Yuri Androstein sat in his old beat up Plymouth
Duster. He had been at this spot for 2 hours now. Hopefully his vigil would
end within another hour.
He eyed the houses up and down the nice looking street. The early morning sun illuminated the manicured lawns, the little picket fences, the nice little homes, sitting side ny side up and down the block.
'Looks like a good place to live', he thought to himself, as he emptied the thermos of coffee into his plastic cup.
He blew the steam off the top of the black, hot coffee, then he took a gentle sip as his mind wandered back in time. Back to when his Grandmother was alive, telling young Yuri of how she had come to America, met his grandfather, and raised a beautiful daughter, who had a son named after his grandfather.
She told Yuri of the old country, how beautiful it was, and how rich in God worshipping people. She rarely spoke of the war that tore her family apart. Rarely, that was, until Yuri attended a display of a thing called the "Holocaust", at the town's museum .
Yuri was just fifteen when he saw the horror that his people had been through. The pictures still stuck in his mind. The bald, naked, starved people, lying in a mass grave, with uniformed soldiers standing above them, holding smoking rifles. The black and white photos of the death camps, the photos found by the rescuing armies of the U.S.
The torture chambers, the experimental labs. It had all stuck in his mind, and had obsessed him to this very day.
When he got home for the museum display, young Yuri asked his grandmother about what had happened. He remembered her breaking down and crying as he told of the picture that touched him the most, a black and white photo of a little girl, naked, lying in the mud. Her tiny hand held a ragged, dirty doll. The doll had a Star Of David drawn on it's naked chest.
And the little girl's arm had a number on it.
His grandmother said, "I suppose you are old enough to know the truth, perhaps it is time the whole world knows the truth."
At that, she rolled up her sleeve and showed Yuri a number tattooed on her forearm. It was amazing that she had kept it hid from him for so long.
She told him of how the German Nazis had broken down their door one night. Her father resisted them, and a German in black boots shot him in the head. Shot her mother too.
As she held her sister and cried, the German walked over to them. He squatted down to face them in their crouched position.
"I am Captain Fritz Ewalder, of the Nazi SS. I have liberated your parents from their miserable existence." he had told the young girls. Then he smiled an evil grin and shouted to the other soldiers, "Take them away!"
Yuri's Grandmother and her sister were taken away from their hometown. Along with the cloth Star Of David that they had both had to wear for several months before, they received a number tattooed on their arms.
They were also stripped of all their clothes and their heads were shaved bald.
Her sister only lasted 14 months, until she came down with a bad cough, and died in her sleep.
But she had survived. She had seen the horror of the death camp. She had smelled the flesh burning in the big incinerators. She could smell the human hair in her pillows and mattresses. She saw it all.
One night the whole camp was in an uproar. The Germans were marching the Jews into the incinerators unusually fast on this night. Yuri's Grandmother stood naked in the long line of people. Then the bombing started.
Everyone ran and hid, or at least the ones who had the strength to run.
She hid under the floor of a barracks. She was there, cuddled up like an animal when the Russian soldiers found her.
They took care of her and dropped her off at a makeshift orphanage. She later found her way to some relatives in America. She met Yuri's grandfather, and they began a life all new. She had put the horrors of the war behind her. Until that day.
Yuri's Grandmother died two years after telling him the story. But the story lived on in Yuri. And the name of the Nazi that killed his people remained etched in his memory.
Yuri devoted his life to learning more of the Holocaust. He studied
the plight of his people, and the flight of the evil Nazis. He met up with
another young man, who introduced him to a radical Jewish group who secretly
hunted down the Nazi criminals and brought them to justice.
They trained him and taught him the ways of a soldier.
He thanked God when they offered him this assignment. It was coincidence that the group had been following up on the very Nazi who his grandmother had spoken of.
But to Yuri it was more. It was a gift from God. It was God's will that he get this one..
But if the group had known that it was so personal they might have chosen another. This is why Yuri didn't tell them.
"Good bye Granpappy!" Yuri was snapped back from his deep concentration
by the shout of a young girl. A young woman of about 25 and a girl of around
7 or 8 was getting into a white Nova in front of the house Yuri had been
He watched as the white car pulled away from the curb and disappeared down around the corner.
He knew that now was the time. He took a large gulp of coffee, then
winced as he found the coffee had grown cold. He screwed the cup back onto
the thermos and threw it in the floorboard.
He pulled a file folder from a briefcase and opened it. He looked over the pictures that he had already looked over a dozen times. The house that he had been watching. Pictures of an old man at the door, waving to the white Nova. The Nova returning in the afternoon. Recon pictures of the alleyway beside the house, and the telephone wire that ran down the wall to a box.
Yuri patted the gun tucked away in it's holster under his jacket. He ran his hand along the collapsible tripod and the video cam that was also under his jacket.
He pulled on his white hard hat, with the emblem of the local phone company printed on the front. He checked the rear view mirror, grabbed the envelope and crawled out of the car.
As he walked down the sidewalk, he thought of how he would kill the monster. A monster who devoured so many of his people, for no reason at all. It seemed un-fitting to him that such a monster should die for a reason. Even if that reason was as evil as revenge.
Yuri stopped for a moment and thought about that. 'Revenge?' he said to himself, 'No, it is justice that I seek!'
He continued down the sidewalk until he came to the white house. He looked around. No one in sight. He knew it would be this way. His group had been watching this neighborhood for 2 months. All the young people had gone to school or work, the old back to bed, and the housewives were either catching up on the latest gossip on the phone or chatting on the internet.
He dashed into the narrow alleyway between the two houses. He knew the people next door had already left for work. He saw them leave earlier. The man was all alone in the house. It couldn't be better than this. The Holy God was with Yuri Androstein today. God and an army of Jewish brothers and sisters!
He walked swiftly down beside the house. He passed a window and stopped. He saw the man inside! He quickly ducked below the window sill. Yuri slowly inched up until he could see inside the room. It was the kitchen.
An ancient figure stood just a few feet away. He was bent and he seemed to be leaning onto something. Maybe an aluminum walker. Lucky for Yuri, the man's back was to the window.
Yuri watched the old man as he moved slowly between the table and
the kitchen sink. He seemed to be washing dishes. Yuri watched as he turned.
The man looked to be a thousand years old. Not much like the photo that
Yuri had in the envelope. He pulled out the picture and looked at it.
The man in the house was a lot older than the picture, but it was definitely him.
The man had on very thick glasses, and Yuri thought that he couldn't have seen him at the window, even if he was facing it.
Yuri placed the photo back into the manilla envelope and crept on
past the window. He came to a small box mounted on the wall. It had a black
cable running into it. He knew from his training that this was the telephone
He pulled a pair of wire cutters from his pocket and snipped the wire, close to the box.
He then made his way around the house to the back door.
He walked up to the door. The door had no windows, but their was a peephole. But Yuri knew it was mounted too high for the old man to use. He probably had not been able to stand that straight in a long time.
Yuri knocked on the door.
"Who is there?" came the voice of the old man inside.
"Telephone company!" shouted Yuri, as he heard the slow footsteps and the clank on the walker against the floor.
"I aint called no telephone company!" shouted the old man as he got closer to the door. Yuri noticed that the slang the old man used didn't seem authentic. Seemed like it was more or less trained.
"We detected trouble on your line. I need to come inside and check it out." replied Yuri, trying to mask the slight Yiddish slang that he had picked up from his grandmother.
The door slowly opened, stopped short by the chain on the inside of the door.
Yuri's heart raced as he came face to face with the man who had almost
destroyed his family.
But the face he saw looked old, tired, and worn out. The old man's eyes were glazed over, and his teeth were gone, except for a couple of rotted stumps.
"How do I know you're from the telephone company?" the old man said.
"Hey. I got the hat." Yuri replied as he pointed to the telephone emblem on his hard hat.
The old man looked up to the hat, then back down to Yuri's eyes.
Looking over the rim of the thick glasses he stared at Yuri. The old man
could sense something wrong here.
"Telephone company always uses the front door!" shouted the old man as he slammed the door.
Yuri could hear the old man fumbling with the door's lock.
He knew that it was now or never.
With a swift kick he bashed in the door. The door swung wide, breaking the chain and hitting the old man. The old man was knocked back onto the floor, his walker crashing on top of him.
Yuri jumped in through the door and slammed it behind him. He pulled the gun from its holster and pointed it at the old man.
"Who are you?" asked the old man, trembling as he lay on the floor, "What do you want?
I have no money, I'm old and living on welfare, it's not even the first of the month so I am dead broke!"
"Shut up!" shouted Yuri, holding the gun with both hands. "I don't want your money!"
"Then what?" asked the old man.
"Get up!" shouted Yuri.
"I can't," replied the old man in a softer tone of voice. "I have the rumitise in my legs, and I think you broke my hip."
Yuri looked at him laying on the floor. After a minute, he laid the gun on the table. Grabbing the old man under his arms, he pulled him to a chair as the old man whimpered and yelled, complaining of his hip hurting.
Yuri plopped the old man down in the chair.
The old man moaned and grabbed his hip.
Yuri picked up the gun.
Seeing that the old man was pretty much unable to put up a fight, Yuri put the gun back in it's holster. He then pulled the video cam and the tripod from his jacket, untied them from the string that was around his neck, and set them up in the corner.
He switched on the camera and a small flood light that was attached to it. He then focused the camera on the old man. He then pressed the "record" button.
"What is this?" asked the old man.
"Are you Fritz Ewalder?" asked Yuri.
"Who?" replied the old man.
"Fritz Ewalder. Ex Nazi SS officer, assigned to round up the Jews during World War Two?"
"I don't know what you are talking about!" shouted the old man. "My name is Albert Wertz. I was never in the German army. I was a baker in Austria during the war. You have the wrong man!"
Yuri looked at the old man. The old man looked back. With eyes filled with pain the old man said, "Get out of my house!"
Yuri pulled out the envelope. He opened it and threw a photo on the
table in front of the old man. The photo was an old close up of a German
The old man slowly picked up the photo and studied it. Looking first over his glasses at it, then through the thick lenses he said, "This aint me. This don't prove nothing." Then he slid it back across the table to Yuri.
Yuri withdrew another photo, looked at it, then at the old man. He then held it up and said, "This is a computer aged photo, which depicts how you would probably look today."
The photo looked amazingly like the old man did today.
The old man turned his head and stared out the window.
"You killed more than 20 Jewish men and women, most of them in front of their children." Yuri said in a harsh tone of voice. "Then you took the children, placed them on a trains to the death camps. Most of them died there, you knew they would die. It would have been more humane if you had killed the children too."
The old man said nothing, but stared out the window.
Yuri pulled a photo out of the envelope and held it up to the old man. The old man wouldn't look at it, but continued to stare out the window.
"Look at it!" yelled Yuri as he grabbed the old man's head and turned it to the photo.
The old man stared at the photo, and a tear come to his cloudy eyes.
It was a photo of a pile of dead Jews, stacked up like garbage.
The old man's hands began to tremble.
Yuri pulled out another photo. It was one of his Grandmother, took when she was rescued by the Allied armies.
"But not all the children died." Yuri said as he handed the old man the photo.
"My Grandmother lived, and she told me the story of how you killed people in her neighborhood, how you kidnapped women and children, sending them off to their death in far away places."
The old man took the old black and white photo and looked at it. A tear streamed down his face as he touched the picture of a young girl, thin, bald, and sad.
"What do you want from me?" the old man asked as he looked up at Yuri.
"I want my Grandmother's life back."
"What life? I didn't kill your grandmother!"
"No, but you killed her life, the life she had. You stole her childhood, and scarred her for life."
"I did nothing, I am not the man you are looking for."
Yuri starred at the old man, he swore he could here the remnants of a German accent.
"I know you are. You are a murderer, admit it!!" screamed Yuri as he pulled out his gun.
The old man was scared. He had regretted his past for a long time, he figured that perhaps now it was catching up to him, time to pay the piper.
"I am a Christian!" he cried, "I am a God fearing man, please leave me alone."
"Are you Fritz Ewalder?" shouted Yuri.
The old man dropped his head onto the photos. He silently said, "Yes."
"What?" shouted Yuri.
"Yes!" screamed Ewalder, as he lifted his head, tears streaming down his wrinkled face. "I am the man who you have come for."
"Then in the name of The Jewish Nation, and my dear Grandmother, I hereby sentence you to death!" said Yuri as he pulled back the hammer of the gun.
"You cant do this!" shouted Ewalder, "This is America! I deserve a trial!"
"I give you the same trial you gave my people!" shouted Yuri. He felt a rush of excitement. Finally he was going to see what it felt like to be in control over these monsters that he had heard so much about. He was enjoying the moment, watching the old man sweat, and cry.
Suddenly a young girl ran into the house saying, "Granpappy, I forgot my back pack!"
She stopped quickly and froze in fear at the site of Yuri holding a gun to her Granpappy's head.
"Granpappy, I cant believe that Suzanne left her..." the little girl's mom appeared in the room. When she saw the sight that her daughter had just seen, she screamed and grabbed the little girl.
"Oh my God!" she screamed, "Please what ever you want, take it. Just don't hurt us. Please." she pleaded with Yuri.
Ewalder looked up into Yuri's eyes and softly said, "Please, not in front of my children."
Suddenly the room began to spin for Ewalder and Yuri. The woman and her child disappeared. The modern furniture and decor disappeared.
Ewalder found himself kneeling on the floor. He was wearing a black
suit. He looked down at a bright yellow Star Of David patch that was sewn
to his shirt. He looked over at his wife, who had been dead for 20 years.
She was crouched on the floor, hugging their children. All were wearing
the Star Of David. He looked up at the tall man in the bright black uniform,
the broken cross emblem proudly displayed. And he saw the Luger pistol,
pointing right at his face.
He looked up into the face of his tormentor. It was the face of Yuri, and he was grinning. An evil grin. A grin of hate.
Yuri found himself in another place also. He was wearing the black uniform of a Nazi SS agent. He was holding a gun at Ewalder, who was kneeling in front of him on the floor. He looked down on the old man, who, somehow didn't look all that old anymore. He wanted to kill this man. He needed to kill this man. This man was the enemy, the scum who had no right to live. Yuri didn't seem to notice the Star Of David that Ewalder wore. His finger tightened on the trigger.
"Please." pleaded Ewalder, "Not in front of my children."
Yuri squinted his eyes. He savored what would come now. This was his destiny. It was no doubt the reason he was born.
Then Yuri heard the little girl, who was crouched in the corner with her mother, say, "Please don't shoot my Daddy."
Yuri looked over at the little girl. It was Yuri's Grandmother. She repeated through her tears, "Please don't kill him."
Suddenly a bright light flashed and the two men were back in the present time.
Both of the men were shaking wildly. Yuri looked at the woman and her child.
"I said to not shoot my Granpappy!" said the little girl, tears streaming down her face.
Yuri looked at Ewalder, who had his head buried in his hands, saying, "Lord, please forgive me!"
A new feeling raced through Yuri. He didn't know what to do. It was as if someone had pulled a rug out from under him.
Yuri put the gun back in its holster, grabbed the camera and ran from the house.
The young woman ran over to Ewalder and hugged him. "What was all this about?" she asked him.
"They all begged me to not do it in front of their children!" Ewalder cried.
The woman looked down at the pile of black and white photographs. She picked them up and looked at them. The ones of the starving Jews, the piles of dead people. The photo of her Grandfather when he was much younger, wearing a Nazi uniform.
"Oh my God, Granpappy, tell me it's not true." she said.
But Ewalder didn't answer. All he could think of were the faces of the men who begged him not to kill them in front of their children. But another thought crept into his head, the .22 pistol that was in his dresser drawer.
Yuri hurried down the street to his car. He threw the camera in the
back seat and jumped in. He sped off.
He knew that he had failed in his mission. He was to bring in the last Nazi.
Oh he had never really intended on killing Ewalder, just put the fear of God in him, before he brought him in for trial. But he had failed. He didn't have the Nazi in his custody, and he knew that Ewalder would be gone forever now. He let his organization down. He let the Jewish Nation down. And he let his grandmother down.
Or did he? Maybe it was time to end the hate. Maybe that was the message that his grandmother had tried to tell him all along.
Yuri pulled out onto the freeway, he knew that he would no longer be a Nazi hunter, he knew that the group would no longer want him, and maybe he didn't want this kind of life anyway. He had touched hate, maybe it was disguised as revenge, but it was hate none the less, and he didn't like it. But he could have liked it. He liked the feel of being over another person, being able to decide if that person would live or die. Having that person's fate in his very hands felt good for one brief moment in his life. And perhaps he would have turned from his teachings, had it not been for his grandmother, who was there during Yuri's trial.
As he sped down the freeway, Yuri couldn't help but think of his Grandmother's fresh baked biscuits.
It is estimated that 20,000 Jews, Poles, Russians, and mentally and
physically handicapped people were killed by the Nazi government. I don't
have any proof of this, but I do have proof of the ability of man's inhumanity
to man. To see this proof, consult your history books.
Nor do I judge them. Their judgment is God's.
This story is a view, an opinion of my view, of the Holocaust, of which the evidence is too big to prove wrong.
Copyrighted 1998 by Ken Rager