His eyes danced over the words and he couldn’t help shaking. He cried for his wife to come quickly. Shocked she sat in the nearest chair. Would this mean they were safe?
The letter contained an invitation to the most important concert of the year. He would be playing in front of the man himself. Surely they would be granted special status as a result?
Despite the restrictions they had been coping. He didn’t work in one of the newly imposed no-go zones so they still had some money. Being forced to give their car to the authorities had been difficult, and not being able to use public transport severely limited their freedom. Giving up the radio meant it was difficult to keep abreast of world events. The girls had cried when their bikes had been taken.
But what could they do? They just had to get on with it. The rations, though less than what others got, were still enough to live on. Just. And for that, at least, they had something to be thankful for. Maybe, with this invite, they would be safe?
The day came when he was to travel to the capital. He held his wife and daughters tightly. Tears were flowing and he made them promise they would stay behind locked doors until he returned.
The hall was full, the lights dimmed and the crowd hushed. The world renowned conductor tapped the lectern and the music began to flow.
The first movement finished with rapturous applause. He had played with a passion and a joy he thought he’d lost. In his mind’s eye his wife and two wonderful daughters were on the front row. He stood when motioned to receive the adulation.
The front door was kicked in and the young recruits eager to impress their captain stormed in. It didn’t take long to find the woman and children. As they were herded onto the waiting lorry she knew she must ask. Where to? Someone spat out the dreaded word. Auschwitz.
And the band played on.
© 2008 Mark Bateman