I must work to stay alive. I have no other option: if I fail, I will be put to death. It's that simple.
My name is Hezekiah. I am fourteen years old, but feel much older. I feel older than Father or Mother, or perhaps my grandparents.
I wonder if I will ever see them alive again. Somehow, I doubt it. They were taken away by the trains; the people who put them on there said they would be taken care of. Somehow I don't believe a word they say: they look at me with contempt on their faces and hatred in their eyes.
All because I am Jewish. I also am handicapped. Born with weak eyes, but I still try to do what is expected of me.
I no longer have my glasses. I have to squinch my eyes so I can halfway see what I am doing. Right now my job is to dig and look for rocks: the bigger they are, the better. I work from sunup until way past sunset. If I beg for food, or don't work hard, I get severely punished. I get scared, so I work like a man, even though I am only a boy.
I don't want my captors to think I have weak eyes, or else I might be put to death. So I pretend I can see good. If they ask me why I am squinching my eyes, I tell them it's the smoky stench in the air (I do this when it is cloudy outside) or that the sun shines way too brightly for my liking. So far they've really never suspected anything.
I pray this continues.
I look at the number tattooed on my arm, and I feel a wave of disgust. Remember when they did it too: hurt like hell. I have a permanent reminder that I am a marked person and am in prison, which I am. I am known as POW #6217. I no longer have a name. I am a captive of these terrible Nazi people who want nothing more than to destroy the Jewish race.
They hate us in ways I never dreamed that could be possible. Our only crime was that we were born Jews.
Not only the men suffer: women, children, even babies suffer as well. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people shot or beaten senseless right in front of me. I stay silent because I don't want to be next. I just work and do what is expected of me ... and silently pray for relief or perhaps a bite of bread. That is, if we even get to eat.
When we do eat all we get is watered down soup and a small piece of moldy bread. If we do not eat it we risk death or another beating.
I do not know what the future holds for me, but I do know this much: I must work harder than I have ever worked before if I am to see another day arrive. I must go now and hide this; if they find this, I will be condemned to a horrible death.
*to be continued.*