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November 11, 1988 - Image 63

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-11-11

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

Friends, I thought
bitterly, and hatred
began to fill my heart.
Will he accompany the
Germans and help them
shoot us? Will his bullet
find its target in my heart
or head?

Beg for your life, his eyes command-
ed me.
But I would not. Never! Never! I
wanted desperately to lie, but I didn't
think for a moment that going down
on my knees before a heartless Ger-
man murderer would save my life. If
they released me, would they look for
my mother again? Call it what you
will, anger, dignity, courage, or just
hatred, I couldn't beg, and the mo-
ment passed.
Finally, the German finished. The
doors opened, and the people were be-
ing pushed outside. Suddenly Olga's
father stood up and came over to me.
Swiftly he swung his open hand at
me. The blow caught me on the cheek,
throwing my head to one side. Then
his hand swung back, connecting
against my other cheek. The force of
his slap threw me off my feet, onto the
crowd of the people.
Olga's father stood in the middle

Alicia Jurman:
"The policeman said, 'Come with me. "

of the room, his eyes glaring at me.
Then something seemed to break in-
side him. He turned and went back to
the table, where he sat down. He fold-
ed his hands in front of him and
studied them. He did not look up
again as we left the room.
A blast of bitter cold air hit us as
we stepped into the street. It must
have been four or five in the morning,
and the sky had taken on the eerie
hue it often had when it had shaken
off the night but not yet accepted the
day.

Soon we drove past the ghetto. I
craned my neck, straining to see our
little house just beyond the hill. But
I. couldn't see it. I thought of my
mother. Would she be asleep, or would
she be pacing the floor, sick with
panic and grief at having lost her
fourth child in so short a time? Tears
that I had held back for a long time
were finally streaming down my face.
Then we were crossing the Black
Bridge at the edge of the city. And
suddenly we were in the country,
traveling into the misty morning.
Two Ukrainian policemen were
assigned to each sleigh. One faced the
horses and one faced us, holding a
machine gun in his lap. Maye if I
waited until this man's back was
turned, _I would leap into the snow
and run for cover. It wouldn't be so
hard. I could roll into the ditch on the
side of the road.
But what might happen then? My
brother Bruno had been killed
because one of the other slave
laborers had escaped. They might line
up nine people from the sleigh and
shoot them on the spot. They might
even kill all 60. Or they might simp-
ly find some unfortunate person to
take my place. I just couldn't take that
chance.
In the next village we passed
children bearing knapsacks on their
way to school. Their faces were par-
tially hidden under shawls and hats.
As they stopped to let us pass, they
looked from the policemen to us with
puzzled eyes, not understanding but

sensing — the way children often
do —that something was wrong with
the huddled people on the sleighs.
The sun rose higher; it was mid-
day. I could see the outline of a city
in the distance. It was a big city, much
bigger than Buczacz. I had a terrible
feeling as we headed toward it.
The streets were crowded, and
sleighs had to pull to one side to let
us pass. People in the streets were
shouting things at us, cupping their
hands around their mouths, or shak-
ing their fists. "Cursed Jews! Christ
killers!" Some spat in our direction.
It was around noon. We had been
traveling about eight hours, when the
sleighs arrived at a huge compound.
They stopped while massive gates
were pulled open and then continued
through. As we pulled up before a
large stone building, I saw that we
were in a prison yard.
"It is the Chortkov prison," I
heard one man tell another. "They
have brought us to Chortkov."
We were quiet. Everyone knew
that this was the city where the
Gestapo was headquartered, and the
central base for murdering actions in
ghettos.
"Get out of the sleighs!" Sudden-
ly there were SS men everywhere,
barking orders and insults. People
were getting off the sleighs. Those
who weren't fast enough were pulled
or pushed to the ground. Rifle stocks
and long sticks seemed to fly through
the air as the Nazis beat and jabbed
us. Arms were lifted to shield faces

The Jew As Heroic Survivor

Alicia Appleman-Jurman wants the world to realize that the Holocaust
was not only a tragedy. Her book, Alicia, is also the story of incredible
courage and the nobility of the human spirit.

ARTHUR J. MAGIDA

Special to The Jewish News

p

Alicia Appleman-Jurman: "Maybe an
angel guided me."

opular culture has reduced
the Holocaust to "skeletons
piled upon skeltons, bodies
piled upon bodies," said Alicia
Appleman-Jurman. "Films and
books always show us the murders.
They do not understand the
Holocaust. They never show us the
spirit that we had or how we fought
back."
In a telephone interview from
her home near Los Angeles, Juiman
said she wrote Alicia, a .heroic tale
of her survival during the
Holocaust, because she "wanted to
celebrate the spirit of the children
of the ghetto, the spirit of the Jewish
people. I wanted to show the little
hungry boy in the ghetto who saved
three turnips for his sister. I learn-
ed humility from him."
"I wanted to write a book that

would be a little star that would
shine continuously. If you want to
know what really happened, you can
reach out to Alicia. If you need
courage, you can reach out to Alicia.
Frdm Alicia, you can learn that you
have courage in time of need."
All this may sound like self-
puffery of the highest order. Readers
of Alicia will have to decide that for
themselves. But there is little deny-
ing that the book moves Holocaust
literature into a largely uncharted
field. The Jew of Alicia is not the
Jew as victim; the Jew led helplessly
to the slaughter; the impassive Jew;
the bewildered, confused, totally
unresourceful Jew. The Jew of Alicia
is wily, clever, determined to survive
and too damned hungry for life not
to. The Jew of Alicia — the Holocaust
Jew, no less — is feisty and tireless,
someone to whom life is an affirma-
tion, not an ever-daunting, ever-
diminishing ordeal.

Alicia starts with the simplest —
and the most chilling — of
declarative sentences:
"First they killed my brother
Moshe .. .
Then they killed my father .. .
Then they killed my brother
Bruno .. .
Then they killed my brother
Zachary .. .
Then they killed my last brother,
Herzl.
Only my mother and I were left.
I vowed that I would never let them
kill her, that I would protect my
mother from the Nazis and their col-
laborators for as long as I lived."

Alicia could not keep her vow. In
fact, it was her mother that saved
her by throwing herself in front of
her 14-year-old daughter as an SS
man shot his pistol at her from
point-blank range. It was the last

Continued on Page 83

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

63

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