Monday, December 6, 2010

A nightmare you can not wake up from

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear.  ~Ambrose Redmoon

When Sarah opened the door that night, she had no way of knowing that her life would forever be changed.  She ushered the police chiefs wife indoors.  In a hushed whisper she was told about that night and what had transpired.  Israel had arrived at the police headquarters, and was immediately taken to the prison cell.  When the chief asked what was going on, he was told not to worry about it.  The Germans then went on to say that by morning all the Jews would be rounded up and taken care of, they were starting with Israel, and then his family, so that the others would follow.  The wife had overheard this and had snuck out of the house to warn Sarah.  She knew that if she was ever found out that the Germans would show her no mercy. 

Sarah begged of her to help her husband.  The wife said she would see what she could do, and then, as quickly as she came, she left into the dead of night.  Sarah did not know where to turn.  She woke the children, dressed them quickly, and then ran down to the Pilat house.  When she told him what she had been told, she asked him for his help and advice.  She did not know what to do.  He quickly told her to leave Manek with him.  He would take her and Zosia to a nearby ghetto in Dembice and bring Manek to her as soon as he could.  It would be too dangerous to have all three try to go together, and they may be looking for a woman with 2 children.  He took Manek to the room where his children were all sleeping and told him to crawl into bed and go back to sleep.  He then took Sarah and Zosia on his bicycle to the Dembice ghetto.

The next morning, Manek was startled awake by banging on the door.  It was very early in the morning, and the Gestapo was there already.  The Schonwetter family was missing, and Pilat was known to be one of their friends.  Had he seen them at all?  He responded that he did not know where they were nor had he seen them.  The Germans then came into the house to search.  As they did, Pilat quickly went to the room where the children were sleeping, he woke them all and told them to go out into the back and fields and start their chores.  He then went to Manek and told him to go with the children, but to run through the back into the fields, go far out, crouch down, and do not move until he gets there for him.  The children started to scramble and get up and out.  The Germans seeing all the commotion, demanded to know what was going on.  Pilat explained that it was morning and the children had chores to do.  Then one German man stopped the eldest child, a daughter and asked her how many siblings she had.  She had been up the night before and knew what was as stake.  She answered with out hesitation "12".  This one number saved my father's life and the life of Pilat and his family.

Manek ran as fast and hard as he could, found a spot in the fields, and crouched low and waited.  He waited all day and into the night until Pilat cam and found him.  He took him on his bicycle to a house that Sarah and Zosia were waiting at, and then he took the three of them to the Dembice ghetto.  When they got there, they stopped at the front of the gates.  Then Pilat had to leave and rush back home.  The young 8 year old and his mother and 4 year old sister were on their own.

Check back next time to find out the story of Israel...

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