While I have always been fascinated with World War Two, prior to this my professional writing experience had been music related. I did not go to Poland looking for a story and I’d certainly never pieced together a persons life in such a way. Now, I found myself consumed by the process. Each new piece of information was vital, no matter how small, but many false leads, dead ends, and disappointments would precede each one. And, it seemed like each time one question was answered there would be ten more to replace it. What was abundantly clear to me was, while the death toll from the Holocaust was an overwhelmingly large number it wasn’t until I delved deeper into that number and individualized it that I felt the full weight of the tragedy.
Death certificate still in my hand I took a deep breath and hit ‘enter’on my keyboard. The picture that appeared on my computer screen was of a two story, 19th century villa. The beige building had large windows, an arching doorway, and a winsome balcony. The inviting front yard was lush with plant life and had a stone path that led to the front door.
It was the entrance to the villa that held my attention though. In my mind I imagined a smiling Stanislaw crossing that threshold with his wife. I could see him carrying his baby outside on a sunny day and hurrying out in the morning on his way to work.
Those hopeful images soon turned dark and in their place was that of the Gestapo dragging him out of that same doorway. I could hear the loud shouts in German and the click of their jackboots on the concrete while envisioning Stanislaw’s sobbing, frightened wife left behind with their screaming child.
To be continued…