Sunday, September 02, 2007

Little Girl Sitting on a Barrel

Suddenly she was there. My stomach clenched. It couldn't be. I blinked my eyes, but the camera had panned away.

Where was Joe? Where was Joe? Where was Joe?

I couldn't take my eyes way from the bank of televisions. I heard Joe call me from the next store down in the mall. I waved frantically for him to come. I didn't look away. They were still panning over the camp. Every television was playing the same channel. There must have been twenty or thirty broadcasting. Joe rushed over, "What's wrong?"

"Watch!" I commanded trying to slow my breathing, "I saw something incredible. It may happen again, they are still panning the same area of the camp."

"You saw something incredible on the History Channel?"

"Yes, watch!"

"Oh my God," Joe said as the historical footage taken at the liberation of one of the Nazi Concentration Camps hit his eyes. No matter how often you see these kind of ...

"There!" I almost jumped out of my chair. "Look! LOOK!"

"Holy Shit," Joe saw her and, like me, had a visceral reaction.

Sitting atop a barrel looking back at the camera with eyes that didn't belong to her anymore was a little girl with Down Syndrome. Devastation had been wrought around her and she sits peaceably on a barrel looking directy at the camera!

Then, she was gone the programme had cut back to the talking head.

Joe is a WWII buff and we've seen practically every documentary, every movie, that had anything to do with the period. We've even read Berlin Noir - the triology of murder mysteries set in Nazi Berlin. My interest has always been more regarding the extermination of people with disabilities. What happened at Hadamar in particular and I want to one day visit the memorial there. It has always frustrated me that there is little emphasis put on the Nazi experimentation with means of mass destruction on the institutionalized disabled. The book, "By Trust Betrayed" by Hugh Gallager, stunned me with his ability to document the horrors of what happend to people with disabilities in Germany, with his ability to tell a story, and passion to get it right - this was the first book that made that history really real to me. Yet in all my readings I could not imagine a person with a disability making it to a death camp. And once there surviving it.

Who was this little girl?

Joe went into the store. They had so much merchandise that I couldn't get in. He asked if they could check to see what channel was showing the documentary, and if possible, what the name of the documentary was. They looked at him as if he had asked them to actually provide customer care, told him they didn't have time for that 'kind of nonsense' and he came out and said, "I wished it was you who'd gone in." (At times my ... umm ... personality ... really annoys Joe and at other times he likes to send me in like his own personal 'hell on wheels' to deal with snotty clerks and the like.)

"Forget the store, I'm not in a mood for a fight."


"She survived. If there is a Top Ten list for miracles, this would be near the top. I've got a glow on."

But now we're home and now it the next morning, I feeling refreshed because I went to bed early. Joe, though, stayed up and watched Hitler's SS: Portrait in Evil which started at 8 and went on to 10:30. I didn't think the television broadcasted that late!

This all leads up to ... DOES ANYONE KNOW THE NAME OF THAT DOCUMENTARY!?! I'd really like to track it down.

She made it.

But, what happened next?


geordie said...

Hi Dave, i have just undertaken a search on the History Channel site.
There is a film entitled
"Dachau Liberated". I am going to try to track it down and i will let you know if it features the girl you talked about.

Loving the Blog!! See you in the UK in November.

Anonymous said...

Because you have been travelling a bit lately, why not let us know what city and what time and maybe we can help you at least track down the station and the program.

Cindy (not really anonymous but no blog! and don't quite feel like an "other"!)

Anonymous said...

the sad thing is it's probably not recorded anywhere because of the attitude towards disability at the time. It was only when I was studying to be a social worker that I heard about the extermination of those with disabilities for the first time.

But you are right I didn't think any of the children with disabilities survived.

You might find this site interesting

Anonymous said...

I think one of the reasons the whole issue of the extermination of the disabled by the Nazi's has become so powerful to me is that my son was born with a cleft palate - a minor difficulty in western society but one that did lead to extermination. Because of the possibility of inheritance it was one of the conditions highlighted in the writings for Hitler's Youth.

Anonymous said...

WOW, now you got me all in an uproar to see that!!

Oh please blog up if you find it!

Anonymous said...

Now to find out what happened to her, that would be a GREAT story. I hope someone can help find some info out. I can only wonder what the story would be....hmmm.

Anonymous said...

I posted a link to this blog on a private board (parents of children with DS). One poster wondered if you could find the information thru the US National Holocaust Museum. She also included this "This FAQ gives tips about how to find records of victims. "