Caleb Yoder 8th Grade Mount Nittany Middle School Teacher: Mrs. Duffy
Why do we remember the Holocaust? We must prevent it from happening again. The Holocaust resulted from the evils of discrimination against people who are different. What makes these people inferior to us? Nothing. They are all people too; they just do not believe the same things we do. Is that a reason to persecute them? Should they be shipped away to camps to die? The Holocaust showed us what could happen if we do not accept each other as equals.
I was nine years old when my family told me to gather my belongings and come with them. There were men in uniforms telling us to move. I do not really remember how we got to the camp, but the memory that sticks out in my mind is the tattoo. They branded us like cattle. It was a horrible experience, but daily life in the camp was worse. Happiness had ceased to exist. We had all just been taken from our homes and we were hungry. The hunger only got worse. I had heard of starvation, but I had never experienced it.
All the concentration camp memories are unbearable, but I remember one in particular. After an exhausting day of work, I had only the energy to finish my meager distasteful soup at dinner. I decided to hide the crust of bread I was given and save it for later. My biggest mistake was not eating it right away. As I laid in my bunk, I removed my hidden bread and took one bite out of it. I was about to take another bite when, next thing I knew, I was on the ground and someone was holding me down.
The bread was gone; it was in the hand of the person leaning over me. In the dim light I could see his face. That image stays with me to this very day.
“Where did you get this?” he said, holding the bread to my face. Something about the look in his eyes frightened me. “Where did you get this?” he asked again.
“I saved it from my dinner!” I shouted. His face didn’t change. He just glared. “Did you bring anything else?” he asked, his voice getting louder with every word. I trembled with fear. This man wanted my food, and he was desperate.
“Please leave me alone! I only brought the bread!” I cried. Before I could finish, the man was gone. The bread was gone, too, but that was the least of my worries. I could not get the image of the man’s face out of my head. I was terrified. He must have been sitting on the other side of the room and saw me take a bite. Maybe he smelled it when I came in and was already sneaking up when I sat down. I thought about how he was only trying to survive. He wanted food just as much as everyone else. I was able to taste the flavor of the first bite of the bread and think of how lucky I was.
Of all the terrible experiences that I endured, that was the most haunting. It was the moment of realization that we were all starving prisoners. It was hard to think of each other instead of ourselves. I should have shared the small scrap of food that I had managed to take. The only way to survive the camps was to stick together.
I was a survivor, but the man that stole my bread was not. I never saw him after that day. I almost could not believe it. To this day I still think about him. I remember the Holocaust and all the cruelty. Discrimination still happens.
Remembering is the only way to prevent something as devastating as the Holocaust from happening again.