Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

Lost Families
Sara Reichman
b. Yanova Dolina, Ukraine, 1942

When the Germans invaded the Ukraine in 1941, my father fled to Russia, but my mother, who was pregnant, stayed behind. She gave birth to me and went into hiding. When I was six months old my mother gave me to a Polish family, Pulit, for hiding, since she could not care for me under the conditions she lived in. It is with this family, a mother, a father, two sisters, and grandparents that I spent the war years and after. With them I moved from Poland to Holland and then Germany, where they were slave laborers. After the war the family returned to Poland, to a village near Opole in Silesia.

In May 1947, my mother's sister Leah, accompanied by a Polish Jewish officer, came to take me away from this family. It was only after a long search and many inquiries that my aunt had been able to trace me.

Although she presented herself as my mother, the family refused to give me back. But after being promised a monetary compensation, the family agreed to give me to my aunt.

My aunt and I went out to a field and, sitting on the green grass, she held me and hugged me and recited a children's poem to me. At night I was allowed to sleep with her.

But a few nights after my aunt arrived, my surrogate mother, Marianna Pulit, came in and snatched me out of my aunt's bed. This was the first time that I experienced a conflict between people. I felt anguished, that I was the cause for a disagreement and a fight. The family was not ready to give me away after all.

Finally, my aunt was able to persuade the Pulits to give me up, arguing that I was a Jewish child—and why should they have an interest in keeping me, after all? At the end of a week, my aunt and I left. I was told that I was going to visit relatives in town. I was given some clothes and big red round beads that I kept for many years.

My aunt and I lived in the city of Lodz, in a commune, preparing to go to Palestine. One night in bed, my aunt told me a story about a woman hiding in a cave who was killed. Later she told me that this woman was my mother. She had been spotted outside of her hiding place just a few months before the war ended and was shot to death. I felt a great letdown, a great sadness.

At the end of the summer my aunt and I crossed the border from Poland to Czechoslovakia and from there to Austria, to a Displaced Persons camp. There

-119-

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Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vi
  • Contents vii
  • Foreword xiii
  • Timeline of the Holocaust xv
  • Map of Concentration Camps in Europe xxviii
  • Preface xxix
  • Introduction xxxiii
  • I - Snapshots: Jewish Life Before the Holocaust 1
  • Snapshots 2
  • War Arrives in Lithuania 3
  • A German Family 7
  • Betrayal 11
  • Parting 13
  • II - The Destruction of a Society 15
  • Herr B. 17
  • A Kristallnacht Journey 18
  • An Action Against the Jews 20
  • Leaving Germany, Leaving Home 24
  • Escape to England 26
  • The Best-Laid Plans 28
  • A Life-Defining Impression 30
  • The Harbinger of What? 32
  • The Beginning and the End 33
  • A Family Gone, One by One 34
  • The Abandonment of Mielec 36
  • A Shtetl's Life is Ended 37
  • What Ever Happened to the Jews of Skudvil? 40
  • III - Ruthlessness as a System 43
  • In the Dark 45
  • Theresienstadt 47
  • Dachau 50
  • Auschwitz, 1944 55
  • The Tenth Woman on Block Ten 56
  • The Means to Survive 58
  • The Gypsies 60
  • Nazi Murderers 61
  • How Many Made It? 63
  • The Law in Lithuania 64
  • Horrors of War 70
  • IV - The Lottery of Death and Life 81
  • German Roulette 83
  • My Sister Rieke 84
  • A Definition of Survival 86
  • An Unforgettable Passover Seder 89
  • Trying to Go Home 90
  • Bar Mitzvah Boy 93
  • The Skull with the Golden Braid 95
  • The Concentration Camp Lottery 96
  • The Girl with Wooden Shoes 101
  • The Wagon 102
  • The Child 103
  • V - Disguise as a Way of Hiding 105
  • In Constant Terror 107
  • Posing as a Christian 114
  • I Choose Life 116
  • Lost Families 119
  • Beyond Memory 121
  • A Hidden Child in Greece 123
  • VI - The Sustaining Power of Family Love 143
  • The Promise 144
  • A Mother's Courage 147
  • Miracles 151
  • A Dream of Milk 155
  • In Praise of Manual Labor 156
  • A Son in Deed 158
  • The Psychologist 162
  • VII - The Virtuous and the Vicious 163
  • A Narrow Escaper 165
  • The Kindness of Strangers 168
  • A Saintly Person 170
  • The Convent in Marseilles 173
  • Among the Righteous 176
  • The Killing Hunger 179
  • Captain Zimmer 180
  • The Volunteer Group 181
  • Mazel 182
  • The Farmer Kowarski 185
  • A Surprise Package 187
  • VIII - Disguise as a Way of Hiding 189
  • Lithuanian Friends 191
  • Unsung Heroes 199
  • Friend or Enemy? 202
  • Resist in Everything! 208
  • IX - Emergence into Light 225
  • The Golden Chain of Judaism 227
  • Flight to Freedom 236
  • The Last Hiding Place 243
  • One Day War, the Next Day Not 245
  • The Long Road After Liberation 247
  • On the Way to Health 249
  • An Ending and a Beginning 252
  • The Tiny Flame 254
  • X - The Aftermath: Remembering 257
  • The Aftermath 258
  • The Barber 260
  • Kaleidoscope: Salonika, Greece, 1945 261
  • The Sewing Basket 263
  • Children from the Camps Going to England 265
  • The Chief of the Gestapo 268
  • Herr Schluemper 270
  • The Miracle 272
  • To Bear Witness About the Holocaust 274
  • It Shall Not Be Forgotten nor Forgiven! 276
  • Addendum - Seen with My Own Eyes: Stories by American Liberators 279
  • The Photograph 281
  • Germany, 1945: View from a Tank 283
  • Gusen: A Nurse's Tale 286
  • A Letter from Dachau 288
  • I Saw Buchenwald 291
  • Re-Entry 296
  • Biographies of Survivor-Authors 298
  • Biographies of Survivor-Authors 298
  • Photographs of Liberator-Authors 336
  • Author Index 342
  • Story Index 343
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