Dawn in the darkness

“Like dawn in the darkness, Thy light arises.”

We were finally informed that Berlin had been occupied on May 1, 1945. Joy and hope filled our hearts, but nothing changed. It was “business as usual” with even more death. Following such feelings of hope, our despair became more profound than ever. The end seemed so close, yet so far away. A few SS tried to escape, and the others lost no time in hanging them.

Our leaders learned that there existed an order: If enemy troops were approaching, the prisoners would be machine-gunned and the camp burned down. We made a deal with the guards: some of us went to meet the approaching Americans and bring them in.

May 4, 1945, the Americans arrived! The young men from overseas risked their lives and saved ours. They were liberators bringing freedom and the beginning of an unexpected new life. What a relief it was to see their kind faces as they threw food, clothes, and candy to us. I had to crawl to pick anything up, since I could not bend down and still keep my balance. The vanguard American troops–who had fought the Germans all the way from Normandy until they met the Russians in the East–even they were puzzled by our situation. They couldn’t believe their eyes or our stories. Who could? Who could believe that we suffered our “Calvary” only because we had a different religion?