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And there he stood, looking down at me.
The boy, now man, who had been the sole source of my happiness whilst growing up.
Separated by the cold, unforgiving steel of prison bars, his eyes told the story of four years of lost time.
However, that time seemed to be made up of a lifetime of hatred.
We had been best friends since the day we met. Time stopped when we were together.
Now we are the furthest thing from together, for I am a Jewish man in Hitler’s playground.
The man that stood before me has been moulded into one of his pawns, in the world’s cruellest game of chess.
I look up to him, with a tear in my eye — not a tear of fear, but a tear of empathy.
Empathy for the monster that this man has been transformed into.
He looks down at me, as if he is oblivious to what he has become.
His harsh, raspy voice spat out a sentence: "My commander has sent me to kill you."
"Then do it. I am not afraid of death. Nor am I afraid of the mere shell of a man that you have become," I responded.
His face reddened with anger, as it was not a common occurrence for a Nazi soldier to not have the upper hand over a malnourished Jew.
At one point in time, politics, religions and race were meaningless words to us.
The only separation we experienced was the curfew that our parents had set for us.
A red and black uniform is now what separates my confidant and me.
He grabs me and drags me across the unwelcoming concrete floor; my legs are too weak to even support my underweight body.
This feeling of being powerless made me reminisce about the times as a teenager where he and I would play-fight, with him always coming out on top.
Now, in my final minutes on Earth, it would once again be my best friend that came out on top.
The unwelcoming concrete floor changed to the rugged, dirt terrain as we travelled outside.
The sun was glowing in the sky, swallowing the camp in light.
Bodies were stacked next to the barbed wire fence, which guarded the perimeter. An inescapable hell.
My brother pulled me up on to my knees, pulled out a handgun and directed it at my head.
Helplessness overcame me.
My body was too weak and too frail to participate in any type of escape.
My time on this Earth was running out, whether I be executed or not.
"It didn’t have to be this way you know. I could have hidden you! You could have survived," he said.
I could hear the hatred and pain in his voice as he reprimanded me.
I did not respond, as I did not want to play a role in the twisted hero story that he had come to believe was true.
He was nothing more than a coward who had turned his back on the people he loved in order to live another day.
"Pull the trigger," I quietly muttered.
I could see the internal conflict inside of him. His old self and morals fighting this corrupted version of himself.
I closed my eyes, preparing myself for this inhumane execution, but instead of hearing the sound of a bullet, I heard sobbing.
I opened my eyes to see this seemingly ruthless and dominant figure on his knees, breaking down.
I slowly crawled my way over to him and hugged him tightly. This was the man I had grown up with, not the emotionally absent Nazi.
This embrace was lasting seemingly forever.
After a while, he pushed me away and stood up with his back turned to me.
He quickly whipped out his hand gun again, and pressed it against my skull whilst wiping his leftover tears away.
"Any last words?" he asked.
My foolish, optimistic thoughts were swept away with those three words; I thought I had shown my former best friend the monster that he had become.
"Say something!" he ordered.
In my mind, I had come to the realisation that the next words that came out of my mouth were most likely going to be my last.
"I don’t know what would be worse — dying a good man, or living as a monster," I uttered.
I clenched my eyes shut, waiting for the sound of a gun to take my life away.
The sound of the gun left my ears ringing, and left my mind perplexed.
Why don’t I feel any pain?
I opened my eyes and stood up to see the corpse of my childhood best friend.
I howled like a wounded dog.
Now here I stand, looking down at him.