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The Lost Family - Laurie Kaye

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The Lost Family

Brzezyiny, Poland

Dear Journal, 
	I sit here peering into the still ebony 
darkness that invades my eyesight. My mind is 
feverously rushing, replaying recent occurrences over 
and over again. I shudder as the cold wraps its 
stinging tendrils around my frail figure. 
Instinctively, I pull the fluffy covers tighter in a 
frantic attempt to conjure up any sense of warmness and 
security from its fluffy interior. 
	I watch the glistening raindrops glide down the 
slick windowpane, delicately casting swirled figures on 
the tinted glass. The furry of the wind, mercilessly 
masticating silence, rips tender branches from their 
leafy foundations. Its howling ballad echoes through 
the stone walls of this chaotic abode.
	This wind, transforming the landscape into a 
precarious territory, has summoned my consciousness 
from a deep sleep. As I sit here, my mind wanders into 
its deepest fears. Ever since Germany invaded Poland on 
September 1, 1939, only one topic floats through these 
walls; only one vision frequently invades the mind of 
its inhabitants. My parents attempt to shield me and my 
siblings from the truth. They feel that the bloody 
details are not appropriate nor necessary to disclose 
to those so innocent and naive. However, their 
wholehearted attempts are in vain for I am not immune 
to the hatred that crouches at our door and scratches 
relentlessly at our windows. Although I am merely the 
tender age of eleven, I am not blind and deaf. 
	The reality of it all now comes plummeting down 
like an anvil. Yesterday, one sign was painstakingly 
removed and another was tacked up. This sign renames 
our street after Haursweisel, a famous German anti-
Semitic writer. Now Jews are no longer allowed to 
reside on this street in order to avoid disgracing 
Haursweisel. Tomorrow is moving day. We are planning to 
seek refuge in Skierniewice.    

April, 1941
Skierniewice, Poland 
Dear Journal,   
	So here we are, starting our life all over 
again. This is truly a formidable task. I feel that it 
will never be accomplished because so much has been 
reluctantly left behind. When one temporarily pauses 
from the string of events that encompasses a day and 
takes stock, this loss is overwhelming.  
	I feel like a criminal, yet I have not 
committed a single crime. I have been cast away by the 
very people who were once my neighbors and friends. My 
emotions run wild and I am unable to even start to 
define or express my thoughts and feelings. At first, I 
am angry at their ignorance and betrayal. Then, I am 
disappointed by the entire situation. Finally, I am 
disappointed that I am disappointed. Why am I not now 
angry?  In short, I am fundamentally confused about the 
entire ordeal. 

May, 1941
Road to Brzeziny, Poland 

Dear Journal, 
	Deja Vu. It must be a vision from the past. 
Skierniewice was ordered to be freed of all Jews. 
Seeing no better alternative, my father has decided to 
return to Brzeziny. My mother wanted to flee to the 
Ukraine but my father was adamant in his decision. It 
will be his way or no way. This topic has been a great 
source of arguments. I cannot bear to uproot my life 
once more whether it be to the Ukraine, Brzeziny, or 
anyplace else. 
	To make matters worse, our financial assets are 
dwindling. Food is scarce and meals are far in-
between.  I wander through countless days of hunger. It 
is the kind of hunger that seems to burn a hole in 
one’s stomach. My brothers and sisters cry for food, I 
just yearn for it silently. I feel weakened and lost. 
It is as if others rush through the day and I simply 
float beneath them in a starving delirium. When will I 
wake up from this nightmare? 	
March 25, 1942
Brzeziny, Poland 
Dear Journal,
	MY BROTHER HAS DIED TODAY! My mind realizes 
that Moshe David is gone but my heart blatantly denies 
it. This ordeal has left me paralyzed. I attempt to 
scream, but only silence floods from my open mouth. He 
was so young; only allowed to experience a mere nine 
years of precious life. He showed so much promise and 
had his entire life ahead of him. We believe, with a 
fairly large amount of certainty, that the cause of his 
death was starvation.   
	I cannot cope with this loss. It eats me up 
inside and paralyzes my soul. Not a minute goes by that 
I do not think of him. Not a minute goes by that I do 
not miss him terribly. I wonder why this has happened. 
Why are we being punished? Have I committed moral 
turpitude? I ask God every night for forgiveness. My 
prayers go unanswered and I am beginning to lose my 
faith in Him. Maybe He is nothing more than a fairytale 
or maybe I am praying to the wrong God. . Philosophy 
aside, all that I can determine is that things are 
becoming progressively worse.
May 19, 1942
Brzeziny, Poland

Dear Journal, 
	Yesterday, my dear mother and four year old 
brother Issac Abraham were taken away to a place called 
concentration camp. I do not know where or what that is 
but I fear for their safety. I fear that I will never 
see my mother’s smile and never hear my brother’s high 
pitched laugh. Lately, concentration camp has been a 
destination for many Jews in the surrounding vicinity. 
One day, a group of Nazi Storm Troopers approach your 
door, order you to gather a few specific items, and 
change your life forever. These people never return. No 
letters are received, no contacts are made and it is as 
if a community has fallen into oblivion. As each day 
progresses, our community becomes a mere shadow of its 
former self. All that is left are broken homes, broken 
hearts and broken families. 
	I do not understand why this has happened. Why 
is our family being punished? Why is our entire 
community being shattered? We are simply trying to be 
good, honest members of  a society that refuses to 
accept and honor the diversity of humanity. We are 
punished for who we are. Our very soul and core beliefs 
somehow violate the laws of this nation. Being Jewish 
is no more a crime than living or breathing.  
May 25, 1942
Brzeziny Poland

Dear Journal, 
	My father has been taken away to work as a 
slave in a coal mine. His last words to my sister and I 
were, “stay together”. I pray that one day we will be 
reunited along with my mother and brother. 

May, 1942
Lodz Ghetto, Poland 
Dear Journal,
	 I am so tired and my hands ache from the 
continuous sewing. Here in the Ghetto everyone works 
and no one prospers. My sister Ita and I work a half a 
day sewing in the stuffy factory that is situated in 
the center of the ghetto. We are fortunate to be living 
together in a one room apartment with my cousin Rosie. 
Rosie is a stout girl with an air or unmatched 
vitality. She never stops laughing and becomes ecstatic 
about the most insignificant and entirely 
unentertaining happenings. She, only slightly older 
than Ita, takes on an almost parental role towards me. 
She conjures up light from total darkness and creates 
an atmosphere that  always exceeds the grim 
expectations of reality.  
	Ita, angular and pessimistic,  is the polar 
opposite of  Rosie. Ita rarely utters a word. Instead, 
she relies on an intricate language of hand gestures 
and facial expression. I feel tension rising between 
the two constantly. However, they strive to contain 
their feelings in order to dodge unnecessary turmoil. 
Although life is difficult, I must maintain a hopeful 
outlook in order to avoid certain insanity. 		

September, 1944
Oswiecim(Auschwitz), Poland

Dear Journal, 
	For two years I have wondered what 
concentration camp was, now I know. This is truly hell 
on Earth. Every night, I pray to God for an end to this 
madness; a termination of this evil we call war. I now 
think that either He is not  listening or the 
transmission has gone bad. 
	This nightmare began a month ago when my sister 
Ita was arrested and ordered to go to this place. 
Remembering my father’s advice to “always stick 
together,“ I decided to go with Ita. I figured that at 
the rate that the Ghetto was being cleared out, I would 
soon be forced to leave anyway. At least, now, I am 
able to temporarily preserve the remnants of my family. 
	The killing here is tremendous and the stench 
of death is a continuous reminder of the magnitude of 
these crimes. My nose has gradually become accustomed 
to the smell of burning bodies that engulfs this camp. 
We are tortured for no apparent reason. Yesterday, my 
sister and innocent others were put in a room chin-high 
with water where they stood for hours. Here we have 
nothing, not even the simplest necessities of life. I 
vow that if I survive this torture, I will never take a 
warm bed or good food for granted. 

November, 1944
On The Road To Bergen Belsen 

Dear Journal, 
	I don’t know what lies beyond these curved 
roads; what monsters lurk in the future. We were told 
that our group was selected to go to Bergen Belsen. No 
further information was volunteered. The fear of the 
unknown seeps into the minds of all the prisoners. We, 
much like animals, were herded into a string of 
dilapidated cattle cars. The smell of death surrounds 
us as the sick, dying and dead are haphazardly thrown 
in the crowded corner like a discarded pile of 
children’s toys. Those still standing, are forced to 
endure days on end without food or water.
	 As I stand here, I wish I were dead. Painless 
death is a better alternative than a life full of 
emotional and physical pain. The glimmer of hope has 

November, 1944
Salzweidel, Poland 

Dear Journal, 
	Our life here is slightly better than in Bergen 
Belsen. Anything beats sleeping in an open field in the 
middle of November. After our group was chosen to work 
at Saltzwiedel, I was doubtful that life would get any 
better. Working in a factory is difficult, requiring 
long tedious days. However, we have found friends. 
	Many Jews here are pleasant and attempt to make 
the best of a bad situation. One kind soul, much older 
than I, is like my mentor. Her name is Blema Cohen and 
she is a fit fifty year old with an aptitude for poetry 
and an innate love of children. Several months ago, she 
was brought here and was forced to leave her children 
behind in the Ghetto. The minute she saw me, she 
approached me and tenderly pulled out a folded picture 
from her pocket of a girl about my age. She commented 
on the remarkable similarities of our features and our 
uncanny duplicate expressions. From that moment on, we 
were fast friends. 
	The only problem, however, is the continuous 
tension between her and Ita. As each day progresses, 
Ita becomes increasingly bitter and argumentative. Ever 
incident is exaggerated, she is habitually silent and 
suspicious of everyone. May it be a Jew or a gentile, 
they are out to get her. Ita is deeply leery of Blema. 
According to her, “Blema is just too friendly. She is 
fake and will sooner or later take advantage of my 

May, 1945
Saltzwiedel, Poland 

Dear Journal, 
	WE ARE FREE! The feeling is ineffable. I want 
to scream, to cry, to leap, to jump, but my body is in 
a state of jubilant shock. The Americans have prevailed 
over Germany here and have liberated this camp. It is 
truly bedlam as the freed prisoners mob the streets and 
rob any shops that lie in their paths. I grabbed five 
coats and Ita took a gallon of sour cream
	My dearest journal, In the spirit of my 
exuberance and in the light of my newfound future I 
regretfully must betray you. You are the story of hate 
and the concrete memory of the inhumanity of humanity. 
I need to move on. I must eliminate this hate in order 
to move forward with my life. Thus, our friendship must 
end here. 

Author’s Note:
This story is based on my grandmother’s 
experience as a young Jewish girl during World War II.



Laurie Kaye is 16 years old and a sophomore at California State University Los Angeles. She lives in La Canada, California, USA.



 Notice © 2002 IP and the author

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