units of production
the lie you tell
climbing trees only for bruised knees
oh the sap you've made of me
boiled simple syrup
of accidental words
add it to breakfast
a nutrition for the masses
unfortunate that I'll believe
anything your tongue strains for me
He's little fingers are of the great machine
that clockwork Emc kinda thing
he writes what he's saying
his words not words, their hymns
and the war of nutrition now begins
Some of the words of God kept him sane
yet in the mirror they had the same name
You who listen I want you to understand
that the good dwell in every land
I am not a seeker of truth for I am
I have seen the blood on distant sands
so close to death he became my friend
I knew of all he told me was the truth
and the hope of man was so aloof
By Christos Andreas Kourtis aka NeonSolaris
There was chatter reflecting off the water just like the moon. The Milky Way was swimming with us, wrapped in algae and moss. We had no swimsuits, only spontaneity and laughter. We were far away from trivialities where there was no light pollution, you could see so far outward into everything. We were not looking up, we were looking out at what we are part of. Light, so much light. When our thoughts were finally chilled like iced lemonade, we ran through bushes and flailed in the mud to the car. We drove. Once sitting on our bed, a delicious thought bubbled into reality.
We discussed it, unanimously deciding on this nights adventure...we'd enjoy the first rays of the morning while seating comfortable at Sacajawea Peak.
Eager legs kicked and finally slept…too soon later, a buzz of a telephone awoke us, then another. I bounced out of the covers and to the kitchen to prepare a hurried breakfast of peanut butter and fruit roll ups for us, nutrition was priority. Then the clock blinked 3 AM.
Whines squeaked from tired mouths, but excitement prevailed. We packed into our seats and struggled to keep our eyes open, but the drive was bumpy and our sore butts kept us from forgetting the purpose of our trip. We were there to make our lives radical, and you can’t sleep in moments like these. 4 AM screamed at me, we had to hurry. I plowed my way up that mountain as the sun painted the tips of the mountains red. We crossed streams, tripped on rocks, marveled at climate change and the disappearance of the snow we had skied on just a week before. As the incline increased to nearly vertical, we met up with the mountain goats. Their tiny hooves danced on the faces of cliffs and I stood on the trail not more than a meter away. They smiled at us, said good morning, and we went on our way, huffing it up the face. As the sun’s light began to engulf the sky, we watched as the snow capped ridgeline shined pink and gold. A mountain shades us but as we reach the peak, the sun splashes our face, I felt godly. The sun has risen, and so have we. This is why we are alive; this is why we are happy. The valley below us still dozes, and we sit on top a mountain wide-awake. There is no item I could ask for that could ever give me this happiness. I do not climb mountains so that the world can see me, but so I can see the world…and it is so beautiful.
If ever a child should cry in front of you
Collect his tears
Scoop them up greedily as though they were rare crystals
And save them, nestled soundly in the depths of your pocket
For trust is a hot commodity
If ever a child should laugh beside you
Record the melody and transfer it onto the sleek, glossy surface of a record
It will become your favorite sound in all its rarity
Beautiful even as it skips and stutters
If ever you should notice a child lost
In the deep abyss of loneliness and solitude
Light a torch and draw out a map
So he can venture his way back into your arms
If ever you should trade these youthful crystals for swarvoski
Trade that laughter for a soundtrack of jazz
And if ever you feed a child juice on an empty stomach
So he struggles to enjoy artificial sweetness
As he realizes he is missing true nutrition
Do not be a parent
Go back in time and build a barrier
between you and your partner's willingness to build
The grandiose and admired structure of family
And if your friends are “trying for”
Make them prove that they will soon “fight for”
If ever you should
every song of laughter
and every found embrace
For some months I have left you alone,
For I saw that a flower does not grow
The more easily with a rain of stone,
Or insistence such-and-such should not be so.
I would not confine you with my country's past
Nor impose upon you my culture's cast.
Questions about these can feather your sky,
Can weave their arcs in a passionate style,
And you can be sure I'll oblige with a smile.
But if no questions stir and break their shells,
I won't be bothered, I will leave you be.
But I fear there's as yet no clarity
About your freedom given: It is not desire
Simply to do what your pleasures demand,
To be in the clutch of frivolity's hand.
A cell can be of gold, a comfort as well,
But it remains, after all, a prison cell.
You wanted to paint, you expressed passion,
But you expected the stars at the start.
You thought excitement was the kin of stars,
And so boredom quietly crept in your heart.
If you're to be seized by a sublime space
Within, with the brushstroke being its kiss,
You must not presume upon instant grace,
Nor allow excitements to dominate.
Dodging boredom, you'll never have a rich store.
Each pleasure will leave you emptier than before.
If pleasure and excitement are your nutrition,
You will never grow petals; no sublime space
Will court you, or bestow a master's grace.
im a let that bass set
back to the view you
been checking me at
you be asking me questions like
do you not love yourself?
bitch better check yourself
i would have taken my strap
to the back of my right cheek fat
sprayed my old gang with shrap
the blood and my skull by the scrap
so please bare with me
child will you ever see
we on the attack
this country that we born in,
is the enemy to the ones that we once had
turning itself into the biggest group of bang
so now that you are stuck in this whirlwind insane
ready to die, bonnie and clyde , two thousand and nine
when you gonna see that this dynamic duo
dont make the world turn with our voodoo
they dont know whats going on here
they too busy across seas in the world
so what we doing 85 when we ride
they just wiped out a whole damn tribe
two bullets holes instead of their eyes
world dont even take this country seriously
they have us on every angle no peers
just the enemies, spitting prophecies
made in their fears
that we gonna collapse
everyone put money in us by the wraps
too many kids going to bed starved
when other fat ass mother fuckers
grow too many vegetables in their yard
turn nutrition into trash, so what if they compact
all you old ass troops, still living in the war that we had
were a whole planet of warriors, let alone were the home
to the worst and the best of the wickedly out of the world
celebrate your serial killers, and dead rulers, not even with curls
so even tho it took Jimmy Henchman seven days
the reaper follows me in ever track that i lead
believe that I never write the realest shit i ever spoke
knowing the secrets of the underworld let me bleed
shouldn't have ever seaked out the truth they wrote
setting all the serpents septers after me, black cats
shotty caps, bullet scraps, hub cabs, and shorty tats
Grim Reaper oxyacetylenes in my dreams chrome gleams
Protected by the Prince of Air, setting things right first in my dreams
You spend lone enough waiting tables
or washing cars
or standing behind a register
and you feel a part of you
that played thumb wars and jump rope
die just a little
yeah I know the plight of the proletariat is cliched
but that doesn't mean it's not there
you feel the disdain grow
and even more so
you get hungry
and no ham 'n cheese can fix that
hunger nor nutrition
but for any small sign that all of the toiling
might just pay off.
Well if I go another day without eating that meal
I might just crack
drive my car into oncoming traffic
take as many suckers with me
then they might remember my name
chapter seven: blizyn
We women who had been chosen for work that day were put in trucks and taken to Blizyn. This was an arbeitslager, a labor camp, near Radom. When we arrived, we were again taken to showers. They gave us decent clothes here because they had a lot of the dresses, shirts, and underwear from the people that they had already killed. The guards brought us the clothes in piles from the lumpiarni.
When we arrived in Blizyn there was already a large group of Jewish people imprisoned there. These people were for-tunate. The Germans had let them bring packages and possessions from their homes. Things like pillows, blankets, and clothing. They had been held there, in the barracks, for some time.
But when we arrived, we didn’t have anything except the clothes they gave us and the preczes, the wooden bunks, with straw pillows and straw mattresses. The barracks were built without foundations and were filled with rats. It was difficult to sleep. At night, when I ran to the low barrels to urinate, big rats jumped up at us like cats.
The day after we arrived, we were sent to work. I was put in a factory to make and fix uniforms for the Nazi soldiers. Some girls mended shoes. Some worked in hospitals.
One hundred women slept in a block, fifty women up, and fifty women down. I was in block one, with Sonia and Elka. Everybody knew that Elka, Sonia, and Sara were close friends, like the three musketeers. We fought for our lives with masks of faith, hope, and courage. We prayed to G-d, and shared with each other our pain, our misery, our fear.
We started as three beautiful, young, strong, and healthy girls, but the Nazis destroyed our minds, and our bodies. We lost weight from starvation and overwork. Although I, too, was de-pressed and hungry, I told them, "Don’t give the Nazis the satisfaction. Don’t make it so easy: be a fighter, be strong. Don’t lose your hope and with G-d’s help, by a miracle, we’ll survive." Just as my father had told me.
One day after work, as I left the factory building, from a distance I recognized a friend of my brother Moishele. We hugged, both happy to see a familiar face. I asked him if he knew what had happened to Moishele and my father. He said that the day that I was taken, when they needed 150 seamstresses, they also needed 150 tailors.
“I told them that I was a tailor and they picked me. But your brother said, ‘I don’t know how to put a thread in a needle’. Today, they take the tailors. Tomorrow, maybe they’ll need me-chanics or engineers."
My poor brother, Moishele, was waiting for a next day. But with the Germans there was no next day. If you were needed, you had to go immediately. If you didn’t go, you didn’t survive.
“You have to run from death to life,” I thought. You can never wait for tomorrow, because tomorrow may never come.” Moishele lost his young life to the Nazis in Auschwitz. He perished with so many others.
Hearing this, I was destroyed. Moishele—too too young, too innocent—I had hoped he had survived, but it was only a dream. He was just a memory, like the rest of my family.
My life was not worth a penny, but I pulled myself together and fought anyway.
In Blizyn, it was hard to survive. You had to have a strong heart and a will to live. If you gave up, you were finished. The delicate died immediately, broken hearted. I would be strong.
At Blizyn, they lined us up twice a day. We awoke early in the morning to wash our bodies with ice water. Then we stood in the lines to be counted. And after they counted us we were sent to work.
Young women lost their periods from malnutrition. Many died from boils on their bodies. I had big boils under one arm. Another prisoner cut open my boils to let out the pus. My body was weak and it took a long time to heal.
One morning, the Nazis sent two barbers to shave off the women’s hair with a razor. This was supposed to stop sickness. When I saw the beautiful women after they’d lost their beautiful hair, I was scared and sick. The young women, after their hair was shaved, put towels over their heads. Their heads were cold without hair. So I put a towel over my hair as if it was shaved. By now my hair was past my waist.
The Germans starved us so that a crust of bread was like a million dollars. Everyday, the hunger became worse. I was lucky because I still held my mother’s fifty-gram gold chain inside me; I’d never told anyone about it because I didn’t want it stolen.
When I discovered that there was a small black market, I asked some men, “If somebody had a golden chain, what could she get for the chain?” They said, “She could sell it and get 500 zlotys.”
With such money, you could buy a slice of bread and a piece of onion. I didn’t tell them that the chain was mine. I told them that I would get it from my friend. When I brought over the chain, they gave me the zlotys, which I slipped into the bottom hem of my skirt.
Every time I was hungry, I took out a couple of zlotys to buy an extra piece of bread. I ate in the middle of the night when no one could see me. When I slept I kept my skirt with the “zlotys” under my head. If anyone knew, they would take everything from me.
The men also worked in the factories. They would sit at the sewing machines, working on uniforms. Most were half dead from hunger. When one fainted, others working nearby tried to revive him to keep him alive so the guards wouldn’t notice.
I often gave them pieces of bread. They were so weak that they didn’t even have the strength to say thank you. With a little piece of bread I could save someone’s life.
Some of the men were so hungry that they ate the skins of the potatoes from the garbage. If the German commander caught the Jews in the garbage, they put the guilty person against the wall and whipped them with a whip, 50 or 100 times until their body was covered with blood or until they fell down almost dead.
I don’t think you can understand what the Nazis did. They were without souls. They were murderers who should never have grown up. It would have been better if they’d died in their mothers’ bellies.
I had the Polish zlotys from my mother’s chain for a while, but eventually I ran out so I couldn’t buy any more bread. I had helped many and shared with the unfortunate. But now I had to figure out a way to get more bread, and a way to survive.
There were a lot of Ukrainians working in the camp, guarding us so that we could not escape. Many times in the evening after work I took a chance and talked to one of the guards in a very nice way. I tried to win his heart by telling him he was a very charming young man, that he was good-natured.
“If you help me with a piece of bread,” I said, “you’ll help a human soul to survive. And if you do, I pray to G-d to bless you with a long life and everything that you desire."
The young man was won over, and he said, “Of course. I’ll bring you a piece of bread.”
Not all of the guards were good, but he was He was spe-cial and, for a while, he would help me and bring me pieces of bread.
A while after I’d been in Blizyn, we received very bad news. An epidemic of lice had broken out in the camp. Our young men and women were working in the factories to fix the old German uniforms and socks, and these clothes were full of lice. That’s how the epidemic started; people were falling like flies. They had very high temperatures, like 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The wooden stretchers in the camp hospitals filled up quickly with two girls on each stretcher while many more slept on the floors. There were no more beds for them, no more places to sleep. I too became ill with the fever. I was put on the floor between another young woman and a stretcher. My temperature was 105. I only drank water. They gave us rancid coffee which made us vomit, more ill than before. They called the disease shlecht typhus. We were afraid to drink unboiled water. The water would cause stomach typhus.
The sickness killed you eventually if your temperature lasted for seven days without going down. We were between death and life. If the temperature went down you’d survive, if not, you’d die. My temperature retreated on the eighth day and I miraculously survived.
When I left the hospital I couldn’t walk. I was so weak that I lost my memory, though it returned, slowly. When I finally returned to work, I was still weak and more hungry than before. When I ate, I was still hungry. I knew that if I didn’t do something soon I would die from hunger alone. I wanted to survive, so I set to planning.
I again met the young prisoner Karl. We started to talk. I told him I was hungry, and that if I didn’t have food I would die. He had talked to a farmer outside the camp while working, and said that if I could bring some shamattes, some clothing to him, he would wrap them around himself, hiding them, and trade them with the farmer for food. If I gave him clothing, he would bring me bread, a hard boiled egg, and a piece of onion.
This sounded like a feast to me, but I told him that I didn’t have anything to give, that I only had what I was wearing. But then I had an idea and decided to take a chance with my life, but the only chance I had.
One day, when I was free from work, I went over to the lumpiarni, the place where the Germans kept the clothing of all the people that they’d killed in the concentration camps, where we’d received our clothes when we arrived. I stood around and watched the woman who worked there. When I saw her go away for a second, I ran in, grabbed some clothes, hid them so that nobody could see, and I ran away. When I found the young man, Karl, again, I gave the clothing to him. The next day he brought me a piece of bread and some onion with a hard boiled egg. It was like he was giving life back to me.
For a while after that, I took many chances and brought him dresses, socks, underwear, anything I could take. Karl also took chances for me and we became friends. One day he told me to stop taking these chances.
"Don’t go to the lumpiarni anymore, because it is very dangerous. If they catch you, they’ll kill you. I like you very much and I don’t want anything to happen to you."
From that time on, he shared anything he got from the farmer with me. Every time he had the opportunity, he brought me a little package with the bread, hard boiled egg, and onion. For me, this was a miracle. He told me that if by some miracle we survived, we would stick together and we would get married. I was about eighteen years old and Karl was in his twenties; I liked him very much.
Karl brought more than enough food so I could share it with my girlfriends, Sonia and Elka. Whenever we had some-thing, we shared it amongst ourselves. We couldn’t be selfish at a time like this. You’re not only supposed to take care of yourself, but you have to help somebody else, too. I’ve never forgotten this.
One time, Sonia, Elka and I sat down on the bunk that Sonia and I shared, eating the food Karl had given me. He had brought two pieces of bread, two eggs, and a bit of onion. We were sitting, eating our little feast and I took the shell off one of the eggs and put it down next to me while I peeled the other one. When I went to pick up the first egg, it was gone. I couldn’t be-lieve it. Then I saw a huge rat running away with my food. He was so big and so hungry. The rats always watched you, and this one stole my egg.
One night a rat bit Sonia’s little finger. The rats even slept with us.
The next time I saw Karl, he gave me a hug and a kiss. We talked for a while and then he said, “If we survive, we will never be apart.” He was so good to me and I started to like him even more.
In Blizyn I was staying alive, fighting to survive all of the misery, hunger, pain, and fear, that I forgot for a while that the Nazis had destroyed, shot and burned my family, my dear father and my dear mother, my brother, my uncles, my aunts, and my cousins. I missed them so much, my close, loving family. So many times I sat down in a corner and cried and cried and nobody was there to hear me. I wished I was with them, I was so lonely, so miserable. Then I would say to myself, “Sara, you have to survive. You have to be strong and have hope, pray to G-d and not give up. Don’t quit. Somebody must survive and tell the world what the German Nazis did to our people.”
The misery in Blizyn lasted almost a year. It was so wretched, but we survived because it was not a wernichtungslager, a death camp, it was an arbeitslager, a work camp. There was no radio and no newspaper, but the rumored news was always the same: pain, horror, and fear—until one morning when we heard that the Russians were too near to Blizyn and had the Nazis worried.
chapter eight: auschwitz
That same morning we heard about the Russians, as we stood in line, the commander told us to be ready because they were taking us to another camp. That day they took the men and the women and separated them into different trucks and took all of us to Auschwitz.
Auschwitz was like Majdanek, a wernichtungslager, a death camp. All around the camp was electric wire so that if someone tried to run away, he was electrocuted. And, the camp was divided by electric wire too, the women on one side and the men on the other.
Not long after we arrived, I went to this fence by the men’s side, looking to see if, by a miracle, I could see my good friend Karl, who had brought packages and food to me, and who had saved my life and had fallen in love with me. Yes, I saw him from far away, and he saw me, and he came closer to the fence by where I stood. I began to cry; tears ran from my eyes were like rivers. He cried also. We couldn’t get too close because we had to be careful of the electric wire. He said that he loved me very much and that I should be strong and not give up, that as long as our eyes were open there could still be a miracle, that we could survive by G-d’s will. He threw me a kiss from far away, and his sad eyes spoke to me.
“Goodbye my darling, my love.”
I never saw him again in Auschwitz.
Auschwitz was a new place with new troubles. New hor-rors. New fears.
Again, I was in barracks number one with a lot of women from Blizyn, including my ‘sisters’ Sonia and Elka. In these bar-racks, the bunks were attached with boards on which the girls slept--ten girls in a line like sardines, without mattresses, pillows or blankets. We went to sleep hungry, broken, and miserable, wondering if we would see another morning.
Everyday there were new problems. Again, the Nazis made us stand in lines three times a day to count us. All of us were weak, but if you have the will to pull through, a drive for life, you can make it. On certain days, you can become strong like iron or like an animal. You’ll steal anything, even from your friends, so long as you could survive Auschwitz.
The Nazis expected the impossible from us. There was no soap, but we had to be clean; no clothing, but we had to look decent; no food, but we had to be strong. They picked some of the stronger women and made them managers, police women. And the rest of us were busy with surviving.
Sometimes, when we were very hungry and miserable and blue, we’d sit down on the bunks with Jetta, one of our friends. She had a sweet, beautiful voice and we would sing together; the melodies swept us away for a moment from the hunger and misery.
On the other side of the electric wire, near the entrance, was the ampe, the train station where new transports arrived from Europe. Once, I saw a train arrive from Budapest, with families. Jewish men were walking with the Nazis. The officers told the men to take away all valises and bags from the people, to take away all of their belongings. The people panicked and started screaming, not knowing what to expect.
The Germans wasted no time separating the men, women, and children, putting them into lines. They started to pick through them, to “select” them. There was a line for those who would survive, to go into the camp, and one for those to go into the crematorium. Immediately after the transports had arrived, the beautiful blue skies turned to black shadows of smoke. Many vomited as they breathed the charred remains of their loved ones.
The women with me in Auschwitz, in the lager, were hungry like beasts. Another day when the transports came, we went over to where the men were on the other side of the fence. They were unloading supplies, the food and clothing for the camp. We screamed and begged for a piece of bread or for whatever food they had. We didn’t care so much about clothing at this point, we wanted just a piece of bread so we could survive.
Some of the men had sympathy and when the German commander went away, they threw over bread and sardines for us. Everybody was scrambling to catch a piece, and one girl lunged too close to the electric wire and was electrocuted and died before she got her piece of bread.
Auschwitz was not a working camp. It was a death camp, and everyday that passed, that I survived, was a miracle from G--d. The guards gave us very little food, because they didn’t care whether or not we survived. They wanted to make us into musselmen, skeletons, so that it would be easy for Mengele to choose candidates for the crematorium. Skeletons were easier to burn and bury. Why waste bread on the dead?
One day a chill went through us. Mengele was supposed to come to our block soon. To even mention his name was terri-ble. He was an Angel of Death. I was very aggressive. I was trying only to survive, to do whatever I could to make it out alive. You had to look good, because if you looked very skinny and pale, you were a candidate for Mengele to take you and incinerate you.
The food that they gave us was not enough to live on, so I was always thinking about where I could get some more. One day I saw a woman carrying pails of soup to the barracks. I found a rusted can and hid myself in a corner and when she went away, when she passed me, I ran back and pushed the rusted can into the barrel, took some soup, and ran away very quickly.
If they’d caught me, they would have killed me. I had to take chances, because life was not worth a penny there anyway. If I died from hunger or I died from incineration, it was the same thing. I had to look for some way to survive.
I took the soup and sat down in a corner like a dog, so that nobody saw me, and I ate. For a while, I was plunging the rusted can in the barrel of soup every chance I could, and I didn’t tell anyone. Then the woman told the guards that someone was stealing soup. The next time I went, there were two guards by the door. The woman was in the front, and the guards were in the back. No more soup for me; no more soup for Sara.
One day, in the morning, we heard that Mengele, the murderer, had arrived in our block; the smell of fear and death spread around us. It seemed like the last minutes of our lives had arrived. We were numb and couldn’t talk; the blood froze in our veins. Before our eyes, Mengele told the commanders of our block to line up all the women. When the girls were ready and standing in the lines, Mengele came forward.
He looked tall and handsome in his uniform. He wore white gloves. He was handsome on the outside, but inside he was rotten and festering, without a soul, without conscience or pity for another human being. He was the worst thing you could imagine.
He stood near the lines of the women and pointed his white-gloved finger, “You and you, come out from the line.” With these people that he selected, he made a different line, a death line.
A few of the younger girls had mothers with them. This was very sad, because Dr. Mengele first looked for the older, mid-dle-aged women. The young women covered their mothers with their own bodies hoping somehow to protect them. Of course, he made special efforts to take these mothers out of the lines. Then he pointed at the undernourished girls who were pale and sick.
I stood in the back of the line this time, shivering with fear; as far away from him as possible. I didn’t want to face him, didn’t want to see his hateful face. I pinched my cheeks to have some color and not look pale. I needed to look healthy. I prayed every second to G-d that He should protect me from the Nazi murderers. A little voice spoke in my head and said, “Sara, do anything to survive. In a crisis G-d will be with you and protect you from the murderers.” I repeated this and Mengele went away, and I stayed alive.
One morning, not long after Mengele’s visit, one of the commanders told us that they needed to choose women to send to work in a munitions factory. It was hard to believe them but we didn’t have a choice. Me and my friends, Elka and Sonia, were among the women chosen to go. They told us to be ready for the transport the next morning. Liberation from the death camp was the best thing that happened to us.
Before we left, I met a landsman, someone from my hometown named Zelig Plutt. I was so happy to see him and he was happy to see me too. He was working on the other side of the electric wires, unloading supplies from a transport that had just arrived. I asked him if it was possible to get a pair of shoes for me, because the next morning we had to leave for the factories and I was wearing broken wooden shoes.
He told me to wait, then risked his life for me. He brought over a pair of shoes, looked around to see that nobody was watching, and threw them over to me. I was so happy to have the shoes to cover my feet, I thanked him so much. I wished him good luck, that he should survive, and that we should see each other in better times.
But my happiness with my shoes did not even last until the morning. When I went to sleep, I took off my shoes and I put them under my head. This was a big mistake, for when I woke up in the morning and I went to put them on, my shoes were gone; they had been stolen overnight. I was so upset that I cried and couldn’t help myself. I nearly broke down. By a miracle, I got my old broken shoes back (someone must have heard my cries), put them on, then went over to the transport.
It was cold that morning and the women were already huddled together in lines waiting for the train. The trucks came and they loaded us in and took us away to Czechoslovakia, they called it Sudetenland. The name of the town was Crazow.
When we arrived in Crazow, they put us in barracks where we slept through the night, seven to ten of us in a bunk. The next day we went to work. They lined us up (three girls in a line) like soldiers, with two women commanders in the front and two in the back, armed with whips and guns, taking us to craft ammunitions in the huge menacing factory.
There were many men working in this factory from all over. Someone came to show us what to do, working on the wheels of the tanks. Elka welded and Sonia and I picked the wheels up. The wheels were very heavy for us, even for two peo-ple. I also had the job of drilling holes in the wheels and the work was very complicated. Once the drill caught on a piece of iron, it became very hot and broke off into two pieces. I was afraid to tell the foreman because, if I said that I broke the drill, they would say that it was sabotage. If they suspected you of sabotage, you were a traitor. They would kill you in an instant.
The drill broke a few times. The first couple of times there were replacements, but the last time it broke I became scared to death, crazy. But, I had an idea. Near my workplace was a Frenchman who worked as a welder. I went over to him, even though I couldn’t speak French, took the two pieces of the drill in my hand, and showed them to him. I dragged my finger across my neck to show him that if he didn’t help me they would kill me. He smiled and nodded his head. He was very nice to me; he took the broken drill and welded it together for me. I was so happy, and thanked him very much.
Because of poor nutrition, I became weaker and weaker--and everyday it was harder to pick up the tank wheels. After a while, they became too heavy for me. One day, I went over to the German foreman and I took a chance. I told him that I worked very hard and that it was difficult to pick up the drills and the wheels. I told him that he should give me a little more soup.
It was another miracle—he listened to me! He gave me a piece of paper to show in the kitchen that said I should receive more of a soup ration. It was like winning a lottery, a one-in-a-million-chance.
Some of the women found a room in the basement of the factory near where the bathrooms were. They opened the doorto find a root cellar full of potatoes and carrots. They stole the potatoes, hiding them in their brassieres, in their dresses, in their bloomers. Later that night, in our barracks, we ate the raw pota-toes with the skins still on them. The German commanders caught the women who were stealing the potatoes, and whipped them until they fainted.
So much hell we went through, so much pain. The only thing we had was hope. One girl kept the other girl alive. We told each other that the end of this horror was coming soon, that we couldn’t give up, that we would be free again. And this kept us alive, caring and sharing; one young woman to another. This kept us going.
In loving memory. We miss you mom!
Sara Lew, 1922-2010
Please read her entire memoir:
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 1-3/My Family-Bialystok)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 4-6/Nazi Occupation-Majdanek)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 7-8/Blizyn-Auschwitz)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 9-10/Liberation)
Sara: From Bialystok to Brooklyn, A Survivor's Memoir (Chapter 11-End/Brooklyn)
we thought we could put a face to a name
a name to a feeling, someone to blame
a feeling to a knowing, an answer to the call
a nifty, attractive package for our souls, zero flaws
a list of our ingredients, nutrition facts and fictions
that nobody ever really reads or even really mentions
and yet we still hungered for something more
to be like children in the summer, like we were before
we kept searching for the answer to the popsicle stick riddle
we gobbled love up before we even got to the middle
so that the melted sugary slush dripped down our chins,
stuck to our hands like tar, like the blood of all sins
you loved me more than the rest but i'd failed all your tests
you knew that i'd already given you my best
love's sweetness was gone and i turned to run
your words tore through me, point blank, the damage was done
exhausted and unraveling, i cried tantrum tears till morning
knees scraped, wounds agape, i bled red dye #40
heart on fire, i came home still stamping out sparks
i was scolded and hugged for staying out after dark
and you climbed into your bed just like any other day
ignoring the spaces beside and inside you, you drifted away
and just like i always leave them before i am left
just like you always give freely and then accuse them of theft
we brought down the stars as we opened our hearts
but nothing could stop us from falling apart
in the halcyon summer when we glistened with dew
i confessed and undressed myself in front of you
and still you believed there was more i could prove
i became a stain on your mind that could not be removed
so i am the victim and the bully. okay? fuck it, you got me
and i've spent way too much time being someone who's not me
but i've felt your heart loving, and i've felt your heart breaking
and the love that i have is all yours for the taking
because it has to be true, i have to believe
(and i know that you all must think me naive)
but love is always the answer when the question is "why?"
-to understand this simple truth i had to bleed myself dry-
when there was nothing left to believe in, nothing left to stand for
when all of my heroes were gone or on their way out the door
and i still woke up reaching for someone who was gone
when my shrink said i was better but i hadn't moved on
no, i was not fighting those demons for fun
from the depths of hell, I sought heaven in the barrel of a gun
but i put it down
because i knew
we are one.
we are thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same beating heart
and inside of our human suits i bet you couldn't tell us apart
somehow you and i cannot cease to exist
nothing else in my head really makes that much sense.
The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints; we spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy it less.
We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time; we have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.
We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get angry too quickly, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too seldom, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.
We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often. We've learned how to make a living, but not a life; we've added years to life, not life to years.
We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We've conquered outer space, but not inner space; we've done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul; we've split the atom, but not our prejudice.
We write more, but learn less; we plan more, but accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to wait; we have higher incomes, but lower morals; we have more food, but less appeasement; we build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication; we've become long on quantity, but short on quality.
These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion; tall men, and short character; steep profits, and shallow relationships. These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare; more leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.
These are days of two incomes, but more divorce; of fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throw away morality, one-night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer to quiet to kill.
It is a time when there is much in the show window and nothing in the stockroom; a time when technology has brought this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to make a difference, or to just hit "Skip Ahead"...