8th GradePark Forest Middle SchoolTeacher: Mrs. McKee
Loss of Identify
I must admit it was appalling although I will never be able to fully describe such horrendous emotion in words. I had previously been separated from my loving family when I arrived to cold-rigid Sobibor extermination camp in Poland through the putrid railroad train in a jam-packed congestion. Unfortunate teenage girls around my age were constrained to the repulsive camp. Individuals were allocated to their own space about the size of a bathtub in a diminutive crowded log cabin. All of the girls in the camp seemed clueless yet terrorized. I, of course, was in the midst of confusion and fear as well. Then, next to my assigned spot, I noticed a girl who seemed a few years older than my age.In Polish, I asked, “Hello. What is your name?” To my surprise, the girl spoke Polish, and replied, “I’m one-eight-two-four-six-three (182463).”“One-ate-too-fo... I’m sorry, what was your name again?”“I’m one-eight-two-four-six-three (182463).” The girl restated, leaving me utterly puzzled.“"Wow, that is an awfully long name! My name is Adriana Novak. Do you mind if I call you One-ate-too?”“Adriana Novak... You are lucky to remember your name.”
“What do you mean?” In even greater confusion, I queried.
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“I don’t have a name. Even if I did, I don’t remember my own name.”
“But you told me that your name is One-ate-too-fo-sic... something.” I tried hard to pronounce the name of the girl in front of me with my utmost effort.
“No. That is what they call me. See this tattoo on my arm? My six digit number is one-eight-two-four-six-three (182463). I’ve been forced in camps similar to this since I was six. Nazis have been calling me by this number. Unfortunately, I don’t remember my real name.” I noticed the six digit number tattoo that wrote “182463” on the girl’s arm. I then realized why a sinister-looking man had before tattooed a six digit number on my arm which felt painful.
“I’m sorry... Then how old are you now?” I asked changing the subject.
“I don’t know my age either. Do you?”
“Of... course... I am thirteen.”
“I’m telling you, you are extremely fortunate to know your name and age. The majority of the prisoners here don’t know their names or ages. We have no identity. The only fact we know about ourselves is that we are going to be murdered soon...”
I was tremendously petrified when 182463 informed me of the unspeakable tragedy of the hopeless prisoners in the camp.
I felt even worse when 182463 confessed such: “Every morning I wake up, I find my heart beating rapidly. And I wonder whether I would die today or tomorrow. Sometimes, I wish to know who I really am... Not a poor prisoner who is to be slaughtered soon, but someone else...” The most nastiest part of the slaughter executed by Nazis was that it took away the identity of countless people, especially innocent children.As I came to know more girls in the camp, I realized how pitiful it was to forget their name, age, and life itself. What 182463 had earlier told me had been correct. Almost everyone in the camp knew one thing about herself, and it was that she was soon going to be slaughtered. I feel the worst to be the only girl that survived through the intolerable gas chambers in the Sobibor extermination camp. I would never wish to reminisce of the hideous camp ever again. Despite, I remember the frightful affair only because the nightmare of losing one’s identity hovers above my soul twenty-four hours a day. Then, I exclaim to myself, “This should never happen again!”