EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT
Ernst secured his father’s place on a sick list so that he could leave Grünheide labour camp.
“Only a few minutes remained before our final farewell. Tears stuck in my throat as I tried to control my emotions and appear cheerful. I still said, “Mama does not need to worry about me. I am well, and with my connections I can even help others.” My father hugged me and tenderly he stroked my hair and said, “Who knows when we will see each other again, perhaps you will experience and endure a great deal. Don’t forget who you are. Stay strong and full of hope.” When the SA man approached the other side of the camp gates my father added, “Promise me one more thing.” With it his words stuck in his throat, “Remain a good Jew.”
He was also no longer able to control his emotion and his eyes filled with tears. I could only nod in agreement as I silently cried and swallowed my tears. The camp gate opened and my father stepped out with his companions. I remained behind the wire fence and hastily wiped away my tears as I wanted to appear cheerful in that final moment. I pressed tightly against the wire fence as I waved to my father. With each step he became more distant. I could no longer control my emotions as I saw how my father’s progress pained him.
The final picture still etched in my memory is of an unclear silhouette of a sad group trudging in the footsteps of an SA guard with a rifle over his shoulder. The more distant my father became, the stronger were my tears. “When would we see each other again?” I asked myself. My father was already far away. The menacing rifle now seemed to overshadow his vague silhouette. So I saw him for the last time – for the very last time. After a week I received news that my father had arrived home.”
Usher Bornstein, Ernst’s father