Tuesday, 15 October 2013
I’m now part of the way through the first Holocaust scene I have to create from my imagination. Actually, though, I do have some leads. All those eye-witness reports I’ve read about what it was like on the transports. There are pictures of the 1941 deportation from Stuttgart, though none of the 1942 one. One has to trust it was similar. Not all “undesirables” were transported by cattle truck and I’m fairly certain those going from the Nordbahnhof in Germany were not. They went in normal third class carriages. This was miserable enough, though. They packed in tight during the hottest part of the year and there was no corridor, therefore no toilet and presumably no food or water, for a journey that on a modern train would take eight hours. They are going to arrive at dawn in my story.
The characters again have taken me by surprise. Clara remains feisty. She dares to ask one of the officials how long the journey will take. She is roughly handled as she gets into the truck that takes her to the station and as she gets into the train. She doesn’t dwell on it but is pragmatic about the bruises that she knows will form. As there are people younger than her in the carriage, including some children, she remains optimistic that she will not be shut away in an old people’s home but will still have contact with other people. I didn’t plan this before I started writing – it all happened as I wrote.
Selda, the young pregnant woman she befriended in Rexingen, seems a little distant. I too was puzzled by this. Had she guessed what was coming and was she trying to cool the friendship between her daughter and this old lady? No, not at all. Since the men arrived in the village in the morning her baby had not moved. When someone smashes a window on the train, the baby starts moving again and she regains her hope that she might, despite everything, give birth to a healthy child.
Yes, I’m getting into the trickiest part of the story. But therein lies the challenge.