Janet's Reviews > Alicia

Alicia by Alicia Appleman-Jurman
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's review
Jan 26, 2011

it was amazing
Read from January 26 to 27, 2011

Alicia, a memoir of a young Holocaust survivor from Poland, arrived into my hands via the Divine and the Half Price Books history clearance shelf. A $.25 paperback, it appears unread. Drawn inexplicably to the book last night, I opened the cover to discover a personal inscription from the author dated February 1, 1991, almost 20 years ago today.

"To dear ______, a tragic page in history was written for my generation, G-d willing you will write your page with happiness, love, Shalom, and a celebration of human dignity. With all my love, Alicia Appleman-Jurman" (The signature is accompanied by some illegible Hebrew(?) letters/symbols).

I read long into the night. My subsequent dreams were of walking naked in an unbroken line of people, cold, dirty, covered with lice, my hair shorn, spirit and body broken, only to have a Catholic friend pull me out of line at the last moment exclaiming, “But you’re not Jewish!”

As a child, Alicia Appleman-Jurman found comfort in the portrait of the Blessed Mother and Child that graced the schoolroom where she attended classes prior to the war. The paintings were removed and replaced with Stalin/Lenin during the Russian occupation. Later, when the Madonna and Child were returned to the classroom by conquering Germans, Alicia pondered the meaning: “The Madonna and Child were back in their place. My armband with the Star of David was slipping as I worked, so I took it off and placed it near the Madonna. Shouldn’t she, too, be wearing an armband? Wasn’t she missing the Jewish children?”

Alicia’s innocent and insightful observation is a powerful reminder to us that Jews and Christians share a common bond in history. How ironic that as the Germans attempted to destroy the Jewish people this beautiful symbol of Jewish motherhood remained untouched. As children of God, brothers and sisters, we are all Jewish.

The Forward of Alicia is also quite moving. It is written by the author's Jewish American husband who fought with American Forces to liberate Europe from evil. He and his wife met in Israel after the war.

“Jews who survived the war are driven. They cannot forget, and they cannot bear the thought that the world will not remember. As they grow older, it becomes more and more important to them that no one be permitted to forget. This is what the survivors owe the dead. It is the means by which survivors hope to prevent history from repeating itself.”

We are, each of us, called to remember. And it is our duty to write the pages of our generation with “happiness, love, Shalom, and a celebration of human dignity.”


“I pray that all [readers of Alicia], Jew and non-Jew alike, may unite in the resolve that evil forces will never again be permitted to set one people against another.”
Alicia Appleman-Jurman
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01/12 marked as: read

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