Reason to Hope
excerpt below is from a novel that I wrote a few years back
that deals with the Holocaust. My hope is that, after you, who are
in pain, read this excerpt, you'll walk away feeling disturbed because
of what happens and the subject matter, but also with a new look
on life. The prisoners in the concentration and death camps fought
very hard for life... they were being treated like animals and yet
all they wanted was to live. I find comfort and strength in knowing
that, if they could survive, if they could keep pushing ahead for
the next day, just to be alive, then I can find the strength to
endure my problems as well, and to live. I am hoping that each of
you can do the same. God loves us all and He's here to help us through
tough times, like the Holocaust and whatever you may personally
miserably. She knew, from his promise of yesterday, what would happen
now. He had vowed to select, to randomly select, and murder two
innocent people if one inmate escaped. Alyx instinctively knew he'd
keep that vow. Shawn smiled benignly, while swinging that cursed
baton back and forth, his narrow gray eyes surveying his line of
he said. "It seems as though two of your friends have somehow
managed to escape, and that means that four of you will pay the
price." He paused a moment to allow that to sink in before
he started walking down the long line of terrified prisoners. His
eye caught sight of a small girl first.
weak, come." He said callously, pointing to the girl. The child
was young, no more than nine or ten and she didn't really understand
what was about to happen. The child's mother, however,did and she
instantly began pulling on her daughter's arm. "Oh, please,
please,sir, don't. She's only eleven years old, please, sir!"
the mother begged and Shawn looked at her tearstained face before
moving his gaze to the child. The mother's obvious distraught and
tears made the girl's own eyes water and Shawn, much to Alyx's disbelief,
reached a hand out and touched the girl's cheek. "Don't cry,
child." Then he glanced at the mother. "What is your name,
name," he commented lightly. "She's a pretty child. You're
blessed. And I take pity on you and your Sarah. I have children,
daughter's actually, of my own. However, I did pick your daughter."
tears sprang to Karena's eyes and a cry of denial sprang to her
lips. Shawn closed his eyes and held up a hand to silence her
your pleas have not fallen on deaf ears. What if I were to simply
move your daughter to a different part of the camp? Would that be
better?" Shawn asked and, this time, Karena's tears were of
gratitude an relief.
thank you, thank you so much -"
welcome. Now, Sarah say good-bye to your mother. You're going to
a different part of the camp to do lighter work."
As mother and
child hugged each other, told each other that they loved each other
and said good-bye, Alyx felt her knees buckle from disbelief. Tears
entered her eyes too. After all she had seen and endured, it was
so hard to see a German acting in a truly decent way to a Jew. Maybe
Shawn only came to work every day with an angry attitude; maybe
he didn't enjoy murdering innocents; maybe he wasn't Hitler's son
go stand next to my guards an keep your back to us. I am afraid
that what you would see might steal your childhood." Shawn
ordered and when Sarah looked up at him, everyone there, Shawn included,
saw the obvious love and gratitude and respect in her deep brown
gaze. She didn't completely understand what she had just happened,
but she knew from the pained expression on her mother's face, it
could have been terrible and this man, this German, was protecting
her from it. Shawn waited until Sarah was to the other Nazis, with
her back to everyone else, before he smiled again.
spared one life: I have no more mercy." With that, he calmly
walked down the line and randomly selected three other women. He
ignored their cries for mercy, and their tears. He ignored them,
but Alyx knew that she would remember them for the rest of her life
because, once the final victim had been chosen, she exhaled a breath
she hadn't even known she was holding. Her life was spared and,
as much as she didn't want those women to die, a part of her was
grateful she wasn't among them. For that thought, Alyx would never
The women stood
about ten yards away from Shawn, and they all knew it wasn't far
enough. They clasped hands in a desperate attempt at hope and when
the fist bullet was fired, one of the women fell to her knees in
fright. Shawn had missed her deliberately by a half inch and he
patiently waited until she stood again to fire the next bullet.
As the first victim died, Alyx covered her face with her hands.
She could not believe, simply could not believe, that this cold
blooded killer was the same man who had just spoke to and touched
a child so gently.
Alyx was shaking
as the last victim died. Those women's faces were permanently engraved
on her mind. She closed he eyes briefly and when she opened them,
she saw Shawn nod, pivot around on his heel and fire one more bullet.
This bullet sped into the back of little Sarah's head. As the child
he'd promised would live died, Karena, the child's mother collapsed
to the ground and Alyx covered her tear-drenched face with her trembling
hands. At fourteen years old, her childhood was over.
"Mountains of Hope" by Tiffini Johnson
At the end of
the novel, Alyx survives Auschwitz, as does Karena. After everything
that they were put through, they survive and, in the end, Alyx uses
the experiences she had at the camp to educate others about the
Holocaust and the evils that took place there to prevent it from
happening again. Know that, even in your darkest moment, even in
a moment as dark as what Karena must have felt when Sarah was murdered,
that everything happens for a reason. You CAN survive the pain you're
in and I know that you have the strength to do it... sometimes we
just need a reason, and I hope that the above excerpt has given
you a reason: if people, like Karena, watched their loved ones die
and still fought to stay alive, then we all can choose to fight
and survive, as well. Not only can we survive but, if we reach out
for help and talk about it with someone, we can find joy again.
I pray never of you experience anything as heartbreaking as the
death of a child or loved one. No matter what obstacles you may
face, though, never forget that you are loved.