The countryside around Skala to the north and west was dotted with pockets of dense forest, the one-time source of a local timber industry that had pretty much run its course even before I was born. When I was little, my grandfather Mechel used to scare me with bedtime stories of beasts in the forest—wild animals like wolves and jackals but also of a kind of demon, a lesnik, which had magical powers.,,
Quotes from this chapter
From around the bend, two Ukrainian polizei suddenly came upon us with pistols drawn. It was a trap. The peasant men were working with the Ukrainian cops, acting as decoys.
For every compassionate Ukrainian who was willing to open the door to an unfortunate Jew in the dark of night there were ten times as many who turned Jews away or, worse, informed on them.
I pushed down on the heavy iron latch and was surprised to find it wasn’t secured. I could open the door from inside.
I jumped up right away and almost shouted with excitement. “I know where the bunker is. I know the exact place!”
Lonye said Rambocha had a network of snitches who fed him information about Jews in hiding.
Under Rembocha’s grip, she glared in my direction and I flushed with the realization that she might be thinking I had snitched her out.
The days and nights ran together for me, with only occasional moments of wakefulness. I was wracked by terrible dreams and visions.
The roof was constructed with crossbeams of saplings laid over with thatched grass, leaves and dirt. Ventilation was no problem and even a little light filtered through the covering.
He shoved the gun under my chin. “I should shoot you at once you little urchin, especially with this stupid stunt.
The murdered men were those I had known at the estate and worked beside at the quarry. It didn’t matter what kind of permit or protection they may have thought they had. In the end, the Nazis got them all.
Book excerpts about the people, places and events mentioned in the book
Ukrainian police official who brutalized Jews
The author's father, a tinsmith by trade, was also a survivor
Munye witnessed the horrible murder of Lonye's father by Rembocha
Munye's bunker buddy who joined his household in the aftermath
Where Munye was held before his perp ride
Michael received food scraps but little kindness in Polish outpost on the edge of the forest
Polish border town where Michael was born and experienced his ordeal
Initial location of forest colony that Shulem and Munye joined
Close call as Ukrainian militia sweep the forest