1939 Cat Witnesses the Inhumanity of Humans - Humans Never Change Do They
|Please allow me to introduce myself. I am a black and white cat, and my name is Othello. I originally lived with a family named Goldberg a ways outside of a city called Krakow, in Poland. My life was a normal cat life, lived mostly indoors. I had a big house, with many stairs and places to explore. There was always plenty of love, laughter and food.
That all changed in September of 1939.
That was the month when strange humans came stomping into our town.
Sometimes the people called them Germans, and sometimes Nazis. Sometimes, they would whisper that they were monsters. Whoever they were, they changed things in my world. I had to adjust, and so I did.
To me, all the people looked alike, but they did not act alike.
My first family - the Goldberg family - was kind to me and loved me. But, as a cat, I know how to survive with or without humans. It is called instinct, and it saved me. I can suck up to who I have to suck up to in order to live to see another day, just like some humans do. Heck, didn't the whole country of Germany do that?
So, my big life change happened when I was eight years into my well adjusted existence. I was loved and pampered, and could hunt up a mouse when it suited me. After 1939, I did not have a choice in the matter, nor did the mice. It became survival of the fittest in my world.
I began to notice the changes when my family first started to wear blue stars on their sleeves. They all stayed indoors more than usual, which seemed good, at first. More attention for me is something I'll never grow tired of in this lifetime.
One day they weren't there anymore. All too soon, some mean people moved into my house. I decided to make myself scarce and go to the library. That was how the library came to be my second home. The lady who worked at the library had been a friend of my family and she always had a soft spot for old Othello. Sometimes, she would affectionately call me "Shakespeare". I didn't mind that as long as she fed me. She fed me and stroked my fur sometimes, when my timing was good, but she could not take me home. She kept telling me this every time I would meow at her plaintively. Something about a German landlord not allowing it, she said.
Our town was adjacent to an important chemical company called IG Farben, and there was always smoke pushing out from the big towers.
Besides my living situation, something else changed in 1939 near the IG Farben factory. The sky was its usual yellowish brown. The sun peeked through all the smoke and haze, just like always on a bright day. At least the snow had melted. I'll give it that.
The trains started to come more often - I would hear them in the distance. Sometimes, I could swear I could hear a sort of wail coming from the buildings next to the factory.
My curiosity aroused, I started to wander farther and farther from the library and it was there that I saw the workers. I never did find my family, but I found people who were kind to me. They looked as if they were starving, but many of the workers would share a bite when they had it. I am never one to refuse offered food, no matter where it comes from. I guess you could say I'm a-political in that sense. Some of the invaders were nice to me when they were not nice to their own human kind. I have no idea why, but that's humans for you. The strangest thing was that like my family, the workers would disappear only to be replaced by new workers. This happened all the time.
Things at the factory close by seemed to be churning along. They made some sort of fertilizer and medicine there and used chemicals that smelled like old shoes. There was whispered talk of Nobel prizes for discoveries and things about putting people in ovens and gassing that I didn't comprehend. I didn't understand and the people did not want to understand. Why on earth would anyone put another living being in an oven? Nothing made sense after 1939.
Something was definitely different in the air.
I heard the invaders trying to explain, but it never rang true or made sense. They seemed like accomplished liars, even though some of them had a soft spot for us felines. I'm smart when it comes to minding my own business. See no evil and know no evil. That's my motto. It seemed to get a whole lot of humans through a rough time, so why shouldn't it work for a cat?
What could one person, or one cat, do against the whole throng of stomping invaders? I was looking at one of the biggest and most successful companies in the world. IG Farben could do whatever they wanted as long as they produced for our occupying friends. They developed the famous "Bayer Aspirin," didn't they? I'm not sure that was before or after, but they did some great things.
Money buys a lot of things besides cat food. Money bought the invaders time to do what they wanted to people like my family, and to the other "workers".
The air eventually got thicker and thicker with a sort of ash like substance. Even though I was close to the ground, it was getting harder and harder to breathe as the years marched on.
Now, that I am almost fourteen years old, it will be hard to move, but the Library lady is taking me to a nice place. She says it's called, "Nuremberg" and we will see some good things done there in 1946. Maybe, we will see what justice looks like, or so she says.
I hope it is better than what justice looked like in my town.
The air isn't so good here next to Auschwitz, anymore.
*note* This story was inspired by a picture of factory smokestacks. At least, that's what it looked like to me.
This is my best work so far.
This story is based on historical events from a feline point of view.
On January 19, 2016, I learned that this story was nominated for several awards. That is such an honor - I thank whoever was so kind.