Malevolent Commandant

When I was a young child my father was my entire world. He was an adoring, compassionate and sympathetic dad, someone who you would desire. I appreciated and respected my dad more than anyone else. When I look back I have fond memories of when he taught me to ride my bike. It was a frightening situation but he supported me and I felt secure and protected. He was a dedicated and devoted man who put his family as his first priority. Although now when I reflect back on my memories of him my heart begins to tremble extremely fast and my head fills with the images of vindictiveness he was responsible for.

It began one Sunday evening in March 1939. I had found out he was one of the special soldiers in the country because his friends referred to him as an SS officer. He had a close relationship with the Nazi leader, Herr Hitler which frightened me because there was something strange about Herr Hitler and the way people idolised him. War had broken out across Germany but my father was not assigned to the front line, instead he was allocated to a house and the entire family had to go with him including myself.

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Looking back I was gratified of how my father was looked up to by everyone. Although now I know they were probably too terrified to do anything else. By April we had moved to our new home. I remember standing before the oppressive house and felt claustrophobic from the sheer size. The entrance to the house itself was congested by four towering iron gates which soared into the air with thorns at the tip reaching towards the sky like daggers. They were protected by two strange and sullen young looking soldiers who looked unreceptive and inauspicious.

I was speculating why these combatants were in front of our house, it was very unusual. After building the courage to ask my father, it was then I knew he had changed. His warm voice and friendly face had disappeared and he looked at me coldly without saying a word. The memories I have about the house send shivers through my bones. I recall the moment mother had shown me too my room. She told me that it was at the top of the house. I was very enthusiastic to see my new room so I swiftly ran up the stairs. I stood in the door way and my dreams deflated.

The first thing I saw was a huge window out of my reach. Immediately I decided to climb up and look out of the window. The beautiful countryside filled my vision although I noticed something abstract in the landscape. Squinting I could see a courtyard with large number of children playing. It was very strange because everyone was wearing pyjamas with stars on their chest. I assumed that the stars on their chest where awarded for being special. I desperately wanted a star. Without thinking I found father in his new study and asked about the children.

Without looking up he told me it was an orphanage and I was told not to speak to the children. Even though he was not looking at me I could tell in his shrill voice, he meant it. Although I desired company, I began to settle into my new house. I hadn’t forgotten about the orphan children but I knew I would be in trouble if I went to investigate. Our house began filling up with soldiers, although they weren’t much good to talk to. They were extremely serious and never laughed or joked with me or anyone else in the house except my dad.

I can vividly recall when mother employed two servants around the house because I would at least have some company. However, I was forbidden from talking to them which made me infuriated. I should have put together the pieces then because they all were dressed in the identical uniform as the orphan children and they all looked frightened and petrified of my father. In the weeks before the end of the war I had noticed a dramatic change between my father and mother. They argued constantly.

I did not know what was going on but the arguments made me more suspicious that something was not right. In August 1941, with my father and his commandants huddled around a small television screen, I discovered the truth about my malevolent father. Quietly I crept in to see what they were watching. On the screen were images of the same orphan children I could see from my window entering a chamber. They did not leave the other side. It was then I knew my father was not building a better Germany. He was the officer in charge of a concentration camp and the slaughter of innocent Jews.