January 7, 2015
The Unlucky, Lucky Child.
Thomas Buergenthal’s recollection of his young life in his book “A Lucky Child: A
Memoir of Surviving Auschwitz as a Young Boy” is enough to make even the most solemn of person shutter. In his book, Buergenthal demonstrates how the kindness of others, even in the darkest of times can help those in need.
To begin, Thomas starts out his memoir by depicting one of his most major transports; the Auschwitz death transport. Thomas tells of his small, open train car meandering along the tracks into Czechoslovakia. In the near distance, Tommy spots a bridge lined with men, women, and children. Through experience with other transports he expected to have rocks and jewish slurs thrown at him and those in his transport car by these people. This time, however, it was different. Bread was thrown off of the bridge into the carts for the starving members of the transport, and it seemed as if “loaves of bread came raining down” from the heavens
(Buergenthal 3). If it was not for the bread thrown by the people of his birth place, Thomas says, he and many others would have died during that transport. All it took to change hundreds of lives was some bread, and hope. Without this small, yet greatly generous act by the people of
Czechoslovakia, Thomas Buergenthal may have never lived to see the day of his liberation.
Before the war, Thomas’ father, Mundek, was a successful hotel owner. Because of this, in the times they lived in, his family had ties all around the world with people who had stayed at
their hotel, and quite a strong political influence for a jewish family. This is how they were sent into the ghetto in Kielce at the beginning of the war, instead of immediately being sent into the work and death camps. This hidden kindness by the leaders of the ghetto taking them in would show to be passed on through Mundek to all those who have been a part of his life.
On one morning in August of 1942, the ghetto of Kielce was liquidated. During the liquidation, the ghetto was in complete chaos. Even through the madness, Mr. Buergenthal gathered up every one he had known through work, and urged them to follow him. He ended up with somewhere around twenty to thirty followers! Mundek had with him what is called a werkstatt pass. When the he and workers got to certain stops where most would not be allowed to pass into a safer area, Mundek would simply tell the guards that he was sent to bring the workers to the next shop, and show them his pass, and they would be allowed to go through. Although this helped his family as well, Mr. Buergenthal saved the lives of every single one of his workers during the liquidation of the ghetto of Kielce, as “those who stayed, would die” (Buergenthal 49)
Next, young Thomas’ life would be changed…