Summer 2005 • Vol. XXVII No. 3 Fiction |

The Gendarme

From the Czech.  "The SS has a soft heart and a hard heart. It depends on you which heart I'll show you."—SS Camp Inspector Bergel of the Terezín Ghetto Near the end of my stay at Terezín, in September of 1944, I was getting extra rations and the chance to spend some time outside of the fortress-ghetto. This was because I was helping to build a new railroad spur for the Germans, one that would connect Terezín to the main line. After we finished with it they would be giving us the opportunity to travel along the new route, which they could have called the Terezín to Auschwitz-Birkenau Express. They wouldn't, though, be giving us round-trip tickets. So we knew that those empty boxcars, with their graffiti of pencil and chalk (Maria, don't come, it's full here), would come again and be filled with people. (That incomprehensible scrawl, which on first view didn't make sense: Warning, there's gas here.) All of whom would be headed east, to an unknown

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Arnošt Lustig, novelist, short-story writer, and screenwriter, left Prague during the Soviet invasion of 1968 and now teaches at American University in Washington, D.C. His novels include Dita Saxova, The Unloved: From the Diary of Perla S., and A Prayer for Katerina Horovitzova; his collections of short stories include Indecent Dreams, Diamonds of the Night, and Street of Lost Brothers. Among his films are Dita Saxova' and Diamonds of the Night. Almost all of Lustig's literary and film work explores the theme of the Holocaust and his experiences during the war. Arnošt Lustig's awards include a National Book Award nomination for A Prayer of Katerina Horovitzova, two Jewish National Book Awards, an Emmy for a television screenplay, and the Karel Capek Prize of the Czech Pen Club.

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