The Only Survivor
By George Liebermann
If all goes well, maybe he will make it.
"Alarm!" the guard shouted.
First, white circles designed themselves onto the sky. Explosions followed
about the BMW. They were ordered to lie snug under a row of pine trees.
Peter did not budge and looked surprised at the guard who did not move
either. He looked at Peter with a gnomic smile,
"It will not last long," he said.
Peter thought that he meant the air raid, and then he saw the ongoing
and got it. He meant the war.
They had lunch break but no food. He watched the elderly guard eat, his
stomach gurgled in pain, but loved the little old man when he saw him share
meager lunch with the dog.
Peter never paid attention to the houses near-by, only when a woman
a big pot headed toward them. She handed one potato to each of the four of
them, and then one more.
When she caught the hungry eyes of the guard, she offered him one. He
his head. She split the last two potatoes between the four of them.
Peter had known that he will never forget that motherly face and followed
as she dragged her emaciated body to a yellow house, the fourth house on
left. She could have a son taken by the war, he thought.
It took him by surprise when he felt the warm breath of the dog on the
of his hand. Two hungry eyes looked at the half potato in his hand. Peter
allowed him to lick it, then take it. The dog licked his face.
Not more than two weeks later three thousand prisoners were taken to the
Karlsfeld railway station and loaded in cattle cars as hostages to a group
ranked SS officers.
Obersturmfuehrer Kurz, like a hawk ready for the kill, directed the
to the last train out of Germany. The famous blue scar on his forehead
more prominent as he kept an eye on the prisoners.
Peter tried to lag behind, move closer to the end of the line, but Kurz
"You over there, keep moving!" he shouted.
He read my mind, Peter thought. One of the guards, eager to oblige Kurz,
Peter in the back with his rifle-but.
Lead gray clouds crowding the sky leisurely moved above the thick black
Peter scouted his surrounding. He hardly could hold back a smile. Twenty
guards were meant to keep three thousand prisoners from "eloping".
Kurz was far to his right. He saw no guard nearby, but heard them shout.
scared slave-mates squeezed him against a wheel.
He sneaked under a car and waited until the entire armada climbed into the
train. When the sliding doors were shut with a bang, he crawled across to
It was all clear. He ran towards the houses. Hardly did he take off, he
that he had company. Short-lived freedom his was. They'll either hang or
He peeped from behind a corner but saw no one. When he felt the dog lick
hand, he took a deep breath in relief, sat down next to him and pulled his
warm head into his lap.
Peter saw the woman look at him from behind the kitchen curtain. He
about her reaction to the dog. She opened the door wide to make place for
Peter slept in the attic with the dog he called Angel, because he knew not
his name. In a week the Nazis ran out of Germany.
Once free, Peter found a job at the UNNRA as a translator. His khaki
made him look like a military man. He did not forget about his savior. He
brought her each week two boiled potatoes as a symbolic gesture, while he
sure that her pantry was always full.
The Red Cross published a list of survivors. He could not find his
an uncle, a cousin, not a classmate, nobody he knew. Almost asleep, a name
floated in the front of his closed eyes. Mickey! His second cousin! Mickey
survived and was in Garmisch Partenkirchen!
He took the train. It was crowded with German civilians. They shied away
his uniform that looked like a US military outfit with the difference that
his carried the symbol of the UNNRA, a globe. It was his first time face
with German civilians since he regained his freedom and he felt uneasy.
The silence around him was as deep as a bottomless well. Unexpectedly, he
caught a pair of rude water blue eyes topped with light brown hair; a
disfigured the forehead. It only took him one second to recognize the
of the camp, SS Obersturmfuehrer Kurz.
"You ran away, but I knew that I catch you one of these days," Kurz
pulled a pistol and shot him dead.
George Liebermann is a retired M.D., psychiatrist, a holocasut survivor and a published author
originally from Romania, he now lives in California
from the May 2004 Edition of the Jewish Magazine