Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview

The Miracle
Malka Baran
b. Warsaw, Poland, 1927

Ilived in Poland with my younger brother, mother and father. I attended school, played with friends, celebrated birthdays and holidays, lived the life of a child.

When I was twelve my country, Poland—my city, Chestochowa—lost their independence after only one day of resistance. The German army entered and life began to change. Decrees were issued, pamphlets were distributed, hate posters and pictures appeared on buildings, billboards, and store fronts … all proclaiming “hate the Jew, the Jew is evil.” Jewish children were no longer allowed to attend schools. My friend and I continued our studies in secret, in our teachers' homes. Then our teachers disappeared—“sent away to work, ” was the rumor. Soon my family's doctor was no longer available. He too disappeared. Next my father's printing shop was closed by the Nazis and the machines removed for the German army. We were given rations for a while.

Incidents of violence against the Jews occurred more and more often. A rabbi was brutally beaten on the street by German soldiers, his beard cut in a grotesque way. My brother and I, as well as our friends, were no longer allowed to play outside.

Then came the decree: Jews are no longer permitted to live in all the areas of the city. They must move to the ghetto within two days. No one is allowed to leave the ghetto; those who dare will be shot on the spot.

And then, early one winter morning, before dawn, you are awakened by your parents, who are fully dressed. Whispering, they tell you to quickly get ready to leave. You run to the window and see the street lined with German SS troops, machine guns in their hands. From all the apartments and houses your neighbors and friends, young and old, are being driven out into the middle of the street.

And then the knock on the door—not a polite, gentle knock—but a bang! The door flies open and you are pushed out. You see your parents, white as chalk, being screamed at: “Out! Out!” You run down the stairs, the SS man's gun almost in your back, and you join the others in the middle of the street, arranged in rows, row by row, “Order! Order!”

This is how my world began to crumble. I was fifteen. The rest you study in history books; but there are things history books do not tell.

They don't tell how you die little by little—how your heart breaks when your

-272-

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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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