Monday, August 15, 2011

Excerpt - The Last Daughter of Prussia

  In The Last Daughter of Prussia, my hero Joshi Karas, a charismatic Roma Gypsy is captured by the Nazis and taken to a concentration camp together with his sister Sofia and a gypsy dancer named Nuri. This excerpt describes his first impressions.

The Death Gate that Joshi passes through when he arrives in
Stutthof concentration camp.
Located on the Baltic coast some 23 kilometers east of Danzig,
 it was the first labour camp outside the Reich's borders to be established by the Nazis.
It was set up on Sept. 2 1939
(Photo taken from the Stutthof Museum Guide for Historical Information
- Author J. Grabowska-Chalka)

 Marsch!” barked another voice. “March!”
  Joshi fell in line with about fifty other men, the group quickly moving along the cobblestone walkway that led through the iron gate onto a field. At the edge of the field, he saw a row of shabby buildings under a single common roof. The prisoner’s barracks, he thought, with a sinking feeling. He turned to look for Sofia and Nuri.

The prisoners' barracks Joshi sees when  he and his sister arrive at the camp.
(Photo taken from the Stutthof Museum Guide for Historical Information -
Author J. Grabowska-Chalka)

  He spotted them in a column of women to his left, being directed by a female warden. The warden he noticed was lithe and muscular, pretty too, in a hardened sort of way, with red lips and flawless white skin. In her right hand, she held a whip with long leather tassels. She played with the tassels, making them twitch with such an air of menace that every single woman gave her their undivided attention.
  She decides who lives and who dies, thought Joshi, staring at her thick auburn ponytail held in place by a white pearl clasp.
  In no time at all, the warden had lined her prisoners up in front of a roofless barrack. Sofia stood as still as a tree in the forest, fear shining in her eyes.

High ranking officers in Stutthof
(Photo taken from the Stutthof Museum Guide for Historical Information -
Author J. Grabowska-Chalka)

  He watched the warden saunter past the male guards, a noticeable swing in her hips. Smoothing down her skirt, held at her narrow waist by a wide black belt, she looked boldly at her captives, her voice quiet and severe.
  “You will follow the rules or you will die. Work is your life now, so get used to it.” She paused to take in the faces. “You there,” she called to Nuri. “Can you sew?” Nuri nodded. “Good. You will be sent to the stocking darners’ Kommando.” She grinned as if she knew the job would kill.      

This was a car hitched to a locomotive that carried unsuspecting women  skilled at darning stockings
 to their death.
Picked out at roll call, the women were loaded into the special car.
Somewhere outside Stutthof, the car was filled with gas (Zyklon B) and the women all died.
I took this photo when I visited the Museum in Stutthof.
I remember standing there, the silence a loud roar in my ears as I looked into the green forest.
Suddenly, a lark began to sing and I thought there can never be enough hymns here for the dead.
(Photo (c) Marina Gottlieb Sarles)

 “Is she your daughter?” she asked, pointing the whip at Sofia. Nuri was too afraid to answer, but her eyes darted toward Joshi. Curious, the warden followed her gaze. “Ah,” she murmured, “He must be your husband. Or your lover.” Taking her time, she scrutinized Joshi’s face, her eyes slowly roaming over his shoulders and chest, until they came to stop at his crotch. He felt a chill in the pit of his stomach. He was sure this warden got whatever she desired.


As I post this excerpt and the photos I think about the terror of that time.
Like life itself, my novel The Last Daughter of Prussia has dark chapters, yet I want you the reader to know that on the pages hope and love are ever-present too.
Until next time...

– Marina Gottlieb Sarles

(c) All content and photos are the private property of the Gottlieb family, unless otherwise stated or linked,  and may not be used without permission.
(c) Privatbesitz Gottlieb Familie


1 comment:

  1. My heart breaks as I read this, yet it also is filled with hope and strength as your vivid writing so beautifully honors a deeper spirit and grace that lives on despite these horrific tragedies of war and hate. Blessings to you in bringing this courageous story of the indomitable soul of humanity to light.