That Boy from the Bialystok Ghetto...

By Natan Baron, "Yediot Achronot", 1983, Following the Film of Ada Ushpiz: "Not Like  the Sheep to the Slaughter", a Collection of Testimonies.

Translated by Eli Lapid, courtesy of the Bialystok Landsmanschaft ("Vaad"); submitted by Mrs. Ewa Kracowski.


Eli Maintchik hay"d, one child out of 1,500,000 innocent Jewish children murdered by the Germans in the Holocaust


That boy, like other boys in the ghetto, was at the age of 13-14. Since I heard about him in the Holocaust Memorial Day, on a television program about the revolt of Bialystok Ghetto, I can't free my mind off of him. Where is he, this boy? What did he go through?


I can't but only imagine: on that day when he threw the Molotov cocktail on the officers that came into his house during the extermination- maybe he was shot and killed on the spot, but maybe he was able to escape. He spent several years in the conditions of the ghetto and that boy was able to take care of himself. Maybe he survived in some miraculous way, fled into the woods and survived.


When the war was over his wandering journey began. At first, he looked for his family and he quickly realized that except for an aunt or uncle, or maybe a brother or sister, he is now alone in the world. He was now at the age of 15-16, in a refugee camp in Germany. There, he began to think of a voyage to Palestina. It is likely that he made it to the Eretz Israel in a difficult journey, through an illegal immigrants' ship  at a late hour at night, all the way to the shores. Or maybe, after a struggle with the British authorities on the deck of the ship, he was deported to a holding facility in Cypress. And maybe, immediately following the establishment of the State of Israel, he entered the country as a formal new legal immigrant.


In any case, he would now be at the age of 18-19 and would immediately be drafted to the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces). Did he die in the Latrun battles or in the continuing fighting in the Negev? Maybe he was wounded during this war? 6,000 young men were killed in the War of Independence- this is one percent (!!) of the whole Jewish population in Israel of that time, which included about 600,000 people. Also, tens of thousands were wounded in the war- maybe he was among the wounded, and maybe he even made it safely?


And thus, the young man now at the age of 19-20, began his life in the State of Israel; not knowing how to speak the language; in a time of great austerity and in a small and weak country whose inhabitants are attacked every night by infiltrators. But all of this did not deter him. He slowly, but surely built his future. Maybe he opened a small shop or maybe he worked for some institute. Maybe he went to study at the university and acquired a liberal profession: a doctor, lawyer or engineer- just as his mother wished for him in the Bialystok Ghetto, before she was taken to Auschwitz. She probably told him that this is the most important thing in life: to study.


That boy grew up in the meantime, got married and established a home. The small and weak country became stronger. He worked hard and started to see the fruits of his hard work. He was promoted at work and was sent abroad every few years. He had two or three children. When his son reached the age of 13, he celebrated his Bar-Mitzvah and after he was called up to read the Torah, he saw his father crying in some corner of the synagogue after he was flooded by memories. The child asked his father "what's wrong, father?" The father answered: "nothing, you wouldn't understand".

He did his military reserve duty just like any other citizen in the country; participated in the Sinai War and in the Six Day War. When the Yom Kippur War had begun, he was at the age of 43-44 and his son was in the 12th grade. He took that war together with its 2,000 casualties very difficult. For the first time since the Bialystok Ghetto, he felt sick during the first days of the war, as if a real catastrophe is condemned from above. He was relived when he realized that his son was under the drafting age.


Now, at the end of the 1970's and at the beginning of the 1980's he is at the age of 50 something. His wife surprised him with a jubilee birthday party and all of his friends gathered in his penthouse (or villa) and waited in the dark to surprise him when he enters without knowing what he is about to expect. At that moment all the lights were turned on and everyone started to sing, He felt complete and looked around for his 25 year old son who was an army reserved captain in the armored corps. At this point he felt as if he completed his life circle. He was not afraid of shedding a tear in front of all of his friends and guests. Everyone thought he was crying because of the age that he reached. He said to himself "they don't understand".

After this came the Lebanon War. His oldest son served as a commander of a company of tanks. His daughter served in the Medical Corps and his youngest son was in the 10th grade of high school. Each time his son went out to his reserve duty, he was extremely worried.


What would become of this boy? Maybe he survived the war safely? Maybe he was slightly injured? Maybe…? Maybe the boy from the Bialystok Ghetto found himself sacrificing more sacrifices in his difficult and winding way of life.

I think about him in the last days; about that boy who threw the Molotov cocktail. I am sure that he is going through several shocks during these days of commemoration to the victims of the Holocaust and  the IDF casualties and the celebration of the Day of Independence. These days have an intense impact over his and our nerve system.

What is he thinking this boy? Is he desperate? Is he tired of fighting? Is he giving up? I wonder what is going inside his mind during these days.


I think about him now; about that boy from Bialystok. To me, he is the symbol of everything that exists now.


Ewa Kracowski with brother Julek Kracowski Hy"d who
perished in the Holocaust, "the enemy of the 3rd Reich"...


Ewa Kracowski: Never Again!


Ewa Kracowski: There Was a Revolt!



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Last Updated November 26th, 2003



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