The Gestapo Came

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Carmen Attal; found on Pexels

Staying silent can have big consequences! 'See something, say something' is the way to go!

Liliana Owen, Journalist

I should have resisted, but fear made me quiet. I did not vote for him, but that was all I did to stop him, to prevent his rise.

I didn’t resist when the Gestapo took the Jews away, even though I had heard the whispering rumors of mass murder at the camps where they were taken to.

When I wrote an article for the newspaper, I was told to leave out who had taken them away. What harm could there be in doing that? I thought. Surely, the offenders not being named would be less terrifying.

When the rumors were confirmed by the English radio (a forbidden station, which many of us still tuned into but never dared admit it), I was told not to cover the atrocities. That did not seem like a big deal either, so I obeyed the Editor-in-Chief.

Even though I was a reporter, responsible for telling the truth of what was really going on, I did nothing. I wrote nothing. I said nothing.

I wanted to help, I honestly did, but I always said, I’m too busy; what could I do in five minutes? I’ll do it tomorrow.

Soon I stopped mentioning those taken in my prayers; after all, my peace of mind would surely be better if I tried to forget about the crimes which were happening against my fellow men.

It seemed enough to merely not participate; after all, if I didn’t participate, then there could be no sin upon my own head, even if I did nothing to stop it.

When the gypsies, the lame, the criminals were taken, I knew it was wrong, but I did not resist. How could I? I had a wife and children to support, a life to live.

I lay awake in the nights while a small part of me wished desperately to help, to do something to save their lives. But then my thoughts would turn to my family: their dreams and their goals and their innocence. How could I take their dreams away from them?

So, to save my family’s lives, I did not save others.

But then they came to my house. It was a Sunday evening and we were eating our scanty dinner (even though Hitler had promised food for every table, there was little to go around because of the war). They knocked and I let them in. They surveyed us, and we stared at the ground in shame and terror.

“Which one is Mia?” the tallest one in the fanciest uniform barked.

I wished to kick them out of my house, to defy them, to resist. But I was silent, and terror made me gesture to my eldest daughter.

She turned to me in shock, the pain of betrayal deep in her eyes, and my heart dropped. How could I have done that?

The man who spoke nodded to two who stood with him, and they stepped forward and grabbed her. My heart ached. How could I have been so foolish, so silent? How could I have betrayed my child like that, leaving her to the concentration camps? If I had just resisted, as she must-have, this might have been prevented, or at least we could have gone together.

Mia fought back, biting and kicking, but it was in vain. A hand reached out and slapped her, hard, on the cheek. I winced.

“Search the house,” came the command, and his other four companions did just that. They riffled through our belongings, scattering books and dishes, papers and clothes onto the floor throughout our house. Then they left, taking my dear Mia with them.

How I wished that I had resisted, had stood up for the Jew and gypsy, and written articles of truth about Hitler. Then there might have been no one to take my daughter.