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Word Count: 797 Use Article For Free Send Article To Friend Print Article

Stille Nacht
by Allison Egley  
12/07/2007 / Short Stories


"Good morning," Diedrick exclaimed as he walked past his fellow soldier, Arvin. "Heil Hitler."

"Good morning. Heil Hitler," Arvin replied as he walked to the guard station in Auschwitz. He hoped today would be an easy day and that the prisoners would work quickly and quietly. As he watched the prisoners below, he realized that the job had lost the attraction it once had. He wouldn't say he was ever thrilled or joyful about his job, like some of his colleagues, but the job had still held a certain attraction. Maybe it was because only the best and brightest officers were permitted to work at Auschwitz. Maybe it was the power he had over the prisoners. Arvin didn't know what it was that he once found so attractive, but he knew it wasn't there anymore.

As his guard duty ended, he shuddered as he thought about his next station. He was to work with Diedrick at the gas chamber. The "showers" as they were called. "Prisoner 45629. Prisoner 184832. Prisoner 582660." He continued to read off the numbers as the prisoners formed a line. One young girl looked up at him with such pitiful eyes that he felt a flicker of remorse. When Diedrick wasn't looking, he whispered something in her ear. The look in her mother's face as she walked back to a bed in the barracks pained him, but he knew Diedrick would notice if her mother weren't in the group. She had irked Diedrick by purposely working slowly for a week solid. She had what was coming. But maybe, just maybe he could save the little girl. After all, it was almost Christmas.

After they led the group of women and girls into the chamber, Arvin shuddered as the door was closed. Diedrick and Arvin took their places at the controls. As Diedrick started the flow of gas, he laughed. "You hear that, Arvin? It's silence. They won't even know what hit them. A few less prisoners to watch over is always a good thing, right?" Arvin mumbled an agreement.

As the days went on and Arvin faced the unending cycle of watch, shower, and work duty, Arvin noticed something. Despite their circumstances, some of the prisoners seemed almost happy. He couldn't explain it. If he wasn't happy just watching them, how could they be happy?

It was Christmas Eve, and Arvin resented that he was on duty tonight. He should be at home celebrating with his family. As he walked around the complex, he heard what sounded like singing. He ran to find the source of this music, ready to punish the prisoners for this atrocity. As he approached one of the barracks, the singing grew louder, until he could make out the words.

Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab' im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!*

Arvin stopped in his tracks. Emotion and remorse overcame him as he listened to the prisoners sing, as though they were in a church, not in the barracks at Auschwitz. As he continued to listen, he heard them sing a verse he had never heard before.

Stille Nacht! Heil'ge Nacht!
Wo sich heut alle Macht
Väterlicher Liebe ergoß,
Und als Bruder huldvoll umschloß
Jesus die Völker der Welt!
Jesus die Völker der Welt!**

Tears welled up in his eyes. Arvin didn't care if Diedrick or anyone else saw him. As they began again, he stepped into the barracks and joined them in the song he had known since childhood. All eyes turned to him, and he finished the first verse alone, with a quiver in his voice.
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!

He fell to his knees as he exclaimed "Father, forgive me. Forgive me for the pain and suffering I have brought upon these people, all in the name of following orders. I was wrong to follow them. Forgive me. Forgive me." Heavy sobs shook his body. Finally, one of the prisoners moved. Laying a hand upon Arvin, he softly proclaimed, "It's ok. He already has. Arvin and the prisoner lay on the floor together, sobbing, as the angels in heaven rejoiced over one sinner who repented. ***


************
Author's Notes:

Some information was taken from the following website:
Auschwitz

* Silent night! Holy Night!
All is calm, all is bright
Ron yon virgin, mother and child,
Holy infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace

** Silent Night! Holy Night!
By his love, by his might
God our Father us has graced,
As a brother gently embraced
Jesus, all nations on earth,
Jesus, all nations on earth.

Translation taken from the follow sites:
http://www.proz.com/kudoz/338552/
http://silentnight.web.za/translate/deu.htm

*** Taken from Luke 15:10

Allison Egley, 2009

Allison resides in St. Peters, MO. She graduated from Southeast Missouri State University in May, 2006 with a degree in Elementary Education. Her other writings are on the FaithWriters website.
http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=14989


Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com-CHRISTIAN WRITERS
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