One day my grandpa
gathered me in his arms and said,
“Come, sweety, let me tell you something.”
And he got a faraway look in his eyes
as he told me of life with Hitler in power.
He told me of being rounded up
and separated from his family
when he was still young;
to the left, or to the right;
to death, or to life.
He told of working hard, every day,
getting only a crust of bread
and a bowl of watery soup,
and of lying awake, every night, in fear.
He told of the nightmares, the killing,
the round-ups, the death.
He told of the lice, the typhus,
the sickness, the fear.
He told of the hatred for a nation,
and of praying for only the best.
He told of watching his friends and family die,
their ashes rising from the chimneys,
and not being able to do anything about it.
He told of hiking in the winter snow,
and the summer heat,
shoved by rifle butts
to an unknown destination.
He told of the Nazis’ defeat,
and the Russians’ triumph.
He told of the joy of being free,
and the sorrow of the knowledge
of being the only one to survive.
He told of going on,
despite the painful memories.
And when he finished,
he was in tears.
And all I could do was hug him.
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