Monday, September 24, 2007

Two Hard Workers

This book reminds of a story I once heard. I don't remember who told it to me, I don't know if there is any truth to it, and to tell you the truth I've forgotten it till now. The story concerned two Jews in a concentration camp. One's name was Josiah. Josiah was not very smart. The most common thing said about him was, “I think he might have brain damage.” Josiah was a hard worker but not a good worker. At the concentration camp they were forced to make boots for the Nazis and Josiah kept messing up and causing problems for the other workers. People were always saying, “We're in a concentration camp probably to die at any moment, and Josiah is making things worse for us.”

The other's name was Yosef. Yosef was a hard and good worker.But Yosef never stopped talking.
Yosef would start talking as soon as he woke up till the second he went to sleep. Yosef didn't need anyone to respond to anything he said either, he would keep talking no matter what. People were always telling Yosef to shut up but Yosef never listened, people often said of Yosef, “Why won't he shut up, we are so miserable, life is so hard, and he keeps talking.”

Yosef would also do things like if he stepped on a nail and got cut he would go around telling everyone how he got his foot cut and people would reply, “Yosef, we're in a fucking concentration camp waiting to die, who cares about a little cut.” Yosef wouldn't respond to that though, and would go on telling everyone about his cut foot.

Yosef also made friends with the Nazis. He would talk to the Nazi bosses and try to make friends with them. People would tell him, 'Yosef, the Nazis hate us. They're laughing at you.”

Yosef would respond, “No, the Nazis love me.”

People would walk away in anger.

Josiah though made great potato soup with very little ingredients. Josiah would prepare the soup and everyone would feast and people would say, “Josiah messes up a lot, but he does make great soup.”

One day there was no food. And many were close to starvation, so Josiah took it upon himself, maybe because of empathy, bravery, or because he actually had brain damage to steal some food.

Josiah crawled through deep snow and through barb wire in the night to break into the Nazi food supplies. Josiah broke into the supply shed and got out one box and pushed it slowly through mud and snow while crawling for over two hours back to the barracks for people to eat; knowing the whole time if he were caught it would be the last thing he ever did.

Everyone was so hungry they chewed on the uncooked potatoes in the night. Yosef though, did not eat the potatoes. He went to the Nazi bosses and told them what Josiah did.

The Nazis marched in the barracks where the starving Jews were. The Nazis grabbed the potatoes from their starving fingers. One Nazi ripped the food out of a small girl's mouth. The Nazis shot Josiah in the head. Josiah lay there still and quiet never to mess up at work again. The starving Jews looked at dead Josiah, the person that tried to save them who they always said had brain damage. Then they looked up at Yosef standing next to the Nazis. Yosef stood smiling with not an once of remorse on his face.

The Nazis shot all the starving Jews that ate the potatoes. They laid there dying. Their waiting was over, in their last moments they didn't know who to blame, Josiah for stealing, Yosef for snitching, or the Nazis. They bled to death before they could decide on someone to blame.

The Nazis never killed Yosef. Yosef lived through the war and still lives. No one ever knew Yosef did that, the starving Jews were dead and the Russians had killed the Nazis there that night.

After The War was over Yosef went to America and became a successful business man. He got married and divorced several times and had several kids. He can be found in Florida living in a retirement community getting a tan next to a pool.”

10 comments:

Ken Baumann said...

America is full of Yosefs.

jereme said...

I believe the proper word for Yousef is kike. I may not be spelling it correctly.

I would blame the Russians for not rescuing us a few hours sooner.

Anonymous said...

this, this is capitalism. At its core essence. There are petit bourgeois assholes even in concentration camps. Maybe especially in concentration camps. Capitalism is borne of scarcity. Fascism is borne of capitalism...

jereme said...

There are shades of assholes everywhere. I am sure there is at least one asshole residing in the spacestation at all times.

An asshole is orbiting around us as we speak.

A floating asshole of immense proportions.

But I don't see the correlation between Capitalism and Yousef.

I enjoy your enthusiasm though.

Of course hatred is always done with great enthusiasm.

adam said...

I don't think this story is supposed to be about communism or capitalism, or blaming either for suffering. I think it's about what people try to do for their own survival and dignity; one assures one's own survival but not their dignity by a selfish act, while another assures their dignity but not their survival by a selfless one. I think the story was written in the way it was written to avoid blaming either man for the deaths.

Had the Jews known the Nazis were planning to exterminate all of them before the Russians could liberate the camp, and Yosef's decision to betray them therefore had no effect on their fate, it would be impossible to blame Yosef for saving himself.

Had the Jews known the Russians were distracting the Nazis from monitoring the camp's food supplies down to the last box of potatoes, and therefore Josiah's decision to steal one would have gone wholly unnoticed, it would be impossible to blame Josiah for trying to feed people.

But neither happened. So both men acted with what little freedom they had. Both contributed to Josiah and everyone else's deaths. Yosef lived long enough to choose never to admit to the dignity he lost.

chapman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sabra Embury said...

If it is difficult for some not to hate everyone around them, then it is difficult to be nice all the time.

Anonymous said...

lamped up super-hide-away style.

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