Sample Chapter 29: “Mama” from The Desperate Days
Anna slept fitfully and dreamed of the coming battle. She dreamed that she and the ghetto fighters were driven from rooftops by machine gun fire and flamethrowers that were setting the ghetto ablaze. Tanks blasted the building. All the fighters but Anna were killed as the roof collapsed and she watched with horror as the three men she saw earlier fell into depths of the blazing building. Anna had jumped over with the child onto the next roof and was saved but she was immediately caught by the SS. Next in her dream she heard train whistles. It was a box car and she was inside holding the child with many others. It was little Stacia, who looked into Anna’s eyes and cried, “mama.”
Anna began to panic, and she asked others what she should do with the baby. They said smother her now because the train was heading to Treblinka. “It’s better that way,” a young mother whose eyes were shining said, showing Anna her own dead baby, and laughing hysterically. Then the train stopped, dogs began barking, and guards began snapping orders. The doors opened. Shouts. SS men. “Give this baby to one of the old women,” a man in striped clothing said gently. Everything happened so fast. There was no time to think. Anna knew what it meant to give up the child. The resistance had numerous reports of what went on in the camps. Giving the child to an old woman meant certain death for the baby. She remembered her promises to the child. “We’re going home.”
Anna dreamed that she had to save the little girl or there would be no Israel. Because it was the last Jewish child. She dreamed that she tried to hide the baby inside of her coat, but a grandmother approached and said, “No girl, save yourself. Don’t die with the baby. Your people need you. Give the baby to me. You are young and can bear another baby, and then you will save our people. There are no other young Jewish women. All are old childless mothers. Give the baby up and save Israel.”
And Anna sobbed pitifully as she gave the baby to the grandmother. The child looked at the grandmother, and said, “mama.”
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