In any historical fiction, there are real and fictitious characters. Esther Ruth Raul is fictitious; however, Kurt Gerstein really existed.
Born in 1905 into an old Prussian family, Mr. Gerstein was very active in the Christian anti-Nazi Resistance as well as the Federation of German Bible Circles as a young man. He joined the Nazi party in 1933, but because of his outspoken critique of Nazi blasphemies, he was expelled and later sentenced to a term in a concentration camp. In 1940, he became an SS officer with plans to infiltrate the Third Reich and expose its dark secrets.
Kurt was never involved with running a brothel; however he was responsible for purchasing the gas used in the gas chambers.
Esther was ordered to stand by the door and wait for the other girls to finish, pain shooting up and down her arm from the tattoo. Finally, the last of the girls were finished, most of them whimpering from the pain and fear of what was happening. What next? Who cares, Esther thought morbidly. As she leaned against the wall, she felt her locket give way. She frantically clutched at it, but before she could stop its descent, it clattered to the floor at her feet. All eyes were upon her. The woman officer, who seemed to be in charge, looked at her with eyes of menacing steel. She coolly and slowly walked over to Esther, standing inches from her; the woman’s hot breath blew from her nostrils into Esther’s face as she coldly stared into her eyes—pools of terror. Without warning, the woman struck a hard blow across Esther’s face, sending her reeling to the floor. She felt a shoe on her neck as the woman reached down to pick up the necklace.
“You little fool,” the woman spat at her. “Take her out of here!”
“You forget whose she is Frau Stedder,” a voice as calm and cool as an Artic breeze spoke. Esther could not see him but knew it was the officer who had taken her from the platform.
“But Officer Gerstein, you know the rules! She tried to hide this from us,” she whined, waving the locket in his direction; Gerstein casually glanced at the locket and then back at the woman.
“And are you more concerned with the rules or with keeping the trinket?” Kurt knew much of the Jewish jewelry never made it to the official stockpile. Stedder would keep quiet, for she knew that he too would keep her secrets. She vehemently dropped the locket into his outstretched hand, spun on her heels and returned to her desk for the tattoo order form. She curtly placed it in his hand and without a word, continued her duties, dismissing him by her silence. He turned to the girls, his eyes locking with Esther’s for just a moment, “Follow me.” Esther scrambled to her feet as they all reached for their satchels, Gerstein simply stated, “Leave them.”
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