Chapter 03 – The Angel

“For He will order His angels to guard you wherever you go”
Psalms 91:11

Father carried me in his arms and strode through the fields in the dark that led to the Pole’s house. On the way he tried to reassure me, explaining that the Pole was his good friend and would watch over me. In the meantime, he and my sisters would search for a safe place to live. Father promised to come and get me as soon as matters were straightened out. The few garments I wore were not sufficient to keep me warm in the chill of the night. My legs were frozen stiff and I was barefoot, as the Germans had not given my mother time to put shoes on my feet. The path was filled with potholes and Father stumbled every few steps, and I too with him. The silent night and freezing cold were of no help in forgetting the shocking sights of the day, least of all that of my mother, murdered and left behind. I burst out crying again.

Father hugged me and whispered: “Calm down, child, everything will be okay; behave like a big boy and be strong. My friend will watch over you. In the meantime, I’ll search for a new place to live; and I promise to come and get you. Don’t worry.” Father’s voice cracked, tears choked him and he was deeply pained. German planes flew above and from all around came sounds of explosions. Father resumed walking and increased his pace.

The Pole’s house was isolated and stood at the edge of plowed fields. Apparently, this was an agricultural area where various crops were grown. After hours of strenuous walking at night, through mud and furrowed fields, we arrived at the Pole’s house. Father knocked on the door. The Pole, a tall man with a roundish face, dressed in work clothes, peered through the crack in the door and then opened it. They exchanged a few words and Father handed me over to him, though not before hugging and kissing me. In a voice choked with tears, he whispered into my ears:

“Don’t be afraid, child, he will watch over you. I’ll return for you very soon. Be strong and act like a big boy.” Father embraced me again and disappeared into the darkness. The Pole took me to a shed in his yard and told me that I would spend the night there. The door of the shed was open and I went inside. The Pole directed me to a staircase that led to a cellar where potatoes were stored, left me there and returned to his house.

I walked hesitantly to the corner of the cellar. There were other Jews there who had apparently also found haven with the Pole. Among those hiding was a young boy whom I estimated to be five or six years older than me. His face was visible in the dim light that penetrated the shed. He gestured to me, and in a calm voice invited me to sit next to him. I walked confidently over to him and did not hesitate to sit down there, as if we were old friends. He did not ask my name, just put his arm around my shoulders and said: “Come closer, don’t be afraid.”

For some reason I felt safe. I tried to keep myself from crying, to control myself and not exhibit any signs of distress. The cold seeped in through my bare feet and caused my body to tremble. My new friend hugged me, brought a bit of straw and a rag he found there and covered my feet. To this day I do not know his real name and what happened to him. For ease of reference, I’ll refer to him here as Michael. In any case, it seemed to me that the two of us were the only children in the cellar. I tried to fall asleep, but do not recall if I succeeded. We sat this way, wordless in the darkness, that entire night. At first light, we heard from afar the noise of motorcycles and other vehicles approaching the Pole’s house. It was a group of armed Germans. Through a crack in the shed, we saw Father’s Polish friend speak with them and point to the shed in which we were hiding. Michael, who had apparently developed a special survivor’s instinct, heard what was transpiring and whispered in my ears: “The Pole is giving us up to the Germans.”

I clung to him. He hugged me and grasped my hand tightly. “It looks like they’re about to take us away,” he mumbled. “Where to?” I asked. Before he managed to respond, we heard the screech of car wheels in front of the shed. Armed German soldiers jumped out and surrounded it. The Jews hiding there panicked and sounds of crying were audible. I did not cry, but was afraid. Now I discovered that other children were there, together with their parents. The horrible images of Pultusk resurfaced. Shouts of “Juden raus! Juden raus!” (Jews out! Jews out!) came from all sides.

The armed Germans burst into the shed. Roaring and poking us with bayonets, they seized everyone who had taken refuge and loaded all of us like animals onto a truck parked at the entrance. The military truck was too high for me to climb onto. One of the Nazi soldiers grabbed me by the waist and threw me into the truck as if I were an object, not a human being. I suffered a painful blow to my body. Michael came over to me and pulled me to his side. The Germans combed every corner of the shed and threatened to kill all of us if they found anyone who had not surrendered himself to them.

“I hope you weren’t injured,” I heard my friend whisper in my ears. “My knees hurt a bit,” I answered. “Where are they taking us?” sobbed a woman standing next to me, holding her little daughter by the hand. The German soldier shouted at her, silencing all of us. The Germans demanded that we crowd together and stay close to each other. At the order of the officer in charge, the convoy of vehicles started moving to another house in the area, not far from that of the Pole, where they also searched for hidden Jews. Dozens more Jews were loaded onto our truck, among them men, women with babies and some elderly people. We traveled like this for several hours, transported like animals in trucks. The scene repeated itself at each and every stop along the way: searching for Jews and loading them onto the trucks.

The convoy was surrounded by jeeps with machine guns. The cruel armed guards did not hesitate to shoot and kill anyone who violated an order. After traveling a distance of several kilometers, the convoy stopped at the edge of a forest bordering an expansive corn field. The Germans commanded us to get off the trucks and form a line. Surrounded by a guard of armed Nazis, we marched into the forest. Our blood froze from fear and cold, but on we went. Michael was in front of me and his hand did not let go of mine. When he thought I was about to fall, he pulled me toward him and steadied me. The shouts of the Germans in the forest mingled with the sounds of crying and the wails of the marchers. I wanted to ask my friend where they were taking us, but my tongue stuck to the roof of my mouth and I did not have the strength to move my lips. The Germans urged us on, poking us with their bayonets and hitting us with the butts of their rifles.

After about an hour of walking, we reached a clearing in the forest. The officer at the head gave a signal and the line of marchers was ordered to stop. Two jeeps with machine guns were positioned in one corner. The Germans arranged us in groups of ten. Michael and I were in the second group. The Nazis commanded the first ten to line up in the center of the clearing, dozens of meters in front of the jeeps. Suddenly, the German officer gave an order and the machine guns began to reap their harvest of death. Those shot at crumpled and dropped like felled trees, while their comrades screamed and howled. The cries tore through the forest. Those left knew that their turn would come. I stood with my friend in the second group, ready to be slaughtered. I was shocked by the scene. The blood froze in my veins.

A mere thirty meters separated me from death. The German yelled at us to move forward to the shooting area. The wails of the women and cries of the children were heart-rending. While preparing to move, I felt a strong tug on my arm, accompanied by a whisper: “Run after me quickly!” Michael forcefully pulled me out of the line that was forming the next group and broke into flight in the direction of the forest’s edge, the corn fields. He did not let go of me for even a moment. With his cleverness and agility, my friend managed to exploit the murderers’ momentary delay while they stilled the Jews and positioned the jeeps at a better angle for shooting.

My friend ran, with me following, straight into the long, twisted rows of corn, far from the eyes of the Germans. I clung to him as to a magnet; the strength of our connection was amazing. I could not understand from where Michael drew such powerful strength. His palm gripped mine as if we were born attached. I was in a panic and an inner voice propelled me forward: “Run, lad, run!”

One of the German soldiers had noticed our escape. He chased us and tried to locate us, but the corn stalks were sufficiently tall to conceal us fully. The German fired several rounds at us. The bullets passed over our heads. My friend made me lie down among the corn stalks, bent over me and hid me with his body. For a moment it seemed as if Michael was sent to me as an angel from heaven in order to watch over me.

Eventually, the firing stopped and we saw the German retreating back into the forest. That day I began to believe in angels.

We were lucky that the corn stalks were taller than we were and afforded a safe hiding place from our pursuers. This was a very large corn field; most of its crop had been picked but not harvested, apparently due to the events of the war. Michael seized hold of my hand again and continued to run endlessly. Suddenly, he switched directions and went into the heart of the corn fields, to the forest’s other edge.

While still running, we heard machine gun fire from the direction of the forest clearing. We understood that another group had been shot to death by the bloodthirsty Nazis. The barrages were accompanied by cries and heart-wrenching wails and, at the same time, a measured shout of men and women burst from the background: “Shma Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Ehad!” (“Hear O Israel, the Lord is Our God, the Lord is One!”)

Once again, we heard a barrage of machine gun fire, followed by another. The shooting stopped eventually. From then on we only heard the sound of voices repeating the Shma prayer, voices which rose and were swallowed by the darkened skies. I wondered about the meaning of these heart-breaking words that accompanied the persecuted Jews to their deaths….

The human slaughter was now completed. I felt as if my legs were moving while I remained glued in place. My bare feet began to bleed. I tried to slow my pace, but Michael persisted in running forward, pulling me after him into the rows of corn stalks without letting go of my hand. Sharp as razors, the branches sliced through our skin, tearing it to shreds. Our clothes were ripped into pieces, as if in mourning for our world that had been destroyed. My friend stopped for a moment, looked back and saw from afar that the convoy of German vehicles was leaving the area. Michael sat down on the ground, took a deep breath and announced: “We are saved!”

He sat down next to me, his face lit up like that of an angel. He hardly spoke. His firm grip on my hand infused me with a feeling of security. “We are saved!” he repeated, and did not let go of my hand. Here, sitting on the ground in the midst of corn fields, I, the boy Shalom son of Avraham Domb, began for the first time to develop a survivor’s instinct, with the assistance of my young friend – like a wild beast abandoned to its fate by its parents. Slowly, the realization that crying and wailing were of no value began to penetrate my awareness, and I realized that I would have to constantly seek means of survival, and to persevere.

With a sure hand, “my angel” led me to a hiding place at the other end of the forest, near the corn fields. Here we hid, in the shade of the trees of the thick grove. I lay down on my back and excruciating pains began to shoot through the soles of my feet. I looked at them; they were red with blood. While running in the corn fields and in the forest, I had apparently stepped on objects and thorns that broke through the skin of my feet. Only now did I begin to feel the pain that spread through my bleeding soles. Strangely enough, I did not cry and was not frightened, for “the angel” was watching over me.

The exhaustion and the events of the terror-filled days took their toll. I felt as if I was at the edge of an abyss. The horrors I had experienced were too unbearable. I lay down and fell into a deep sleep. I do not know how long I slept. When I opened my eyes, I saw Michael sitting next to me, his hand in mine. I tried to get up, but sharp pains radiated throughout my body. The hunger, thirst and pains did not ease up. “You slept soundly,” noted Michael. “It seems that you had many dreams. What is your name?” he asked for the first time. “Shalom Domb,” I responded and looked upward toward the tops of the surrounding trees. It was twilight, several minutes before sunset. “Where are we?” I asked. “In the forest, far from the Germans. Have no fear. I am with you and watching over you,” he reassured me. “I’m hungry,” I said. “I want a drink.” “Me too,” answered my friend, and gave me a big hug.

We sat huddled together in the forest for several long minutes, looking at the growing darkness enveloping us. Suddenly, Michael perked up his ears and whispered: “I hear the sound of automobiles.” He stood up and lifted his head, strained his eagle eye and called: “Germans!” The frantic run resumed, this time into the depths of the forest. To nowhere and to the unknown. Like a big boy, I rose to my feet. It was as if the pain had disappeared. I did as I was told by my older brother. I trusted him implicitly: he knew where he was taking me. To nowhere, but far from the accursed Germans who were chasing Jews like animals after their prey. We ran in the forest for hours. Darkness blanketed the area. We paused to catch our breath. Our ears finally caught the sound of trickling water.

“Water, do you hear? Water! We’ve reached the river,” Michael whispered to me. “Yes,” I answered. My eyes lit up and my heart beat in joy, as if I was about to receive a long-anticipated gift. I walked behind Michael in the direction of the flowing water. His hand was still in mine. It seemed as if our hands were glued to each other with some mysterious substance. This hand did not leave mine from the moment we met in the Pole’s shed. Feeling our way in the dark, we reached the river bank and excitedly fell upon the water.

We drank and drank without stopping. This was the first time water had entered my mouth since we had been expelled from our home in Pultusk. We lay down on the river bank, apparently a tributary of the Narew, and looked up at the sky. My friend drew a little water with the palms of his hands and washed my bleeding feet. Sharp stabs pierced my feet. I gathered my courage and did not utter one groan of pain. Strange sounds haunt the forest at night. Jackals howl, frogs croak, birds of the night call out to each other. I do not know how long we remained in the forest, but I became immune to the fear. I stopped being frightened. Only the thought of my father and sisters brought me back to the bloody visions in the public park near the bridge and to the image of my mother wallowing in her own blood. The brutal scene of rows of Jews being mowed down by the murderous Nazis’ machine guns also kept coming back to me over and over.

The sounds of Shma Yisrael repeatedly reverberated in my ears.… When such thoughts arose, I tried to distract myself by focusing on my immediate surroundings – the flowing water, nesting birds, the tall trees enveloped in fog and humidity. The night sounds were interrupted by the thunder of explosions and shooting heard from afar, from the other side of the river. We walked in the dark along the river bank until we reached the bridge. Michael

said that it was best for us to stop and look for a place to sleep under

the bridge. Once again, his strong instinct did not disappoint. He led me

to a narrow area between the bridge’s pillars. We found refuge for the

night in a corner that provided a feeling of having a kind of roof over

us. We lay down on a pile of leaves we had gathered and tried to fall

asleep to the sound of the flowing water. The bridge seemed deserted.

No one crossed it at such hours of the night. Here we slept for a few

hours – hungry, but at least not thirsty.

The bridge did not remain empty for long. We awoke to an

increasingly loud noise, a familiar one that I had already heard in

Pultusk: the sound of tank tracks on the move.

“German tanks,” murmured my friend in a weak voice.

“I know,” I answered.

A terrifying sight unfolded before us. With an ear-splitting din,

the iron monsters crossed the bridge one by one and advanced toward

the road that wound along the length of the river. Covering our ears, we

lay in our hiding place under the bridge, but kept our eyes peeled on

what was transpiring.

Several hours of nerve-wracking tension passed. The convoy

of vehicles continued to stream along the bridge, in parallel with the

Sam Domb 49

flowing water beneath them. Above our heads were tanks and trucks

packed with soldiers, jeeps carrying machine guns, vehicles towing

artillery and a company of SS soldiers on foot. The German officer

at the head of the company stopped directly over our heads. From our

position we were able to see his face and uniform clearly. He directed

the traffic with muffled shouts. Two officers standing next to him gazed

out toward the river, filling their lungs with fresh air. Again we clung

to each other, afraid of being discovered by the Germans. A jeep with

several antennas attached to it came to a halt on the bridge. The officers

got into it and disappeared.

Once again, that same silence of the forest and the sound of flowing

water enveloped the area in unexplained mystery. The bridge was again

deserted and we lay under it, starving and frozen, with the thought

gnawing at my brain: “Now what, where to?”

“I think the Germans are gone. We’re lucky, they didn’t find

us,” murmured the boy.

“Where were they going?” I asked.

“I don’t know,“ replied my friend and continued: “It’s about to

rain. I can smell the drops.”

“Tell me,” I asked, “why are the Germans chasing and

murdering us? What did we do to them?”

My question hung in the air and dissolved into the rain that

began to fall. He muttered something unintelligible and finally stated:

“Because we’re Jews!”

I asked nothing further, just mentioned that I was hungry. My

friend said he was also hungry and would try to “think of something.”

It was noontime. The cloudy sky peeked out between the treetops. The

sun was entirely hidden and rain began to wash over the whole area. We

sat silently under the bridge and looked out at the streaming water. My

friend looked pensive and suddenly called out:

50 He Hath Not Let Me Die

“I have a plan!”

Looking at the flowing water, he explained:

“When the Germans brought us by truck from house to house,

gathering Jews who had hidden among the Poles, we passed a lone farm,

the home of a Pole who was my father’s friend and business partner. I

visited the house many times and know the family well. Now that the

Germans have collected all the Jews who had been in hiding, perhaps

he’ll agree to host us and we will find food and refuge there. I heard

from my father that the Germans threatened to kill any Pole caught

hiding Jews, so we’ll have to be careful that they don’t see us entering

his house. Do what I tell you and stick to me the whole time.“ Thus

Michael summed up his “rescue plan,” giving me the warm embrace of

a loving brother.

“Okay,” I agreed obediently.

Thanks to Michael, my life was given to me as a gift. A miracle

had happened to me. An angel had descended from the sky and watched

over me. Maybe Mother sent him “from that place”?

Even now, more than fifty years after these events, I cannot find the

words to properly express my feelings and describe the traumatic

experiences of those days. I have tried to convey the intensity of the

word “fear,” but it is impossible. I have perused dictionaries in various

languages, searching for a sentence or phrase that could portray what I

felt during those moments of terror – but to no avail. Many years later, I

still have the sensation of living inside a hazy bubble, unable to pinpoint

the events I experienced on an exact timetable. The images float up from

an indefinable reservoir inside me. I don’t know how to explain this. It is

possible that everything got mixed up in the imagination of a little boy

who experienced unfathomable horrors and a terrible reality, resulting in

an uncontrollable mix of emotions. The wounds on my hands, feet and

every exposed part of my body may have healed, but the deep wound in

my heart still bleeds today and will apparently never heal.

Sam Domb 51

Michael interrupted my thoughts: “We’ll wait for evening and

leave when it becomes dark. But we must be very careful.”

“Okay,” I again responded obediently.

The hours until dark seemed like eternity. There was no

movement on the bridge. It stopped raining and my friend explained to

me repeatedly that we had to avoid the Germans by any means possible.

We particularly had to be careful of those in green uniform bearing the

skull and bones symbol. Those, he said, “are the SS, the military arm

of the Nazis. They are extremely cruel and it was they who slaughtered

us in the forest clearing.” He also cautioned me against the Gestapo,

the Nazi secret police, who wore black uniforms with the skull, bones

and swastika depicted on red armbands. I reminded him that I had seen

many wearing such uniforms in Pultusk and en route. To illustrate his

explanation, Michael drew the shape of a swastika on a piece of sand.

He emphasized that I must walk behind him and not to let go of his hand

under any circumstances.

I nodded in understanding and agreement. When he finished,

Michael gripped my hand tightly as usual, just as he had done ever since

we were taken from the Pole’s shed. Daylight dimmed and darkness

began to take over the forest. Michael rose suddenly and said:

“The time has come. We have to be on our way. Remember

what I told you. Be brave!”

He gripped my hand and, with measured steps, we began to

walk – at first along the length of the river and then into the forest. I was

not afraid. He walked as if a hidden compass determined his direction.

It seemed to me as if we were returning along the route we had taken

to the bridge. It was totally dark by the time we neared the edge of the

forest. He stood and looked around. In front of us was the vague outline

of the corn fields; a sea of corn stalks, once again taller than we were.

“We’ll enter the rows of corn and head this way,” whispered my

friend, pointing in a direction that seemed to me to lead nowhere. But I

trusted him. He was my angel, delivering me from all that was evil, and

52 He Hath Not Let Me Die

would surely bring me to a safe place. After all, he had kept his word

until now.

Walking in the corn field was difficult. The rain had made the

ground muddy and the corn stalks wet; their leaves were razor-sharp and

tore at our flesh. The “angel” sensed my distress, stopped walking and

sat down. He tore off an ear of corn forgotten by the pickers, removed

its husk and said:

“Time for supper!”

I had never eaten corn this way before. He took a bite of the ear

and said:

“It tastes heavenly. Like manna in the desert.”

I, too, started to bite into the corn, and its taste was delightful.

This was the first time food entered my mouth since I had left home. We

ate the ear together. My friend searched for another and found one, and

we ate that, too. The corn was dry, but very good. If there had been a

way to carry them, I would have taken more for an emergency. But my

friend said this would not be wise, as it would be harder to walk; if we

were forced to flee the Nazis, the weight would hinder us. He asked if I

was full and I said yes.

Michael rose to his feet and looked at the sky, again pointing in

a certain direction and saying that we had to resume walking. We were

still in the corn fields. All we saw in front of us was – again – corn stalks

all around with a partly cloudy sky above. The break we had taken and

the food that had passed our lips lifted our spirits. We continued making

our way through the stalks. The walk in the mud and in darkness was

slow going.

Eventually we reached the edge of the corn field, where we

heard dogs barking in the distance. We found a path leading to an

isolated house. My friend said that we had to skirt the house from the

right, as far from it as possible, to avoid getting close to the dogs and

arousing the suspicion of hostile Poles in the area. He reassured me,


Sam Domb 53

“Now I know exactly where we are. I know the way to the

house of my father’s Polish friend. I’ve taken it many times when we

visited in the past.”

Michael noted that we still had a long way to go. Although the

shorter route was the road that wound its way not far from the forest and

lay adjacent to the field, my friend decided to stay as far away from it as

possible so as not to be discovered by the Germans.

We strode in this fashion for several hours without pause.

Luckily, we did not encounter any Germans or Poles. The navigation

skills exhibited by “my angel” were impeccable. Eventually, Michael

whispered to me:

“We’ve arrived at the Pole’s house; here it is on the left.”

He pointed to a house several hundred meters from where we

had stopped. He scanned the area and said:

“It is best that we leave the path and approach the house via the

fields. We need to step carefully, because this road is full of bumps.”

He pulled my hand that attached to his and trod onward.

The closer we got to the Pole’s house, the more rapidly my

heart beat. The house was lit by an oil lamp that stood on the window

sill. It was isolated, just like those of many farmers in the area. This

isolation made it easier for us. We entered the yard and hid behind a

hay-filled wagon near the stable. I was told to remain in place, behind

the wagon of hay.

“Stay here and don’t move. I am leaving you for a few minutes

to go speak with the Pole and I hope that he will agree to hide both of

us. In any case, don’t be afraid. I won’t leave you on your own. Until

now you’ve proven yourself to be a big, brave boy. Wait for me here, I

promise to return,” declared Michael.

He removed his hand from mine, gave me his usual warm

embrace, and confidently walked to the door of the house.

It was after midnight. It looked as if the Pole was awake because the

54 He Hath Not Let Me Die

oil lamp was lit. For a moment, I worried about being alone. This was

the first time I had been separated from my friend. My heart pounded

more and more powerfully. I heard Michael knocking on the door. No

one opened it at first. Eventually, the voice of a woman emerged from

inside the house:

“Someone’s knocking on the door!”

Then: “Who’s there?” her voice thundered again.

My friend knocked on the door once more and it opened. The

Pole stood in the doorway, the oil lamp in his hand lighting up his face,

looking surprised. The Pole took the guest into the house and the sound

of the door being locked and bolted split the air. There are no words to

describe my feelings during these terrifying moments. Every passing

minute seemed like an eternity. Michael remained in the house for a

long time. I trembled in fear and worried that the man was evil and

would kill my “angel.” I could not understand what was taking so long.

My heart continued to beat wildly, as if about to break out of my chest.

In the background, my father’s voice reverberated in my head:

“Be strong, child. Behave like a big boy!”

I remembered my friend’s request and did not move from my

spot. He had promised to return. The sound of dogs barking could

be heard from the other side of the house. My eyes did not leave the

entrance door. At last, a woman’s silhouette appeared in the window.

The door suddenly opened and I heard Michael call me:

“Shulem! Shulem! Come, don’t be afraid.”

I left my hiding place drenched in a cold sweat, my legs barely

carrying me to the door. My friend sensed my distress and came toward

me, grasping my hand again. At that moment, a spark of life passed

from him through our hands, into my body. I made a quick recovery and

walked in with him, to the surprised faces of the Pole and his wife.

Seeing me barefoot and bleeding all over my body, the Polish

woman resolved to take care of me. She bathed my wounds in water she

had heated, and removed the thorns embedded in my body and in the

Sam Domb 55

soles of my feet. Then she applied a stinging ointment to my wounds. I,

however, did not utter a sound. The farmer’s wife also treated my friend.

Afterwards, she went to the kitchen and brought us two large baked

potatoes, which we devoured as if they were a feast fit for a king. This

was my first warm meal since being deported from Pultusk.

Michael told the couple everything that had transpired since

we were handed over by my father’s Polish friend. His account moved

them very much, and they hung on every word. He looked at the two of

us and said:

“You know that the Germans are everywhere. They expelled all

the Jews from here. We’re also aware of their acts of horror and murder.

They patrol this area daily and send special squads to locate Jews hiding

in Polish homes and the surrounding forests. I am surprised they didn’t

catch you until now. In any case, you should know that any Pole caught

hiding Jews is put to death. I’m very sorry to say that there are also local

Poles who inform the Germans who is hiding Jews, so my wife and I are

greatly endangering ourselves. If you’re discovered here, neither you

nor we will be spared. I hope that no one saw you enter my house.”

“We detoured around the main roads on our way here. We

walked only when it was dark so that we wouldn’t be spotted. That’s

why we arrived at such a late hour,” answered my friend.

The Pole nodded his head and said:

“We must work out how we can rescue you without being

caught. We’ll look for a way to bring you safely to the borderline where

the Germans were halted, and try to smuggle you to the Russian side.

Rumor has it that all local refugees who were saved from the Germans

crossed over there en route to Bialystok. Near the border crossing is a

town which you must reach where you will surely find your parents or

other relatives. Now, I suggest that you go up to the attic where there is

a place to hide. My wife will give you blankets and you can sleep until

morning. The main thing is to get you away from the area where the

Germans are. You’ll be able to manage better on the Russian side and

56 He Hath Not Let Me Die

move around freely. There you won’t need to hide.”

The Pole continued to describe the situation. He told us that

according to rumors, the Polish resistance had collapsed on all fronts,

the Polish army had surrendered in Warsaw and Hitler had held an

impressive victory parade in the city. Poland was currently divided

between the Russian and German armies. He explained that, in his

opinion, the situation was complex and unclear, and no one knew what

would happen.

The Pole’s wife apparently felt tremendous pity for us. She

gave us two blankets; and, under the cover of darkness, our host led us

to the barn at the end of the yard. He pointed to an attic above the barn

door and whispered:

“This is a safe hiding place. Find yourself a spot among the

things stored there and go to sleep. A hard day awaits us tomorrow,” he

concluded. My friend thanked him profusely for his hospitality and we

were left alone. We went up to the attic and fell asleep. At long last we

had a safe place to rest for the meantime, without worrying about beasts

of prey or Nazis. However, who knew what tomorrow would bring.…