Eva’s deportation train pulled up to the Reinigen Camp in Lodansk, Poland, and stopped. It was the end of the line. The tracks ended abruptly at the entrance gate.
The moon shone brightly above the barbed wire fences. The Nazi guards, wearing skull and crossbones insignias on their shirts, stood in watchtowers holding guns at the ready, in case some defenseless prisoner should decide to risk freedom for certain death.
Brick buildings stood in rows along cobblestone streets. The ordinariness of the buildings fooled the arriving inmates at first, but starvation, torture, and death awaited them inside. There was nothing ordinary about the Reinigen Camp.
Police guards and dogs were outside the fences, ready for the train’s arrival. When the train opened, soldiers pulled people out of the cars at the camp’s front gate. The dead, who had been so carefully cared for on the train, were dragged out and roughly stacked like wood on top of each other.
A woman held her limp dead baby still wrapped in a blanket. She wept in sorrow for the child, who had never had a chance to live, and in gratitude, that the child had been spared from the horrors of the world. A Nazi officer ripped the baby from her arms and tossed it onto the pile of dead bodies. She wailed.
Bert reached up and helped Eva down. He held his arms out for Helga, but she pushed them aside. Nazi officers shouted orders as German Shepherds barked and snarled, straining at their leashes, trained to rip flesh on command.
The people stumbled and looked around. A police officer, swinging a billy club, motioned to them. “Men to the right! Women and children to the left!” the guard yelled to the traumatized new arrivals.
“Where are we?” Helga asked. “What is this place?”
“I don’t know, but it’s not good,” Bert said.
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