The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people//h/hron.john/the-murder-of-john-hron

Archive/File: people/h/hron.john/the-murder-of-john-hrun
Last-Modified: 1996/06/29

John Hron - English text, first draft.

Wednesday evening

It's wednesday evening, one of the last days of the summer vacation. 
John will start his next school year next monday, the 8th grade. He 
has had a good summer in many respects. His great interest is 
canoeing, and in July he won a bronze medal in the Swedish youth 

Before the end of the vacation John and a friend has decided to go 
camping by a lake about 8 kilometers from their home. The lake is a 
popular place for the youngsters in the neighborhood. John's mother 
drives them to the lake, and like all mothers she is a bit worried.  
The boys thinks she is fussy. That's the way young boys feel about 
their mother's worries.  They leave the car and follows the little 
path to the rocky cape at the south end of the lake.

That's where they are going to camp.

It's somewhere between eight and nine o'clock in the morning. 
The boys pitch the tent and light a fire near the shore. They 
are going to grill sausage. 

No one knows that this is the last evening in John's life. They sit 
there talking, having a lot of fun. What are they talking about? The 
past summer? Music? Canoeing? Girls? Mopeds? School, that is about 
to start?

The murder

It's the fire that attracts John's murderers. 

Four youngsters, two 
aged eighteen, one seventeen and one fifteen, all of them skinheads, 
come a bit later to the lake , at another cape. 

They sit there and drink - they are well supplied with beer
and liquor.  They shout to John and his comrade, but they do not 
answer, so they decide to find out who the people by the fire are.  
(Maybe this will be an enjoyable evening after all. Maybe 
they will find someone to pester.) 

The fifteen year old boy is sent to 
observe. He is delighed: one of the boys by the fire is John Hron, a boy 
he doesn't like. During the past school year he has harassed and mobbed 
and beaten him, even threatened to kill him. At school he has been called 
Rambo. Noone can say why he has been bullying John, maybee it is because 
he hasn't been submissive enough, like other pupils.  John is certainly 
tall (over180 cm) and solid (nearly 70 kg), but right now Rambo has a 
powerful back up.

The fifteen year old boy returns to his comrades and tell them that he 
has found a jerk and the idiot Hron by the fire. He wants all of them to 
go with him and beat John, he even suggests that they should kill him. 
The others wants to drink a little more, but between half past ten and 
eleven all of them tramp in at John's and his comrade's place.  The 
harassments starts right away. One of the eighteen year old boys thows 
a bottle on John's head, and starts to beat and kick him. John tumbles 
down. John has to say that he loves nazis.  

He refuses and gets more beating until he does what he is told. He gets 
more whipping anyway, maybe because he obviously has been lying when he 
previously said that he didn't like nazis. The fifteen year old boy takes 
over and gives John several hard kicks, of which one hits the back of his 
head. At this stage John is panic-stricken. At least three of the gang 
attacks him, often without any notice, sometimes from behind. His eyes 
are according to one of the prosecuted wide open like bowls, and he 
cannot focus his lock. It wanders constantly to and fro. He trembles 
and finally he sits on his heel, with his head in his hands in order to 
protect himself as well as he can against kicks and blows. That 
doesn't prevent him from getting more.  He gets a violent jump kick, 
kicks to his side and to the head. Again and again he falls from the 
violent kicks. Someone beats him with a burning log from the fire. 
Another one pushes him so that he falls into the fire. They light the 
tent on fire. They steal and destroy their things. John and his 
friend wants to go home but they are not permitted to do so. 
Instead they continue to attack John with kicks and punches. Finally 
he is left lying on the ground, his face bloody and swollen.

The picture of what really happens during the hideous hours is 
unclear. The murderers doesn't remember, or don't want to remember 
very much during the police investigation. They blame each other.  
Sometimes they make a pause in the torture. They insist that John 
shall have a beer, and the tone is friendlier. Nothing seems however 
to stop new outbursts of violence. It is not enough that John against 
all that he believes in has admitted that he love nazis. He has to take 
more beating anyway. They are the cats playing with the mouse, and they 
enjoy his anguish and fear. It's an intoxicating feeling for the four 
of them to have a scared boy so totally in their control. After a new 
outbreak of battering they thow him into the lake.

John swims away from them. He is in pain, dazed and scared, but he is 
a good swimmer. Soon the skinheads discovers that it wasn't a good idea 
to throw John into the lake. They can't beat him anymore. They yell at 
him, and demand that he come back, but he stays out in the lake for 
about fifteen minutes. Then one of them comes up with the idea to 
force John's comrade to cry to John that he will have to take the 
beating if John doesn't return.

While John is out on the lake the mood seems to go down for the 
skinheads. The other eighteen year old boy, who has been relatively 
passive during the assault, and the seventeen year old boy  are pleased. 
They want to go and they take John's comrade who is scared out of his 
wit with them. It is in just that moment John makes a disastrous 
decision: he turns back towards land. Is it because he is worried about 
his comrade? Does he think that all of the skinheads are about to leave, 
or does he think that they won't beat him anymore? He is in pain and he 
is scared, but he cannot understand the magnitude of the hate his 
tormentors feel. He is only fourteen years old. He doesn't understand 
that his two main torturers are drawn into a grotesque competition, a 
competition neither of them can afford to loose.  John's life is at 
stake, and right now it isn't worth anything. We cannot know what John 
thinks at the moment he swims back to the beach, but his decision will 
mean ghastly consequences for him.

The fifteen year old boy and one of the eigten year old boys is waiting 
for him. They are the two that mainly has been the active ones during 
the battering, an they have got more than enough hate left. The beating 
starts all over with a new decisiveness and efficiency, and there is no 
escape now. A fist blow right on John's face throws him to the ground.  
He falls backwards, hits the back of his head to the rock and is 
unconscious. He is dragged over to a grassy spot, because the murderers 
want the kicking session to be more convenient. Hard, hard kicks hit
his head, but he can't protect himself with his arm, he is unconcious. 
The executioners sees that he moves but he doesn't scream, he just 
writhes in pain, mumbles something they can't understand. The cat and 
mouse play is over. The murderers are pleased and they lift, drag and 
roll John over the cliff to the shore and kick him into the water. 
Just before he falls they hear him mumble something again.

This time John doesn't notice that he falls into the water. He drowns 
and sinks slowly to the bottom of the lake. The murderers stands there 
and watch it rolling a cigarette. No one lifts a finger although they 
understand that John is dying.

It was a draw. Nobody won but none lost either. The murderers turn their 
back to the dreadful scene and join the others. One of them says that 
John sank like a stone when they throw him into the water for the second 
time. The skinheads goes home and goes to bed.  John's comrade gets a 
lift, returns home and beat the alarm. Only a few hours after that 
Johns mother drove the boys to the lake, John is lying at its bottom, 
beaten into unrecognizability.


It is very painful even to think about the last hours of John's life. 
He is tortured and humiliated in a outrageous way. His executioners 
won't even let him confess himself to the ideals he believes in and 
stands for. With blows and kicks they finally manage to force him to say 
what they want to hear: that he loves nazis. A boy, only fourteen years 
of age is tormented and murdered, and his tormentors cannot even explain 
why afterwards. There is no limit to the brutality that they display. 
They go on and on cheering each other on, competing in a mad spiral 
toward more brutality. They kick him everywhere, in the back, in his 
side, on his legs, but mainly toward his neck and head.

When they has thrown him into the lake, thereby setting an end to the 
assault they can't realise that they have put an end to it themselves. 
They fail to realise that they have let him out of their power voluntary. 
They demand him to swim back and take more. For hours they have given 
free outflow to a reckles rage and a limitless sadism, but still there 
is time for consideration.  Yet nothing indicates that they for a minute 
consider to cease with their torture. They use the comrade as hostage 
and exploit John's sense of justice to prevent him from saving his 
own life. Not even the wildest animals behaves like John's murderers.

What more do they request from John? They want his life. That's all he 
has left, but he gives it to them anyway. He returns voluntary to his 
executors to be exposed to more torture. Are they disarmed by his 
courage? Do they feel ashamed? Not at all. They are even more brutal 
in their assault, they spur each other to even harder kicks.

Will they at least be content when they have a broken tormented,
unconscious bundle at their feet, a rag of a human being, a lifeless 
body, that cannot even express pain when kicked? Not even now 
is it enough. They drag a unconscious fourteen year old boy to the 
water and drown him.

If they previously didn't understand how serious their battery has 
been, there is still a last chance for them to come to their senses. 
When they see that John doesn't wake up being thrown into the water, 
they can jump into it and pull him ashore. For a short moment, 
before everything is too late, they have the chance to realise that 
they have gone to far, they can save the boy from death by drowning.

They do nothing. Anxious and miserable, afraid to appear weak in 
front of one another, they just watch. They roll a cigarette and 
leave, let a fourteen year old boy, who has done them no harm, sink
like a stone and die.

A boy that has all his life ahead goes to a lake to camp, full of 
life.  After a couple of hours everything is turned into a nightmare. 
He is assaulted, tortured and murdered in a mad outbreak of violence. 
Such a thorough-paced cruelty and sadism, such a total lack of humanity 
has seldom been displayed by teenagers.

John is dead, he is gone forever, but his death mustn't be without any 
meaning. We have all a responsibility for the society in which we live. We 
must not do like John's murderers, just turn our back to a poor boy's 
horrible, painful death and go on. The society we live in and what it 
looks like is our responsibility. There is many of us that want to live 
in a country where two boys safely can go out for an adventure in the 
summer, and camp by a lake.  If this is the society we want we must be 
prepared to be courageous like John. We must show that we stand for 
every human beings right to his life and his freedom. We must remember 
John Hron, a boy that refused to flee and therefore lost his life.

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