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05.04 Holocaust

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Claudia Rodriguez

on 29 June 2014

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Transcript of 05.04 Holocaust

05.04 Holocaust
Wiedersehen Unschuld
Music by Chopin
Prologue
Before I was born, and long before the Holocaust, both my Jewish-Venezuelan parents moved with my mother's side of the family -- my grandmother, my aunt and uncle -- to a shtetl in Germany. I was born as Fabien Bello many years after, and that was when the Holocaust began. The struggles of the town felt unreal to me when I was young; it was far away as I was being taught to speak German as a three year-old, living in my small village home that always smelled of sweet empanadas my grandmother would make every day. I did not know how much I would come to miss that aroma when it would be replaced with the odor of sweat and burning flesh in the air.
I
I was five when we were all persecuted. The day was as vibrant and precious as any other that I had been blessed to see thus far -- filled with laughter over the way the fireflies would tickle our noses or over my mother's bizarre mannerism to re-clean every supposed "smudge" she would claim to see on the window -- but it was when night struck that our family fairy tale was obliterated.

I'm still a little confused about why, but I've been told that it was because I was "Jewish, and therefore not German..." But I really thought I was. I thought that I was German because German was the only language I spoke, and Germany was the only land I knew. I loved the rivers and the hills of Germany; the way the sun would turn my hair orange and engulf the fields in gold was what I admired more than anything in the world.
III
I was reunited with my mother -- the only survivor of the Holocaust from my family -- a few weeks later. She embraced me weakly, but I knew it only meant that she wished to hold me much, much stronger.

We couldn't go back to our fairytale home in the shtetl because everything there had been burnt down. My mother decided we would move to America, where she believed we would be safe. However, due to complications, we moved to a small village in New Zealand. It is beautiful here, but it feels empty without my father, my grandmother, my aunt and uncle...

I feel empty inside, too. I lost many things in the Holocaust, and I no longer feel like a child. I no longer have that innocence that my family admired so, and I've lost my sense of peace. I don't give up, though. I strive to make my mother and myself whole again every day. I still laugh at the simplest of things and I give my mother the strength she needs to be able to move forward. I know it would cause her much more pain to see me down, so I use that as incentive to seem as happy as I wish my mother could be.
THANK YOU
In dedication and commemoration of all affected by the Holocaust.
Claudia Rodriguez
I wrote this when I was seventeen.
II (Continued)
The years would greet me with more physical pain, and yet I was considered a success by the doctor because of my survival after five surgeries. The only pain I was able to feel after that was the yearning to be held by my father again. I missed my family so much it burned, and I felt anguished at the reality of having forgotten what my aunt and uncle looked like. My life became a series of waking up and drifting off to sleep again...

One day I awoke in an entirely different place. It was brightly lit by an enormous golden orb, and the surrounding area smelled like cornflowers. I was consumed by my emotions as I realized it was the sun, and it was the first time I had been outside in years. I also came to realize that this alone gave me the strength to walk again, and I leaped and joined other children who had survived this deadly experience.
I miss that Germany.
II
We were taken to a place called Auschwitz, alongside many other Jewish adults. I was thankful for being with my family, but I was then taken alone to a place where I met a man named Dr. Josef Mengele. From then on, my memories of the time there are still a blur...

I remember the pain it took to breathe. I knew there were other children there because I could hear them scream until they were too exhausted to let out a whimper. This was an experimenting building of some sort, a place where Dr. Mengele practiced with live bodies. I was there only a few days when I was taken into one of his experiments. I grasped onto hope that someone would burst into the room at the last minute and save me, but that lasted for two excruciating minutes until I lied unconscious for the rest of the surgery.
When I awoke, I could no longer walk.
We were told by the U.S. soldiers who rescued us that we'd have to wait a while to be rejoined with our families, and I couldn't help but flood with tears.
I continue to pray in my mind because in there I still have hope to see a world where the sun sets in time with our heavy eyelids being closed, and then rises again to illuminate our yawning faces. And that is when I shall awake to see the rest of my family again.
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