Testing the Hands of Faith by Adeola, Beverly, and Jenny
They took us. On February 10, 1933, I lost everything.
Hiding behind our bombarded front door, we shook in fear as Nazi soldiers raided our home and forced us to leave. They pulled my family away from me. I heard their screams and cries for mercy. My parents struggled against their grasp; I had never seen them fight so vigorously and violently before. And I knew that they fought solely to ensure my survival.
“Please don’t take him!” my mother cried. “I won’t let you take my son away from me!”
“Get rid of her! And take this one while you’re at it. He’ll do fine work at Auschwitz-Birkenau,” a soldier ordered while sticking his grimy finger in my face.
I shuddered at the name of that horrid place; Auschwitz-Birkenau. A German concentration camp, riddled with death, disease, labor, and Jews - so many Jews - stripped of their humanity and their lives.
On that cold, windy day in February, my normally active brain had seemed to shut down, leaving me devoid of all thoughts except for that one persistent question: What did we do to deserve this?
As the soldier ushered me away from everything and everyone I had ever loved, I came to realize that our only crime in life was to have the unfortunate luck of being born a Jew.
The last thing my mother said to me before they executed her before my ten-year-old eyes was: “Everything will be okay! Be brave for me Caleb; one thing they’ll never take away from you is your hope.”
Then the gunshots.
“Caleb! The soldiers are on their way. We cannot stay a moment longer!” exclaimed an unseen person.
Snapping my eyes open, I groggily bored over my surroundings. Ah, I spoke to myself, I was having that nightmare of eight years ago again. I audibly scoffed at that word - nightmare - for as real as the heart in my chest was the frightening ordeal my dream depicted. Even when sleeping I cannot seem to escape it.
“Why must I always be the one running?” I asked my arouser, Gideon. Gideon was my close acquaintance. Having escaped from the Nazi concentration camp as well, he and I met at a local slum and have stuck with each other ever since.
“You know why. If they ever catch us we’re both going to end up just like our relatives. Dead. Caleb, let us go.”
“Nacham, you are right,” I apologized in Hebrew. After living a nomadic life day after day I guess I am just tired. For every day that we are on the run as outcasts in our own land, Hitler wins.
“Come on, you can apologize later; survive now,” Gideon stated.
“You are right. I think I hear their footsteps. Let’s go!” We jumped to our feet with the precision of men who have had to live discreetly for eight years and ran faster than any of those newly invented vehicles. But not fast enough, it seemed, for I momentarily caught the eye of a Nazi soldier far in the distance.
“There they are, stop right there!” the soldier commanded.
“Come on, Gideon!”
We sprinted until we found shelter near a rundown concentration camp. We were in something that looked like a lab. More like a trash dump, I thought. Everything there looked like a piece of junk.
“What is this place?” I asked my companion.
“I’m not sure,” Gideon replied. We surveyed the place looking for any clues to tell us who resided here.
“Look there’s a door,” Gideon pronounced, referring to a hidden corner in the room.
We opened the door and found a flight of stairs going downwards. We followed the stairs and suddenly found ourselves in an empty small room. At the center lied some kind of machine I had never seen.
“This just keeps getting stranger and stranger, man,” Gideon said, mirroring my exact thoughts.
We rushed to the machine and started to examine it.
“Look at the initials,” I said. “A.H. That must belong to the owner.”
“Could A.H. be the initials of our notorious and much hated leader Adolf Hitler?” I inquired.
“Caleb! Look at what I found,” Gideon exclaimed. “It looks like a master plan of some kind and it belonged to the devil himself, Hitler.”
As I began to peruse Hitler’s grand plan, my body’s internal factory seemed to malfunction and freeze. The utter malevolence pulsing through that man’s veins had become evident to my blind eyes: Death had planned to use this very same time machine to go back to the past and purge the world of Jews.
“It’s all starting to make sense! If my assumptions are right, this should be the time machine that was whispered about in Auschwitz-Birkenau. Hitler was only believed to possess such a tool. I can’t believe it’s real,” Gideon said in shock. “But what takes more precedence is the fact that he wished to focus this power on eradicating our race!”
Suddenly, we heard footsteps coming from the stairs toward the room we were in. Feelings of fear and anxiety washed over me.
“Stop right there! Grab them,” a soldier exclaimed. They were far too close to Gideon.
“Gideon watch out!” I screamed. My mind flew back to my parent’s capture, where I stood wrestling and fighting and kicking, all to get to the ones I loved. I would not let another one be taken now.
“Gotcha.” I watched as my friend of eight years - years that felt like a lifetime - was slammed into a wall and pinned.
“Gideon, not you too! Please, don’t take him! No more, no more, no MORE!” I cried, sinking to the floor.
“You must live on, my friend,” Gideon said. “You must keep on surviving! Allow me to live through you. My life is in your hands.”
“Do not let him escape. He must pay for his crimes,” the commander of the mission declared.
“Heil Hitler!” shouted the soldier, proclaiming the Nazi Salute in this time of turmoil.
In a desperate move to possibly save myself, I began pushing the buttons on the time machine.
Splish. The machine started. A beam of light, starting out small, enveloped me just as the Nazi soldier thrust out his arm toward me.
That was the last thing I saw as the room started to disappear before my eyes.
I woke up, unconscious in a place so pellucid and sunlit, bestowing a feeling of serenity and lightheartedness upon me. Surely this couldn't be present time; the time machine had worked. But where was I? More importantly, when was I? I wandered about the streets looking for any clues I could find as to what the date was. I found a political newspaper on the ground with an article about the armed forces and the date found at the top right corner read: “1889, Austria.” I had traveled 54 years back to the place and time of Hitler’s birth.
Just then, I registered what I had dismissively thought of. I had traveled back to the place and time of Hitler’s birth! “Oh,” I gasped, immediately realizing the opportunity I now had.
Yet, I was without my home. I then started contemplating on how to return to my time and then a thought occurred to me. I began questioning myself: why should I go back home? I have nothing. I have lost my family, my only friend, my rights, my freedom. Is it worth going back to nothing? Living every day in fear with no one to share my sorrow with. All I have right now is pain and what defines me is vengeance against the Frankenstein-like being who took everything away from me. I began plotting my revenge. First, I would find out Hitler’s address - he should have been born by now - and then I would take his life. When opportunity knocks, should I not answer?
Finding out the Hitler family’s address was a lot more difficult than I thought it’d be. In my time, everyone knew of Adolf Hitler and flinched at his name. But here, I just received a blank look and head shakes in response to my queries.
Finally, an old man sitting next to an overflowing garbage gave me a different response:
“Upon that hill, along the river resides the Hitler house,” he said, pointing northward.
“Thank you, sir,” I said, sighing in relief. I walked in the direction he gave me.
After a gruesome trek to Hitler’s abode, I stood at the front door with anxious satisfaction. I was very well aware that my actions at this moment would change history and save the Jewish race. I had a duty to my people - to my family - who were wrongly robbed of their lives. So, as I completed this mission, I had to be vigilant and cautious enough to avoid having an encounter with Hitler’s parents.
I surveyed the house and walked around looking for any other entrance. I arrived at the perfect moment, for through exposed windows I saw baby Hitler lying in a crib upstairs and his parents sitting on chairs downstairs. This time, rather than one of my many fallen tears spreading across my soaked pillow, a grin spread across my face. I’m going to extinguish this little bonfire of terror before it catches aflame.
Silently and carefully, I unlatched a window, jumped onto to its thick white windowsill, and slid through. I crept up the staircase, located the baby’s room, and moved stealthily into it.
“Oh, baby Hiiittleeerr,” I sang as I approached the gold crib. Arriving, I leaned over and peered at the face of my parents’ murderer. He was delicate, miniature, and soft to the touch. His little fingers were curled up into fists, which possibly indicated his violent nature; but I knew this was not true - he was just a baby. Innocent, unknowing, and blameless of the sins I knew he would commit.
“What could have caused such a beautiful baby to carry out such ugly deeds? Did his parental upbringing play a part?” I wondered aloud. “Nevermind, let me do what I came to do and be done with it.” I unsheathed my knife from within my pocket, raised it above my head, and began its descent until he opened his eyes. Then I halted.
Baby Hitler stared at me. He didn’t cry - just stared. Those elephantine blue eyes that shone like sapphire bore into my soul, triggering my morality. What was I doing? Shocked into despair at an action I almost committed, I sheathed my knife, wondering how I could loathe a man for murdering and then find myself performing the same deed just and righteous.
I could not and would not kill this baby, but what I would do, was take him. He would be raised by Caleb Akerman, a Jew. I would teach him the ways of benevolence, peace, and compassion. I didn’t know what his parents did wrong, but I was convinced that I would not do the same. Adolf Hitler would not murder six million of my people; he would not kill my parents; he would not take Gideon.
I gathered the baby, made my way down the stairs, out through the window, and into the open air. It’s a new day, I thought, while feeling like I was carrying the fate of millions in my arms.
What was it that Gideon had told me before he was taken? Ah, yes: “Allow me to live through you. My life is in your hands.” I laid my eyes on the child I held. Right again, Gideon. Right again.