Another week inside the camp. Six months and one week now. Eva had been a good girl and hiding when an officer would walk past. Hanna had spent many days under the sun in the “caretakers” garden. The only thing that had saved Eva was Hanna’s own green thumb.
When they had first arrived, Hanna had watched as the lines marched off the cars. She had watched children be ripped from their parents and she had cried. Fortunately for her and Eva both, she had waited inside long enough to be at the end of the quickly moving line.
When screams and cries and pleading and begging for simple human decency had failed, some of her fellow inmates were not thrust into what was surely the killing line. That line had only old people, small children and some of the sickly. Surely the other line was the line to get into?
She had strained to hear above all of the shouts and screaming why each group was being sorted. Above all the din, the screaming the sounds of clubs raining on helpless victims she heard a few words. “Doctor!” “Chemist!” “Scientist!”
The line was drawing her ever nearer and she knew it was now or never. The stained concrete against the backdrop of electric fence and razor wire galvanized her to action. She had to get into the short line. She was convinced that was the way. As she had been somehow still able to keep her long dress coat, she had tucked Eva underneath.
“Don’t say a word. Hold on to mother. Wrap your arms around in front. Step when I step!” She quickly hissed at her small child. She had wrapped her long coat around them both. Surely the SS would see that she had four legs.
The first two guards hit her on the shoulders, the next would have hit her back if they had not gone through her daughters back first. Little Eva never screamed out, just gripped tighter. Holding on to her mother. Trusting that her mother was making the right decision. Hanna didn’t even know if she was. She was just trying to make her little girl survive. She had choked back the tears and ran, cursing herself as her little daughters legs struggled to keep up.
Hanna reached outside of her coat and held on to her daughters little arms. She HAD to make it through.
“Halt!” Hanna stopped at the barked order. While she had watched other mothers disappear while hanging their heads in shame, a shame that was not theirs, Hanna turned her brown eyes to the guard and stood up straight. Softly she patted her daughters arms wrapped around her waist.
“I am a botanist! I can grow all of your vegetables and fruits!” She yelled as though she were confident, but her very insides were shaking. This was the moment, the moment where she would essentially meet her maker. Or not. It all depended on the tall Waffen glaring at her.
The thicknecked SS grabbed her arm and then the back of Eva’s head. Although knowing it was likely going to get them both killed, Hanna swung around and put her fists up. Prepared to fight to the death over her child. The beef necked SS had glared at her, the short portly woman to his side stepped up with her baton in place to strike Eva.
The large SS guard grabbed the woman guards swinging arm. “Nien! This one belongs to me!” The round, bitch faced woman spat on his shoes and turned away.
The burly SS grabbed Hanna’s arm and swung her around behind him, Eva barely hanging on swinging behind. He turned and grabbed the back of Eva’s neck underneath the oversize coat and pulled her out. He held her at arms length. Eva’s eyes opened wide but she caught Hanna’s stare and slight shake of her head. “No! Eva, No! Don’t cry!” Hanna mouthed!
Eva took a deep breath and as though the hand of God had touched her, that little girl hanging in that brutes arm by the back of her neck crossed her arms-looking like an angry little kitten and whispered ferociously, “You want to eat don’t you? I’ll fix your gardens!”
The SS brute tossed Eva to Hanna. “Shut her up and don’t move!”
Without losing a stride he regained his place in line and began shoving the rest of the inmates into various lines.
“No! That’s my friend! Hanna! Hanna! Eva!” The shrill scream echoed louder than the others. Hanna looked at her new friend she had met on the old train car. They had shared many a story and surprisingly even a laugh or to on the way to Lublin, to Majdanek.
Hanna met her friends frightened eyes. She couldn’t let her friend die, but what would be the punishment for her and her daughter if she spoke up? Hanna tore her eyes away from her new friends gaze. She pulled her little Eva to the front of her coat and curled around the small child. She hugged tightly, hoping that she wouldn’t hear Marta cry.
“Zahradník! Zahradník!“ Marta screamed. Hanna quickly looked up and into her friends eyes. Had Marta heard her yell botanist? Had they talked about gardening? Hanna couldn‘t remember, but was to scared for her daughters life to yell to her new friend.
It was killing Hanna to ignore the cries of her friend. Just then the bitch faced oversized female guard grabbed Marta and shoved her along side Hanna and Eva. This one is mine. I like to eat too, asshole“ She female guard spat and resumed her duties with the rest of the line of inmates.
Hanna, Marta and Eva had stood then. The rain turned from a mist into a heavy, cold downpour. Hanna tucked Eva beneath her coat and tried to sheild the child from as much rain as she could. She felt her daughter shiver, but there was nothing she could do to protect her anymore. Hopefully, she had made the right choice.
The last two inmates were shuttled off the train car. The large guard who had pulled them behind them grabbed Marta by the hair and ordered Hanna to follow. Hanna ran to keep up, holding her daughter tightly against her side. She knew if she dropped Eva, or if Eva tripped that she would be gone forever.