Lublin, 1943

Except you look through my eyes There are parts untold you cannot see

This is the side of the story they wouldn’t tellThe part they would hide from the world and pretend like it didn’t exist, like it was never what it was. I look into these people’s eyes and all I see is hate. There’s so much hatred for people like me. They look at me with so much fear, like I am some kind of monster. I can read through their eyes that they have lost so much, they’ve lost everything but what they do not realize is that I am no better than them. I am a prisoner too. Just like them, I am not free to make my own decisions, I am not free to go back to my own home, just like them, I am not free to leave this camp, I take orders too. When I am asked to go I go and when I am asked to come I come. If I had my way I would be on the first train back home to my wife and children. I remember the day I left home, the look on my wife’s face and the tears in my children's eyes. I was devastated but I had no choice then to leave.

A few months after I was forced to enlist in the army and sent off to war, I heard about the “Euthanasia Program” or what they call “T-4” where the Nazis killed people with disabilities, even children. I was scared to death, my son would not walk, I did everything I could. I sent letters to the German authorities to spare my son afterall I am German, serving in the war and my wife was also working in one of the cloth making factories making army uniforms to aid the war. We were doing things to help our country. They said the people that were considered unfit or handicapped were “unworthy of life” and that they didn’t fit into the concept of a “master race”. And so they killed my son when he was just six years old and they took him away from us. When I read the letter from my wife I was devastated. I couldn’t eat for days.

Schatz, I write to you with tears in my eyes. I don't know how long I can keep it together, most nights I break down crying myself to sleep. I look at the girls and I wish more than anything that you were here to bear this pain with us. They took Mein Junge, my sweet boy. He didn’t do anything and they took him from my arms. I asked the nurse at the hospital how it ended for him. She said they injected the children with heavy doses of drugs. Ohhh I truly hope it was a painless experience. Please come back to me. Come back to us.

As I read the letter I could hear her cry and my heart broke. We had lost our boy, our first child and only son.

So you see, I am no different from the Jews or non Germans. I am in my own prison cell, praying to get out alive. I wish I could speak to them, and tell them how I truly feel. On several occasions I have thought of killing myself but when I remember my family I can’t. I ask myself when the war would end and when the killings would stop but I have no answer, no one does. It seems like eternity.

The other day we were ordered to execute some Jews. I have never been able to wrap my head around what it was with these killings. They were humans too, so why kill them only because they didn’t fit into the agenda. Couldn’t we just send them out of the county? Why did we have to kill them? So they had us dig pitsand we lined them up inside the pits. That way we would have to worry about disposing of the bodies. I pointed my gun while waiting for the order to shoot. There was loud music everywhere to drain the sound of the gunshots and the cry of these people. When the shooting started, I froze. One by one they fell dead on each other. I was terrified. The soldier next to me had to shake me up into reality. I just stood there. He called me but I just stood there.

It was either to kill or to be killed, I just wanted to see my family again. I lived everyday knowing it could as well be my last, drowning myself in total misery watching myself become the killer they turned me to be. I try to keep myself in check, fighting everyday to keep my sanity. Inside my head there are two parts of me, one side for all the horrors I am becoming, all the things I never imagined I would become. On the other hand I am still human, I still see a glimpse of hope. I know there is still much in humanity. I choose to believe it.

I have chosen to keep that side of my humanity through everything happening. I won’t let them break me. I won’t give in to them. I refuse to become a monster. Even if I don’t do it for anything, I do it for my children and my wife. I have to return back to them as a whole man, just like the way I left even though I know it might not be possible, I’ll try it’s the least I could do. I didn’t want them to suffer the pain they went through when my son died so yes, I’ll try.

There’s so much you can see from looking into someone’s eyes, you can see all the troubles and challenges they go through but you have to look very closely, you cannot just stay afar and hope to see what others can’t. You cannot know what they are going through from the surface of things except you look deep into them.

I want you to look through my eyes so that you can look me and see what I see, so that you can know the truth and see things just the way they are.