The final sound of the door being locked from outside.
Mothers crying for children. Children crying for Mothers.
Hundreds of people shoving you into corners trying to reach loved ones.
A young boy falls to the floor, the mother watches him being trampled, unable to move, unable to breathe.
My lungs are screaming for air.
Stumbling into an unknown darkness.
The fear of falling asleep and never waking up.
Contemplating whether death is better than this.
The terrifying crack of a shotgun.
A silence howling with anxiety.
The beating of the engine counting down minutes perfectly synchronised with my heart.
The lady next to me has her eyes closed, I shake her, silently praying for her to be asleep, she doesn’t stir.
I’ve lost track of time, two days, three days, a never ending eternity?
Death surrounds me, trying to pull me in to envelop me, it’s so hard to fight, so easy to welcome.
I am surrounded by people, but have never felt so alone.
We are running on animal instincts, whatever food we have we don’t share.
On this train, good morals ****.
The heat, the stifling heat. It is dizzying, nauseating.
The air is too thick to breathe, to live.
There is an overpowering stench, caused by the heat, the absence of a toilet and death.
There is not much space, but what space there is, is filled by a suffocating heat, a choking smell and burning grief.
Pain is soaring through my veins, a toxic predator pouncing on every fibre of hope in my exhausted body.
They have reduced us to animals.
I am embarrassed, embarrassed of my hygiene, embarrassed of my inability to do anything, embarrassed of my selfishness.
Embarrassment is no worse than ******, as when a person is embarrassed they wish to be dead.
It is emotional homicide.
I am so tired.
My body is crumpled, being held up by others, some dead, some wishing to be dead.
At first I was focused on surviving, my body was fighting, but now I’m too tired to fight.
My hunger is now just a numb aching, but my thirst seems to be pounding every cell in my body, a constant beating.
I am tired of crying, tired of praying, tired of hearing other people’s cries, tired of hearing other people’s prayers.
I hear a voice, singing.
A mother to her child.
The sweet sound of her voice seems to dissolve the clouds of pain and misery hanging over us.
Another voice joins in, a man’s voice.
Two more people join in; gradually the whole carriage starts to sing, united.
I join in grasping for the shreds of energy I didn’t think I had.
We sing louder and louder, our voices drown out the protesting orders to stop.
The train slows to a stop, and the doors slide open.
I breathe, and for the first time in too long, my lungs are satisfied with the oxygen that reaches them.
As our bodies rush out of the carriage, still singing, I am filled with a new sense of hope that whatever is coming next couldn’t possibly be worse than what I’d just been through.
During the Holocaust cattle trains were used for mass deportation of Jews and other victims of the Holocaust to concentration camps. Men, women and children were stuffed into these carriages with no food, water or toilet and just a small barred window. The journeys took days, sometimes weeks and a large number of people didn't survive the journey. Having survived the journey the victims would then either be immediately taken to a gas chamber and brutally murdered or forced to work under the harshest conditions imaginable where they were unlikely to survive. Having visited a number of the concentration camps in Poland and heard accounts of survivors, I wanted to try and capture a fraction of the pain those people endured in that journey full of doubts and questions.