Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Comrade Anna

Will Sgt. Otto Langner of the Waffen SS-a Treblinka guard and professional hunter of Jewish and Communist reactionaries-win the heart of one of his victims, Anna? Can this mass murderer find redemption? Check out Comrade Anna, my new novel. 

Comrade Anna is now available for purchase on this site via PayPal and Amazon.com (all major credit cards accepted by both hosts). Please order at sidebar.

View several select chapters below. Instructors: for volume orders or to request a complimentary PDF copy, please email me at dorion8@gmail.com


     “I hate you, you Nazi bastard, you Nazi pig! You will pay for this!” Anna Leibowitz told herself containing her anger deep inside as her eyes flashed hatred. “Yes I would never even hurt a fly but one day I’ll kill this bastard!” she secretly vowed. 

     Minutes earlier, feeling trapped, she left her dead friend’s little girl, Mindy, with her landlady on the first floor of the tenement building and climbed the steep, winding stairway to her flat with Sergeant Otto Langner, of the Waffen SS, a Treblinka death camp guard. Langer had seen Anna and Mindy earlier that day merrily walking hand in hand along Muranowska Street, Warsaw, Poland. Langner, who was skilled in hunting and baiting Jews, saw an opportunity. 
      Now in Anna’s attic apartment on the top level, he was thrilled with himself and with at her anger, her humiliation, her discomfort. Anna remained silent for the child’s sake.
      “How can I get away from him?” she wondered, standing next to the large metal washtub in which he had just ordered her to bathe. She tightly wrapped a towel around her body. Seated at the table with two wooden chairs in the tiny kitchen, Langner, his muddy jackboots resting on one chair, motioned for her to go to the bed in the far corner of the two-room flat. 

She complied. She sat. She began to cry. She became angry at this uncontrolled response of her body. She hated him for provoking it. Langner arose, approached, lifted her chin slightly with his bear-like hand, stared into her deep blue eyes, and said, “Relax, I’m not so bad.”
      “So now the wolf shows himself,” Anna thought. Everything inside her protested. She felt sick. She wanted to run. The apartment had belonged to her teacher friend who perished in the Luftwaffe bombing during the 1939 German invasion. The sergeant’s black leather boots had muddied the fir floor. She had followed the wet footprints inside as she frantically tried to figure a way out. There wasn’t any.
      Sometimes that’s how things go. Anna had put one foot in front of the other like a condemned criminal taking the walk. Feeling flushed with victory, Langner knew she would not walk away and would protect the child at any cost. He walked leisurely into the dim room smoking one of the cigarettes he had stolen from one of the Polish kids in Three Crosses Square. He never paid if he didn’t have to. 
      The fire had gone out in the small coal stove. Anna lit it. She turned. She stared at him. She remembered thinking this would be the worst experience of her life. While the sergeant was taking her, thousands of other women were waging their own war against the ruthless German army and were paying the price, like Anna.
       In a few months the mass deportations of the Warsaw Ghetto Jews would begin. Most had a date with death at the Treblinka extermination camp. After raping her, he put on his wet, grey, dirty greatcoat, went to the doorway, turned toward her with a big smile on his fat face and said, “I’ll be back. Next time I’ll have to show you my real charms!” 
      Anna remained on the bed, crying softly and blaming her-self for being “stupid.” For twenty minutes she lay there thinking about what happened, never expecting it would happen to her. She knew women who had been raped. In a daze she left the apartment, walked down six flights to the landlady’s flat but the winding stairs made her dizzy and nauseus. Anna was supposed to pick up Mindy. She hesitated at the door wondering what explanation she would give to the old woman for her bruised face, blood shot eyes and puffy face.

                      ♦♦♦ Warsaw, Poland, Aryan Side ♦♦♦ 

April 1, 1942

      The rain paused. Streams of sunlight pierced the heavy gray clouds warming the chilled Warsaw inhabitants like a long-awaited friend. It was the third year of the occupation. The once invincible German Army was beginning to crack. Anna knocked weakly on the landlady’s door.

      Marta Kryzhinsky answered immediately. She had been waiting for Anna. As soon as the door opened, the grey-haired woman, a kerchief on her head and a red-checkered, flour-spotted apron tied to her waist, looked with disgust at Anna whose face was bruised and bleeding. “You poor girl, poor girl, come in now,” she said. “That monster! He did this, huh? Well, it’s to be expected.”
      The pleasant aroma of Polish buttermilk dark rye bread permeated the air. The old woman, a smidgeon of flour on her right cheek, said that Mindy was still napping. Anna felt nauseated by the aroma and wanted to get out into the street for air.
      “I know I should have listened to you. I’m sorry,” she said softly, tears rolling down her cheeks.
      “Come sit. I give you hot tea and some warm bread. It will make you feel better. Sit now. There, sip it slowly. Careful, it’s hot. There now, you’re lucky he didn’t do worse. A hard lesson, a hard lesson,” the landlady said. “You should have listened to me! I know about life. It’s good to take the advice of an old woman who has had seen some things.”
      “I know. I’m so sorry. You were right and I was stupid but Mindy was inside all winter during daylight. I just thought one walk in the spring sun would be so good for her.”
      “Good for her? You nearly got her killed. What were you thinking woman? Did you think the Huns would just look the other way? They are killing the Jewish children. You had no right to risk her or risk this house.” 
      Anna cried harder. “I’m so stupid.”
      “I told you not to go out, especially not to take the girl. It’s not worth it. You must stay inside. The girl cannot go out. Oh, but now the Nazi knows where you live. He will come back, won’t he?” 
      “Yes,” Anna whispered. “The beast will return and I will have to pay again. She was sniffling and asked for a hanker-chief. Her face was puffy with a reddish blotch where Langner had slapped her. She had expected the old woman to be sympathetic. “He would have sent Mindy to Treblinka and deported you for hiding Jews. I think he will not deport us. But he’ll be back. What can I do? I had to do what he wanted.”
      “I know, I know. There was no choice at that point. But you should have listened to me. I know things. I’ve seen life. You have to be smart in these times. You cannot take chances. Any more like this and you and the girl will have to leave. I’d ask you to go now but that monster would make me suffer for that. You must stay now and see what he does. You must stay now. Drink your tea.” Mrs. Kryzhinsky brought hot bread to Anna. It was wrapped in a light white linen towel and the aroma, although quite pleasant, nearly made Anna vomit. She could not eat anything and got up to leave for the open spring air. She refused the bread. 
     "Sorry, I feel sick, I can’t stay!”
     “Please do not take the child outside again!” Mrs. Krizhinsky yelled while following Anna into the hallway. “That’s like putting a big sign around her neck that says, “I’m a Jew,” the old woman said. “The child is a dead giveaway-anyone who sees her knows right away she’s Jewish! Can’t you see that too? We are living in a Nazi hell so why make it worse than it has to be.”
      “Okay, Mrs. Kryzhinsky.” Anna said as she began running upstairs. She turned, looked down toward the old woman now standing in her doorway and said, “I promise. I won’t take her out again-or maybe just a little in the neighborhood at night. I know now it was stupid of me. And I paid. And I will continue to pay. Her damn mother should have listened to me but no, she had to be where the action was! The university area was a target! She gets a bomb dropped on her head and I get her kid! And I have to pay for her stupid, stupid mistakes! But I’m not paying anymore! Don’t worry! When that fucker comes back I am going to shoot him!”           
       “No, no! Don’t use that language! I’m a good Christian woman. You Jews must stop causing problems and learn to accept things. Being angry now at God will not help. Ask his forgiveness if you want some peace.”
       “I’m sorry but I’m so angry,” replied Anna.
       “You have yourself to blame. I told you not to go out!”
       “I am going to shoot this bastard when he returns.”
      “No child. You cannot. The Bosh would take horrible revenge. You would risk yourself, the child, me and others in the building? No, you make the error of judgment here. No, you make your bed, now you must sleep in it,” Mrs. Kryzhinsky said, her face and exposed neck reddening. Maybe later you can take the revenge, but not now. Not now, do you hear? You must promise me!” 
      “I must go now, I’ll be back tonight,” said Anna who then rushed up the stairs, tripping on an exposed nail in one of the stair treads, finally pushing open her own door, banging it against the little book case and knocking over a vase that crashed onto the floor. She saw the washtub and some blood on the white pillow case. She wanted to vomit. She approached her dresser, opened the middle of three top drawers and grabbed the loaded pistol that had belonged to her dead boyfriend, Marcus. She put it into her coat and rushed down the stairs hoping she would find Langner before he left on the train for Treblinka. She went outside into the snowy street, hopped on a trolley and headed for the nearest train station where she figured he might be waiting.
      Ten minutes later, she arrived. There were some German soldiers who were sleeping on benches next to their rucksacks. Anna sat down on a bench inside the station taking a few deep breaths to calm down. The aroma of kerosene permeated the air. She forgot about Langner for a moment as she relished the warmth of the station that was heated with a kerosene stove. She fingered the gun in her left pocket of her plaid woolen coat recalling Marcus’ argument that the invader had to be resisted using violent methods. She disagreed then but not now. “I was stupid,” she told herself, “but now I am smartening up.” Anna waited for the sergeant and for the train connection that would take him back to the Treblinka extermination camp.
       After an hour of waiting-it was now 5 pm and dark outside-Anna asked the ticket attendant behind the barred window about a Treblinka connection. He said the next train out would leave at 5:30 pm but it was a “military only” train and not for civilians. 
      “Okay. Thanks,” Anna said. She realized there must still be blood on her face. “I slipped on the ice outside a ways back,” she lied. She again took a seat on a long wooden bench. She waited.
       The attendant finally asked, “Why are you waiting? You cannot go.”
       “I’m waiting for my husband,” Anna lied.
       The attendant had been suspicious after noticing her beaten face. He suspected trouble was coming. He left the ticket counter area and began whispering to a security guard outside on the platform. He was puffing on a cigarette and didn’t want to be bothered.
       “Take care of her yourself, why don’t you! Don’t bother me! Are you afraid of a woman? The guard said.”
       A single street lamp illuminated large slowly-floating snowflakes as they fell lazily from the blackness of the night sky. Anna got up and disappeared fast through a station side door out into the night. She removed the handgun from her woolen coat and waited in a nearby alley in the shadows near some trash cans for Langner. “Could I really pull the trigger?” she wondered. “The bastard,” she thought referring to the sergeant, “that bastard!” 
      Twenty-five minutes later, she saw him approach. Her instincts were correct. He had chosen the nearest railway station after visiting a bar. Langner walked right by the alley, unsteady on his feet, slipping and nearly falling in the fresh snow. He did not notice Anna approach him from behind. He had drunk a half-liter of vodka. She went straight up to him. Her boots made crunching sounds in the snow. 
      “Did he hear me?” she wondered. “Can I really shoot him?” She never hated anything or anyone so much. She wanted to see his brains on the white snow, she told herself. She raised the pistol in her left hand, steadying it with her right when she was five feet behind him. Then she was three feet away where she now understood she had a perfect kill shot.
       “I’ve never shot anything,” she told herself. “I never killed anything except by accident, or stepping on an ant by mistake or something.” 
       She continued to walk and to keep the short distance, the snow crunching and the gun still aimed at the sergeant’s head.
       “No I cannot shoot him in the back. That would be wrong,” she thought. “Turn around Nazi pig!” she screamed, but Langner, now singing merrily in a loud, deep base voice, didn’t hear her. She aimed again. She hesitated again. “Turn Nazi!,” she yelled again. Still the sergeant kept singing loudly not noticing anything.
       He was walking a crooked path. She kept following him for another two minutes trying to get up the courage to take the shot. Langner, however, vomited in the snow bank just outside the station. 
      Disgusted with the sight, Anna said loudly, “No, I can’t do this. Not this way. Should I face him? I can’t.” Feeling utterly defeated again, she stopped and watched the sergeant walk into the train station. The security guard came out from the station and stared at her from the platform. Anna did not follow but stood there in the snow, turned around and slinked back into the alleyway, slumping down near the metal trash cans wondering what to do. 
       “Should I go back to the station and finish it?” she asked herself.

21 The Ghetto

      Unaware of the arrests of the majority of the cell, Anna decided to try to use her pass and to bribe the guards if necessary at one of the ghetto gates. She approached the entrance. Langner was right. There were was a machine gun emplacement with two soldiers that hadn’t been there before.
       “Yes?” said the guard who knew Anna.
       “I need to deliver supplies to the hospital.”
        No! You can’t go in. No-one in. No-one out,” he said.
        “But there is a baby I have been nursing back to health. She nearly died, and is still very sick and the Jews will pay me more in the ghetto for these. She needs surgery for her stomach. She could die without it. And I have to have the money.”  She opened her palm and offered the guard a gold bracelet with three sapphires inset into the band. She had purchased it in Spain. The guard took it and let her through. “Be out by 4 p.m. or you stay!” he said.
        “I will. I promise. Thank you.”
  Anna wondered if she should go to the Little Ghetto first to tell her mother and sisters what was about to happen or if she should meet with her contacts. She decided it was more important to warn the resistance. But she needed to remove the infant in the hospital. And now she felt it had to be done that afternoon. She became frantic. She would not be able to get out before 4 p.m. unless she took the child to the wall at the same time. There would be no time to find and warn the resistance, get the child and then to check with the guard about a bribe. She decided she’d put the infant in a potato sack. She gave it an injection that would put it to sleep and then set off toward Dzielna Street where she hoped she could contact the Jewish fighters.Her contact at the hospital was not there.
       Anna attended free of charge to the sick and dying of which there were many. Like all other resources, medical supplies were scarce. Starvation and malnutrition were rampant. Many became greedy and selfish. Others bore the outrages with dignity and care for their fellow man like Anna. However, she felt guilty about her consumption of food-she always had enough for herself. She told herself that, if she got sick, she could be in no position to aid the sick and dying, many who were very young and very old.
       Before the great evacuation of the ghetto which began in July, 1942, she also tried to get medical supplies through the Judenrat, the Jewish body which administered the ghetto for the Nazis. The Judenrat, however, was ordered not to waste supplies on the dying or upon people too wasted to have much hope of recovery. The supply, Anna felt, was kept purposely low, just like the food, to promote the deaths of those considered weak.
      After exhausting days spent in the hospital wards that were overflowing, Anna would sometimes stay with her mother and sisters especially if curfew was approaching. She would go to their rat-and-roach-infested flat and cry herself to sleep in a small closet that was her bedroom. The family shared the apartment in the beginning with six other families in what had been a one-bedroom apartment. But that was before the mass transports to Treblinka during July through September, 1942. Now they were alone.
      As the forced starvation continued, Anna watched as her friends began to disappear en route to what the Germans claimed were “Labor Camps.”  In fact, most destinations were death camps. Then most of the children were transported. By the end of July, 1942, nearly 65,000 people had been evacuated. The Nazis’ deception had worked extremely well. Many people decided it would be better to leave the privation of the ghetto than to stay and perhaps die there. Many who were starving surrendered to the SS in return for some bread.

                              ♦♦♦ Little Elena ♦♦♦

       The infant had nearly died having been abandoned at the Umshlamplatz in a barrel no doubt by a mother who left on the train and who desperately hoped to save her. Anna had carefully restored the child to health for nearly a month, visiting almost daily. Almost all of the children already had been transported. Anna’s friend on the Aryan side agreed to hide her infant. The sewer was one possibility but no-one she knew could find their way through the maze into Aryan Warsaw. The baby would most certainly die in the attempt. Even if it could be done it was dangerous to be seen coming out of a manhole in the street. And at night one could be shot on sight for violating the curfew. She decided to bribe the guard.
       At the gate, the same Ukranian guard told Anna she was too late by twenty minutes. She had not been able to locate the resistance as they were moving from building to building and had changed locations since the last time she had contact. She offered him another gold ring. He took it but said an order had come down that nobody leaves the ghetto. Then he heard the infant. 
       “Do you know the cost for smuggling Jewish babies?” he screamed. “Leave it!” he barked trying to take the sack from her. She struggled and then began walking back. The guard raised his rifle and aimed. The soldier in the machine gun emplacement trained the weapon. “Into the guardhouse,” the guard with the rifle said. “Move!” Once inside, the Ukranian SS guard told her he had a proposition. He said his girlfriend had developed a venereal infection and told Anna to leave the infant and go back to the hospital and get him some sulfur drugs. She did not want to leave the infant. “The child will be safe. You’ll get it back when you return and you can take it out of the ghetto after dark. Return in one hour. Go.” 
       Anna knew there would be no such medication at the hospital. She decided to fake it and returned in an hour with a vial of white flower that she mixed with alcohol. If she had time she could have gotten the required drugs on the black market.  As she approached the guardhouse, a new guard who was attending to matters outside of the gate directed her into the two-room building that contained a woodstove and a small cot covered sloppily with a gray blanket..
       The Ukrainian she had encountered earlier smiled at Anna as she entered and he asked her to sit down.
       “I’m grateful for your advice and your assistance,” he said as she handed him the brown vial.
       “And I want to help you. You can take the child.”
       “Where is the baby?”
       “There in the next room. The child is sleeping. It’s not your baby?
        “No. A friend’s.”
        “I see.”
        “The child is safe and you will get it as I promised. But not yet. The order is no-one in. No-one out.       We must wait until the right time. Late tonight when there will be only Ukrainians. Then you can slip out. But do not come back to the ghetto afterwards.”
        “I want to help you. You helped me. Now I want to help you. Something is about to happen to the Ghetto. It will be extreme, I assure you. I cannot tell you any more than this. Never repeat what I am saying to anyone. Do you want my assistance?” 
        Anna’s blue eyes welled with tears. She thought of her family. What horrors awaited them? And would she get the child?  “I am very grateful that you are thinking of me. My mother and two sisters are in the ghetto,” she said. “Please allow them to come with me,” Anna asked, her voice faltering. 
         “If there are Germans tonight it’ll be out of the question as I have told you. I will be lucky to get you out. If you stay in the ghetto your chances are not good. I can tell you no more and I can do no more for you. I thank you again. Good night now. Think about it. Come back again at midnight-ten minutes after. That’s after the shift change. If you see Germans don’t even try. Stay away. Do not come back here if you know what’s good for you.” 
       Anna stumbled out into the snow slipping on the icy cobblestones. She fell on her face. The pain and the shock from the fall and the bump on her head made her forget just for a moment her predicament. She was used to crisis after crisis here in the ghetto. But now she felt paralyzed. She spent several hours looking for resistance contacts but she had no luck. Everyone was hiding as if expecting the worst. She arrived at the building her family was living in. She climbed the six flights of stairs and entered the flat. It was 10 p.m. and damp, cold. There were a few pieces of wood burning in the stove but it was still so cold. Wood was very scarce and could not be wasted after people went to sleep. She crawled next to her mother who was bundled up with her two daughters on one corner on the floor. A wood sliver stuck into her finger, causing a sharp pain as she lied down next to her. “Mother, we have to leave here. They are going to kill us all I think,” she told her. “We must prepare tonight to leave. I know a guard who will help us.” 
        “Anna you must go to bed and stop trying to fix something that cannot be fixed. God will protect us if we have faith,” the old woman whispered. “Besides I cannot go with you. I’m too old and too tired. But I have faith that God will take care of us. This hardship will pass. You will see. You will look back one day with your grandchildren and remember this night. You will remember that, when darkness was all around us, your mother kept her faith. You will see. Now Anna, please sleep. You are exhausted. You are welcome as you are every night to sleep with us and keep warmer from our body heat. That closet is too cold.”
       She kissed her mother on the forehead. “Goodnight mother,” she said. “I have to go.” 
       Anna had only another hour to choose. She hated this place. She dreamed of living anywhere but here. She had a ticket out and she believed the guard would help. “Despite the fact that he is a fascist working for the Nazis he has some good in him,” she thought. “And he isn’t asking for anything. Yet he kept staring at my breasts. What will I do if he wants sex? Oh my God please not that. I just need to hope for the best. I will not let him touch me. I’ll die first. But I need to see if he‘s telling the truth-at least for the baby’s sake. She will not make it if she remains here.”   
       Anna decided not to tell her sisters about what the guard and Langner had said. She felt her mother would need them. Someone had to take care of her if she left. She spent two or three nights per week in the ghetto while the landlady took care of Mindy. And she doubted that her sisters would be brave enough to take any chances at all anyway. However, they did refuse to leave voluntarily in the first big transport. They believed her when she said it could mean their death. “We’re so unlike,” she thought. Anna had always been the brazen one, the adventurous one. She had traveled extensively during her late teens and early twenties-Western Europe and Palestine-while her sisters showed no such interest. “They would not go anyway and that’s that,” Anna said.
       Anna scribbled a note in the darkness and hoped it would be legible. It simply said, “Goodbye. I’m going. I love you all forever. Will look for you in Warsaw when it’s over. Protect yourselves. Leave this place together. Anna.”      

            Round-up of Jews, Warsaw Ghetto. Permission by Yad  Vashem, Jerusalem



       Anna headed back to see the Ukrainian. She was escorted into the guardhouse. The Ukrainian, his face flushed, was seated on an old torn couch, drinking coffee with vodka, his dirty boots resting on a stool. 
       “So I see you have given it some serious thought. What do you wish to do now?” he asked. He puffed from his cigarette and blew a series of blue smoke rings into the dank air.
       “I do want to go with the child,” Anna said. “Thank you so much. You’re very kind.” 
       “Kind?” he said. “No-one in recent years has connected that word to me. You know, I’ve been thinking, I could get into big trouble if you’re caught with a child leaving the ghetto. You know the children were supposed to have been all evacuated. It’s dangerous to hide them.”  
       “Yes, I know,” said Anna. She’s my baby sister-please let me take her now. I would be so grateful.”   
       “The child is your sister then. You told me she was not related to you.” 
       “I lied. I was afraid. And you said I could take my family out. She’s the only one I could take. Please let us go. I’d be so grateful.” 
       “You would? Well then, let’s first see how grateful you would be. Do you have more valuables, jewelry, gold, diamonds?  No paper money. I want no currency. What do you have that could pay for my service? It’s risky for my career you know. I could be shot. I could be reassigned to a labor camp. I may need to pay off others to smooth your way if word gets out. I mean the other guards know what’s going on. They’ll have to be paid. One way or another. What do you have?” 
       “I have some jewelry but it’s not worth so much, I’m afraid. I have a gold ring and a gold necklace. No diamonds, I’m afraid.” Anna smiled weakly.
       The Ukrainian sipped his coffee, staring at Anna. He puffed from his cigarette and blew more rings
       “Why was your little sister in the hospital?”
       “Actually she was recovering from a bad cold.”
       “Ah, too bad. The ghetto is so unforgiving for the little ones. And she will not survive what’s coming, I can tell you that. I can tell you for sure. Well I can get you both out as promised.”
        “God will bless you sir,” said Anna.
        “But I doubt that. God hasn’t looked kindly upon me since long before I shipped one of his priests off to a concentration camp back in ’41,” the Ukrainian said, waiting for Anna’s response. His pocked face with the thin lips and large hooked nose broke into a grin revealing several missing front teeth. He thought he saw anger flash through her eyes.
      She held her breath. “But what could a priest have done?” she finally ventured to ask.
      “He didn’t mind his own business," the guard replied. "These priests think everything that goes on is their business. I was assisting a young Catholic woman-a very pretty young woman like you-who had a Jewish husband. You don’t have a Jewish husband, do you?
    “No sir,” Anna replied, nervously biting her fingernail.
    “Well, no matter. To continue with my little tale then, let me tell you that the husband didn’t like my attentions to his young wife. I knew this because the priest had mentioned it one day. He actually asked me if I would stop as she was married. Imagine that? She offered me certain favors and here the husband was asking me through this intercessor-this busy-body worm of a priest-if I would keep my attentions restricted to single ladies. I told the priest she didn’t want to marry me and that, besides, I was already married myself then, and that the young woman had tempted me with her obvious charms and what was I to do about that? Can you believe it! He had the nerve to tell me that I should confess my sins and leave this woman to her husband. So the next day I sent the husband to a labor camp for a little vacation. And let me tell you the wife continued to offer me favors but even more frequently than before. She asked me to get her husband out. I agreed naturally as I wanted her to feel comforted. On the other hand I had no influence whatsoever over  prisoners in any camp once I got them in there. Nowadays I might have had something to say about it. But not then. So what do you think happened next? Can you believe it? The priest threatened to go to the Gestapo and inform on me. Imagine that? What? Was he crazy? These priests think that God’ll protect them in anything they do and so they do the stupidest things. Don’t you think that was plain stupid? So guess what I told him?”   
    Anna gestured with her shoulders and a nod of her head as though to say she didn’t know. 
    “I told him he should right away go to the Gestapo where they would be more than interested to know of his complaint. I had him marched right off over to the Pawiak prison near Dzielna Street. They took him to Gestapo headquarters. Next he was off to a labor camp-I don’ know which one. He’s probably saving Jewish souls there even as we speak,” said the guard, laughing uproariously at his own joke. “Maybe he’s converting the husband. I told my Gestapo friend about this little worm of a priest and he arranged the whole thing. But of course my friend wanted a share in the action so I had to convince the Jewess to bestow favors upon my friend too. It didn’t take much to convince her, let me tell you. She was more than willing if you get my drift. And the wife had become a single lady again so the priest got his wish! Ha! Ha! Ha! What do you think of my story? Funny, huh?” 
    “I hope you will be true to your word with me and let us go freely,” Anna said, noting that he made her a promise.
     “Oh yes. I‘ll let you go. You can be sure of that. On my word. Please do not worry. You helped me when I was in need. But you‘ll have to pay. You should know that by now. By the way I was curious when you said the child’s name was Elena Melcovitz. Funny, but I would have thought it would be Elena Leibowitz, like yours,” he said, raising his right eyebrow and lowering his left one in a mock frown.” 
    Anna recoiled inside. She was stunned to know that the Ukrainian actually knew her last name as she felt sure she had never mentioned it to him.
     “But it doesn’t matter,” he said. “It makes no difference to me if you want to save your baby, your sister or someone else’s sister, brother or mother. So long as I get what I want, you’ll get what you want. It’s very lonely here for me. My girlfriend is away in the countryside for a month. Come into the bunkroom with me. It’s warmer in there. I’ve prepared the fire. Come,” he said casually
   Anna froze. She then blushed from head to foot it seemed as a heat wave pulsated throughout her body. She embarrassed easily. Her light skin did not help. She felt her face turning beat red and she hated this response of her body that she couldn’t control, especially now. The guard noticed and smiled, self-satisfied. She had promised herself she would never submit again and here she was once again trapped. Anna thought of venereal disease and wondered now if he had had it. Then she said the same thing she had told Langner when he first trapped her at her apartment on Zorawia. Suddenly and breathlessly, she said, “I cannot do this for you. I wish I could because you’ve been kind to me but ... it’s not that I don’t find you attractive. But my boyfriend was recently killed. I cannot be with anyone else right now. I’m sorry. Please don’t take it personal. I have jewelry and medical supplies.” It was all she could think of to try to buy time. But she knew this excuse would fall flat.
      The Ukrainian read the fear on her face, in her blue eyes, and in the way they avoided him as she said, “I cannot do this for you.” He wanted to savor the victory. And again he felt a deep satisfaction. He felt an ethical quality about Anna that he wanted to subdue, to bring it down, to bring her down. He was excited. Sometimes he and his friends would joke around their barracks about this Jewess or that one and sometimes they would toss dice to see who would have the first “go” at a pretty young Jewess who they had noticed passing through the gate or hanging around the wall waiting for little children who had gone over to the Aryan side to later smuggle food into the ghetto.. Or they would play cards into the late hours-the smell of cigarette smoke and vodka permeating the bunkhouse-gambling away “first” rights to one of them. 
      Anna now felt like a fox in a steel leg-hold trap. Outwitted. The only question now was how he would ravage her. The man was ruthless. It was only now that she saw this. “How could I be so utterly stupid as to trust a fascist again,” she thought. “I should have gone over the wall. I’m so stupid.”
       “Come. Follow. You want the child right? You want to get out of here, then do as we ask.” Her chest rising and falling as she felt out of breath, Anna entered the bunkroom where two other Ukrainians were waiting. She wanted to vomit but was afraid of the implications if she did. She suppressed the urge. She turned. One of the men turned down the kerosene lamp that was atop an ammunition box that acted as a table. The other one started to undo his belt buckle.
      When Anna left, she felt totally defeated. Her one consolation was that she was still alive and she had the child who she took to a safe house on the Aryan side. Then she decided to go back into the ghetto with one purpose-to locate the resistance and volunteer in the fighting that was imminent. She would die with them now if that’s what it would come to. But she would never again submit to a fascist, she promised herself, no matter what. Unknown to her at that moment, she would see Langner again.       

Author's Note:

       After 13 years of research and writing, Comrade Anna-my novel about one woman's resistance to Nazi terror in Poland-was published on December 19, 2012. My daughter, Mikaila, 17, is the cover artist. The novel follows the fictional Anna Leibowitz as she initially meets the Nazis menace with Tolstoyan passive resistance. Being vegetarian Anna does not believe at the outset that violence should be used to oppose the occupiers.

       That changes when she is raped by a guard from the Treblinka death camp.(See Blog Post "The Ghetto" for sample chapters).  She puts Tolstoy back on the shelf and joins the Warsaw Ghetto resistance. Violence creeps into her life and she even kills one SS soldier one night after she and another fighter break into an SS barracks in Warsaw to try to steal grenades, pistols and ammo for the upcoming Aktion in the ghetto.
       Yad Vashem in Israel generously allowed use of their photographic archives for this publication. The photos are an invaluable asset to this book. I am deeply grateful.
      While the necessity of resistance toward brutal aggression is a major theme, atonement, resurrection and redemption are also the large ideas of the novel. Julian Kravetz, the major character, is a New York City writer who wants to explore the Jewish Holocaust for his book but his ideas in the beginning are idealistic and naive. He finds his parents' Auschwitz diaries, however, in his father's New York City apartment in 2000 after the dad died and Julian then begins his descent into truth and hell. What he learns astonishes him. His girlfriend, a Chinese-American beauty and an N.Y.U. student- helps him in the writing which parallels events he reads in the diaries.
      The novel also focuses on the Treblinka guard who had been involved in hundreds of murders of Jews and reactionaries and in dozens of torture sessions since the 1920s. Julian's novel explores the question of whether such a "monster" could ever "be good again."  He learns that his dead mother had seen a "spark of goodness" in the Nazi and he wonders why. The answer is shocking to him.
       This novel is available for purchase at Amazon, the Createspace web store, through my email address which is dorion8@gmail.com and on this blog site (see top rigght). 
      Teachers/professors: Please email me at dorion8@gmail.com for volume prices.

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