web analytics
August 3, 2015 / 18 Av, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


A Story of Three Friends

The story of three friends in the Holocaust reunited 67 years later.
Holocaust survivors memorial, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

Holocaust survivors memorial, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Lesley Lanir

I am a survivor of the Holocaust. Of the several concentration camps which I lived through, in one in Germany, I became close to two Slovak boys around my age named Artur and Miki. The three of us shared the same fate right through the end of the infamous twelve-day “Sachsenhausen Hunger March” and were liberated together near the town of Schwerin in northern Germany, on May 2, 1945.

I now live in New York City. In November, 2012, I published my memoir, “MEMORIES OF EVIL,” where I described parting with Artur in Schwerin.

“Schwerin was a beehive of activity: ex-prisoners and American soldiers were swarming about. The Americans directed us to a former German army compound for food and lodging. As we passed the town park we came across some adult ex-prisoners I knew. They busied themselves setting up a campsite and cooking sausages. They invited me and my friends Miki and Artur to stay with them. Artur declined and decided to go on, but to Miki and me an army compound had the odor of a concentration camp about it and so we gladly accepted the invitation.

So, how did Artur and I part? We had been together through so much: in Heinkel, sleeping on the concrete floor, we used our breath and bodies to warm each other; we were together in all the small Jugendliche (juveniles) groups of the camps that followed; we shared our first Red Cross food package; we shared our “bed” on the forest ground of the last night of the Hunger March; and we had recently shared our first meal of freedom – a surfeit of delicious boiled new potatoes.

So, here is the question: what did we say to each other? And here is the answer: nothing. He left, I stayed.

We were not insensitive. We were simply emotionally dead. My entire concentration camp ordeal had felt surreal to me and thus Artur and Miki were equally unreal. Artur and I parted and we never saw each other again.

Fast forward 67 years. In early July, 2012, I received a phone call from a woman speaking with a strong Israeli accent:

“This is Ruthi Paz, I am calling from Israel and my father (she pronounced it fazzer) thinks he knew you a long time ago in Germany.”

“Well, I don’t come from Germany, I come from Slovakia, but I was in Germany in concentration camps during the Second World War.”

“Well, so was my fazzer. His name is Yitzchak Ringwald, but his original name in Slovakia was Artur.”

Yitzchak/Artur gets on the phone line. His language is Hebrew, which I don’t speak, and my language obviously is English, which he does not speak. So, we have an emotional conversation in Slovak, our native language which neither of us had much occasion to use over the past decades. Speaking it is a struggle for both of us. It turns out that it was his grandson who discovered me on the Internet. The grandson also discovered a reference to my 2006 memoir “1000:1 ODDS.” I promise Artur to mail him a copy.

The other problem is that Artur does not use a computer or the Internet. So, I exchange several e-mails with his daughter, Ruthi. We communicate our mutual feelings of excitement over the recent turn of events; she gives me their exact address in Haifa. I airmail Artur a copy of my book. He phones me again some ten days later to thank me for it. He, of course, is unable to read it and his children are attempting to translate it via Google Translator.

There is more to the story.

In our second phone conversation Artur tells me that our mutual friend Miki also lives in Haifa. It takes till September before I receive a phone call from Miki. He had kept is original name; his last name is Brand. Miki and I had stayed together until our repatriation to Prague and he got to meet my mother after I ran into her on a Prague street.

He, too, neither speaks English, nor is he capable of using the Internet. He finally mails me a letter in Slovak, with copies of some old post-War photos of himself, one of me from my home town of Trencin after the War, and a couple of recent photos of me which his grandson discovered on the Internet. We exchange further correspondence by mail, in Slovak. I find this language easier to write than to speak since I can do so with a dictionary next to my computer. My last letter is dated November, by which time my new memoir, “Memories of Evil” has been published; I mail him a copy, trusting his grandson will be able to attempt a translation.

About the Author: Peter Kubicek is a Holocaust survivor and the author of "Memories of Evil: A World War II Childhood," available on Amazon.

The author's opinion does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Jewish Press.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

2 Responses to “A Story of Three Friends”

  1. John Whitbread says:

    Thank you for sharing your story Peter.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It's time for you to come to Israel, at least to come visit!

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Jewish and Muslim bless a crowd of hundreds at a special prayer rally at Gush Etzion junction.
Jews, Arabs Unite to Underline Co-existence in Gush Etzion
Latest Blogs Stories
Doug Goldstein

What is the impact of renouncing US citizenship if you live abroad? Can you visit the US again?

Flag of Norway

Gentile friends of Israel came from all over Norway & Europe and they sang “Hatikva” in Norwegian!

Anti-violence protest in Tel Aviv

As the incitement begins again against the settlers, the religious and the Right, let’s review the list of children killed by terrorists.

Inside of the home burned in the Prce Tag attack in the village of Duma.

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

In all the years (and this week it’s exactly 14 years) since our daughter was murdered, we have not found a single Arabic-language post, article, tweet or speech condemning that attack in the center of Jerusalem or the killings.

Everyone is angry at the ongoing Arab terrorism, but what does murdering a baby have to do with protecting Jewish lives or furthering Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel?

Tonight, live Meerkat interactive video tour and talk in Jerusalem.

The US doesn’t want Pollard & he doesn’t want America- release him with 1 condition: No return to US

Meet Republican US presidential candidate Kerry Bowers & listen to his message to the Israeli public

Amongst the Palestinians (sic) what is promoted and praised for its young people? Terror & martyrdom

“If you can’t negotiate with your enemy, why negotiate at all?” Great sound bite. The press loved it

The phenomenon pushing limits of Orthodoxy to the extreme left has no chance of becoming mainstream

Discussing, what should you do if you are feeling overstressed in your job and are tempted to quit?

Considering Esther Pollard’s group mismanaged his case, Pollard’s chances of parole are slim

Detention Camps for US Jews? Sounds farfetched but it did to Japanese-Americans during WW II as well

We asked the soldiers, what will you tell your children you did during the Disengagement?

More Articles from Peter Kubicek
Holocaust survivors memorial, Yad Vashem, Jerusalem.

The story of three friends in the Holocaust reunited 67 years later.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/guest-blog/a-story-of-three-friends/2013/01/28/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: