must have been a few days after Yom Kippur that we started to talk
about my escape. Now I was to join Mommy and Guta in Czestochowa.
I was afraid to
leave my father and my sister and brother, not even sure I would see
Guta and Mommy again. As much as I hated Warsaw and the wire and the
wall, where was I running to? Into a bullet or a furnace? Into
another filthy camp? And so I held on to the last glimpse of what
was real and known. I walked again, out with people. I was sorry for
them, and for myself. I stared at the half-bare trees, where a few
brown leaves hung to the branches, just before they crumbled into
nothingness. I closed my eyes, trying to force the memories of white
winters and cold, sharp air; and the protection of wool caps and
scarves and kitchen stoves, and springs waking up to buds and leaves
and branches spread to the sky ... and summers' birds coming back to
join us under the pine trees, among the lilacs and daisies and
poppies, pecking for food in the green carpet of grass ...
I shuddered to look around me.
We decayed like the leaves. Like the broken branches, we were
cheated out of spring.
How stupid and
childish my reminiscing! In slavery, I dreamed about freedom. Living
among the dead, I thought about life. I worshipped food because my
stomach scraped and growled in me. Futile, wasted dreams. What then
should I dream about now? About the beautiful past that is dead?
About the ugly, real future that I know will be? Those two need no
one to dream about them, because they have been or will be anyway.
Have I said there is no hope? No, there is none. Except me. I am
hope. Oh, God! Let me live. Let me love and be loved. Give us hope
we have lost, give us freedom. Answer my prayers, ease the pain, dry
the tears ...
the tears. Let me live, God or
I stared at the
walls and saw the swastikas that weren't there. I closed my eyes,
hoping that when I opened them the swastikas and the walls would
have disappeared ...
It was hard to say
good-bye to people. I met Henio at the usual place. Tears threatened
to spill over, down my face. I tried to keep them back. I did not
want to say good-bye. I was so fond of my handsome idealist ... and
I had thought, really thought it could be forever. Now I cried, I
let the tears come as he kissed me and kissed me ... we wanted so
much, so little ... Now, here. Stars are eternal, dear Henio, but
not love, or life.
Hours went by
fast. I packed my rags in the rucksack. And I sat there on the cot
to look at what I would leave behind. Father, shrunken, pale, washed
of life ... the beautiful beard and hair gone now, killed by typhus.
His eyes stared into the past and the future together. Moses and
Aaron, Abraham; Goering and Hitler, deserts and mountains, Egyptian
bond slaves and tired old nomads, beggars on corners in animal
ghettos, and faintly, far away, but surely there in my father's
eyes, faith and piety, prayer, obedience, trust ...
Beautiful Karola sat in the corner of the room, fixing some of the clothes.
Her cheeks had sunk into the sad shadow of her face.
Even Aron came,
from another relative’s to say good-bye: Our dear baby. Daddy
stretched out his hand, and placed it on Aron's head to commemorate
one day amid the rest.
"Our Aron, today you become Bar
Mitzvah. Everybody celebrates this day with a feast. How little I
can give you. But you are a man. May God give you life."
We sat in
the kitchen, saying nothing. What could we say? What promise?
It was the
longest night of my life. I held tightly to Karola. It was almost
dawn when I fell asleep.
Daddy called me
... it was time to go. Karola wasn't there. She had left me when I
feel asleep, because she could not say good-bye. No good-bye to my
own Karola. She left her best dress on the cot for me.
Daddy was too weak
to walk with me. We hired a rickshaw. And I left for freedom.
Freedom! No, I could not know what would be. Only that there would
be no more home. No more kitchen or walls or broken cots or scraps
of bread together.
Daddy held on to
me. His grip was so tight it almost hurt.
Don't let me go. I'm afraid. You know they are going to kill me."
"Shhh, baby." He
drew me close to him. "Nobody’s going to kill you. In a couple of
days you'll be with Guta and Mommy." I looked around me. I looked at
the cadaverous faces. I looked at my father. His holy face seemed to
be transparent. He didn't look at me. I knew he couldn't promise. He
was crying. His sobs, muffled, were a counter-rhythm to my heart
beats. It was this same man who had come home, not long ago, beaming
with pride, elected the president of the Jewish Federation in
Kalisz. The man who had led a city, now cried like a child.
When we got to the
wall, I started to plead again.
"Daddy, no. Don't
make me go."
Slowly, he spoke,
"Child, you have always obeyed me, and you shall do so now."
A lot of people
had helped put up money so I could get out. Maybe it was because my
father had always been the one to lend money or help. Maybe it was
because we were just like them—only with mazl.
jolted to a stop. I had hoped it would go on and on. Father put his
trembling hand on my head and blessed me in Hebrew. His lips were
almost blue. His voice was quiet.
happens, be a good girl."
There was no
story this time, no climbing into his lap, though I longed to do
"Have pride. Remember, you are
Henoh Lipzyc's daughter. And when you get to Czestochowa, tell your
mother I love her and that we will soon be together."
A Polish woman was
waiting outside with a horse and buggy. I watched Daddy's rickshaw
rattle back down the street. I strained to watch it till the last
moment, to bring it back. I could not. I would never see him again.
The road stretched
out before us. Infinity. The wind blew in my face. It blew hard, but
it did not blow away fear. I wanted to cry, but I wasn't allowed. By
virtue of false papers, I was not a Jew. Then why should I cry? That
is for Jews.
stopped. I was terrified. The Polish woman did the talking. She told
them I was a mute. I watched their hands ... always their hands, to
see if they would pull out guns. They didn't. The horses started to
clop down the road again. I tried to cover my terror, to hide it, to
forget it. But those happy moments had gone by so fast and this trip
was so long. Every moment of suffering is an hour; an hour, a day.
Days can be weeks. A year ... ah, a year is a lifetime.
I forced myself to
think about something. My room, my bed ... no, it is too cold
here. I will think about food. No, I have one slice of bread to last
two days. Maybe songs. Yes, sing, Jadzia. Sing every little song you
know. Sing so you drown out the hoofs, so you don't look at your
shaking hands, so you won't listen for the Gestapo.
were twenty-five of us in the girls' club. We sang and danced, we
learned about Jewish literature and history. Esther was our advisor.
Esther ... how did she look? Always radiant, smiling with her clear,
intelligent eyes. Her curly blond hair had always bounced and shone
atop her happy face.
Again the buggy
came to a stop. This time it was not a German patrol, but Poles.
Their faces were wild, perverted. They asked the woman if it was a
Jew she was saving.
"It's a Jew you're
So that is the way the world turns.
You can watch for the bloody Gestapo knife, you can hide or run from
it, but when the knife stabs you in the back, and when it says in
lily-white letters, "Poles," then how could you know you were
supposed to run?
They asked for papers. She gave them
money. They let us go. Now I didn't have to pretend to be mute. I
couldn't talk. I whispered, "How long?"
There was no
answer. I curled up in the corner of the seat, and our wagon kept
rolling along on the stony country road.
Now there was no
family to cuddle me when I was cold. Alone, I hummed again, to stop
the sound of the road. This time, not the happy sounds of little
girls in Kalisz, but the lament of a Warsaw poet:
Where shall I go?
Every door is
Where shall I go
Everywhere is a
Without a home,
without a home
Where shall I go?
Where shall I go?
Tears streamed down my cheeks. My
teeth chattered. I wanted to doze off to death. "Mazl tsu lebn, un
mazl tsu shtarbon." Lucky to live and lucky to die.
Everything that had happened went
around in my head, and I strained to hear German voices - or Poles.
Finally. I shut my eyes, surrendering to the road and sleep.
I opened my eyes
to see lights gleaming in the little houses along the road. I was
jealous of those people and their cozy, warm homes. I could almost
see the fires on the kitchen stoves and smell the fresh coffee. I
tried to keep my home alive in the muddled images that swam in my
My home is so far
away ... I can hardly remember. My room, my books, little friends
and parents together ...
Sabbath candle, Mommy's prayer
... a flame
that was steady, sure... I want to be home.
The woman bent
"We are here. This is Czestochowa.
It's dark. Nobody will see you. It's only three blocks. Walk close
to the buildings."
I could not walk into the emptiness.
I shook and sobbed. I pleaded with her to wait at the wires. She
"Poles aren't allowed to walk at this
time of the night, dear." She kissed my head.
"Good luck, kid," she said, and
climbed into the buggy.
I didn't walk, didn't creep along
beside the houses. I ran the three blocks, raced into the building.
I sat panting on the steps inside. Wait, wait ... take a breath ...
then I can run up the stairs to them.
I heard the boots outside. Soldiers'
boots, German voices. "Verfluchten Juden." A short, hopeless gasp of
a cry ... a soft, groveling plea ... shuffling. Then night again,
Under the steps, I was sick, dizzy. I
wanted the spaces between the planks to close up, fold me in.
Outside, the squeak of boots was drowned out by my pulse, thumping,
pounding in my throat. I knew everyone could hear it, and that was
why they were coming. Coming - for me! No, God, not now. Let me see
Mommy and Guta again.
The boots went
away, down the street to somebody else. I sat, numb. It was a long
time before I could think again. Crawling out, I tried to straighten
up. But my legs buckled. I grabbed at the first stair, and crawled
up on my hands and knees. Reaching the landing, I knocked on the
bottom of the door. Nothing. I tried to knock harder.
The door opened. I got to my feet
long enough to fall into her arms. Mommy's arms. The door closed
behind. Again, a little security.
BUT HOW LONG?
I LOOKED at Mommy. How grey she was.
Her cheeks were sinking. Her beautiful blue eyes were grey, too.
Guta crawled out of bed. Her hair, hanging in disorder, cheeks wet.
We were a family again -
We sat on the bed,
me between them.
"Tell me, baby,
how was it there?"
How could I tell her the truth about
Warsaw and typhus and hunger? She was so fragile. So I lied. I
looked away, "We were fine."
But she knew, she
"What did Daddy
say when you left?"
"He told me to
tell you he loves you, and that we will soon be together."
It wasn't until dawn that I looked
around the room. It was a medium-sized kitchen, but only a corner
belonged to us. There was a small, almost rotten partition, put up
in our corner, to give us the privacy to undress in the morning. Six
other families took turns using the stove. The coals in the stove
and the heat of all the people in one room made it smelly, steamy,
Most of them were
from Czestochowa originally, so they still had sheets and jewelry to
exchange through the wires for food. The smell of those six other
dinners on the stove, while we waited ... Sometimes they offered us
a plate of soup. But when they didn't, Mommy stood by the pot to
watch. When another woman left her pot to get some salt for the
soup, Mommy dipped her cup in to get us dinner. I remember still,
the picture of Mommy, always carrying a cup of water to pour back
into the pot to make sure her cupful would not be missed.
How many were
lucky enough to steal a dinner? How many were even protected by
crowed, hot corners of a room? Outside, they were shadows -
grey. Just another ghetto.
We waited for news
from Warsaw. None came until much later.
In all our time at Czestochowa, never
once did a Pole throw bread or a bag of barley in to us, but they
threw the news of Warsaw into our faces fast enough. The Jews in
Warsaw were rebelling. Thousands of dead lay in the streets. The
Germans had set the buildings on tire. And, surrounded by flames,
Jews were throwing their handmade grenades.
Days flew, and with them, our hopes.
We knew what to expect as the final chapter in Warsaw.
Like we did everyday, one afternoon,
Mommy, Guta and I stood in line for a plate of soup. Hundreds stood
with us in front of the ghetto kitchen. The next thing I knew, Mommy
was lying at my feet. Her body was still. Her face, no longer grey,
had turned a cadaverous white. I fell to my knees beside her,
shaking her body, and crying, "Mommy!" She didn't hear.
"Oh, please, God,
don't take her away now. She is all we have left."
A crowd gathered around us. Somebody
poured cold water over her. She came to. They brought her soup,
laying it before her. She didn't touch it. Mommy was not hungry -
she was dying away. Dying away with Daddy, Karola, and Aron among
the mobs in Warsaw. And with those three, part of her life was
ripped away as surely as if they had torn out her heart.
As long as we didn't see it, we could
choose not to believe it. We could still hope for our dear ones in
Warsaw. But through the nights, I thought constantly of Karola and
the care she had given me and Daddy. God only knows if she got it
when I left. Who would take care of her? I was haunted, each night,
with a dream of Warsaw in flames - and through the flames, Karola’s
beautiful face. What was worse, I could not share my fears with
Mommy and Guta. I had never told them. So I lived alone in Hell.
There were short
gatherings in the huge backyard. When
we didn't want to think about the fact that there was no food, or
that thirty other people in the room were becoming more and more
like animals, we sat out in the yard. It was a city ... where young
people fell in love, where old people grieved, and everyone dreamed.
The yard was a city where time knew no rules. In the period of a
month, a girl could be married, a pregnant widow, and an orphan.
It was in the yard
that I made a few friends again. Henrio and Natka, and Aba, and I
sat in an old buggy to sing the old songs -
Russian songs and Hebrew songs
and songs we had sung as little children and lullabies from home.
And sometimes we hardly sang at all after a few words. We cried the
I saw Zosia in
Czestochowa, too. How good to see someone who knew me as anything
but a beggar! Her little round cheeks were still clear and pink, and
her eyes still large and green. She took me home with her, and
from then on, her mother
always ready for me with something
to eat. She never knew how
grateful I was, for I was too proud to go there often.
Meanwhile, we knew
the fights in Warsaw were coming to an end. And the streets in
Czestochowa, too, now started to be bloodied. To the German
soldiers, pulling the trigger was a game. Having Jewish girls and
throwing them into the streets afterward was, after all, exactly
what one does with a used plaything.
We had grown sick
from German soldiers's stares. We trembled when they spoke. We
didn't cry when they hit us. Now, we know ourselves as humiliated,
disgraced creatures -
still trying to keep pride and faith,
desire, knowledge -
but hopeless. With what human feeling
was left, we shared the last slices of bread. With the needs of
children, we looked for warmth and softness, reassurance, in an hour
of love. With faith that comes not from wisdom, but from
desperation, we prayed for a miracle. Prayers get answered
sometimes. Ours didn't. There were no miracles.
There was a night
I shall remember as long as I live. The Germans gave the order that
next morning, every Jew was to stand outside in a line. We didn't
sleep. We packed what we had ... a change of clothes, a tin can for
water, some food. Mothers packed babies, or gave them sleeping
pills. Grandparents took grandchildren, hoping the parent could stay
alive without them. Not that we knew where we were going -
but rumors were spreading
about work camps for young people and crematoriums for the old and
Mommy sat close to
us all night. We kissed her face and hands, and wondered and prayed
and wept. We wanted the night to last forever. It would not. We
heard the sound of people crowding into the streets.
Mommy took out a
piece of red paper and rubbed it on my cheeks to make me look
healthy. She stuffed hankies in my brassiere, because I still looked
like a little girl. She wanted me to look grown up at fourteen. I
kissed her hands and hair, and I clung to her. It was time to go.
Mommy looked at us both. Her lips trembled as she spoke.
"Let's not stay
together," she said. "Maybe we'll have a better chance. And, my
daughters, if you are left alive, don't fight. You are the only
ones who will be left."
Guta and I had
always fought, and Mommy had called us the Cat and Dog. Now she said
gently, "Promise -
if I am taken away, you will not run
after me." We promised. We cried, we kissed, embraced again. Then we
walked out to the others.
The crowd in the
streets was beyond number. As far as I could see, it was a swarm of
men, women, and children. The sick and crippled were in wheelchairs.
Many fainted from fear.
We heard German
voices everywhere. There was no way of disobeying them. We were
surrounded by machine guns.
We got into the
lines. I looked around me at swollen bodies left to feed the rats,
and at the bodies just as decayed standing besides me. Somebody had
gouged out our insides already, and now they wanted to do us a favor
and murder us all. Yet, bitter as I was, I knew that as long as my
eyes could open, I would hold onto my life. Horrible as the stories
of crematoriums and gas showers were, I would not believe them. As
long as I still breathed I could hope that I would be saved. And I
knew that every Jew in the line believed it would be he.
From far down the
line, the Germans came closer. Recht to death and links to life.
Recht would be fast death. It meant joining the group of old ones at
the far end of the street. Links meant to join the young people, who
were being grouped in the middle
piazza. As the
Gestapo arbitrarily dealt out death, the sounds of life went on
around me. Next to me, a baby pulled at her mother's arm. The mother
looked straight ahead to nothing. Then, suddenly, quietly, as if she
had been awakened from a dream, she picked up the little girl. She
held the child to her and hummed, "Vu aheen zohl ikh geyn." Where
shall I go ... She was transfixed with fear. Her face was wet. The
child put her head on her mother's shoulders and with tiny hands,
petted her mommy’s face.
"Don't cry, Mama. Don't be afraid.
Wherever you go, I'll go with you." I looked at my Mommy’s grey hair
ahead of us. There were about ten between her and Guta, about eight
more between Guta and me. Thousands of children and thousands of
Meanwhile, the German patrols
searched the houses. They brought out the babies that had been left
behind. Now their mothers ran to claim them!
But who was I to condemn? Hadn't I
left my mother? And she was my life.
Right to death,
left to life. Right and left. The hand pushed Mommy right. I knew it
would be. Mommy, not even forty years old, looked like an
old woman. She went to join the others. I bit my
fingers so I wouldn't scream.
I didn't see the mobs around me, just Guta. Left and right, Right
and left, and right and left, and right and left. Left! Yes, she's
sent to life.
It happened so
quickly now. I looked at his ugly face. His black suit. His
swastika. Left. If he hadn't pushed me, I don't think I could have
moved. I turned back, shrieked, "Mama!" I started to run. Out to the
right. To mommy. Guta grabbed my hand. With her other hand, she
covered my mouth. Together, we followed Mommy's small figure with
our eyes, as she disappeared among the others. She didn't look back.
We never saw her again.
It was months
afterwards when we found out how those taken from Czestochowa had
been burned in the crematorium in Treblinka. Another part of me,
We stood there for
hours. No longer left and right ... now 1, 2,
3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 to death. One, life. Nine to death and one to life. Nine to
death and one ... like cattle we were led to slaughter. If an old
man walked too slowly, a bullet left him behind his family.
And every baby, every shrieking mama,
every wailing sister and brother and every shout and boot-step
pounded in my head. Shots and sobs, nine to death and ... Mommy!
Stay, oh ...Ieft! Right! One and nine and one ...
And now the Juden stood in crowds or
still in lines to wait their turn. Once people, now beings. No more
families, no more homes. Not even tears, only emptiness.
A mama carrying
two babies in her arms, and with two little ones pulling at her
skirt, marched out to the right. Behind them, the father, provider,
protector, defender, trailed along, almost as if he, too, clung to
schneller!" We were pushed, chased, into a big building. The rooms
were completely empty. We lay on the floors, so close to each other
there was hardly space between the bodies. I struggled to find my
blessings, as I knew Mommy and Daddy would have wanted. At least
Guta was beside me. We were together, a shred of a family.
After an hour,
bread and water were passed around. We didn't eat. I kept thinking
about Mommy, all alone. Among them all, alone and small, as were we
all ... small and defeated. For not one, the chance to learn. For
not one, the time to teach and give. Each child, each man, could
have built a country, a world. Instead, each was a threat, an enemy.
No matter. We had been conquered by the brave ones. Heroes with guns
against women and children. Heroes with tanks over bare-handed
beggars. Oh, glorious victory!
With nightfall, I
continued to see Mommy -
her busy figure in the kitchen, her
elegant appearance on the street, her tender eyes bent over my sick
bed. The love and joys of daily life were dead forever. I cried
tears that seemed endless. How much more could we endure? Yet how
could the rest, supposedly people, keep on living in the middle of
it all? How did a German sleep after a butchery day? What defense
did Goering, Hitler, and Eichmann have for
How did they expect to pay for minds
and bodies? I closed my eyes and saw the fields of Poland - yellow
corn fields, and the glare of the sun on daisies and violets, and
big cherry trees ... I wondered if the flowers and trees were still
blooming in the blood-watered ground and in the smoke from the
As the days and
nights passed without any markers to tell them apart, we made
friends with the girls around us. Lucia, from Krakow, slept near me.
Together, we lay silent on the floors, waiting for our rations. The
potatoes were not peeled. We ate them anyway. We were hungry.
After a few days,
Lucia received a note from the other building. We learned from it
that there were Jewish men still alive, being held in that place.
She started to get
notes regularly, tied to rocks and thrown over the fence between the
two buildings. She read the letters to us aloud. Her husband was
alive, and living with two other men. They were Lolek Grudman and
Lolek was Izio's
brother-in-law, she told us. He was, she said, kind and good, and
Izio, from Czestochowa, was brilliant and handsome.
while she stopped talking about Lolek, and concentrated on Izio
how personable, witty, what a
mind! As soon as we got out of the building, she told me, she must
certainly introduce us.
Good time to think
about boys. I still could not forget Mommy -
how did she die? Or was she
still alive? For a married woman, Lucia sounded so foolish.
organized Jewish police to keep order. They told us to pack our
things. We moved out again, this time to the poorest section of the
ghetto, where they had just put up fresh wires. They opened the
gates, and in one rush, we trampled over each other, clawing and
scratching our way in, to get a place to stay. Like madmen, we
grabbed at the scraps of clothing the other Jews had left behind. We
snatched at moldy crusts and picked the floors clean.
We were all young,
and we had been granted a reprieve. Now most lost their ethics,
didn't give a damn about morality. They bound each other, not with
love, but with the name: Jew. Every one that was left belonged to
the rest. They wanted to live.
In those hideous
hours, they lived the lives of the condemned. They did not care,
because they would never have to look life in the face again.
love-making an instrument of grabbing all life in at one time. They
had love when everything else had been taken away. Now they consumed
each other bitterly. But love consumed in frenzy had the quality of
With no beds to
lie on, only a dirty floor, forty people grappled with each other,
reassuring themselves that they were still alive. There were no
partitions, no curtains to dress or undress behind. Sleeping against
each other at night, we were forced upon each other in the daylight,
Sometimes we were
able to drag a cot down from empty bunkers and apartments. We took
turns then, sleeping on the beds, sometimes in threes, usually in
The ghetto kitchen
opened again. We stood in lines for hours, waiting to fill our tin
cans. We sipped the soup right there in the lines, hoping that if
there were some left, we'd get second helpings.
Around us, the
streets were filthy and narrow, the buildings just wooden shacks.
There wasn't much hope of finding food or furniture or clothing
here, because the Germans had picked it clean before they took us
Now, here in
Czestochowa, there were no longer old people or children. Jewish
babies, threats and burdens to society, no longer lived in the dirty
streets. But at night, even now, we could hear occasionally the wail
of an abandoned infant, stuffed into a cupboard or into a hole in
the wall. They had been trained not to cry. How they had been
trained! But now they cried for mama and for food, and for somebody
to keep the promise and take them home again.
there was no wall, as there had been in Warsaw. Not high
wires as in
Lodz. Here, we were corralled behind a mesh fence not more than
three feet high. It made a mockery of the ghetto and fools of us.
Here where the young, strong ones lived, the Gestapo did not even
need a wall or a wire. Here, where fiery idealists and philosophers
might exist, minds were hollow of hope. Yes, we could climb over the
fence, and we could run, but where could we go? To the black
streets, the black corpses, the black Poles, or the black Nazis?
Now another order.
Every hidden child must be at the piazza the next morning. If not,
the ghetto would be searched and every baby would die the next day
We lined up along
the fence. Grey drizzle seeped into the ground and us. We watched
the last Jewish children being taken away.
Most of them were
lifted into the wooden carts by strangers. They squinted in the
daylight after having been pulled out of basements and crannies.
They stared silently at the few German guards. Hungry and worn, they
were old men and women inside the frames of children.
From the bunkers,
a few mothers crawled out to their babies - less because they were
ordered to do it than because their children were sick and hungry.
These skeletons of women felt needed.
The wagons were
filled, ready. Then out of the building, one woman strode toward the
cart. The Germans knew her, Doctor Horovitz, the head of the
infirmary. She climbed into the pile of little bodies, beside her
daughter. Triumphantly, she stared ahead, into the faces of the
We saw them move
toward her, talking in quietly gruff voices. They ordered her back
to the infirmary, back to life and work. The sick needed her. The
Gestapo needed a doctor for the Jews. Hushed, we watched the only
one of us offered a chance. She understood, closing her eyes on the
lines of haggard faces, the piled up old children, the persuasive
men in the uniforms. At that moment she seemed to hold all the
wisdom and courage we thought had died. She spoke quietly, "Rather
than living without my child, I shall die with her."
The wheels began to turn, creaking
against the wagons. Slowly, then faster, the funeral procession
rolled down the street. Among the babies, one woman, proudly
I looked at the blur of faces around
me. The broken figures began to scatter. They stared at the
emptiness around us. They kept disappearing into the buildings ...
the only way to get away from the void. Guta and I walked back to
the building. . .
I was glad I wasn't a child or an old
one. Yet I envied the babies their innocence. They understood
nothing. Impossible; they understood everything around them and
mirrored it back in their frightened little eyes. They knew, and now
I learned from them ... that the only lucky ones had died in their
beds ... or maybe the ones who had never been born.
I held on to Guta.
Cold sweat had formed on my neck. She dragged me upstairs with her,
to our room. We crawled onto the cot to try to sleep away the wooden
carts and faceless babies. Sleep was our opium now, as scarce as any
drug. Just as I had clung to Mommy, now I clung to Guta. I prayed
for our lives long into the evening. And later, while the others
sighed and snored as they slept, I listened to the outside. Nothing.
Now I wanted to hear a cry, a wail from the walls and the basements.
Even frenzied little steps, running and run after -
but there were none. None
caught, none chased. Even the drizzle of the morning had deserted
Czestochowa. There were no more dripping sounds on the windows. Only
silence, hollow nothing. A great dark crater. No, a tomb.
And out of the
sick shall He bring forth the strong, and out of misery shall come
fulfillment, and out of death, life.