Unconsciously, unpleasant images of this girl began to construct themselves before his eyes. She looked like the other prisoners he had seen, but she had a scowl on her face. She maintained a look of stubbornness, arrogance. His body stiffened and he opened his eyes immediately. These thoughts troubled him. He stared at the girl’s story. His insistent sense of duty nagged him to continue his proper work. Every single other faculty of sense overrode this.
Almost reflexively he snatched the papers up and sat them in his lap.
I had no possessions with me, in the commotion my tiny suitcase was left in the truck. It contained none of my own belongings, just a small hoard of items I had stolen or bartered for in the ghetto. It was no great loss to me, so I stood arms crossed and waiting. As we got closer to the soldier up the front, the women began to slowly and slyly tidy themselves. A woman’s natural instinct to look her best took over. Smoothing back their hair, wiping the grime from their cheeks, adjusting their dirty blouses. The filthy conditions in the truck had soiled our worn clothes and left us looking untidy. An older woman, with what looked to be her grandchildren in front of me, took the bottom of her skirt, spat on it, and rubbed the faces of the two little children with it.
The fussing of the women unnerved me and a sickly feeling washed over me. A stone sat heavily in the pit of my stomach, weighing me down with death-like dread. I tucked my blouse into my skirt, and smoothed down the front of it as best I could. I retied my hair in a tight bun at the nape of my neck, to cover the dirt that had accumulated there. The longer I waited, the more nervous I became.
Before I reached the front of the line, the women in front of me were whispering something about the way in which the man was pointing. I didn’t realise the magnitude of the flick the brownshirt’s finger had until it almost came to my turn.
When the older woman who was in front of me in the line came face to face with the soldier, it was an odd sight. This tall, severe brute, whose uniform was adorned in pointless gleaming medals, towered over the tiny lady whose grey wispy hair was falling out from her kerchief. He pointed to the right, and as she followed his direction, she took her children with her. One of the surrounding soldiers jumped in;
“TYLKO TOBIE, ZOSTAW DZIECI,ONLY YOU, LEAVE THE CHILDREN!” he screamed at her in Polish.
The woman looked shocked. She grabbed the children by the arms and tried to explain that they needed to come with her. Although the old woman was shouting, the officer wasn’t listening. He quickly barked out orders in German, and the same soldier that had spoken Polish came forward and grabbed the old woman by the hair. She fell, and he dragged her off as she was kicking, trying to loosen his grip. The old woman was screaming to the children, and they back to her. They began to cry after their babcia,but it was useless. They were viciously shoved to the left.