Every Man For Himself

Brandi Daniels
3 min readNov 10, 2020


Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

Desperate times call for desperate measures in our society. When things are at their worst, people became greedy and selfish to make sure that they have everything that they need to keep them comfortable and last them for a long period of time. Looking at the recent chaos with the effects of the coronavirus where people became so scared and frantic because they did not know what the outcome would be. Early in the year, all countries affected by the virus were required to quarantine in their homes in hopes to limit the spread and prevent people from contracting the virus. There was not way of telling how long we would be in quarantine even though we were originally told that it would be for only two weeks. Those two weeks turned into months and resulted in businesses and schools shutting down. In response to these restrictions will also being required to follow a curfew, people began stocking up on goods as if the end of the world was near. One popular good that people made sure to stock up on was toilet tissue. People would literally buy several packs of toilet paper and food which left many others without anything. In general, people became greedy when there was really need.

During the time of the Holocaust, things were much different than they are today. The Jews were met with life threatening struggles in which their identity was forcibly taken away from them. All of their resources for food and supplies were limited and they were lucky enough to even get a hold of a loaf of bread. They had to be crafty with figuring out ways to trade with people who had access to these resources. They began using coupons and trading their valuables to be able to feed themselves and their families. It was difficult enough for them before being taken to the concentration camps. If they were caught doing these things, they would suffer serious consequences in which it was made illegal to do so.

As we are approaching the life Vladek lived in the camps, he explains how he had to make trades for peoples lives. The Nazi’s would separate the Jews into different groups: women and children, men, weak and strong. He had to trade with someone whom he once called a friend already inside of the ghetto to keep his family together. However, after he got a few of his family members in, the friend ended up taking the last valuable for himself and went on about his business. Vladek couldn’t even be upset because he did what he could and he needed to secure his safety before anyone else’s.

One they all arrived in the camps, Vladek explained how the spoons they were given to eat their food were worth a lot. His friend Mandelbaum was suffering because of the the large clothes he was given which resulted in him having to hold his pants with one hand at all times. At one point he dropped his spoon and spilt his food when he trying to pick it up only to notice that somebody quickly stole it. Vladek stated that, “For a spoon you could get a half day’s bread. There were people who thought it best to help each other out during these hard times but they were others who only thought of themselves. I think that we would have actually needed to be in the situation to truly understand why people did the things they did.