14 February 2015
I have a new friend. We have not come face to face — yet. He is four years younger than I am and way way cleverer. To find out the circumstances of his birth, please read last week’s Commonplace in which I told of BH’s unusual birthday present.
My friend is one of the Jewish children rescued by Fr Adam Sztark and Sisters Ewa and Marta.
As a tiny baby my friend was adopted by a Polish gardener (smallholder) and his wife, the Mikuczyns. They survived the terrors of the war in territory that was a battleground between Germans and Soviets.
The Mikuczyns brought my friend up as their own and cared for him until at the age of five — he doesn’t know his exact age. Then he was claimed by his “father” (in fact his uncle) and taken Eastwards. Removed within 24 hours from the only people he knew as parents, he now had to call strangers Mama and Papa.
The vicissitudes of post-war Eastern Europe led to re-settlement in Poland, disturbing for a very small boy, and eventually the long journey to the United States, where my friend is now a distinguished Professor at one of the top universities.
Have you managed to take all that in? If like me you were lucky enough to have had a “quiet” War (we’re talking Second here), to have survived the trauma of those terrible years unscathed is miraculous. It was years before Jerry, his real name (pictured above in 1945), learned who he really was, and what had become of his parents.
Sixty years later, by a trail of strange connections, we have made virtual contact.
The game of “What If” is now a topic for learned history books. For example, if Blucher hadn’t reached Waterloo at the crucial moment, Wellington would have lost the battle. Or if Napoleon had gone directly from Moscow to St Petersburg, where he could have dictated terms, he needn’t have lost Russia.
And if BH hadn’t been deported to Siberia he and I would never have met, or had the son who sent the link to the Yad Vashem website. Where I met my new friend.
(Aside – personally I think the “What If“ game is as silly as Grandfather when he says,”Well, and if Peter hadn’t caught the Wolf…?”)
I expect you will hear more of Jerry Glickson. He has written his memoir and when I finish reading it there will be more to tell without doubt. What I have read so far makes me realise (again) how lucky I am.