The Germans are at hand, and in Poland, a teen-age boy hides in an attic. Someone locks the door and he is trapped inside.
A young girl in Hungary keeps a diary as the horrors begin to close in on her, and when she is deported to Auschwitz, she hides it in a chimney.
They both survive — somehow — and marry. For years their son, a young man born and raised in freedom, longs to know what his parents endured, what gave them the inner strength to overcome, what was the source of the superhuman power to maintain their Jewish spirit, morality, and faith under conditions he could not even imagine.
“Tell me, ” he pleads. But they cannot bring themselves to relate their ordeals — because to retell them is to relive them. “Why didn’t you fight back? Why didn’t you escape?” How could he understand, he and his generation, who never had to fight or to escape?
Finally they relent and give us this moving memoir. In reality two memoirs, because this book tells the stories of two people living through their separate chapters of the unspeakable — and surmounting the insurmountable.
The hero of this story spent five years, five eternities, in slave labor camps. The heroine was thrust into her ordeal in Auschwitz. She and her mother marched together toward the hated Dr. Mengele; he motioned the young girl to the right and her mother to the left. The mother knew what that meant, but the daughter did not — and has forever regretted her lost opportunity to say good-bye.
In the cattle car to Auschwitz, a rabbi strengthened his fellow prisoners with the fervent guarantee that Klal Yisrael will outlive its oppressors. His memorable words left an indelible impression and proved true.
This touching book records the emotional outpouring of two people responding to the inquiries of their son, telling their story, because otherwise he would never know it — and it is important that he know. The same goes for all of us. We all must know.
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