The main character in this story is a Jewish girl named Alicia. When the book
starts she is ten years old, she lives in the Polish town of Buczacz with her four brothers,
Moshe, Zachary, Bunio, and Herzl, and her mother and father . The holocaust experience
began subtly at first when the Russians began to occupy Buczacz. When her brother
Moshe was killed at a ” Boys School” in Russia and her father was gathered up by
German authorities, the reality of the whole situation quickly became very real. Her father
was taken away shortly after the Russians had moved out and the Germans began to
occupy Buczacz. Once the Germans occupied, they moved the Jewish population of
Buczacz into mass ghettos. Alicia and the rest of her family had to share a house with
several other families which had also been driven out of there homes. The only source of
income in this situation was to sell things at the marketplace, and even there, Jews were
forbidden. Alicia went anyway and sold what she could for food and money.
One day her brother Bunio disappeared from the ghetto. Alicia and her family
found out later that he had been taken to a work camp, but that they could send food
packages to him. Shortly after this, Alicia was taken into custody by German officials and
put on a train to another work camp. Alicia managed to escape from this train by jumping
through a small window. She found her way to a river which led her back to the ghetto.
By this time several people in the ghetto had been feeling the effects of the impoverished
conditions. Starvation, Typhoid, and other diseases, were beginning to take its toll on the
people who lived in the ghetto. Then one day, Alicia found out that her brother Bunio had
been killed in the work camp. A boy had escaped so they lined up all the boys and shot
every fourth one
As time progressed, Alicia began assuming more responsibility for the daily tasks
of the family such as going out and trading for more food in places other than the
marketplace. While this was going on, Zachary and a few other boys from the ghetto had
been forming a sort of resistance. One day Alicia was informed that her brother had been
hanged. After Zacharys death, Alicia was befriended by a woman named Bella. She met
many good friends in the ghetto including a future friend as well as savior, Milek
Months later, Alicia and several other people were rounded up and sent to a prison in
Chortkov. Here the conditions were very poor. Every day more and more people were
taken out and shot. On the inside of the cells it was a cesspool of germs and diseases.
Every morning the jailkeepers would go around the cell and kick people to see if they
were still alive. One of these times Alicia was taken for dead and put onto a wagon with
other bodies. The driver of the wagon found her, nursed her back to better health and
then brought her back to the ghetto.
During this time, before, and after she returned to the ghetto attempts to rid the
ghettos of Jews were called “actions”. To escape being caught by the German police who
took part in the actions, they built large bunkers to hide from their captors. After several
of these actions, the Buczacz ghetto had been emptied by more than half. At this point the
time came to move to a new ghetto.
Alicia had been in this new ghetto only a short time when another action occurred.
This time Alicia was captured and brought to a mass grave with a multitude of other
Jews. Just when Alicia was about to be shot Milek took a gun from one of the shooters
and began shooting other officers. Alicia took advantage of this opportunity, as she had
many others, and ran for her life. She ran fast and far until she found herself coming into a
town which was surrounded with tilled fields. She discovered she could work in exchange
for a small amount of food. She worked hard in these fields and was able to let her
mother in Buczacz know that she was safe.Alicia was reunited with her mother and they
returned to this community where they lived for about a year. She also found out that her
youngest brother Herzl had been taken away and killed Alicia would work at these fields
and get food, she would bring some back to her mother who, because of poor health, was
resting in seclusion most of the day.. One day they met a nice old man that was sort of an
outcast from the rest of the community. He let them stay with him and another Jewish
family that he was taking care of in his shack. They stayed here during the winter while
Alicia still searched for food, in the process, making many friends.
News came one day that the Germans were beginning to fall back from the
Russian fronts and Germanys grip on the Jews in Poland was weakening. This news
made Alicia and her mother move away from the old man who helped them. Alicia and her
mother had formed a very close friendship with the kindly man. When Alicia and her
mother arrived in Buczacz they moved into a regular apartment and began to live a
It was not long after Alicia had moved back into Buczacz that the Germans took
over the town again. In this raid on the Jews, Alicias mother was killed by the Germans.
Alicia was taken to another prison where she would later be transported to another mass
grave. While she was waiting, she devised a plan to escape the mass grave by running
down a hillside and into a river. When they were lined up to be shot she ran to the river.
She hid there all night and once again she had escaped the Germans. As she made her way
back, she became friends with a group Russian Jews who were fighting with the Russians.
She even earned a medal from them because she had helped a number of them escape from
a prison cell. Her bravery was not overlooked.
Returning to Buczacz she found that there wasnt much left for her there, so she
moved away with a person to a nearby town. She was in this town less than a few hours
when her and her friend were taken into custody by the Russian police. What had
happened was that her friend was suspected of selling things in the black market ( which
she was ) and the police wanted to find out who was buying things from her. Over a span
of 8 months they were kept but finally they were released. They received a lot of money
from people that had been saved by their withholding of evidence. Alicia and her friend
took this money and bought a train ticket to Lodz. They were stopped in Lvov because
they went to get some tea while stopped at a station, but the train took off without them
and they left all of their belongings on the train. Next they boarded a train to Krakow,
and parted ways there. In Krakow, Alicia was staying at a rather large house with another
family. She built a sort of orphanage by gathering up homeless children from the
neighborhood. She lived with this family for a long time, and during this time she learned
about a way that she could go to Eretz Island, Israel where she could be safe. She left her
orphanage and went on a long journey where she met many people that were like her, in
that she didnt like to see people suffer.
Alicia made it to Israel but was taken by British border patrol officers to a jail on
Cypress for coming into the country illegally. She was then released from Cyprus.