Treblinka I

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After three months, Italy and I were transported to Treblinka I. To be so close to Prussia for so long, and yet not have him even know, was torture. However, Italy and I spent most of our days toiling away in the gravel pits, leaving little time to stop and think, or mourn much of anything.

I did all that I could to ease the amount of labor Italy had to do, knowing he wouldn't be able to sustain himself if he had to constantly work-I mean, the man had hardly been able to run more than a few feet in training before getting tired, and with no British to retreat from in the camps, his work ethic and stamina was unable to improve even in the time we spent in the pointless forced labor of swinging a pickaxe, breaking a rock, then carrying the rock some distance just to have someone else repeat the task.

However, it was the food that I believed would soon take the biggest toll of all upon Italy.

We were fed a plate of fake meat and several-weeks-stale bread once a day if we were lucky, and often had to fight to get just that among the other prisoners. I always secured him a plate-sometimes giving up my own to ensure he could eat-but I knew that the Italian was going to begin to shrivel away with just these meager, tasteless rations to sustain him. The stringy "sausage" and dusty crumbles of "bread" were nothing compared to the gourmet pasta he was accustomed to, but I'd be damned if I had to witness Italy getting thin from lack of nutrition. Especially in our conditions.

Treblinka was bigger, more well-known than Chelmno was, and it was newer than Belzec; the work load never ceased, the flow of prisoners never eased, and-by that July of 1942, just before we had arrived-Treblinka II was completed, so at night we swore we could hear the screams of the people being killed just a few miles away from us.

And all I could do was hold Italy tight to me-attempting to block out all the agony haunting him-and then try not to let any of the other pink-triangled prisoners come near either of us as I struggled to provide little Feli with a sense of comfort in the dismal and hopeless place we were trapped in.  Typically, my arms seemed to be all that held him together when he wept at night-petrified, horrified-as I begged him to just quiet himself a little so he would not be called out by a guard or another prisoner. Then, he could be beaten, taken or killed-times and situations were a constant grim, no matter what else. But generally, it was my strong arms that kept all his worst nightmares at bay for the while; if only that could have always worked.


One night, I was called away to go to work in the pits, forced to leave Feliciano behind in the cabin-refusing to allow him to volunteer to accompany the troop, knowing he was weaker than the rest of us, and that it was no light work tonight (though it never was).

I had come back in the early hours of the morning, expecting to find Feli on our bunk by the door, but instead finding it empty.

My apprehension grew as I anxiously searched nearby, then as I ran about the small cabin-which really had no room for me to walk, let alone run-hysterically looking everywhere for him and clinging to the scant and diminishing hope that he was still present somewhere, if only I could find him-until at last I did.

He was huddled in a corner, pressed in by another man. The other man was speaking lowly to Italy and touching him as Feliciano begged him to leave him alone, tears leaking from underneath his eyes that were screwed shut tightly. Simultaneously, my heart twinged piteously, and my rage flared to consume me.

In three swift strides, I was behind the man, hoisting him off of Italy and flinging him away, watching as he flew into a bed, cracking his head against the metal frame.  My hands were clenched at my sides, my jaw was set, my eyes were flashing dangerously.

He jumped to his feet, dizzily trying square off with me, but I charged him before he gathered his scattered wits, knocking him to the ground. I got on top of him-to the cheers and jeers of all the pink triangles confined in our cabin-and began to punch him, mercilessly, continuously, until my knuckles were dripping with both of our bloods, and he had ceased breathing a while ago. Then, I calmly stood, picked up the lifeless body, and deposited it outside our cabin. The guards chose not to beat me- they must have just decided I wasn't worth it, and would just be content with one more body to be buried here or burned in Treblinka II-though we were the targets of the vast majority of their abuse, and they loved any reason to hurt us. Plus, fighting wasn't allowed anyway-though it was the most oft ignored rule of camp-so they really must have figured one of us got what we deserved and forget the rest.

I walked back inside, found Feli still cowering in the corner, and I gently brought him back to our bunk under the admiring gazes of all the males present. I tried to only focus on Italy, to soothe his hysterical sobs, but I could not deflect and ignore the interested gleams of lust and desire in the eyes of the rest of the men in our cabin, no matter how hard I tried. At least they knew better than to mess with us now…

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