Shortly after their arrival many months before, Eva had been moved, along with Lory, into the kinderlager in order to supervise the younger ones. The children’s barracks were separated from Dr. Braun’s medical camp by two rows of barbed wire.
The trains unloaded cars of new prisoners each day, and the ovens dumped out the remains of prisoners each night. It was a constant factory of death, and no one was spared the fear that their turn was next. There were almost eighty thousand prisoners at Reinigen Camp. Sometimes family members didn’t see each other for months, even years, if they stayed alive that long. Sometimes they never saw them again once they entered the camp.
Eva looked forward to the occasional glimpses of her father. He was looking older and so much thinner. Sometimes, she barely recognized him, because so many of the inmates looked alike: dressed the same, skeleton-thin, and bald.
It wasn’t until sixteen-year-old Eva was on her way to work that she finally saw Eddie as he stumbled out of the medical building. She barely recognized the pale-faced mute with a zombie walk and an overwhelming sadness, as if his emotions had been emptied, as the perpetually enthusiastic Eddie.
Eva waved her arms, trying to get his attention without the policeman noticing. She whispered, “Eddie? Eddie? Is that you?”
Eddie jerked forward. He stared right at her but didn’t respond.
“Eddie, it’s me, Eva, Hans’s friend from Berlin. What did they do to you?”
Dr. Braun walked out and steered Eddie back into the building.
“No,” Eddie said, almost unintelligibly to Dr. Braun. Eddie tried to twist away from him. “No, it hurts. I need my Mutti. Where is she? She said she would find me.”
Dr. Braun nodded to his medical assistant, a pinched-faced man with a disapproving snarl, wearing glasses and dressed in a white lab coat. The sour assistant, whose face resembled a dried apple, roughly pulled Eddie back into the medical building, as Dr. Braun hurried out of the camp.
Ramona grabbed Eva and pulled her into the barracks. “Do you know that boy?”
“I used to,” Eva said.
“What’s wrong with him?”
“I think his joy has been extracted.”
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