After hours of darkness, the train screeches slowly to a stop. You’ve arrived.
The carriage doors are thrown open. Cold grey light rushes in, followed by the shouts of German soldiers.
You get out and follow the line of people in front of you, trudging towards a clump of brown buildings. The rain makes every step hard, beating you into the muddy ground.
SS officers stand on either side. They are even worse than the ones at the station. You and your parents reach the entrance of the camp, spittle running down your bruised faces.
A gate swallows you as you are driven forward. Above it are three large, wrought iron words. Arbeit macht frei. Work makes you free. You haven’t worked out what that means yet, but you can already tell it’s not going to be anything good.
You are led between tall, brown-bricked buildings. You look around. Everyone is dressed in things that look like pajamas and are so thin you can see their ribs. You swallow and move closer to your parents.
You arrive in a large, wet courtyard. Hundreds of Jews are already there, standing in military-perfect lines. They are divided into different groups. The women and the men. The young and the old.
The strong and the weak.
Your parents turn to you and tell you they love you. There are tears in their eyes. You hug them, eyes closed but tears still running out and mingling with the rain.
You want that moment to last forever, but before your heart has beat even a handful of tiny, precious times, you are wrenched out of your parents’ arms.
You scream and wail, desperately reaching out to them. The officers just pull you back, laughing. Your parents are dragged out of sight, hands raised in a silent goodbye. Tears stream down their cheeks.