Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What Keeps a Man Alive

My father didn’t know why he didn’t die when so many of his friends did.
He once told a story about being hauled out of his barracks with hundreds of other prisoners for a roll call. It was a January night, snowing and below zero, and the men were in rags. The guards started doing a roll call, and as they read the names men began to drop from the cold, falling to their knees. A man here and another there and then more.
When the guards finished the roll, there were dozens of dead prisoners in front of the barracks. But they didn’t let the men go back in the barracks. Instead, the guards started the roll again, and more men collapsed.
That roll call went on for six hours. At the end, garbage trucks came to pick up the dead.
My father didn’t know what kept him alive.

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