The Death Train

Dachua, Germany

In March of 1945, they were transported in the filthy cattle cars once again (Lesser, 133). Ben had led his weak cousin to the back end of the car so that they could support themselves against the wall (Lesser, 135). Unfortunately, when bread was thrown into the cart and they were the farthest from it. Due to this, Ben had to climb over the heap of other starving passengers to reach a loaf to feed his cousin and himself. In the process, Ben was stabbed in his chin. Whatever he was stabbed with punctured through his chin and into his mouth (Lesser, 136). He had a gaping hole in his face that was bleeding profusely. All he could do was tear off a piece of his trousers to bandage the hole in his face (Lesser, 136). This was only the first day of the unforgiving trip.

Ben was locked within the car for four weeks (Lesser, 136). After the first heap of bread, they were not given any more food and the water buckets were only refilled occasionally (Lesser, 136). Ben and Isaac managed to survive each agonizing day in the cart due to Ben’s tactical rationing of their original loaf of bread. They ate one minuscule portion of bread everyday (Lesser, 136). Ben knew they could not try and eat more than this amount after watching what happened to those who had eaten two or three loaves at the beginning of the trip. Their dehydrated bodies were unable to digest the amount they had consumed which then caused their death (Lesser, 137). Many had also died of starvation. Others had been killed as a result of cannibalism (Lesser, 137). As each day passed, Ben and Isaac were surrounded by more and more decomposing corpses. Somehow, the wound in Ben’s face did not get infected even within the filthy conditions.

On April 26, 1945, the train had finally stopped at Dachau concentration camp (Lesser, 137). Upon arrival, the few that were still alive were shown no mercy. They were ordered to immediately go into the camp. At this point, Ben and Isaac were skeletons, barely alive (Lesser, 138). They faced a mountain of skeletal corpses stacked on top of the other as they entered the camp (Lesser, 138). The only reason they hadn’t been incinerated immediately upon arrival was due to a shortage of coal (Lesser, 138).

On April 29, 1945, at 5:30 pm, Ben and Isaac were finally liberated at Dachau (Lesser, 301). Unfortunately, Isaac and Ben both ate spam given to them by an American soldier (Lesser, 140). Being so malnourished, they both came down with horrible dysentery. Isaac grew extremely ill. Ben tried with everything he had to keep his cousin alive. Later that night, Isaac passed away in Ben’s arms (Lesser, 141). Ben lost consciousness for three months and was nursed back to health when he came to (Lesser, 146). Ben was later reunited with Lola and Mechel after finding out they had survived (Lesser, 165).