Christopher had to write a fictional essay in diary form, based on a non-fictional period in history. He chose the liberation of Mittelbau-Dora in Nordhausen, Germany because his grandfather, my father, was there. This is how his assignment turned out. I am very, very proud of him and honored to have been chosen as his mother:
April 11, 1945
The 104th Infantry Division, we call ourselves the Timberwolf Tracks, went in to Mittlebau-Dora in Central Germany today.
As we were going into the camps we saw thousands of bodies. Some dead and some alive. Some of my comrades were gasping in shock as they saw them all lying there, scattered, or stacked in piles.
We couldnít believe what we saw. Some of the bodies on the bottom of the piles were still alive! They were buried beneath the dead.
The smell was completely unbearable. It was the smell of rotting corpses. A smell that can never be forgotten. It is a smell that will haunt you for the rest of your life.
Not even a second went by before we started to help those people. One by one, we were carrying them out of the concentration camp and burying the dead on top of a hill near the camp.
Everyone was crying: we were, the prisoners were, the medics were. I donít think Iíve ever cried so much.
We tried to do what we could for the living. We fed them from our rations and the medics did what they could.
Itís hard to go to sleep. I just canít stop thinking about what Iíve seen. I think I will be scarred for life. It was something that has changed my life.
I have seen dead people on top of living people. Why was this done to them? What did they do wrong? Why were they treated like this?
Eddie Shiveley, Private First Class, 104 Division, Timberwolf Tracks
April 12, 1945
Today we found a tunnel 50 feet in width and in it we saw more corpses and we saw that the Germans had made the prisoners make V1 and V2 bombs. V bombs are flying bombs that hone in on their target.
The factories were underground so that if a bomb exploded, only the prisoners would be killed.
In this underground hole the prisoners worked and starved.
I walked down the stairs into this dark, scary place. When I reached the bottom of the stairs, I felt a hand clutch my pants leg. I looked down, and a living skeleton was pleading with me in French. I understood a little. I had served in France. It didnít matter. I knew what he needed. I picked him up and took him to the medics.
As I returned and again walked down the steps, I saw over 70 corpses. The ones that were alive looked much older than they were.
These people had been starved, beaten and shot. Some people who were still alive were lying along with the dead. Maybe it was to keep warm. Many of these people had been able to eat as long as they were working hard. But many could not work hard because they were starving.
These people were put into these camps because many of them were Jews and Hitler did not like Jews. So Hitler would tell his officers to capture the Jews and put them into the concentration camps. He also didnít like Catholics, the mentally retarded, the physically deformed and homosexuals.
October 29, 1998
I am dying. I think of all the people who have suffered worse than I. I think of everything that has come and gone since Dora. I have lots of nightmares. All these people are walking around me. I am giving food from my army jacket. They grab it and eat it. But I always run out of food. They begin to claw at my coat and try to eat me.
I try my hardest not to walk over the dead people, but every time I step on someoneís hand or foot. I hear them screaming ďHelp me!Ē I see them struggling to get out. I want to help them but somehow more and more dead pile up.
I dream about the smell. Itís on my clothes, on my hair and I canít get it out. It smells like death. It smells like Dora.
As I go to sleep, I pray that my dreams donít come back. My dreams rule my life. Ever since the war my dreams control me.
I dream of heaven. I dream of those people, healthy, happy and free. I dream of them with their families. I dream of them safe from the Nazis. I dream of a world where there is no fear, no bigotry, no children sent to the gas chambers.
I dream of a world of peace, a world of love. I hope for a future where all of Godís creatures are safe.
A white figure is coming to me; closer, closer to me. This is not a dream. This is heaven. I must go now.
Christopher Shiveley Welch