In 2002, a book called Salvaged Pages : Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust, collected and edited by Alexandra Zapruder, Copyright © 2002 by Alexandra Zapruder, was brought to my attention by a friend. The book includes excerpts from the diary of a teenage boy, Ilya Gerber. One of the excerpts from an entry on September 18, 1942 included an interaction with my father.
Reproduced by permission of Yale University Press .
The original diary is at the Vilna Gaon Museum in Vilnius (Vilna), Lithuania and the translation was made by Dr. Solon Beinfield.
“September 18, 1942
Among those rounded up for work at Palemon, my friend “Beke” Kot was caught. Beke was a schoolmateof mine, a merry fellow. In town, he lived near us, in the same street. They had a bakery on Nemuno Street. His sister was run over by an automobile and killed. In the ghetto, during the Great Aktion [of October 28, 1941], his mother, who was ill, and his father were taken away ot the [Ninth] Fort, Beke remained alone. His father had money. He buried it, but Beke did not know where it was. However, he did not lose his bearings. He even supported an aunt. He even had fights with the Jewish Police and for that he frequently sat in jail—he could not tolerate their misdeeds. Since mostly it was single people who were sent to Palemon, he was dragged out of his bed in the middle of the night.
The next morning, the day after Beke was put in the Jailhouse (it was from there that people were sent to Palemon) Izke was walking past the so called prison:
“Izke, help me! Try to get me out of here! Save me!”
Izke raised his head to the iron-grated window. A pair of dark, sad eyes looked out to him. Both school friends gazed at each other – one of them with a pleading look, calling for help, the other with astonishment and sympathy. But Izke was unable to help Beke. How? In what way?! It was impossible at that moment. Beke has no one and is without pull, so he was taken away…..”
When I read the diary, I remembered the times when I was growing up my father told me about various events in his life and it included this event.