Work sets you free(“Arbeit macht frei”)

[I wrote this story almost four years ago! I am posting the story as it was, four years ago. Please forgive me for any errors that might have crept in. Hope you enjoy reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.]

Benjamin was sitting in a horse-drawn cart, reflecting upon the harsh realities of life. He was present with many other ostracized inside the car, all going to face their doom. The landscape outside was harsh as well, with the heavy onset of snow and frost; there was little evidence of life to be seen. The cart stopped near a fenced building which echoed death and outside the building were resplendent German officers ever ready to lay down their lives for the sake of Germany. Benjamin was part of a program which made Jews like him mandatory to have their names registered, though for what purpose they did not know, all he knew at this point was the fact that he was separated from his parents and was forcefully coerced into coming to this building- his father, Wolfgang had revolted but the result was a bullet wound and a dead father. His mother, Katja a beautiful woman was abducted as well.

While on the cart, Benjamin befriended another boy of about his age- his name was Phillip. During the journey, Phillip told Benjamin that they were all going to die-the fascist Hitler who had recently taken power would kill all of the likes of Phillip and Benjamin. Benjamin though optimistic and hopeful could not believe Phillip’s nonchalant talks-

Benjamin: My father was shot because he had not obeyed the police’s instructions; he was my stepfather so I, to be honest, don’t feel sad about him being dead.

Phillip: Shut up! We’re all going to die…

Benjamin: Be a little lively and optimistic Phillip, we are going to complete some formalities, that is all.

Phillip: My own cousin was transported to a place like we’re going and I have not heard from him since,

Benjamin: Oh! There you see, your fault lies in you being so overtly negative- how do you know we’re going to a place like the one you’ve mentioned now? Have you tried to know of his whereabouts recently? I tell you this is only the German governments’ initiative to separate us from their own race. Are we so different?

Sebastian: Please shut up you both! Stop your philosophical non-sense…

‘Benji’ as he was affectionately called disembarked from the cart along with several other boys of his age; the camp which greeted them all was carefully double fenced and electrified to prevent all prisoners from possible escape. Many towers with gunmen (sharpshooters) made sure nobody made out alive. On the plaque decorating the camp, in German it was written boldly “Work sets you free”- it obviously gave the boys an eerie and uncanny feeling.

Phillip: Still you’re sure we’ve been brought here to do some formalities and then leave?

Benjamin: Silent

Sebastian: Is this some kind of joke huh? Benjamin, answer me…

Peter: I can give you telltale information; the government is using this facility to do research on boys like us…

The boys were lined up to old decrepit rooms and in front of those rooms, a table, chair, and a German officer were poised perfectly. A neat stack of papers was kept- the overall view was kept as if this was the place where the boys would be registered and all the formalities completed. Indeed all the formalities were completed here for good. The dilapidated rooms were indeed small to house so many children. The rooms were installed with cylindrical metal containers and pipes led out of these containers in both directions. Phillip, Peter, Sebastian, Benjamin and the others were actually brought to a gas chamber, the largest one in fact for killing. Gas chambers were set up in Hitler’s regime for killing Jews as well as homosexuals and criminals.

As each of the boys dictated their names to the officers present there, they all made a mental preparation and a list of questions to be asked upon facing God. Phillip, Benji, Peter, and Sebastian luckily got the same room allotted for dying.

Sebastian: Still hopeful about’ living’, Benji?

Benjamin gave his friends a know-it-all smile ensuring everybody that he had been pretending the whole trip, he knew they were all going to die, but it did not stop him from being optimistic. The cylinder produced a monotonous mechanical sound and the pipes in the room threw out gases like carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide- the little boys died eventually as a result of asphyxiation.

© Biswadeep

Image courtesy- https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust/pictures/holocaust-concentration-camps/gas-chamber-at-auschwitz

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.