A/N: The Jewish council in the ghetto was called the Judenrat. All character's are fictional.
It has been a long, terrible day. The closet where the Judenrat meet is stifling hot from the August heat and the thirty sweltering bodies inside of it. The Nazis will come before sundown to review the names of those who we are sending away to die. Tomorrow, the unknowing wretches will be taken away on trains; within twenty-four hours of arriving at the death camps, they will be dead. The council only needs a few more names to fill the quota of sixty.
"Menachem's daughter?" I suggest. The others look at me, disgusted. Menachem has been one of our greatest and bravest allies. He smuggled in medicine and food for the ones who needed it the most. The Nazis are desperate to find him. A few months back, they found his wife helping him in an ally and shot her on the spot. Deborah, his child, is the only remnant of family that he has.
"She's barely begun to live. The ghetto is no place for such a young child. It's a miracle she hasn't fallen ill yet. It's only a matter of time now. She's too innocent to live in this world of chaos and hatred. Let her go with Meta. Her live will end quickly and she will be with God and her mother." As gruesome as it may be, my final reason was if not a child, the Nazis would demand an able bodied adult; someone who would be more essential to the ghetto than a helpless infant. The Judenrat knew this as well. They voted in my favor, in Deborah's demise.
"You tell the father," one of the few who had voted against me spat. He was Menachem's close friend.
I left the coatroom and made my way down the stairs; picking around the exhausted women and children sprawled about. I knew each one by name, or used to. The bodies whose only greeting was to raise their lifeless eyes to meet mine were more dead than alive. I found Menachem on the last step trying to ease the babe into some semblance of sleep in the miserable heat.
"Menachem," he turned slightly to acknowledge my presence but then went back to soothing his daughter, "What would you do to put Deborah in a place where she'd be safe, healthy?"
"Anything," he replied earnestly. I paused for a moment, searching for the right words. Menachem would be difficult to lie to. He knew more than most about the parties who left Warsaw, and never came back.
"We're being allowed to send some of our women and children to a Catholic hospital to the south. It would be a safer place for Deborah…proper meals…sanitary… And you would be able to get her back when the war's over."
"Since when are the Nazis merciful?" Menachem asked suspiciously.
"That's the frightening part; the Nazis don't know. This is a secret mission. The party leaves a few hours before dawn, while it's still dark," I lied.
"Maybe I should go with, they could use me,"
"No!" I contradicted a little too quickly. "You are needed here. Deborah will be fine. She'll travel with Meta; you know how responsible that girl is."
At last, Menachem succumbed to my falsehoods. When the goats going to slaughter were ready to depart; the weary man slowly handed his only child over to Meta. For the final time, he looked me in the eye and asked, "Will she be safe?"
"Of course," I assured him. I returned his gaze but my heart broke to do so. Menachem was never the same after I sent Deborah away. Two months before the war ended, the Nazis found him and executed him before the ghetto as one of their twisted examples. Every one of us, the innocent Jews, deserved to live; but Menachem, I dearly wish that I could have died in the stead of him and his daughter. With the power I had on the Judenrat, maybe I should have offered myself. In the face of evil, people always do things that they later regret.