All that we found of their existence was a crumbling box in a dark corner of the abandoned apartment. Inside, a pencilled diary and a dress of grey folded neatly its white pique collar spoiled by spots of rust from the pin of a cheap brooch. As I read through the pages, I felt the cloth of the dress between my fingers and a vivid scene played out in my mind. Late 1942, a young woman abandoned and alone in the once grand apartment of her Jewish employers. It was almost six months since they had been dragged away to their awful fate.
Each of the few people she had known had by now disappeared from the city. She starved a little more each day, the money had run out and everything worth anything at all had been stolen from the ravaged rooms.
At last she was befriended by a soldier who brought her food and broke up the shutters and doors for firewood. They lay in the flickering light clinging to each other. Her pale straight hair spread out over the pillow while she thought about how she might have died silently in the dark with no-one left to mourn her passing.