The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/buczacz/alicia.001


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism
Subject: Holocaust Almanac - Alicia's Story
Summary: An informal review of the Alicia Jurman story. Alicia, a
         girl of 13 when the Germans came to her village, describes
         her life during the Holocaust.
Reply-To: kmcvay@oneb.almanac.bc.ca
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Old Frog's Almanac, Vancouver Island, CANADA
Keywords: Buczacz

Archive/File: holocaust/poland alicia.001
Last-Modified: 1994/02/04

It is difficult, when dealing with the Holocaust, to avoid the use of
words like 'courageous.' It is, after all, impossible to avoid
countless examples of courageous behavior when dealing with its
history.

At the same time, there is always the danger that the word itself,
properly applied, will quickly become meaningless, so great was the
courage of so many.

Alicia Jurman was only thirteen when the Germans came to her village
in Poland, Buczacz. That she survived, while her family was totally 
destroyed, is most certainly a testament to her courage.

Consider how she begins:

     First they killed my brother Moshe...
          Then they killed my father...
          Then they killed my brother Bruno...
          Then they killed my brother Zachary...
          Then they killed my last brother, Herzl.
          Only my mother and I were left.

"Alicia: My Story" tells of the survival of one Jewish girl. There are
no death camps, no documented dissertations, in this story. It is not
the sort of information that lends itself to inclusion in my archives; 
it cannot be cited to refute the likes of Dan Gannon, who would reject
Alicia's recollections as lies anyway.

It is, however, a moving and inspiring story of one child's
determination to survive.

The story begins as the Germans arrive in the village, and Alicia
learns that her father, along with all male Jews between the ages of
eighteen and fifty, has gone to the police station to register. Alicia
later learns, through a chance meeting with the only survivor of the
"registration," that her father and all of the others were taken into
the woods by the Germans and shot. Six hundred Jewish men simply
disappeared, buried in an unmarked mass grave.

  "Not until 1967, when the German SS officer in charge of the mass
  murder was found and brought to trial, did I learn how the Germans
  had asked the Jewish community to pay ransom for the release of the
  captives -- after they had already been murdered.  My mother had
  given away all of her remaining jewelry and money to ransom my
  father, leaving us with no means of support." (Jurman, 17)

Alicia's next blow came when she learned that her brother Bunio, who
had been working in a forced labour camp, had been shot. "One of the
boys in camp escaped, so the Germans lined up everybody and shot every
tenth boy." (31) Her brother was one of the victims.

This horror was soon followed by Alicia's discovery that her brother
Zachary had been hung, in front of the police station, by the Germans.

Alicia tells us of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen which decimated
the Jewish population of her village; she tells us of being stuffed
into a cattle car, and of how she escaped by being thrown out a small
window while the train was moving.  She tells of being taken to
Chortkov prison, where her ribs were broken during a brutal beating,
and where the Germans deliberately infected Jews from the area with
typhus, and she tells us of how she was thrown into a pile of bodies
because she had fallen into a coma, and had been thought to have died,
and she tells of her rescue by those who came to bury their dead:

   "Apparently, after I had become unconscious in the prison cell, I
   had been assumed dead, either by my cellmates or by the German
   guards. At any rate, my body had been thrown onto a pile of bodies,
   in the middle of the room, which was then carried outside and left
   in the snow for burial. Mr. Gold told me that when he picked me up,
   he thought he heard a moan, and then he realized that my body was
   warm. The Jewish burial party pretended to bury me and actually put
   in the grave. But when the German guards left, they pulled me out,
   wrapped me in a coat, hid me under the straw of their sleigh, and
   brought me into the ghetto to Mr. Gold's home." (78)

She describes the bunkers in the homes of Jewish villagers, and how
they were used during 'actions,' to avoid the Ukrainian soldiers who
had come to kill Jews.

She tells us about being led to a mass grave, where Jews were
systematically shot, and of her escape, thanks to a single partisan,
who attacked the Germans with a machine gun.

Alicia lived from hand to mouth, often going for days without food,
living in ravines, working in fields for days at a time in return for
a scrap of bread, or a potato. She lived in constant fear of
denunciation.

She tells us of the brutal murder of her mother - the only surviving
member of her family at the time, and she tells us of the bravery of
Polish farmers who hid and protected her, at the risk of their own
lives, before the Russians chased the Germans out of Poland.

Alicia's story is indeed a story of courage, and I recommend it to
anyone wishing to develop a feeling for the personal side of the
Holocaust. As Judith Miller notes,

     "Abstraction is memory's most ardent enemy.  It kills because it
     encourages distance and often indifference.  We must remind
     ourselves that the Holocaust was not six million.  It was one,
     plus one, plus one...  Only in understanding that civilised
     people must defend the one, by one, by one...can the Holocaust,
     the incomprehensible, be given meaning." (Miller, Judith.  One,
     By One, By One: Facing the Holocaust.  New York: Simon &
     Schuster, 1990, 287)

Alicia Jurman's story underlines this truth, and I urge you to read
it. It is, I promise you, a story you will not soon forget.

                             Work Cited

Appelman-Jurman, Alicia. Alicia: My Story. New York: Bantam Books, 1988 
ISBN 0-553-05317-5.


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