The Officer With The Bread
Sacrifice. What did you think of when you heard that word? Did you think of giving up something you just can’t live without, or losing someone you love for the sake of something else? Maybe sacrifice doesn’t need to mean that. What if it can be just giving something up you can live without and getting something better in return. My name is Alex and this is the story of my savior.
The year was 1943 and I was living in Auschwitz-Birkenau Extermination Camp. I was Jewish and you know what that meant. I wasn’t an officer or guard. I was a prisoner.The Gestapo had taken us from our homes threw us into a truck and then we ended up here. Everyday was the same, We were woken at 5:00am and then an SS Officer did a head count. We then went and dug graves. Graves for our bodies to be put in when we eventually die. Lunch was broth or even just warm water in a small metal tin. After lunch we went to work making ammunition for the Nazi’s. Dinner was a slice of bread. Sundays were the best because on your slice of bread for dinner you got a thin slice of margarine on it. The officers were so cruel to us. I first came in here with my mother and father, and my little sister. My father and I got separated from my mother and sister when we first arrived, My father then got sent to the showers one afternoon and never came back. They say that was where the gas chambers were. I never got to say goodbye.
Three months past and I was a scraggly boy who was just all skin and bones. My once shiny hair was dirty, shaved, and full of lice. I was so sick I could barely eat my soup at lunch. That was when the SS Officers loaded us all onto trucks like cattle then sent us to another camp. Sachsenhausen. After four months of torturous labour at Sachsenhausen they decided to move us again.By this time I was used to being thrown into trucks. We were sent to Dachau a concentration camp closer to the border of Austria. I spent only two months at this camp before the camp officials decided it was time to pack up and leave. They told us to march, so that is what we did.
This is when my savior comes in. It was an unlikely sort of savior, not the one that will stand out in history books, just a man who quietly saved my life. As I said before sacrifice doesn’t need to mean giving up something you can’t live without, but offering something of little value to you but of great to another and in the end receiving a substantial gift in return. Around one thousand men and women were walking the death march with me, and about two hundred of them died from starvation or illness. Another fifty were killed by officers for not being able to keep up with the group. Once we were finally able to stop for rest officers came round with water. After they gave us a miniscule amount of water the officers got out some food for themselves and mocked us as they ate, all but one. As we were packing up, getting ready to start marching again I felt something being pressed into my hand, it was a slice of bread. I looked up and saw an officer staring down at me. Why would he do this? While everyone was busy I quickly ran round the corner of a truck and stuffed the peice of bread into my mouth, it was delicious.
That peice of bread gave me the energy to finish the march, and gave me the energy to think of a plan when it comes to the time of killing us all. I decided to fake my death. When we finally reached our destination we were flocked into a group and the officers started shooting. In all the commotion I managed to slither my way into the middle of the group hidden from the bullets by hundreds of other people. Then when the group started getting smaller I purposely got myself shot in the arm so it looked like I had been killed by a bullet. Then I just fell to the ground, just like what I planned. Just when I thought the shooting will never stop I took a risky look and realised that everyone who was once standing beside me was fallen on the ground whimpering their final words. I saw the guards come over and check if everyone was dead. I held my breath for as long as I could but i finally had to breath. What a mistake that was, someone noticed and came over. I am going to die, I thought to myself. I didn’t though, because the same man that gave me the bread was the man who came over to check if I was still alive. He lifted his index finger to his lip then just walked away. He saved my life. Again.
So there it is, my story of sacrifice and generosity. Well not really my story. Yes, I told the story but it is really the officer with the bread who made this story possible. Without him I wouldn’t be alive. I would be in a mass grave surrounded by fellow Jews. I thank that man for sacrificing his bread for me and I thank him for the generosity he had to even give me that bread in the first place. In return that man was saved as well. When the Nazi’s were finally defeated and Hitler surrendered he was taken into custody for the crimes he had committed. The only reason he had lived was because all of the people he had secretly saved had come and stood up for him, telling people of all the things he has done to save us. I was there of course pleading my case to the court making sure that the man who saved my life did not die wrongly. We won the case and he was a free man. I speak to him often, learning about his brother that fell in love with a jewish girl and in return was shot in the skull by the gestapo. I also found out that my mother and sister both died in the concentration camps. They were transferred from Auschwitz all the way to Bergen-Belsen where they died of typhus two days before the camp was liberated. Life may have many obstacles but sometimes you find someone to help you climb over them. The officer with the bread was my savior who is yours?
Written By Grace Franks