“By the time the ethnic cleansings began to take place, it was too late for those of Jewish descent to escape to South America. Many of my family members fled Germany just ahead of the Nazis and settled in Argentina, in the mountains near Cordoba. However, I waited, trying to sell my business interests and…” His voice cracked and he wiped a tear from his eyes. “And it cost me everything.
“Our neighbors, who were Austrians, hid our family for many months, just like the stories of Anne Frank. However, their story did not come out so remarkably. The Nazis conducted a house-to-house search and discovered my family in the basement, hidden among the wines in the cellar. For their efforts at humanity, our neighbors were shot in their own driveway and we were led away in chains.
“As the storm troopers were dragging my children to a truck waiting nearby, my wife screamed out and grabbed for little Gretchen, who was so…small.” He stopped and blew his nose into a handkerchief. “I’m sorry, some wounds even time can’t heal. Let’s see, where was I? They shot my wife and little Gretchen. My children watched them die. Hydrant was so upset that she never spoke again. She would stare into the sky and she refused to eat. Not that they offered to feed her enough to stay alive. She was too small to survive life in a camp, all of them were. After a few months, I…” He stopped and gasped for air, as if he had run a marathon to get here. “I began to pray that God would allow my children to die, so that they might be spared such misery.” He glanced over at the hostages, the women were each clutching tissues. “I was separated from my children, but I could see them across the compound every morning as I reported for work. We could all hear our children as they cried out for us daily. Most of the older girls were to become sex slaves, while the older boys were simply shot or made to work. The younger were used for experiments and as…” his voice drifted and he never finished his thought.
“They made us do meaningless work. We were made to move a mountain of dirt from one side of the compound to the other. The next day, we moved that same pile of dirt to its original site. The next day we repeated the cycle. This went on for months. After a few weeks, Alan Schmidt, an old rabbi, began to cry as he picked up his shovel. He couldn’t stand the meaningless task that he was forced to perform daily. He broke down and a guard shot him in the head. A few days latter, several men screamed out and made a mad, hopeless dash for the perimeter fence. They were also gunned down. This went on until the German scientists had observed our reactions enough to try a new experiment.” He stopped talking and looked deep into the camera. “Are you recording?”
The reporter nodded solemnly and replied, “We are live. Every house in America is watching you and listening to your story.”
“Excellent. Allow me to take a moment and reveal that I am working alone; no one is helping me orchestrate this event. Mr. Cato has chosen to help me keep the peace within our prison, but he is acting under my behest. In my custody, along with the chief and our news crew, I have eleven hostages, one of whom is pregnant. She will be released soon enough, along with most of those remaining.” He was silent for a moment as his hopeless eyes revealed that he was reliving a hell from many years past. “I watched my friends die every day. We were shot for eating breakfast. We were shot for not eating breakfast. Nothing could be done to ensure our survival. We were Jews, so they killed us. We were at their mercy.
“Do you remember the movie, Schindler’s List? That was a very sad movie for me to watch. I am so glad that those few were spared, but I am sorry that they had to live with the horror that they endured. The movie was accurate, but it was not graphic enough. You couldn’t smell the death that we smelt daily. We had no sanitation. We had no place for garbage. Sometimes, we would watch the scientists performing experiments on the dead before we were allowed to put them in the kilns for burning.
“My children died one by one, slowly starving to death. Those sweet, innocent…” he broke down and wept openly, wailing and mourning with pain unspeakable. “My children never had a chance to live. They were never given a chance to find out who they are. They might have been art lovers, or musicians. They might have been brilliant world leaders. They might have had families all their own and could have held their own children in their arms. Or sing to them as they fell asleep in the evening. Or to make a steaming mug of hot chocolate on a snowy morning…” he stopped to blow his nose. “But they were struck down before they ever had a chance to live. What kind of monster would destroy an innocent life, just for convenience?”
Rose lifted her hand and asked, “Excuse me, Isaac.”
Isaac, who had been speaking as if oblivious to the crowd at hand, seemed to return to the present with her question. “Yes, my dear?”
“I really need to find a bathroom. This little one is keeping me busy.” As she spoke, she rubbed her hand along her belly and seemed to be caressing her baby.
“Of course. Miss Kincaid, could you escort Rose to the lady’s room?”
Rose and Miss Kincaid were washing their hands and preparing to return to the scene of the crime. As they dried their hands, they both were loathsome to leave their sanctuary. “So, how far along are you?”
Rose looked up at the ceiling and tears welled in her eyes. “I am six months along.”
“Oh Dear, what’s the matter? Are you okay?”
“It’s just that, well… I don’t know what to do.” Rose held tissue to her face. “Miss, Kincaid, I…” she stopped speaking and began crying openly.
“Please, call me Marsha. What is it Rose? Is there something wrong with the baby?”
“No, its just that, well, I was raped six months ago. Every single day I think about the baby. Every day I think about, well, I think about…”
Marsha nodded sincerely, “You think about having an abortion, don’t you?” Rose nodded and started crying again. “Well, you certainly have the right to do so. It is your body and your choice.”
“But is it really? My choice?”
“Oh dear, of course it is. Women have suffered and sacrificed all over the world to ensure that you have the freedom to choose.”
“Have you ever?”
“Ever had an abortion?” Marsha stopped a moment and considered her answer. “I was fifteen. I was from a small town and it still wasn’t fully accepted for unwed mothers to have babies. I was scared and I made a decision.”
“What about your boyfriend?”
“He never knew. I never told him. In fact, I never told anyone, until now.”
“But what if your boyfriend had wanted to keep the baby?”
“It wasn’t his choice, it was mine.”
“But, it was his baby also.”
Marsha shook her head, “No, that’s not right. He wasn’t the one who had to carry it around with him all day. It was my choice alone.”
“But he was the baby’s father.”
“Look, Rose, its not a baby until its born. Until then its only a…”
“Lump of tissue?”
“Well, this lump of tissue is moving around and has a heart beat. How do I harden my heart enough to follow through with what I want to do?”
“You just remember the women who suffered and sacrificed to give you the choice.”
“And that was enough for you? You never thought about your baby again?”
Marsha hesitated, “Well, I thought about her, I mean, once in a while, but not much.”
“She was a girl?”
“It was tissue. Otherwise, I would have killed…” She fell to the floor and sobbed. “Oh my God! I killed my baby!” Rose gathered around her as she mourned the life that never was. After a few minutes, Marsha sat up and leaned into Rose. “I was always reminding myself that I was a strong woman and that I didn’t need anyone or anything. However, at night, I would hear a baby crying, in my dreams that is. I would see a new mother holding her child, smiling and playing. Now it is too late for me.”
Rose shook her head, “No, Marsha, you are still young enough to try again.”
Marsha bowed her head, “No, I can’t. The abortion left me unable to carry a baby. I can’t ever make up for my mistake.”
“Oh, Marsha, I am so sorry.” Together the women cried for a moment. “It was Isaac. He loved his children so much and he was so sorry that his kids were killed. I had decided to go to the clinic today. That is why I was here. I was making a withdraw to pay for the abortion. But he said that only a monster would kill a baby and never give it a chance to live, only for convenience. How selfish I would be to kill my baby just because I didn’t want it.”
Marsha stood up and stretched out her dress. “Well, Rose. You have a chance to make up for the wrong choice I made.” She helped Rose brush off her sweater. “Isaac made a very strong argument, didn’t he?” They walked back to their seats in the lobby and everyone wondered at their red, swollen eyes.
More to follow this weekend......