It was winter when Ben and Isaac began the journey on foot. They had no warm clothes or shoes to face the harsh weather and they were rarely fed (Lesser, 131). While on this treacherous journey, it became obvious to Ben that the intent of the march was to kill them. He witnessed countless men fall to their death, whether it be caused by a gunshot, starvation, exposure, disease, or exhaustion (Lesser, 337). Ben also saw SS guards pass time with a horrific game of target-practice on those who were dying and the deceased (Lesser, 131).
Isaac was Ben’s motivation to survive the Death March. As the march went on, his cousin’s health began to drastically decrease (Lesser, 131). Ben did what he could to protect and keep him alive. They were lucky to have each other. He and his cousin survived the trek taking it one step at a time. By the time the march was over, it was spring (Lesser, 132).
They had arrived at the Buchenwald concentration camp. It was the first and largest built concentration camp in Germany (Lesser, 132). Here, Ben received what was considered “luxury treatment” (Lesser, 133). He was given bread and soup, allowed to shower and received clean clothes. Those at Buchenwald were even able to sleep in bunks instead of on the frozen, death-crusted floors (Lesser, 133). Unfortunately, this rare sense of “comfort” they obtained would not last a full day. Ben, Isaac, the other surviving men were evacuated again the next morning (Lesser, 133).