Every so often the Five Towns Jewish Times will showcase the writings of talented individuals. Meet Gavi Schuster, age sixteen, who penned this extraordinary narrative based upon true events.
For What it is Worth
By Gavi Schuster
This is my story.
A story, that if you are not touched, you should consider putting yourself in my place.
It all began in 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union. This put all of the Jews in their hands. My wife, unfortunately, was killed in one of the many massacres that took place here in the Ukraine. I had only one family member left – my son, Jacob. He was only ten years old, and weak with a flimsy appearance. I was not sure if he could make it out.
We were forced into the ghetto. Things were horrible. No food. People were getting shot left and right. I tried to save as much food as I could for Jacob. But still, the food was not even close to what would be considered nourishment.
One day, the Germans began to liquidate the ghetto. My son and I hid. Just then, a German officer walked in and said, “Why are there still Jews in the ghetto?! Get out!”
We were put on a train. More than 1000 people were stuffed in one train car, heading for Auschwitz.
When we arrived we were selected for life or for death. Just then, a guard grabbed the only thing that I had left other than my son – a pair of candlesticks. He asked me if I was a goldsmith. I nodded yes. I also said, “My son is too.”
My son and I were sent to work. It is not that working in Auschwitz is better than death, but at least for now, it was. One day, an officer told me that I was moving to the kitchen duty area, where the prisoners cook.
He told me that I should fashion gold for him without anyone else knowing. I said, “Yes sir.” He was pointing a pistol at me.
One day something happened that I will always remember.
A guard rushed in and caught me fashioning gold instead of peeling potatoes. He was a bout to shoot me, when the officer who had ordered me to fashion the gold in the first place shot him. He walked out after that.
I could not take it anymore. The next day, a few of the other prisoners and I rused the fence to escape. My son was running beside me. He could not keep up and was shot by one of the guards pursuing us. I could not get over the loss. I spent the rest of the war fighting the Nazis with a group of partisans.
A few years later I needed to be hospitalized and I was with a group of other survivors. I saw someone whom I had recognized. It was him. It was the officer who had shot my son.
I was ready to kill him. Before I could say anything ge said that he knew of someone that needed blood and asked if I could be of assistance. I told him, “I would never give blood to someone related to you!”
He answered, “The person that needs the blood is your son – Jacob.”
I was shocked. How had he known my son’s name? I had misjudged him. He had taken my son in and had watched out for him. Now he was watching out for him again, in the years after the war. And all the time he was looking for me – looking to reunite a son with his father. I had learned something that night – a lesson never to be forgotten. There is light even in the darkest of places.