A true Holocaust tale of a 12-year-old girl's bravery
and courage. A book excerpt.
Special to The Jewish News
ll of my nightmares became
reality one late afternoon in
December 1942, about four
o'clock. I had just returned
from pumping water for our
tiny household. I had set the water
buckets down in their usual place in
the hall and pushed the front door
shut, when suddenly there was a
I opened the door and saw a
Ukrainian policeman. He held a pen-
cil and a small notebook, and seem-
ed to be checking things off some sort
of list. "Frieda Jurman?" he asked,
inquiring for my mother.
I swallowed hard, and a wave of
sickness swept over me. "Yes," I said.
He made a check in his little
book. "Come with me."
And so I went. I said nothing, fear-
ing he would realize that my voice
was too high and childlike to belong
to a woman. It may seem strange that
he thought me an adult, but I was tall
for a 12-year-old and my coat and
shawl disguised my body well.
The policeman brought me direct-
ly to the police station, where I was
put into a cell with many others. Peo-
ple were sitting on the stone floor
huddled together. I found a corner and
sat down, pulling my legs up and en-
circling them with my arms. I put my
head down and closed my eyes. I made
up my mind that I wasn't going to cry
or think about what was going to hap-
pen to all of us. Instead, I was trying
to listen to what the women near me
were saying. They were talking about
a street action they were caught in.
Street actions were something new.
We were now being picked up at ran-
dom in the streets. What new horrors
would that bring to the ghetto, I
Dawn was just breaking, when a
prison guard came and unlocked the
door to our cell. "Everybody line up
and go upstairs into the waiting
room," he called out.
As the line moved, I could see that
the people were stooping and writing
their names on a yellow ledger in
front of a policeman seated behind a
table. I blinked hard when I realized
FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 1988
that I knew the policeman. I felt ill
This man, who was helping
murder my people, was the father of
my childhood friend, Olga. As I came
nearer, I watched him silently. He did
not look much at the people who ap-
proached him, but kept_ his eyes on
When it was my turn I stepped up,
took the pencil, and wrote "Alicia Jar-
man" on the yellow paper. I did not
sign my mother's name, as I feared
Olga's father would recognize me and
send for my mother. His eyes widen-
ed as he recognized the name.
"Alicia" — he looked at me —"what
are you doing here?" He seemed baffl-
ed; clearly there had been a mistake.
All of the others were adults; they had
not meant to include children in this
action. Olga's father motioned for me
to come- closer.
"Look," he said, "the Germans
will be here soon to take you away.
When they get here, I want you to get
down oh your knees and beg for your
He searched my face for a nod or
some other sign Of acknowledgement,
but I only stared back.
I took my place with the others.
I still couldn't believe that Olga's
father could be part of this. I still
remember when he had told his
daughter how fortunate she was to
have me help her with her homework
and how glad he was that we were
friends. Friends, I thought bitterly,
and hatred began to settle into my
heart. Will he accompany the Ger-
mans and help them shoot us? Will
his bullet find its target in my heart
It wasn't long before the Germans
came. They were not the usual SS
men, known to us as Hitler's most
brutal killers, or even the Wehrmacht
(army). They were the local German
As one of them explained that we
were to be loaded into sleighs for a
journey to another city, I watched
Olga's father. Our eyes met. I could
almost hear his thoughts. Say it! Do
it now! I looked back at the German.
He was winding down his talk; time
was running out. Olga's father look-
ed at the German, then at me again.