Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Forest

Our pleasures were simple - they included survival. Dwight D. Eisenhower

In June of 1942 the people of the Dembice ghetto became just another statistic in the ever increasing death toll and extermination of the Jewish people by the Nazi's.   However, Sarah and her two young children escaped.  Thanks to their friends, the Pilat family, they escaped termination again by one day.
Pilat, Sarah and the children made it through the  city that day, without anyone stopping them.  They met at the outskirts, and started a 3-4 hour journey to the outskirts of the Jaworze D. forest.
Pilat had arranged for a family to take Sarah and her children in for the winter months.  He left them there, and it was the last time they would see Pilat, until after the war.  The family had a daughter that lived with them, she was about 18 years old and mentally challenged.  They were to live in the attic of the house.  Once a day food would be brought to them.  A pail was placed in the corner, and they would relieve themselves in there.  Each night, Sarah would go outside to empty it.  The days were long, Sarah would try to teach the children the alphabet and counting. 
Sarah had a way of becoming "friends" with anyone she met.  She and the woman became friendly.  One day, about 2 months after they arrived, the woman told Sarah she had a secret to share, just don't tell anyone (as if Sarah had anyone to tell).  She was hiding more Jews in the barn, would Sarah like to meet them?  Sarah felt obliged to go and meet these people.  The woman took her to the barn, and when she opened the door, Sarah was surprised to see her 3 cousins were staying there!  They were just as shocked, and riddled her with questions of how did she get there and how did she escape and now they should all be together.  Sarah just said, "we got here on our own, we are fine" and left.  However, when spring started to arrive, the kind Polish woman told Sarah and the others that it was time to leave, she had already kept them for too long, and they had to go.
So Sarah and the children left their shelter, with the 3 cousins, and went into the woods.  They would eat berries and lots of wild mushrooms for survival.  Small twigs and branches were gathered to make a fire, however, they could not risk being caught so they needed to make sure there was not too much smoke.  Not even a week after they left the house they were hiding in, they came upon another, larger group of Jewish people hiding in the woods.  Amongst the group were 3 men that Sarah would spend the next 2 years hiding and surviving with: An old friend, Romek, his friend Fish, and her cousin, Ignash.
When Sarah joined the group she saw that there were too many people.  She told the group that it was too dangerous for all of them to stay in one such big group, they should split into smaller groups in the area.  All of them said, "Oh a woman, always with their ideas, no reason for us to split up, no one is going to notice us, what's the difference?"
Well, Sarah was not going to just stay, she told them "I don't care what any of you do, but I am going to take my children and hide a few meters away."  Romek, Fish and Ignosh did not want her to be on her own, so they agreed to go and stay with her.  The 6 of them left, and it would be the last time that Sarah would see 2 out of her 3 cousins that she had arrived with.
Fall began to approach, and one morning, Sarah woke up and told the men that they better move out from their hiding place.  They said, "Why? What's the matter?"
Sarah responded "During the night I heard something as if someone was walking nearby us!"
Check back soon to find out who it was and how a woman's intuition is something that should not be ignored, and can be a life saver.

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