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Pity those who have a choice of freedom and choose to live in the prisons created with their own hands…
A re-emergence of the past…
Natalie Clarke might be spiteful at best and vicious at worst, but was that reason enough for Phillip Gise to leave her lonely and diseased? Fortunately, she has a set of devious plans that just might keep her busy enough to forget her present situation.
Guy Lewis has played Best Friend Extraordinaire to Natalie since grade school, supporting her through all of her daily drama. This time around, Guy runs into his own troubles when his fierce, wealthy manager gives him the type of attention he never asked for…or expected.
Julia Clarke, Natalie’s younger sister, has arrived in Brooklyn to uncover their grandmother’s secret life in Block 24, the site of Auschwitz’s little-known brothel. What Julia discovers proves more relevant in the present age than ever before.
Both heady and sobering, Block 24 is a look at the ways evil from the past can so insidiously visit the present.
There are many things you should know. There are many things that you would do well to never forget. This story is one of them. I will do my best to explain it so that you can understand it. You must do your best to preserve it in your memory. The only way history will not repeat itself is if we commit it to memory.
My name is Adina Mortkowicz, and my story begins in August of 1944, when the Germans decided that it was best to liquidate the Lodz ghetto in Poland. I don’t know whether they wanted to move us because they feared another rebellion or if they wanted to make us leave just to remind us that they had all the power. What I do know is that although cruelty had abounded since the day the Germans invaded and forced us into the ghettos, no one knew exactly what to expect when the SS came for us that early August morning.
I was awakened by the sound of my mother’s cries and the soldiers’ boots thumping up and down the stairs. Up and down, up and down they came, as much a premonition of what was to come as the grumble of thunder before the storm. It was dawn, still mostly dark in the apartment. When I crawled from my bed to my mother’s room, she lay on the ground, her arms strapped around a soldier’s legs.
“Don’t take my girls,” she begged over and over, pawing at his ankles desperately. “Please, don’t take my girls!”
The SS soldier looked down at her, as though she were a pestering mosquito. He looked back at me blankly before shaking her grip from his legs and hammering her arm with his hefty boot. I heard the cracking of her bone, like the snapping of a branch.
Though she squawked in pain, he moved on, unaffected. He gave commanding orders to another officer and walked past me out of the bedroom door, as expressionless as any living, breathing human being could be.
I should explain the SS. The SS was the short name for the Schutzstaffel. They were the soldier party organized by Heinrich Himmler to put in effect the plan for the Jews. That morning, they came through the Lodz ghetto to make sure each of us was ready for the deportation to Auschwitz.
I know many people say that the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. Now I know that hate gives birth to this kind of indifference, the kind that perceives a human being as the foulest of animals. The SS were indifferent, at best. Indifference was sown in them, woven and threaded through their hearts, injected into their veins so that they could never see our tears, never hear our cries, never acknowledge our humanity.
I knelt at my mother’s side as she wormed back and forth, wracking in pain from her broken wrist. My sister Avigail scampered into the room and knelt beside me, pressing her hands against our mother’s back to comfort her. Avi and I were gathered at my mother’s side for only a moment before the soldiers jutted the barrels of their guns into our backs.
“Pack,” they commanded, sending us both to our rooms to prepare the one bag that we were allowed for the trip.
We ran to our little room to pack. Avigail whimpered as she stuffed her single duffel bag. I packed my little suitcase, quiet and steady. I suppose that I was defiant enough to try and match their indifference. Truly, my father’s blood was running through me.
Avigail made sure to pack her suitcase with the one picture of my mother and father that she owned. Papa had passed months earlier, and from what we could hear among the soldiers, my mother would be left there in Lodz, to serve as a worker in the ghetto cleanup.
When we finished packing, the soldiers walked us out of our apartment building into the morning sun. The sun glared at us, piercing our eyes and underscoring the hideousness of Lodz. The pitiful, shambled apartment buildings. The excrement in the streets. The metal fences that held us prisoner. The sun highlighted us—our worn bodies, our tattered and patched dresses. As Avi and I walked our green mile in silence, the women clutched their babies and the husbands clutched their wives. I circled my arm around Avi’s shoulder, hoping to comfort her as I had done so many times since we were children when she was punished for some foolish stunt.
Who could have known what was to come? The SS led us to believe that we would be sent to Auschwitz as a separate work opportunity. They never let on what fate they truly had in store for us.