Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

Friend or Enemy?
David Katz
b. Sapinta, Romania, 1919

Proving Myself a Partisan

When I escaped from a German prison camp in Russia, the members of a Hungarian work battalion near Kiev hid me for a while. But the battalion, it turned out, was going to White Russia with a train of war supplies. The men who had hidden me told me not to worry—they would not abandon me. One of their wagons was to be loaded with hay for their horses. They would make a tunnel in the hay, and they would take me with them. They had heard that in White Russia some partisans were in the woods, operating against the German army. If I could find them, I would be a partisan too. I agreed.

In the evening, with a military cap on my head, we went to the train. I crawled into my tunnel of hay, and the train left. I was only able to come out at night. I was excited that I would have the privilege of fighting the Germans.

After four days and nights of traveling, we arrived at our destination. Somewhere not far from Slutsk, the train stopped. I waited for word that it was safe for me to leave. After a while a man came, gave me a sack of food and matches, and wished me good luck. I put the cap on my head and ran away.

Just around the corner, I threw the cap away and sped toward the woods. In the woods, I kept going, assuming that the further I got, the safer I would be. I walked until after midnight, when I felt tired and sleepy. I laid down and listened to the sounds of the woods at night. An owl beat its wings on the branches of a tree. When I awoke the next morning, the sun was shining brightly. I kept walking and thinking. Even if I did not find anybody, I would be able to live here for a long time. I saw all kinds of berries and many mushrooms.

Late at night again, when I was very tired, I saw a little house, very old, with grass growing on the roof; there were no doors or windows. Inside, I saw a bunk. I put my little sack beneath my head and lay down. At once, I was attacked by thousands of mice. Realizing that they wanted the bread from under my head, I hung up my sack. After that, the mice disappeared. I was about to fall asleep again when I heard something coming into the house. If it was not a person, it must be something else. In the dark, I could not see it. I thought that perhaps it was the devil. Very quietly, I reached in my pocket for a match. When I struck it, a beautiful deer jumped out. Then I knew that I was far from population, so I fell asleep.

-202-

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