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