The spring of 1943 was approaching, and once again Sarah and the children had to head into the forest to hide. Romek had known where they were hiding. He had kept tabs on Sarah and the children, and as the weather started to get a little mild, he and Fish came to get Sarah and the children. They met up with Ignash in the forest.
The days were long. To pass the time, the men would teach Manek how to handle a machine gun (they had stolen weapons), how to fire it, take it apart, put it back together and clean it. If they were sure no one was anywhere around, they would allow the young boy to do target practice and shoot into the woods. They felt he needed to learn how to protect himself and his family. He took his "job" very seriously. One day, Fish thought it would be funny to "scare" the young child. He snuck out of camp, and then crept around the outskirts, so as to approach from behind Manek. But Manek was a quick study. He was a child that was quickly learning to rely on instinct. He heard some rustling in the woods behind him and quickly sprang from where he sat. Fish had left his machine gun at camp, and Manek immediately grabbed it, pointed and aimed. Sarah, seeing the activity, cried to Manek "What's wrong?". "I hear something, someone is coming." Sarah told him to put down the weapon immediately. At that moment, Fish jumped out from the woods laughing. Well that did not last long, Sarah gave him an earful about what an idiotic stunt he tried to pull, and he could have gotten himself killed. As far as Manek was concerned, he was just happy he did not have to put his training to the test.
Occasionally the men would go on a "mission". They would leave at night, go far away from where they were hiding, so as not to attract any suspicion or attention to their area. They would go steal clothes, flour, potatoes and other items to help them survive. This summer the accommodations were good. Romek proved to be a very good provider (aka thief). On one of these outings, Romek came back with jams, crackers, sugar and other "goodies". He told the story that he had gone through a village and had come across a German supply truck. When the truck stopped, two men emerged and went to the side of the road to relieve themselves. Since he saw that there were only two men, he quickly killed them both, and then proceeded to take as many supplies as he could and bury them in the woods. Every 1-2 weeks he would go to his "stash" and bring back more food. They were "well fed".
But not all the outings were as successful. One night, at the beginning of spring, the three men had gone to look for food. They again went far away, but this time they came across Polish police. These police, armed with weapons, were trigger happy. They began to shoot at the men. The three men tried to run as fast as they could, but Ignash was hit. He was injured very badly from the gunshot wounds. Romek and Fish each took an arm, and tried to run with him to escape a similar fate. They dragged him for a little bit and then realized that his injuries were too bad. Romek did what he felt was the only choice he had, he aimed his own weapon at Ignash and killed him to put him out of his misery. When they returned to camp, they only told Sarah that Ignash had been shot and that they lost him in the woods. Years later, Fish could not live with the guilt of what they had done, and had confessed the truth to Sarah.
Days were long and nights were even longer. How people deal with the circumstances they are dealt can vary from person to person. Not everyone reacts the same, or has the same courage as others. Who is to say who is right and who is wrong? Would you have done what Romek did? Could you have? Would you have risked your own life to save another one? What if that other life was your child?
During this summer, Sarah and the children encountered about 5 other Jewish people hiding in the woods. Romek and Fish had found them. Amongst them was another woman with two small children, about Manek and Zosia's ages. A little bit later, Romek and Fish came across the group again, but this time there were only 3 of them. They found out that the group had been found, and that they had to run away in order to avoid being killed. The mother had left her two young children to die in the woods, while she ran away to save herself.
After the war, Sarah ran into the woman. The woman immediately started to make excuses for her actions. Sarah could barely even look at her straight in the eyes. Sarah found out later that this woman moved to South America soon after the war, got very sick and died at an early age. Sarah said to her children "You see, G-D does punish."