To Run for Life from Swastika and Red Star
When the Germans invaded Poland in September 1939, the author and his father were drafted into the Polish Army. After a few days of hopeless fighting, the brigade in which the author served was routed and dispersed. This precipitated a headlong flight of soldiers and civilians alike, anxious to escape the murderous attack of the rapidly advancing enemy armored columns and their attendant aircraft, which ceaselessly bombed and strafed roads and villages.
For some three weeks, Aaron Reisfeld and his father desperately sought to escape the Nazi onslaught by fleeing eastward to the Russian border and the perceived safety that country offered. It was a harrowing ordeal covering hundreds of kilometers, during which the Reisfelds endured hunger, exposure, bombing, shelling and countless dangers on roads clogged with millions of terrified, escaping refugees.
At the outbreak of war, the author lived a comfortable life in a reasonably affluent home in the town of Lodz, and was about to complete his last year of high school. Little did he know it would be more than a decade before he could complete his education and obtain a degree in textile engineering from Nottingham College in England. In that decade, the author survived many trials by fire and mortal danger, first in escaping from the Nazis, then fighting the Germans in North Africa as a soldier in the British Army, and finally serving in the Israeli Army in that countrys bloody war for independence. While he managed to escape the fires of the Holocaust, his mother, sister and most members of his extended family were consumed in it along with six million Jews and untold numbers of gentiles.
Running from the advancing Nazis, the author and his father, through sheer determination, willpower to survive and luck, managed to reach the Russian Zone of Occupation and its temporary safety. Soon, however, they found they had to flee from the Russians as well when they began deporting into the Siberian hinterland capitalists, professionals and the intelligentsia, who were unlikely to hew to the Soviet ideology and order.
Fleeing the Russians, the Reisfelds brought off another harrowing escape, this time by crossing a raging river in the middle of a cold, wintry night into Romania, where they hoped to find a temporary haven. Because they had crossed illegally into the country, the author and his father were apprehended by the Romanian police and forced to serve a brief jail sentence before being set free and allowed to stay in that country.
From their base in Bucharest, Reisfelds father tried to arrange for his mothers and sisters escape from Nazi occupied Poland. Such arrangements were difficult to make, but possible by bribing the right police and Nazi officials. Reisfelds father succeeded in making those arrangements, and his mother and sister were set to travel to then neutral Italy from where they could continue on to Palestine. But just as they were about to depart, Italy entered the war on Germanys side, thus trapping them in Poland and sealing their doom.
The security they found in Romania did not last as both Germany and the Soviets were poised to march into Romania and partition the country between them. The Reisfelds had to flee once again before they could be overtaken by their dreaded enemies. They managed to book passage on one of the last passenger ships to leave Romania, barely days ahead of the German occupation. After a tour of eastern Mediterranean ports, the Reisfelds finally landed in Haifa where they were taken in by family members already established in Palestine.
Yet, this was hardly the end of the authors peregrinations. With the war raging in North Africa and creeping closer to Palestine, Aaron joined the British Armys Corp of Royal Engineers as a sapper lifting and planting mines, blowing up fortifications, and building and destroying bridges, among ot