Monday, July 4, 2016

Alicia - My Story - Holocaust memoire

I just reread this memoire by Alicia Jurman, a young Jewish girl's survival, escapes, and heroics during the Holocaust.    It is both tragic and miraculous.  Alicia suffers the tragic loss of her entire family one-by-one.  Her first escape is on the transport to Auschwitz: She is pushed out of the train when her neighbor discovers a loose floor board. He tells her "You must live."

She is imprisoned, beaten, starved, and infected with typhus by the Germans and their Polish collaborators.   After being whipped unconscious by an SS officer she is left in a pile of dead bodies awaiting burial.  A Jewish couple from the Chortov ghetto rescue her and nurse her back to health.  When she is later captured again by the Germans waiting to be shot by a firing squad, she is saved by  Jewish partisans.  There are many occasions where she saves other victims of the Nazis: Jews and Russians.  She speaks out and advocates for her right to live on many occasions.

She survives by living as a peasant girl and working as a farm hand.  When she overhears German officers plotting to kill  Russian partisans in the nearby woods,  She rides the farmer's horse into the forest to warn the Russians.  On her way back she is discovered by the Germans who question her: what is she doing in the woods at night.  She saves herself by concocting a story crying and blaming the disobedient horse!  The Germans dismiss her as a silly peasant girl.

When the WWII ends, she returns to her uncle Kurtz' house to discover it occupied by a hostile stranger. Alicia unleashes her outrage accusing him of betraying her uncle so he could steal his property.
As a sole survivor, she sets up orphanages for other lost and hungry Jewish children. She later is recruited by the Breka to smuggle Jews out of Europe and into Israel.  She describes the difficulty of starting a new life after the war.