Eva had been at the Reinigen Camp for several months. Each time a train pulled up and unloaded its human cargo, she felt compelled to watch, as if witnessing such a cruel and inhuman act would confirm that it was real.
One day, Eva, wearing a strip of an old dress as a scarf to cover her butchered short hair, watched as a new female prisoner entered the inspection point, holding the hands of two children. The little girl looked about six. Her long brown hair was matted and twisted. Her brother was about twelve, a tall boy with sad eyes.
The cruel Nazi greeter of new inmates stopped them. “Only one child allowed,” he snapped, enjoying the emotional abuse inflicted on the Jewish prisoners.
The mother hesitated for a second, and then dropped the girl’s hand. Without looking back, the woman continued through the checkpoint with the boy. He craned his neck to find his sister. With tears streaming down his face, he waved.
The crowd surged around the loving brother and the decisive mother, swallowing them up in the chaos. The mother never looked back, and the girl did not see that both her mother and brother were herded into the middle line, the killing line. She stood lost, uncertain of what to do.
Another policeman motioned to her. “Where’s your mother?” he demanded.
Eva ran over from her observation post and grabbed the girl’s arm. “Our mothers are right up there. We got separated from them.” She pointed into the crowd, hiding the arm with the tattoo, so they would not know she had already been processed. “Look, there they are.”
Eva nudged the girl past the policeman, before he could say anything, and the next train car of arrivals needed his attention.
Eva put her arm around the girl. “I saw what happened.”
The girl stared at Eva with wide, vacant eyes, still trying to absorb her mother’s betrayal.
“Come on, their rules are intended to break us down,” Eva whispered. “We’re all on our own in here anyway. What’s your name?”
Eva led Lory to the reception building, where the prisoners were processed. There was still a long line. Lory looked around. “I don’t see my mother.”
“I will stay with you,” Eva said. “Stay in the left line.”
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