- Student: Sarai Diaz
- Teacher: Ms. Sarah Classon
- School: Montessori at Roseborough, Mount Dora, Florida
- History Class assignment: Choose a book to read and reflect on. Sarai chose Facing the Lion: Memoirs of a Young Girl in Nazi Europe by Simone Arnold Liebster
- Grade: 8
- Age: 14
That Could Have Been Me
by Sarai Diaz
The Holocaust has always been a subject of interest to me. I knew that every person went through immense oppression in the Holocaust, but reading individual experiences from people really touched my heart and made the Holocaust so much more vivid, as if I was right there next to them, thinking ‘that could have been me.’ But the truth is that I had never thought about what it would be like if I was in their place, if I was there sitting in my bed wondering if my father would ever come home, if I heard the pounding of Nazi soldiers at my door, if I had to be sent far from my family just to stay alive. What it would be like to live in constant fear of what lie ahead. That was not just fiction for Simone, it was a horrifying truth that haunted her.
I put myself in the place of Simone Arnold Liebster, a Jehovah Witness girl living in Nazi Germany in the time of WWII. She was only a 9 year old child when the war started. She lived a quiet life out in the country on the border of Germany and France. One day, her father didn’t come home and she said, “That terrifying day the Nazis started to tear apart my world, piece by piece.” At the age of 12, she was even taken from her mother and placed in a reform school in Germany, because she refused to compromise her faith.
Simone went through more tribulations than I will ever be able to grasp. She didn’t let the constant persecution weigh her down. She had the option to renounce her faith and be set free or remain a “Bible Student” and keep on enduring the persecution. She says “ I picked up the paper stating that I would stay a Bible Student and signed it in front of the judge.” Her love for her faith and our God, Jehovah, made her strong enough to make this decision on her own.
Like Simone, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and I have been since infancy. If I had lived in Nazi Germany in the time of WWII then that could have been me. I am not the perfect German. I don’t take sides on political issues because I only give my support to one Kingdom, God’s Kingdom, that is spoken of in the Bible. I would have been classified as an ‘undesirable’ and persecuted for it. I was deeply moved by Simone’s life experience because she never gave up, no matter how hard things got. She never gave up her faith, she never lost hope, she never stopped moving forward. She showed me that no matter how hard things get, if you love something enough, no one, no one can take that away from you.