The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson

Author:Leon Leyson [Leyson, Leon]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Tags: ya, NF
ISBN: 1442497815
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Published: 2013-08-27T04:00:00+00:00

ONCE AGAIN I WALKED THROUGH Kraków in a daze, this time unable to believe my good fortune. Had I really escaped Płaszów? Was I really standing beside my mother? Would we really be reunited with my father and brother? All these questions and a dozen others raced through my mind as our group of thirty approached the Emalia factory. I kept my head down, my eyes focused on the pavement. I was petrified that when we finally arrived at the Emalia sub-camp, Goeth would somehow be there and send me back to Płaszów. I convinced myself that if I didn’t look at anyone, no would look at me, no one would notice me. I knew from experience that invisibility was the closest I could get to safety. As my mother and I walked together, I could imagine my gentile friends nearby, still going to school, still playing the streetcar game, but I did not lift my eyes even for a quick peek.

I saw Schindler’s factory ahead of us. As we drew closer, I tensed and squeezed my mother’s hand hard. What I saw was not the nondescript factory building it had been when my father first worked there. Encircled by an electric fence with imposing metal gates, Emalia now had a sinister look. SS guards, as frightening as the officer who had recently grunted me into the Schindler group, stood sentry at the entrance. For a few moments I feared that my life might not be any different here than in Płaszów.

But once we passed through the entrance, my spirits rose. The outside of the factory was a façade to placate the Nazis. Inside, the atmosphere was very different. As in Płaszów, men and women were housed in separate barracks, but unlike Płaszów, we were allowed to visit each other. SS guards were not permitted to enter any barracks without Schindler’s permission. There was slightly better food—at midday, a bowl of real soup, perhaps a slice of vegetable, and at the end of the night shift, bread with oleo. By no means were those two scant meals enough to satisfy my hunger, but they were more than I had ever been given in Płaszów, more than I’d had at one time in nearly two years.

Soon after entering the camp, David and my father found my mother and me. We rushed to hug each other. At that moment, in my father’s eyes, I saw a hint of his old pride. He had succeeded in reuniting five of us and keeping us alive, at least for now. “You’ll work with David and me,” he informed me with authority. I stared at my brother, whom I had glimpsed only a few times in two years. He was now sixteen and had grown to be almost as tall as my father, but his cheeks were hollow and his clothes hung loosely on his bony frame. “You’ll be fine,” David reassured me.

At long last, my mother and father could again talk with each other one on one.


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