Buoyed by my success in business and my inspiring bar mitzvah, I felt a growing sense of confidence in myself and my abilities. Given that Tateh was gone for the foreseeable future and I had nobody else to care for me, I understood that I had no choice but to accept responsibility for my own destiny. As it turned out, over the next several months, I would prove to myself and others that I could handle myself perfectly well...
Quotes from this chapter
After all we had been through, what good could it possibly do for people to be pointing fingers at each other? Yet here was a fellow Jew falsely accusing me!
He had me over a barrel. Sometimes you just have to pay a premium price if the thing is important enough to you. I gave him the pick of my jewelry items in exchange for the stockings.
Not only had I managed to stay alive during the darkest days of the Holocaust, I had somehow at the same time come into my own as a man.
I thought that the barber had been the informant, and his wife had been picked up but not killed on that day all for show, to deflect suspicion from the true source of the information.
I could not yet articulate what it was that I didn’t like about the Soviet system, but I already had a instinctive feeling that life would be better for us somewhere else.
I was little more than a child but was becoming something of a macher in our small community.
I signaled the guard over and asked if I could pass a note to a prisoner. He gruffly said no until I produced a packet of papierose.
There was a Jewish man working in the government office whom I had seen around town since the time of the liberation. He was hard to miss since he was tall and walked with a limp. This was Max Mermelstein.
We were given a choice. We could remain as Soviet citizens in Skala, which together with the rest of western Ukraine had been annexed by the USSR, or we could relocate to a new home in the western part of Poland.
"You’re, what, thirteen or fourteen years old, but you have the chutzpah to come here and tell me about your shmattes. I won’t worry about you, my boy."
Book excerpts about the people, places and events mentioned in the book
Ukrainian townswomen of Skala who provided sustenance for Munye, Shulem and Lonye
Jewish lawyer in Czortkov who obtained Shulem's discharge from the Red Army
The author's father, a tinsmith by trade, was also a survivor
Munye's closest companion in the bunkers
Shulem Epstein was held there for military desertion
Polish border town where Michael was born and experienced his ordeal