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Tales From the Hiding Place

Among the families hiding was a Polish mother and son. After the father of the family had been murdered by the Germans in the Polish ghetto, they had escaped and crossed into Hungary, surviving like animals in the forests. In Budapest, they were caught by the Nazis who took them to the Danube, to shoot them into the river.

On the way to their execution, knowing what was about to happen, the boy told his mother to fall backwards into the river as soon as the shooting began. Luckily for them, they were standing at the end of the line. Together, they fell into the river, pretending to be dead. The son floated on top of an ice floe, dragging his mother through the freezing water until they were out of sight from the Nazis. They climbed out of the water and hid until nightfall, then retraced their way to the city, where they found a group of Jews who helped them on.

The boy was a member of the Betar Zionist movement in Poland. The Hungarian Betarniks had provided help, as well as the German parachutist uniform he wore when making a sortie outside to find food. During the long evenings together, he told us many stirring and eye-opening stories about Jewish pride, the need to fight back and the desire to go to Palestine after liberation. David and I absorbed every word and, not surprisingly, it was Betar that both of us joined as soon as we could in 1945. Immediately after liberation, the Polish mother and son joined their Zionist brethren and left for Palestine.

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