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(( Graphic. Read at your own cost. ))


I woke up just as I went to sleep; cold and hungry. I don't even think you can call it sleeping. None of us rest here. It is impossible. Those who do fall sleep rarely wake up. They become the cold bodies next to us like the one I woke up next to this morning. I was up for an hour before the Kapos came in.

This is my second year here; my second winter. It is almost Christmas but there is no holiday cheer in this place. Nothing but hopelessness and death can be found. That is how it has been since my first day and I fear that it will always be that way until I die.

Death.

I am not afraid of it. I will welcome it. Many here do welcome it. They are the ones that survive.

I roll over on the hard chunk of wood that is my bunk. I, and about three other men, share this same slab of wood. One might think that things would be warm with all that body heat. Tragically, you need fat and muscle to insulate from the cold. We don't have that for we are starved and treated like animals. When one of the bodies becomes a corpse, it absorbs what little heat we do have.

When I roll over, I am face to face with the dead. His eyes are shut and his mouth is open, the tip of his tongue barely visible. There is no movement behind those shut lids, no indication of dreams, no rise and fall of a chest, no beat of a heart. Unfortunately, it is a sight that I have come to know very well. This is not the first morning that my first sight was the handy work of death. And I have a strong feeling that it will not be the last. By the time this day is over, at least ten more of the men and boys in my barracks will die, whether by the cold, a guard dog, exhaustion, starvation or by the S.S. It does not matter. Nothing matters any more. That is probably why I have lived for so long. I do not fear death so I do not go out of my way to avoid it, but it avoids me. Death finds only those who are trying to escape it. It likes the game of surprise. I have given up hope of seeing my family ever again. Besides, they are probably dead. Even if they have survived and by some chance, I do get out of here alive, they will not recognize me anymore, nor I them. So, it is better that they are dead to me. I have no one, aside from myself, to live for. That is how I survive. I’ve survived this long so that the hawk knows that it cannot kill the wolf.

Even before the guards come shouting to wake us up, I know everyone is awake. We are used to this routine by now. Nobody wants to be the last one up either, because you get a beating and lose your bread crust. When the door is shoved open and the guards start to shout , we move almost like clockwork; nothing new. Nothing is ever new here. My two remaining slab mates and I quickly remove the body that died next to us. He is light. It takes the three of us to drag the body out by the legs and arms.

Once the body is disposed of, we make our way into line among all the other skeletal animals we have become.

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