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Abraham Weinreich, Lilach Botzer

And I've been fearless ever since

The incredible story of a little boy during the Holocaust.





BookRix GmbH & Co. KG
80331 Munich

Title Page Content

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © 2021 Abraham Weinreich.

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of Abraham Weinreich.

 

 

 

 

Edited and translated by Lilach Botzer.

 

Many thanks to Elizabeth Harosh for helping me make this book happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contents


Contents


About the author.

My parents.

Zofia Odrobińska.

Cave.

Cemetery.

Into the woods.

Vladek & Elka.

Forest.

Partisans’ Bunker.

Mission: Revenge.

Mission: Fire.

Mission: bridge.

Mission: Spying.

Radom city.

Captive.

 

 

 

 

About the author

About the author

 

 

Abraham Weinreich was born in Poland in 1932. During the Holocaust, he was an eight-year-old boy who was occupied with surviving instead of going to school and making friends. Abraham's story is extraordinary, and in some parts, almost unbelievable. After hiding in delusional places and overcoming atrocities, he managed to survive, as he had promised his father.

In 1947 Abraham migrated to Israel, and in 1955 he met his future wife. Together they have three children, five grandchildren and four great-granddaughters. The feeling that he has no one in the world, that he is an orphan, and his entire family perished in the Holocaust, on Polish soil, pushed Abraham to prove himself and not expect anything from anyone. All his searches for relatives failed, intensified his orphanhood, pushed his memories deep inside and motivated him.

 

 

 

Abraham became fearless in the forests of Poland.
Despite everything he went through, he remained optimistic, strong and willing to do anything to survive.

A few years ago, when diabetes began to take over his body, Abraham faced difficult moments, but he stays determined, and he is always looking ahead and finding a reason to keep going. Despite his illness, he feels obligated to stay sharp, remember every detail and share his stories with anyone willing to hear. The disease has taken away his ability to walk and see, yet Abraham continues to set an example by his heroism and spirit. Abraham published three books in Hebrew; he writes poems, paints and does woodcrafts. This book is the first collection of stories translated into English.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My parents.

My parents.

 

 

Hershel, my father, was born in 1902 to Isaac and Rochale Weinreich; he was the fifth and youngest child after two boys and two girls. The family was wealthy; they owned land in which they grew grain and wheat. my father grew up in Szaniec, a village in south-central Poland.  He studied quite far from the village and had to ride a horse to school every morning. Hershel had an exceptional ear for music and learned to play the harmonica and trumpet. He was an excellent musician, and he would play during the village dances. He was a good friend and a good man. 

As Hershel grew up, Grandpa Isaac sent him to a boarding school in Krakow, where he studied music and came home only once a week. These studies cost a lot of money, but fortunately, this wasn't a problem for the family. When he finished his studies, Hershel returned to the village. Grandpa Isaac counted on Hershel to work in the family business, and Hershel didn’t disappoint his father and worked with him for two years.

Following this period, my father and one of his good friends decided to enlist in the Polish army together. They knew how to ride horses and take care of them; therefore, the cavalry recruited them to its forces. After training, my father's commander proposed that he take an officers' course, which he did. Hershel served as a cavalry officer for the rest of his military service.

 

 

 

My grandfather decided to build a house for each of his children who would remain in Szaniec and make them partners in the family business. My father's two sisters decided they wanted to leave Poland, and in 1934, they moved to the United States. My father's two brothers, on the other hand, stayed in Poland but didn't want to live in the village. Uncle Wolf bought an apartment in Kielce city, got married, and worked in a store. My second uncle, Motel, also moved to an apartment in Kielce, and so the only child of the Weinreich family who remained in the village was my father, Hershel. He was devoted to his job on the family's large and developed farm; he purchased wheat during harvest season and sold it in the Winter when it was worth twice as much. Grandpa also gave him sales work in the city, and the profits were enormous.

My father started selling bags of wheat at the market in a town called Chmelnik. It was hard work, and in order to get to town, he had to drive a cart drawn by a pair of horses, but he got used to it. 

One day, as he approached the market, he saw a girl walking by the side of the road. He was instantly fascinated by her, left his horses, and followed her to her house. From the appearance of the house, Hershel understood that the family was not well-off, but undeterred, after a few minutes, he knocked on the door. The girl's father opened the door, and Hershel said: "Hello sir, I'm sorry to bother you, my name is Hershel Weinreich; I'm in love with your daughter and wish to marry her." The girl's parents were shocked to hear my father's last name because they knew that his family was wealthy. From within the house, the girl saw my father; she knew he had been stalking her, but she felt wooed and flattered; it was love at first sight.

Hershel returned to his parents' house and told them that he had found himself a wife- Haya Elka Reiter. When his parents heard that her family had only a small shop in the market, Grandpa Isaac announced that the two could never be together; it would be preposterous if his son were to marry a girl from such a poor family. My father knew that this would be his parents' reaction, but he told them it was his decision, and if they didn't give him their blessing, he would leave the house. Grandma Rochale felt for him; she thought it was very romantic and liked seeing her son fighting for his love.

Despite his father’s disapproval, Hershel didn't give up on his quest, and he and Haya continued to meet surreptitiously. The young couple had an affair of brief encounters in the market's alleyways for a whole year until Hershel decided to buy a house, and they moved in together. My father told Grandma Rochale about it, and she was furious with Grandpa Isaac; she told him he was making a mistake in opposing the wedding and that his pride would cause them to lose their son.

Grandpa realized he had been wrong and, together with Rochale, went to the Reiter house, and everyone agreed that the two young lovers must not be separated. A week later, the couple got married in the centre of the village. Many local Poles volunteered to help with the wedding, and about six hundred people attended. An orchestra played music, everyone ate, drank, danced, and it was a big celebration for everyone who lived in the area.

 

 

 

On April 15th, 1932, I was born- Abraham Weinreich.

Shortly afterwards, an epidemic of typhus broke out in the village. My mother's Polish friend got sick; she had three children who had to be taken out of the house lest they get infected. The family's father took their children elsewhere, leaving his sick wife alone in their home. 

My mother was a special woman, compassionate with an extraordinary heart; she decided to leave me (three-months-old at the time) at home with the caregiver and went to help her sick Polish friend. 

She took care of her for several days, and every day, she returned home pleased that she had done a good deed. 

However, while her friend was recovering, my mother contracted the disease herself and sadly died within a week.