If being starved and forced into intense physical labour where the snow cakes your shoes and cuts your feet was not enough, then they are making sure they can exhaust every ounce of resistance we have. There are no words to describe how this makes one feel. Torn, to say the very least. You are in a constant battle with all your basic human instincts. Your mind tells you to save yourself, but your heart tells you to stand firm. The warm glimmer of hope that radiates inside of us is slowly stamped out. Extinguished not by the cold surroundings, but by the coldness in the hearts of the people here.

The guards here tell us, the Jehovah’s Witnesses, that we are free to leave if we sign a document renouncing our faith. They make it a public display, ordering all the women out to watch them put forward the documents.

“Sie brauchen nur zu unterschreiben, You only need to sign,” they would say in a deceivingly kind tone, knowing that we would each time refuse.

This was seen as arrogance by the officers, an insult to their kind offer. Their temporary guise of placidity reverted back to indifferent hatred almost immediately, as if they were counting on us to turn down their offer.

In one incident, a woman was shot, right in front of everyone in the camp. They brought her forward, grabbing her painfully by the scruff of her neck. The guard clad in black loomed over her and pushed the papers to her. When she declined, he wrapped his arm around her neck, and raised his pistol to her head. Some of the women screamed. The guard glared at us;


It must have been a few seconds that elapsed, but they seemed to last forever. He repeated his instructions. None of the women moved forward. The woman, who could barely breathe, was kicking her legs and scratching at his arm in a futile attempt to get him to release her.  As he lifted her thin body from the ground, tears began streaming down her face. He pressed the barrel of the pistol firmly into the side of her head.

 My own sight became blurred as tears filled my eyes. In the second that it took to wipe my eyes I missed seeing him pull the trigger. The gun shot was deafening and her body fell to the ground in a muted thud. The other women scattered, murmuring and covering the eyes of the few children that remained, returning to their duties. But I couldn’t move my eyes away from the sight of this woman. She lay in a pool of her own crimson blood. It stained the snow her body lay on.

The End

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