped down from the bunk and ran outside. We hurried our way through the crowd, trying not to lose each other in the masses.  

People were moving every which way. The SS were walking around yelling commands, but I couldn’t hear them over all the hubbub. I saw a boy that was in my group at school running towards us, I reached out and grabbed his frail arm.  

“What are they saying?” I asked him, my voice rising to be heard over the rest of the noise. 

“Roll call,” he responded and ran away. 

We hurried along the line of people that were starting to form and took our places. There were only three people in between my mom and I today, yesterday there were four. After standing in line for two hours, each person calling out the number that had been tattooed onto their left forearm upon arrival. The SS documenting our dead.  

All of a sudden, Nazis forced us into the back of the trucks at random. I tried to run to my mom but was pushed back by a surge of bodies. I had no choice but to follow the crowd. They shoved me all the way to the back of a truck, I climbed in involuntarily. The back of the truck could have comfortably fit ten people, the monsters forced in fifty. I leaned against the splintering wood and cold metal bars, scanning the crowd for my mother.  

There. I watched as she was pushed, just like I had been, into the back of the truck ahead of me. I tried waving to get her attention, but she wasn’t looking up. Her slumped posture against the side of the cargo bed suggested defeat. 

* * *

For eight years I had lived with my little sister Lida. For eight months I had suffered through the worst of the Nazi invasion with her. For the past eight days I had grieved the loss of her life. And it was all their fault. They were monsters; the Nazis were monsters. 

I shivered as the cattle car rattled along, its small wheels scraping against the rusted tracks. I pushed myself deeper into the corner, trying to put as much space between my frail body and the rest of the people. I knew it must have been cold outside, but in here the air was sultry and everything smelt of human sweat. 

Two days, that’s how long we had been stuck in here, unable to do anything but sit with our thoughts, while disease hung over us like the blanket roof of a child’s fort. Sometimes collapsing on top of someone, tangling them in its weight and refusing to let them go. 

A warm hand rested itself delicately on my slender shoulder. A figure crouched down next to me.

“How are you faring má drahá dcero?” my mother asked me softly. 

I looked up at her, my eyes puffy and sore from crying.

“Better,” I told her, wiping the back of my hand over my already dry eyes as if it would take some of the redness away. 

“Just remember, no matter what happens next, we must never give up. If we give up, it means that we are allowing them to treat us like this,” she gestured around the cattle car. Her voice took on a slightly darker tone. “And then the Nazis win.”

* * *

No. She couldn’t give up. Not now. Not after everything that had happened to us. We couldn't let the monsters win. We were only being shipped off to another work camp, someplace we could survive easier. Surely nothing could be worse than Auschwitz.   

“No,” I mutter to myself, trying to hold back tears. “No, no, no.” 

“What’s wrong?” I heard someone ask. I raised my head to see a taller woman with kind eyes observing me. 

“I think my maminka has given up.” 

“I think a lot of people here have given up.” 

She pulls me into an embrace, I start to cry. After a few minutes I stop and look up, a sudden realization hitting me like a slap in the face. If we were being transferred to a different work camp, why weren’t we in the cattle cars like when we arrived?I knew I was right, but I still had to make sure. 

“We’re not being transferred to another camp, are we?” 

“No,” the kind woman answers softly, running a delicate hand through my soiled hair. “I’m afraid not.” 

The truck jolted forwards, causing the passengers to crash into one another, I barely felt it. I can’t believe I ever thought I would be free again. The world seemed to blur around me. I was going to die; we were all going to die.  

Minutes later, we had arrived at the opposite side of the camp. I was ordered out of the truck, and still in a daze, I followed blindly. We were escorted down the stairs and into the changing room, where everyone was forced to undress. Tying our shoelaces together, and neatly hanging up our shirts, making it easier for the items to be collected later.

The SS ushered us down the small corridor and into the chamber. No one tried to escape. No one tried to talk back. No one tried to do anything. I wanted to do something, but the numerous bodies at my sides forbade me from doing anything but tread on the heels of the people ahead of me. 

Once the heinous officers were content with the amount of people stuffed into the chamber, they started to move the doors. The heavy,  metal door slid closed, scraping against the walls as it went. Nothing, no one, was getting out.  

The latch was closed. 

This was it. 

I’m free.

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3 Comments
  • aalawrites

    I love this. Well done!


    3 months ago
  • Ava Marie

    Emi, I also love historical fiction. I put a lot research into this piece and I am very glad you liked it.


    3 months ago
  • Emi

    Wow...this is so haunting. It's such an amazing piece though...I adore historical fiction and I don't often see it on here. It really seems like you put a lot of time into this and knew exactly what you were talking about. Great job!


    3 months ago