Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview
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Trying to Go Home
David Katz
b. Sapinta, Romania, 1919

This story starts with an escape, my escape from a prison in the city of Kamyshin, near the Volga River. How I got there is another story. That story began back in 1938 when Russia marched into Bessarabia, which was a part of Romania, and following that, when the Hungarians seized Transylvania from Romania in 1940. I was drafted into the Hungarian Army and put in a work battalion. My sergeant in that battalion, to avoid being executed for stealing money (but that's yet another story) marched us across the border into Russia. The Russians captured us. And although many men from my group were immediately executed, I was merely shuttled from one cruel prison to another, finally ending up at Kamyshin.

When I escaped from Kamyshin jail, I walked all night through the Russian countryside, through the fields and woods. While I was walking, I thought of a story I would tell. That I was looking for my uncle from Bessarabia. I went into a town and saw an old man traveling with a horse and wagon in my direction. I asked him to give me a ride. We traveled together for about twenty kilometers. When I told him the story I had invented, he said that he knew a family from Bessarabia, and that they lived in the place where he was going.

When we arrived he showed me the family which he thought might be my uncle. They asked me many questions about Bessarabia and I told them everything was fine.

The next morning the man asked me if I had heard the latest news—that just an hour ago he had heard on the radio that war had broken out between Russia and Germany. He looked happy about it, he did not like the Communists. We finished our breakfast and he told me that he had a neighbor who worked on a locomotive. He would ask him to give me a ride. In the meantime, his wife packed me a lunch of bread and herring.

His neighbor was leaving for the station immediately. He had been called to work ahead of time because of the war. He could take me to Veranezh.

From there, I walked hundreds of miles, stopping only to eat. I was thinking about the overwhelming happiness when I could arrive at home. Oh my family! My dear family! I made plans to hide out at home from the Hungarian authorities. I figured that every step was one step closer to home.

When I came to the Ukraine, I saw many pedestrians with sacks over their

-90-

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Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust
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