The Holocaust -

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On April 8, almost all the Jewish inmates at Buchenwald, many of whom had only reached there three months earlier, from Birkenau or Stutthof, were marched out, leaving the non-Jewish prisoners to await the arrival of the Americans. The Jews were driven east, then south, to the concentration camp at Flossenburg. Other Jews, in camps at Aschersleben and Schonebeck, were driven south, then north again, then back south, first on foot and in trucks, then by train, through the Sudeten mountains, to Leitmeritz. A third group was sent to nearby Theresienstadt, sixty being murdered at the village of Buchau.

A few Jews had managed to hide in Buchenwald during the evacuation of April 8. One of them, Israel Lau, was only eight years old. He had been kept alive by the devotion and ingenuity of his elder brother, Naftali, aged nineteen. Three days after most of the Jews had been marched out of the camp, American forces arrived. One of the American officers, Rabbi Herschel Schechter, later recalled how he pulled a small, frightened boy from a pile of corpses. The rabbi burst into tears and then, hoping to reassure the child, began to laugh.

How old are you? he asked Israel Lau, in Yiddish.

Older than you.

How can you say that? asked the rabbi, fearing the child was deranged.

You cry and laugh like a little boy, Lau replied, but I havent laughed for years and I dont even cry any more. So tell me, who is older?

Gilbert, Martin, The Holocaust, HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 1986 p. 792

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