EXCERPT FROM THE LONG NIGHT
“The first Whitsun (Pentecost or Shavuot) we spent behind barbed wire. We got up for work as usual. Our thoughts dwelt on our families. Although we knew that our relations at home were subject to persecution, they were at least allowed to stay together and could move freely within the area in which they were confined. Filled with nostalgia, we recalled how our families assembled on the Holy Days to honour the elders and learned. Our yearning for our parents was so strong that even during work all we talked about was our families at home and how we celebrated the festivals. We expressed our hope to spend Shavuot with our families again, but none of us could quite believe it.
Children wearing wreaths of flowers celebrate Shavuot in a Jewish kindergarten in Lodz, Poland after the war (1948) [United States Holocaust Memorial Museum courtesy Rachela and Lolek Grynfeld]
Rumours circulated that after the completion of the motorway we would be released. We could not substantiate these beautiful fantasies. We willingly succumbed to the hope that our forced labour was only a temporary measure of the national socialist regime. We did not feel guilty of anything and hence could not imagine why we should be held in a forced labour camp for any length of time.“