Excerpts from Finkel's memoir

2012-01-22T00:00:00Z Excerpts from Finkel's memoir Arizona Daily Star
January 22, 2012 12:00 am

Excerpts from Sidney Finkel's self-published memoir, "Sevek and the Holocaust: The Boy Who Refused to Die" (available online at www.amazon.com):

On surviving a bombing attack in Piotrkow, Poland, 1939: "I thought I could hear my mother shouting at the top of her voice for me to get down, but I could not move. I felt my mother's arms grasp my shoulders forcing me to get down. I was lying flat on the ground when I felt my mother fall on top of me, covering me with her body to protect me from danger. I hugged the earth and just lay there feeling such fear as I never felt before."

On the last time he saw his mother and older sister Frania in Piotrkow, Poland, 1942: "When we had to separate from each other, Frania ran up to me and embraced me, kissing my face. 'I always loved you and we will all meet again soon.' And with these words we parted with the women in our lives. This was the last time I would ever see my mother or Frania again."

On his family splitting apart during deportation in Piotrkow, Poland, 1942: "Father and Isaac had made the difficult choice to separate from Mother, Lola and Frania. The guilt of this decision would stay with me for the rest of my life. In spite of years of counseling, I cannot let go of this guilt. I have experienced periods of great sadness."

On trying to survive in a German work camp called Czestochowa in Poland, 1944: "After a month in this camp, I was wondering how I could survive these conditions. There were thousands of lice living in my hair and on my clothes. I tried to kill the bastards. I would gather what seemed to be a fistful of them and crush them in my hand, but there were always more."

On the end of World War II: "I was free and being taken care of, but I didn't belong to any country. I had no citizenship. Our experiences in the Holocaust and the extermination of our family made us all feel that Poland was not a fit country for Jews to live in. No matter where I ended up, I was adamant that I would never return to Poland."

On his feelings about the Holocaust and his family: "I had separated myself from the survivors when I came to America. So, any time anything would come up on television on this subject, I walked out of the room. The same was true of films and books. I especially didn't want to tell my children. I was scared that knowing my story would put a burden on them; leave them with a sense of responsibility that I didn't want them to feel."

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