Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

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Reading Passages for slide (12)

Page 22

slide12February 5, 1941

Through a show window in a store I can see the reflections of various people. The spectacle is now familiar to me: a poor man enters to buy a quarter of a pound of bread and walks out. In the street he impatiently wrenches a piece off the gluey mass and puts it in his mouth. An expression of contentment spreads over his entire face, and in a moment the whole lump of bread has disappeared. Now his face expresses disappointment. He rummages in his pocket and draws out his last copper coins…not enough to buy anything. All he can do now is to lie down in the snow and wait for death. Or perhaps go to the community administration? It is no use. Hundreds like him are already there. The woman behind the desk who receives them and listens to their story is sympathetic; she smiles politely, and tells them to come back in a week. Each of them must wait his turn, but few of them will live through the week. Hunger will destroy them, and one morning another body of an old man with a blue face and clenched fists will be found lying in the snow.

What are the last thoughts of such people, what makes them clench their fists so tautly? Surely their last glance was cast at the window of the store across the street where they have laid themselves down to die. In that show window they see white bread, cheese, and even cakes, and they fall into their last sleep dreaming of biting into a loaf of bread.

Every day there are more such “dreamers of bread” in the streets of the ghetto. Their eyes are veiled with a mist that belongs to another world… Usually they sit across from the windows of food stores, but their eyes no longer see the loaves that lie behind the glass, as though in some remote, inaccessible heaven.

Mary Berg, p. 48