b. Salonika, Greece, 1927
I remember things that I have seen … I remember them, marching five abreast while I was watching from a side street. Isaac, the plumber, was in the front row, big, wide, and very tough. Next to him was the banker, short, skinny, dressed in black, holding his head high and brandishing an umbrella. I did not know the other three but they looked scared. Germans on horseback were herding them to their death.
I remember young children (I was one of them) taking candies and cigarettes to wounded Italian prisoners of war in a hospital, in Salonika. They (the prisoners) looked very surprised.
I remember a very dark evening when beaten soldiers returned from the front lines, tired, bloody, disheveled and with their heads bent. They walked slowly, a step ahead of their pursuers and were throwing their equipment behind bushes, in the fields, in the gardens. We picked up many things; they made interesting toys.
I remember a very thin woman, begging on a sidewalk, holding two very thin children; a big car drove by and splattered them with mud.
I remember a little shoe-shine boy in tattered clothes. He looked starved and tears streamed down his cheeks. He was watching a German soldier emptying his canteen in a garbage pail.
I remember the cattle cars tearing through the night, from Athens to Belgrade, through bombed-out cities and deserted fields, hurrying to get nowhere. The peasants, at dusk, would look at the disappearing shadows and cross themselves.
I remember Marika, homely, shy and very lonely. When it was found that she was pregnant, her father kicked her out because she had dishonored his name; he was a very strict man. When the war ended, her father was tried and shot for betraying patriots to the Gestapo. Marika ended in a whorehouse.
I remember the fellow who used to clean the latrines in the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen. He was old and dirty, saliva ran from both sides of his mouth and he was always afraid. His name was Julien R. Many years ago he had been President of the Supreme Court of France. He was a Jew.
I remember Jako. He was my friend and six feet five inches tall. He was not very bright but very strong and afraid of nothing. He spat in the devil's eyes and in the faces of the German guards. He died in Israel. Rather than be taken