Estimated reading time — 14 minutes
December 15th, 1985
Well, time surely does fly. It’s already been forty years since my wonderful stay in Auschwitz. To my surprise, I’m not horribly tormented by the memories of that putrid hellhole of a prison like most people I have come to know during the time; well, at least not anymore. Probably because in my perspective, it’s best to forget. Well… not exactly forget so to say but rather to just make the best of everything with the life I still have. It will never be the same again but at the very least, I still have one. I mean, for Christ’s sake, I stared right into the malevolent eyes of death itself with calm but cherishing smiles. When you’re faced with an army of Nazi soldiers guarding the camp, pointing MP40s at you with bullets with your name on it, you tend to try to remain calm, do as you are told and hope for the best. To my surprise, it worked. Although, I don’t know what worked more – the fact that I always remained calm or whatever monstrosity that intervened that some claim to be a rogue angel.
After the war ended, I moved to the US hoping to get my mind off of this whole experience. A typical man’s life story short – I was happily married, had two kids, Ellie and Jonathan and then a divorce, lost custody, and now have a whole house to myself while I drown in alcohol. Hell, if you thought what happened during the war traumatized me, well, allow me to be straightforward – it didn’t. Why? Well, it’s quite simple. I never had any attachment to any of my fellow prisoners. I always kept to myself, followed the guard’s instructions and never allowed any emotional connection with anyone. I know that sounds really callous but during the time, you had to keep yourself numb and pray to God that you would survive. As cold as this sounds, I had nothing to lose. Every man for himself I guess.
As I drank a glass of scotch that I have longed for since the time of day, I received a call from someone I wasn’t familiar with. As I finished the last bit of my drink, I answered.
“Hello, Mr. Bernstein?” asked the unknown caller.
“Who is this?”
“My name is Daniel. I just need to ask you something.”
I did not have the energy to ask how he got my number or how he knew my name so I complied. “Alright,” I said in a tired, irritated voice.
“Listen, I am working on a book about survivors like you and I was wondering…” I vaguely interrupted him as I knew what this was about. “Let me guess. You want an interview with me about my story during the Holocaust, am I correct?”
“Why, yes, sir… if that’s okay for me to ask.”
I sighed heavily, rubbing my eyes from bitter annoyance and told him my address. “Go ahead and come in tonight.”
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“I have nothing else to do. Go ahead.” I hung up.
I could tell he was an anxious young man who aspired to get my story out there. This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked for an interview and it’s certainly not going to be the last. Over the years, I never complied with anyone, not that I was uncomfortable but there was just nothing to tell. I learned to burn those memories away and to simply move on from whatever hells I have witnessed. Besides, whatever I have to say, he probably has heard it before so why not just get this interview over with?
About two hours later, he arrived on my doorstep. I let him in without him knocking. He took his hat off and politely said, “Hello, Mr. Bernstein. I’m Daniel Adams. Pleased to meet you.” He held his hand out for a handshake. “Likewise,” I replied. I welcomed him into my home and led him into my office. He was dressed quite nicely I should add. He had an obvious smile on his face as if this was his first interview for his new book. His smile faded away instantly when he noticed my personal library. He began to shake a little when he hesitantly asked me, “So, you’re studying demonology? The Occult?” I turned around and embarrassingly chuckled. “Yes, just personal research.” Behind my dusty desk sat a massive crimson shelf filled with books, journals and documents about the Occult and the nature of the paranormal. On the wall beside the shelf was pinned a little old sketch of a blurry monster I made several years ago.
He nervously smiled as he pulled out his pen and paper. “I apologize if this makes you uncomfortable,” I said. “We can go in another room if you like.”
“Oh, no judgement here,” he replied as he scratched his head nervously smiling. “It’s just a little unexpected to see that many books about demonology in one room.”
Before I could speak, he stared down to the ground like he was ashamed. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have asked.”
I leaned towards him and said, “I’m normally not a patient man but you’re young and have a lot to learn so I’ll let that slide.” He looked up at me and revealed that nervous smile once more, ready to write. I asked, “So, what do you want to know?”
“How did you feel during the time?” Again, his eyes lingered upon the ground ashamed of his question. I gently placed my hand on his shoulder. “Son, it’s okay. What happened was a long time ago. Feel free to ask me any question you like, okay?” He looked upwards with a distant smile regaining focus.
“Alright, to answer your question – I didn’t know what to feel,” I cleared my throat. “To tell you the truth, I was numb the entire time I was there.”
“The horrible things the Germans did didn’t affect you?” He asked in a voice more concerned than confused.
“At first, they did. Mostly when I was in the departure train on the way there.”
“What was that like?”
“It was treacherous. There were at least thirty of us in one car for five days. Very little rations and water, no bathroom, not even a little porthole sized window to look through. Almost complete darkness every day and night. It was during the winter as well and with the little clothing I had on, I hardly slept at night. During the day, I say I got an hour total because the rest of the hopeless prisoners moaned in disbelief that we were here. I heard a few choke out as their lives slowly faded away from dehydration. I always hid in the corner with my knees tucked against my chest. Hearing all these haunting wails screaming for death to come and take us all, I remained silent as I drifted into the corner. I think that was the first time I cried as well.”
I took a deep breath after I spoke. Mistaking my tone for discomfort, Daniel asked me, “Are you okay, Mr. Bernstein?”
“Yeah, I’m okay, I just need a drink.” I cleared my throat again. “Anyways, it was horrifying but the only reason why I’m still alive is because I always kept to myself. If a guard gave me an order, well, if you were smart, you did what he said or you would be shot or worse.”
Daniel was puzzled. “What do you mean worse?”
I poured another glass of scotch before I spoke. “You see, the Nazis were ruthless. When you’re in the camp as a prisoner, they could not give two shits about you. To them, you’re a waste of skin, God’s mistake, made for disposal. They completely disregard the fact that you were a human being. It didn’t matter who you are. Whether you’re white, black or any other color in the rainbow, male or female or even a child, unless you are proven to be a good use for manual labor, they would kill you in any way they pleased.”
As Daniel wrote everything I stated, he began to shake. “Wait, even children?” He said in a really faint tone.
I took another drink from my glass. “Yes. I’ve seen toddlers and even newborns thrown into pits of fire. Oh, my God, their screams… See, this is where I started to become numb from the whole thing. Even after the mothers witnessed their children burning into a crisp, they would shoot them and burn their corpses in the same pits just because they could.” I can still hear their screams in my sleep. As I filled another glass, I said, “I’m sorry. It’s one of those few things that really haunt me even to this day.”
Daniel puts down his pen and paper anxiously. “Oh, my God, I’m sorry. We can stop now if you want.”
“No, it’s okay. I needed to talk about that. I just need a moment.” I took a deep breath and regained my train of thought. “Alright, where was I? Oh, yes. That was only the beginning. It was like the first circle of Hell itself. Worse was yet to come and even after being emotionally numb, I still wasn’t ready. During my whole experience, for my four years of imprisonment, I’d say I spoke maybe a total of ten words. When they gave me orders, I did exactly that. Most of the time, it was a struggle but I did what I could to stay alive. With the very little rations and water we were given, I nearly strained myself until dawn but I was still alive. They specifically chose me to handle certain tasks as they did with anyone else they saw fit. I wasn’t holding my breath however. They could shoot you for target practice at any time even while you were working at any time. In most cases, they would gather a large group only to be placed in gas chambers. Oh, my God, the screams again. Even behind closed doors, you could still hear their screams as they suffocated to death.”
Daniel began to get angry. “Those sick bastards. How could they do that?” He gripped his pen tightly.
“Because they could. And because they could, I almost died. I was selected for execution because my time was up. I was against a wall with rotting corpses surrounding me. I thought their reeking flesh was the last thing I’d ever smell, the terrified faces of my fellow prisoners, the sinister smiles on the guards faces – I thought that would be the last thing I’d see. They fired killing everyone except me. Somehow, I was still alive. Not a single bullet hit me. I kept my eyes closed and held my breath and pretended I was dead. As awful as this sounds, I could feel blood smothering me and I used it to my advantage. Oh, God, this was when I almost truly died. I would much rather have been shot but since they thought I was dead, they were about to dispose of my body in the pit of fire…”
Daniel suddenly stopped writing and looked at me confused. “Wait. You said you were still alive because you kept to yourself, right?”
“And you’re saying they almost executed you and burned you alive, right? Well, if that was the case, how did you escape? You’re giving me two different stories.”
Ah, shit, I thought to myself. This kid pays attention. “I guess I gave myself away on that one, huh?”
He got his pen and paper ready once again. “What really happened? How are you still alive?”
I hesitated for a brief moment. “I’m going to need another drink for this.” As I poured my last glass, I could feel his anxiety. He knows there’s something I left out on purpose. He knows there is a truth that I didn’t intend to tell. Well, he will know why my truth was hidden. “Look, what I’m about to tell you is completely true and I do not plan on going to a mental institution.”
He looked me as if I was delusional. “What do you mean by that?”
“So, obviously, you see all these Occult books here, right? You will soon come to the realization as to why I do but you have to swear to me that you’ll believe every word I say, okay? I am not crazy.”
Daniel appeared afraid. “This is the part of my story that really fucked me up and I have a good reason why I never talked about it with anyone. You’re the only one I’ll ever tell this to.” I sighed. “Ask any survivor of Auschwitz and they will all give you the same reaction, same expression and same fear. They are all too terrified to tell the tale. So, Daniel, I know how this sounds but you have to believe me, alright?”
He nodded yes while he began to shake. I could see a speck of sweat on his forehead. “So… what happened?”
“Alright, here goes,” I took a deep breath. “So, there was this one prisoner who we all talked about during our time. We didn’t know his name or his number for sure but I believe it was Bruce. He was a really… vengeful character. Rumor had it that he was somehow possessed or something. He occasionally attacked the guards but… the funny thing was that they wouldn’t kill him on the spot. I saw him rip out someone’s throat in front of an officer and all they did was pin him down. I saw him rip out a piece of someone’s ribcage and shoved it down his throat with brute force. I saw him take a man’s gun and empty a clip into his face. Man, he was one strong, angry bastard.”
Daniel stopped me, “Wait, he killed a few guards?”
“That would be an understatement. He brutally mutilated them.”
“Well, if that was the case, why didn’t they kill him, especially if he was a threat to them?”
“I don’t know. It’s like they were expecting it, testing him somehow. I heard one officer say, ‘Perfect.’ Even to this day, I wish they had somehow killed him.” I finished my drink. Daniel grew even more anxious. “One day, he charged up to a guard, tackled him to the ground and brutally beaten him until his head was battered. That’s when they finally decided to execute him. After four murders, they finally decided enough was enough – which was quite odd. I know it sounds strange and abnormal but there was something about him they found… fascinating. It took five guards to restrain him. An officer smiled and shot him in the heart. Even after that, he was still somehow alive. They dragged him to a flaming pit and tossed him in…”
I hesitated to tell him the rest. “And…? What happened after that?” he asked. I stared at him for at least a minute before speaking. “Look, I really don’t like talking about this.”
I took another deep breath. “So before they almost threw my body into the pit, I heard shouting and women’s screams. It was so grotesque; they dropped everything they were doing, including me. As I lay there pretending to be dead with my eyes barely open, I could see five guards restraining the violent prisoner. His face was covered in blood and he had an eager smile as the officer approached him. I could hear what they were saying. The officer said, ‘What a waste. You were so perfect. But it looks like you’re no different. False hope for a flawless creation only to fail like all the rest. No matter, there will always be others of your kind.’ The prisoner gave a sinister laugh and replied, ‘When I get out of here, I will find you, dismember your flesh piece by piece and feed it to your battered face while your family watches.’ He then spat blood in his face. The officer punched him and shot him point blank in the heart. ‘Toss him into the pit,’ he said.” I took a deep breath yet again. Daniel was nervous but very intrigued.
“So, what else happened?”
I sat there for a moment before I finished my story. “They completely forgot I was lying there so I stood up and hid behind a building. I know, that was very reckless and would’ve gotten me killed for sure but what happened next… Oh, dear God…” I paused before continuing on. “As they threw his body into the pit, I could hear him screaming. Such agonizing pain… But there was something peculiar about him… the more he screamed, the more distorted it became. Each scream was an octave lower than the last and the volume progressed until it came to the point where it was monstrous and unbearable to hear. And suddenly, it stopped. It was like he absorbed the flames and he let out a demonic screech gushing blood which looked like a fountain of crimson. Oh, my God… He didn’t appear human anymore. His eyes illuminated pure white, his arms were covered in… scales to best describe it. They were as black as night with fang-like spikes that glowed blood red with claws that took on the same color and shape. He had large angelic wings that looked… mystic. The wings were there but it’s like they made the illusion of mist; black fire. I can’t even describe it. The next thing I knew, he attacked the surrounding guards swiftly. In quick moves, he butchered right through their flesh and… I know this sounds crazy but I saw him… forge a giant scythe out of their blood. It was like he defied the laws of physics and somehow made a solid, sharp weapon. Demonic magic to best describe it. More guards came after him and he took incredibly long and fast steps towards and slashed right through them. At one point when a guard was in a pool of blood trying to run from the creature, the prisoner somehow created a thick spike that rose from the ground impaling him from his anus out of his mouth. I don’t know what he was doing but it was like he could manipulate blood in any way he wanted; like he could control it at will. Clearly, their weapons were useless against him as he forged the scythe into a spiraling longsword. Can you just imagine the dread they felt as the last thing they saw were those glowing malevolent eyes with that demonic laugh mocking their pain as he slaughtered them like helpless animals? It was literally a bloodbath. He brutally mutilated at least fifteen guards before flying away. The oddest thing… he specially targeted the Nazi guards. No prisoner was hurt. Not even a scratch on those who were nearby. It was like he unleashed all of his personal Hell only to hunt down and murder those that caused his pain.”
Daniel was baffled and shook with fear. “So… he just turned into some kind of monster and… killed all those people?” He stared at me like I was a madman.
“I know how it sounds but it’s the truth. What he did to those guards truly traumatized me.”
“I see,” Daniel said softly. He closed his book as he asked me one last question. “So, how did you escape?”
“After the creature fled, the rest of the guards panicked and ran away as well. They burned all evidence of our documents, their whereabouts and left us for dead. It was the Americans that discovered the camp and of course, they came to our aid.” I signed.
Daniel continued to look at me in disbelief. “I’m sorry, Mr. Bernstein… I don’t know… Are you sure you know what you saw?”
I became furious with his question. In anger, I replied, “Listen, kid. You don’t what it was like down there. You don’t know what it was like to watch little children burn right in front of your eyes. I’ve seen the Nazis pile bodies in a truck only to bury them in a trench,” I raised my tone. “I know what I saw! I’ve devoted my life to find out what that creature was. That’s why my family left me. That’s why my kids were scared shitless. They thought I was mad. They thought I was as crazy as my stories when I got all these books trying to find out what the fuck this thing is. Ask any other survivor or any other Bernstein that could tell the same story – they are too fucking terrified to tell the truth. So before you start calling me crazy, you might want to be little more understanding on what I have fucking witnessed! Do you understand me?!”
“Okay! Okay! I understand!”
I got the chance to calm down as I sat on my chair. I poured myself another glass and softly said, “Look, I’m sorry I screamed at you. I know this doesn’t make any logical sense but I know what I saw and it was real. It really screwed me up but I’m not crazy.”
Daniel calmed down as well. “It’s okay, I understand.” He politely asked, “Did you ever find out what this creature was?”
“No. I couldn’t find anything that even closely resembled what I witnessed. Whatever it is however, I have no doubt that it’s still out there and it’s hungry.”
Daniel grew nervous once more. “Mr. Bernstein… I have a confession to make. My grandfather was a Nazi soldier but I strongly disagree with his actions and his views and that’s why I’m writing this book. But… this monster, you said he specially targeted men like him. If I’m related, does that mean I’m next?”
“Well, I highly doubt he’ll try to hunt you down for that reason but just in case he confronts you, just don’t tell him about your grandfather. From what I have seen, he doesn’t kill innocent people. Just don’t piss him off. And above all, whatever happens, do not bleed.”
Daniel had enough and gathered his gear and walked out the door. “Thank you for your time, Mr. Bernstein. I must be going now. Have a good night.” All I did in response was lift my glass and softly said, “Cheers.” I knew he was terrified but at least he listened to my story. I know what you’re thinking: “How could this be real? The textbooks would’ve described this.” Oh, please. Those damn history books never reveal secrets that weren’t meant to be told to the world. However, that’s the problem. Nobody knows who this creature was, where did he come from or why he was there. All I know is that he’s angry, inexplicably powerful and kills any Nazi that crosses his path. With that motivation, I still remain unsure whether he was a brute vigilante or just a beast lusting for blood.
As a storm approached, it began to rain unnaturally hard. Seeing my old sketch of the figure I have made a long time ago hoping I would find anything like it, I approached it with a smile while finishing my drink. As I stared right into those hypnotic white eyes, I asked myself…
“What the fuck are you?”
Credit: Gage Garza