Poland, WW II
Warsaw Ghetto: Jews Walled In
“Ariel, I was a really beautiful girl and from a good family. All the Jewish boys in Warsaw were after me for my looks, and I was an excellent student, too. I danced, played piano, I was at the top of my class, I knew all the classics—Greek and Latin. We studied French, naturally, and English. But then came the war. Our lives fell apart when we were closed into the Ghetto.
She hesitated for the first time. “War does funny things to you, Ariel. I was crazy for a man named Samuel who didn't love me, but he was very romantic, a hero, fighting for our people. To him, I was nothing, and I was not the only one he took. I was sixteen, and he would not marry me even though I had his baby daughter Danya, a year old, and already Ethan on the way. Ariel, the Ghetto was choking us, all my people were dying. I had to get to Romania for the sake of my babies.”
From “Miriam and Ariel,” Chapter 6: Miriam
France, WW II
Drancy: Jewish Deportation Camp
“I don’t know what to do, sir, I don’t know where I am or even what year it is. I think I hit my head.” In fact, her temple still streamed blood from her violent collision with the corner of the building. Just then she staggered and fell against a wall.
The man took her elbow to steady her, then answered her with a studied combination of pity and condescension. “Injured, are you? Or just a stupid American playing games in the wrong place? You are in Drancy near Paris, and it is January 1943. How do they say it in your country, ‘Does that not ring a bell?’”
Just at that moment, his mind went somewhere else, straying from official business. Aleta knew the look—one of lascivious appraisal. She prepared herself for a crude comment that didn’t arrive. Something entirely different came out of his mouth.
“I don’t have any.”
“Aleta Rosenthal Marcus and these are my twins Kuaray and—”
He didn’t let her finish. “Ha, Jewish! I will get a room assignment for you.”
From “Drancy,” Chapter 10: Monsieur Henri Rayon de Lune and Aleta