A Story by Michael Carr

A story of the son of a nazi concentration camp guard and the young Jew he meets.

    My father is a large man, larger than a normal man. He's very important. People say so but they don't need to. I can tell he's important. He knows so. He wears a uniform. A fancy uniform with big, brass buttons and a silver belt. The news says silver is hard to find. It also says soap and buttons are hard to find, but we have plenty of them here, plenty of soap and buttons. The buttons barely shine and the soap has an odd smell, but I'm clean.
    My family lives in a small house. Not too small, but not very big. It's always cold here. Father says we are not to use the fireplace. We used to, but the trees have all been cut down. They're all dead. Mother can use the stove, but not for much. We eat from cans unless father comes back from hunting with food. That doesn't happen very often.
    It snows a lot here. I miss Germany. I have no friends here. The sons of Father's friends are all grown or gone.
    I woke one night and it was snowing. Across the field there stood a tiny, black building. I'd never noticed it before. It lay beyond the fences. The fences are sharp, made of wire and metal. Through the window of the building I could see an orange glow. Orange and bright. Outside there stood a line of people wearing striped clothes. Like a clown's clothes but black and white. Sad colors. They marched into the building, led by a man wearing a uniform like my father. A shadow passed over the light. The man in the uniform shut the door. Six soft pops, like the sound my cap guns made, rang out.
    The shadow moved and the glow returned. Black smoke came out from the chimney. The door swung open and father exited the building with three other men. They spoke a few words and parted.
    My father approached our house. He wore his gloves that night. There was something on them, something red. Dark red, almost black. He glanced into my bedroom window as he passed. I scrambled into bed and pulled the sheets to my chest.
    I could hear my father walk through the house, his boots beating against the wooden floorboards like a drum. I opened one eye. Through the crack below the door I could see the light from the hallway. My father's footsteps stopped. His shadow blocked the light. He stood there a long time.
    I shut my eyes. I may have fallen asleep. When I opened them again, he was gone.
    My father has a gun. A Luger, he calls it. It's very beautiful. Silver and black. He's a policeman, he says, and a guard. He carries the gun in a brown holster clipped to his belt. It's always loaded, he tells me, ready to fire. It's a beautiful weapon.
    I was walking in the snow one day bundled up in two coats. Mother said I should wear them both. I passed through the field towards the camp. The fence shined beneath the sunlight that made its way past the clouds. The black building stood beside the north fence. Smoke spilled from the chimney, not as strong, never as strong as when night fell. The smoke, the fires, never stopped.
    On the other side of the gate a boy sat huddled in the snow, hugging himself. His striped clothes looked too big to fit him. He glanced up as I approached, just for a few seconds, then looked back down. I sat across from him with my hands resting on the fence.
    "I'm Severin."
    He didn't lift his head as he spoke. "Maxwell."
    He shivered beneath his clothes.
    "Are you cold?" I asked, removing my jacket.
    "You can have my coat."
    I tried to toss the coat over the fence. It was so high up. It bounced off and drifted back down twice. On my third try it landed atop the barbwire and stuck there, halfway free, halfway trapped.
    "I'm sorry," I said.
    "It's okay."
    He wore a yellow star on his sleeve. "You're a Jew."
    "My father says you're evil."
    "Mine says the same about yours."
    He held something in his hands. I recognized the dull shine. A button."Where did you get that?"
    "It was my brother," he said, rubbing his finger across the piece.
    "Your brother is a button?"
    "He is now. Buttons and soap."
    I shook my head, he wasn't making sense. I watched the smoke rise from the chimney of the building behind him. "What do they burn in the fires?"
    He didn't speak. His arms shook.
    "Where is your father?"
    "They took him."
    "What�"" I began. There came the sound of singing.
    Maxwell covered his ears, the button held between his fingers.
    Across the camp, men in striped clothing emerged, ten in all, from different bunkers. From their lips came a song in a language I did not understand. The jovial song broke off as they approached their destination. They stopped in the middle of the square before a large statue of our leader. They stood side by side, like they'd rehearsed it many times before.
    From a chain gate five men in uniforms like Father's approached, holding rifles at their sides. They came to a halt about twenty feet away from the men and began to line up in a row.
    The men watched the guards. Six were Jews, their yellow stars standing out against the white snow and striped clothes. Many were scared. They had wide eyes that kept jumping from side to side. A Jew around Father's age stood still, however, with his eyes shut. He smiled. The men in uniform shot him through the head.
    When the gunfire fell silent, the men lay in the snow stained red with blood, their yellow stars bright, dead eyes turned up to the sky.
    One was still alive. He held his throat where the bullet hit. I could hear his choking. A guard crossed to where he lay, making sure to avoid stepping on the bodies. He drew his Luger and wiped the barrel with his sleeve, then shot the man two more times. The man’s struggles stopped and his hands fell.
      Maxwell was screaming. He beat his hands against his head. I watched the uniformed men drag the dead into the building. The smoke that rose grew stronger.
    A hand touched my shoulder. I turned. My father stood before me. I broke from his hold and ran through the snow. I could hear him calling my name but he didn't follow. I ran until the cold was too much. The camp was far behind, a dot in the distance.
    I sat in the snow, my head bowed, and struggled to breathe. A shadow stretched across the ground. I looked up. A single tree rose, bare of leaves and rocking with the wind. It was beautiful, the only one neither burned nor cut.
    I crawled to the tree and huddled beneath it, my back against its thin trunk. I put my face in my hands and cried.
    Mother wants me to wash, wash with soap. They force me now. I can't stand it. I walk the path near the fence every afternoon hoping to find Maxwell, but there's never a sign of him. He's gone. My jacket vanished as well. I hope he took it. I hope he's warm and safe.
    The smoke rises from the chimney every night with that same smell. The fires have to die eventually. How much can we burn? I know it can't last forever, but everyday more buttons and soap are sent out. So many buttons, do we really need that many?

© 2011 Michael Carr

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Featured Review

Brutally honest and a pretty good speaking voice for the young boy, perhaps a bit broken and abrupt but sometimes children tend to use such sentences. I do not like the wording " from afar"...it threw me off the voice, I've never heard a kid say "from afar"...they say "from far away" or "from far off" and at another point the boy says, " I watced the die" should be "the dying?" Overall a sympathetic read to the concentration camp horrors of Nazi Germany or Poland. A lot of gypsies and Polish died in the camps as well. A good write.

Posted 11 Years Ago

2 of 2 people found this review constructive.


Although this did have overtomes of 'The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas' it is a good story written with depth and empathy for what was taking place. One or two mistakes in the grammer, but hey it was a good piece.

Posted 7 Years Ago

I think that this is wonderful-
the sentences were a bit choppy, and the voice seemed a bit disrupted by too-eloquent sentences, but sometimes the choppiness is perfect for the tone. I would just suggest using it less. I loved the simple dialogue in the children... you really portrayed the differences between them perfectly. The last part was wonderful as well.
Overall, another great write.

And for the Boy In Striped Pajamas thing... there are many different stories with similar plots- that doesn't mean it's plagiarism. Has anyone ever read any fantasy books? Any epics? They're basically all the same plot. That's just how things are. That doesn't mean they're ripped from each other. Similar plots mean nothing, if it's made original by the writer of each one. That's what matters. And this was original, and interesting. So nice job. :)


Posted 9 Years Ago

Were you trying to remake 'The boy with the striped Pajamas'?

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I agree with Fabian on this one about the abrupt sentences. I do feel that it flows very well at certain points, thought. Also, just one more little typo:

"I sat in the freezing snow, my head bowed, struggling to breath." should be "I sat in the freezing snow, my head bowed, struggling to breathe." Apart from that, however, it was a great read. I honestly didn't realize what the story was about in the beginning, so you did a very good job keeping me intrigued. Great read. Thanks for sending the read request! (I should be able to read them more often now that I've returned to using this site)

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Boy with the buttons inspired the story. I've never read the book or seen the movie, never seen the film. so your facts are unsuported. the style is my own. the only similarity is that the child of a nazi officer meets a jew from the camps, everything else is different.

do you even know what plagerism is?

this work of mine was in fact plagerized on another site, youngwriterssociety.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Very nice! I really enjoyed this and the way it progressed, and from a childs perspective was a plus. Well done.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

This was amazing :]

I really really enjoyed reading this :]

Great job =D

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Very beautiful, and quite haunting. One think I absolutely love about this is how little dialogue you've used. I think that dialogue can pack a bigger punch, ya know? And that small section of conversation you used is a heavy hitter. I love how it comes full circle with the buttons and the soap. Well done.

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I dont often read the quote about what the story is about as I like to be surprised, And to tell the truth I is a VERY GOOD story, we often read or see things (films TV, other media) through our own eyes. I have the fortune of having a 7 yr old daughter who is very like me and she asks me questions all the time, and I love her innocence, this is what I like about this story, it is spoken through a child's eyes, the fact that we as an outside party know all about the holocaust but there was a lot of people in Germany how didn't know.

It a story where you can relate to the child on how is sudden realisation that his father murders those men, its very hard to understand how a child might react to that and I really think you have pulled it off!


Posted 11 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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24 Reviews
Added on November 20, 2008
Last Updated on May 13, 2011


Michael Carr
Michael Carr

Prosper, TX

My name is Michael Carr. I'm 20 years old now, god help me, attending UTD on a full ride scholarship in the Biology pre-Med program. IF YOU ARE READING THROUGH MY WORK FOR THE FIRST TIME, PLEASE HE.. more..


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