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December 11, 1987 - Image 115

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-12-11

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

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That he survived at all was
due not only to luck but also
to his decision to volunteer for
a unit of mathematicians.
This turned out to be a kind
of "sting" operation in which
the volunteers worked with
lists of meaningless numbers.
Alongside it was another unit
of chemists who were assign-
ed to study World War I
techniques to see if a super
weapon could be developed.

The unit was always
rescued by a "professor" — he
is not identified otherwise —
who somehow appeared like a
guardian angel in every camp
to which the mathematicians
were sent.
With war's end, Orenstein
returned to Poland, which re-
jected its Jews. He then
managed to come to the
United States, where he
became a successful toy
manufacturer and
philanthropist.
For him, a deserved happy
ending, yet the memory of the
tragedy which killed his
parents, a sister and brother
and six million of his co-
religionists is always present.

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anti-Semitic frenzy in which
Poles and Ukrainians joined
as lackeys to the Nazis. There
were a few "righteous gen-
tiles," however, who risked
their lives to frustrate the
Hitlerites. Without those few
— pitifully very few — Orens-
tein would never have lived to
write this book.
By all sorts of ingenious
schemes, such as the building
of secret hiding places, called
"skrytkas," and bribery, the
family managed to avoid
numerous German roundups
of Jews, but the day finally
came when there was no
place to turn. They sur-
rendered to an "amnesty,"
knowing full well the
hollowness of its promise. "We
just wanted to put a stop to
suffering," the author states.
The parents were im-
mediately trucked away.
Orenstein recalls that he suf-
fered pangs of guilt at not
joining them, but reconciled
himself that "they died know-
ing that we got out and were
given another chance to live."
It was not much of a chance,
as Orenstein was shuttled
from camp to camp, his life
dependent upon requisitions
for the gas chambers and
crematoria, the need for labor,
the whim of sadistic guards,
the gauntlet of selection for
work or death, random kill-
ing, starvation, disease and
self-destruction.

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THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

103

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