Tribute to My Mother

Unlike my father, my mother avoided speaking about the Holocaust years. Unlike him, she was neither the athlete nor possessed the outgoing personality. She was content to let Father be the spokesman and leader. Yet, after Father literally forced her to escape from the Tarnów Ghetto–together with me, the two-year-old–she rose up to the challenge and succeeded in maneuvering herself and me for two and a half years in a foreign and very dangerous environment. For Mother, it was very painful to remember those war years. Just as Father...

read more

Going Against Logic

“I always follow my logic” was my father’s “leitmotif” all of his life. He prided himself to be a logical person. To him, going against logic showed weakness and made no sense. Logic led him to abandon his faith and become a strong believer in evolution–an admirer of Darwin–because it made sense. Even though he stuck to traditional practices in deference to his parents, he viewed religion as “outdated,” “illogical,”, “backward.” Logic drove him also to become a strong Zionist, because he believed that the only logical way to...

read more

Beautiful Sunset

     It is 1956, and I am sixteen years old. It is a beautiful spring evening. I am walking in downtown Frankfurt, Germany . It is rush hour and the streets are mobbed. People are rushing everywhere, some to catch the streetcar home, others to make a last minute shopping trip, still others to take care of an errand that did not get done during the day.      The church bells of the Paulskirche start their daily evening ringing. They bellow over the whole area. Traffic is bumper to bumper. Impatient drivers honk their horns. It is getting dark....

read more

The Old Woman

     “The Old Woman,” as I call the woodcarving that hangs in my dining room, is ugly. Nobody wants her. Nobody likes her but me. My husband dislikes her. I offered her to my children, but they refused to take her. “She is hideous and depressing,” they both said, their feelings echoed by their respective spouses. But I like her, so I hung her in my dining room, opposite my chair, where I can see her almost daily.      Why do I like her? What attracts me to her, even though, I admit, she reminds me of an old witch? She used to hang in my...

read more

Photo Essay

     “Cioci Frenie, Felusia; Sopoty,20/9/1945” – “To Aunt Frenia, Felusia; Sopot, 9/20/1945”      Thus reads the back of a photo I recently found while rummaging through my parents’ photo box.      I am “Felusia,” and we did live in Sopot, Poland after liberation, but who is “Aunt Frenia”? I have no memories of her and have never heard my parents mention her. She could not be a real aunt, because the only one I had when the war started was murdered, probably in Belzec killing center. And, if the picture was for “Aunt Frenia,” what was...

read more

Liberation

     February 1945. Planes roaring overhead; people dancing; men strutting drunkenly down the unpaved street, laughing, singing and shouting,”The Russians are here! The Russians are here!”      My uncle is one of these men—as usual, the center of any celebration. He is the one who found shelter on a farm in a small village southeast of Warsaw for himself, my mother and me after we were bombed.      I am five years old. Confused, I am not sure what it is all about. The roaring of the planes, the loud laughter of the drunken men...

read more