Jean Frank of Kalisz, Poland



First-Hand Account


You can read an excerpt
of Jean's memoirs,
entitled "Not Now, Not Ever,"
by clicking here.

"It must have been a few days after Yom Kippur that we started to talk about my escape. Now I was to join Mommy and Guta in Czestochowa.

I was afraid to leave my father and my sister and brother, not even sure I would see Guta and Mommy again. As much as I hated Warsaw and the wire and the wall, where was I running to? Into a bullet or a furnace? Into another filthy camp? And so I held on to the last glimpse of what was real and known. I walked again, out with people. I was sorry for them, and for myself. I stared at the half-bare trees, where a few brown leaves hung to the branches, just before they crumbled into nothingness. I closed my eyes, trying to force the memories of white winters and cold, sharp air; and the protection of wool caps and scarves and kitchen stoves, and springs waking up to buds and leaves and branches spread to the sky ... and summers' birds coming back to join us under the pine trees, among the lilacs and daisies and poppies, pecking for food in the green carpet of grass ... I shuddered to look around me. We decayed like the leaves. Like the broken branches, we were cheated out of spring.

How stupid and childish my reminiscing! In slavery, I dreamed about freedom. Living among the dead, I thought about life. I worshipped food because my stomach scraped and growled in me. Futile, wasted dreams. What then should I dream about now? About the beautiful past that is dead? About the ugly, real future that I know will be? Those two need no one to dream about them, because they have been or will be anyway. Have I said there is no hope? No, there is none. Except me. I am hope. Oh, God! Let me live. Let me love and be loved. Give us hope we have lost, give us freedom. Answer my prayers, ease the pain, dry the tears ... the tears. Let me live, God or German.

I stared at the walls and saw the swastikas that weren't there. I closed my eyes, hoping that when I opened them the swastikas and the walls would have disappeared ..."








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