I awoke with a start to the sound of pounding on the door to our apartment. “Raus, Juden,” shouted a guttural German voice. Get out, Jews. “Herauskommen.” Come outside. From inside the main room of our apartment, I could make out the shadowy form of the policeman moving down to the apartment next door to ours, where my Aunt Frima and cousin Dov lived. He wore a helmet and uniform and struck the door with a wooden baton...
Quotes from this chapter
Tateh went outside first and we heard his encounter with a Ukrainian policeman. “Go to the barracks,” yelled the cop. “Everyone must go to the barracks. Now!”
Once I thought that I was covered over by the hay, I laid still and tried to listen. The main thing I heard was my own heart, which was beating like crazy.
By this time during the war, I had witnessed physical abuses and I had heard about people who had been killed. But this was the first time that I watched a brutal murder with my own eyes.
By noon, the cattle cars filled with my family members and townspeople were rolling out of town to the west.
The yells of “Halt” came immediately from several directions. I ran headlong forward toward the church while guards came at me from left and right.
Guards shoved people through a few at a time—men to one side of the enclosure, women and children to the other. A fence down the center divided the camp into halves.
I guess a 10-year-old boy is supposed to be too old to cry over his problems. But I cried anyway—big heaving sobs—until I finally fell asleep.
“Loyf meyn kind.” Run, my child. “Maybe you will be the one of all of us who makes it out alive.”
Outside it was bedlam. A stream of townspeople flowed down the street, shoved along with rifle butts and rubber truncheons.
As far as I know, I am the one person in Skala who was in the initial roundup who made a successful escape from the holding pen.
The melamed’s implied compliment to my ingenuity helped give me resolve to resist the inevitability of my imprisonment
Book excerpts about the people, places and events mentioned in the book
The author's mother who urged him to "Run, my child."
The author's stern Hebrew school teacher
Chief regional SS officer who directed actions against Jews
Michael received food scraps but little kindness in Polish outpost on the edge of the forest
Michael's childhood home until Skala was declared "Judenrein"
Polish border town where Michael was born and experienced his ordeal
With his mother's blessing, Munye rolled under the barbed wire and ran for his life
Ukrainian townspeople ransacked Jewish homes after the roundup