English 12 CP
The Jews Weren’t the Only Ones
My name is Maria. My family was deported from our home near Hamburg in 1940. I was 19 years old. It was scary. Many people survived the ordeal, but I could remember a great number more were killed. The Jews were not the only people the Nazi’s despised. They wanted all of us who were “asocials”, including Romanichal Gypsies like my family, to be gone from the Father Land. The difference between me and those who remember what happened is this; they survived. I didn’t.
I lived a quiet enough life growing up. My family was one of the travelling Romani families. We lived in a small wagon, and I was the oldest of five. I had four brothers. My father sold various animal foods in an attempt to survive, and he did well. When the Nazi’s came to power, Father told us that all would be well. They were good people. They would fix Germany. Oh, Father, how wrong you were.
At first, everything was as it was. Then we were rounded up, and taken to an open field outside Berlin. We had to make our little wagon a little home. I was 12. I can remember that my brothers were forced to have a surgery, even though they were little. I learned later that they were sterilized.
We spent seven years there. My father was deported in 1938, but he made a match and saw me wed by the end of 1937. My husband was a gentle man, who had been a blacksmith. He helped fix everyone’s wagons when it was needed. His name matters no more than mine does. He died three days before I did, while he was in Auschwitz.
I had two children in that time. My husband was sterilized so that we could not have anymore. I loved my boys dearly. When they were sent to Auschwitz, it was the last time I saw them alive. Both of my boys were killed within twenty minutes of arriving in the camp. They were so little; the Nazis knew they couldn’t work. In 1943, I was sent from Auschwitz to Ravensbrück, a camp strictly for women. My mother was deemed unfit for work, so she was taken to the gas chambers.
We were called “asocials” there. Everyone had to wear something that represented who they were. Gypsies like me wore a black triangle. Everyone’s patch was at least one triangle. Criminals wore green, Political prisoners wore red, and Jehovah’s Witnesses wore purple. Jewish women wore yellow stars, unless they were also political prisoners. Then they were wearing a red and yellow Star of David.
I was totally alone. It was terrifying. Thank goodness I was twenty years old. I could work for the monster that had taken my family from me. I worked for an Electrical company, making parts for rockets. It was hard work, but when I worked, it meant I lived. I did what I could to stay alive. Everyone did. There was even a night where a woman attacked me for my ration of bread. Instead, I knocked her to the ground, and took her ration. I did feel guilty, but I did what I had to do to survive.
It wasn’t easy. Anyone who dared speak of...