Vol. 13


The Man in Stripes

1940s; Germany

In the 1940s during World War II my great-grandfather Zaidy,1 who was twenty-one years old at the time, was torn apart from his family, and ended up in a concentration camp in Germany. He didn’t know where his family members were, what they were doing, or if they were even alive. He felt devastated, miserable, and all alone.

Zaidy and his fellow inmates were given the job of cleaning up after Allied2 bomb attacks on the trains. The Germans didn’t give them any food, since they were expected to scavenge the ruins and find food for themselves. This was a dangerous and tough job, but also partially rewarding, because Zaidy and his friends actually got to see how the Allies were destroying the German trains and tracks.

One sunny day Zaidy was cleaning up with the rest of his group when all of a sudden he saw hundreds of bomber planes every fifty feet or so. The Allies were dropping a row of many bombs at a time, and they were inching closer and closer to him and his friends.

Zaidy was starting to get really scared and nervous, when suddenly he came up with a plan. Instead of trying to outrun the planes like most would do, especially when they’re panicking, he told his friends to run in the direction opposite of the way the planes were headed. This way they would be in an area where the bombs had already been exploded. Unfortunately some of his friends didn’t listen to his idea, and sadly, they ended up dying. The ones that listened to him survived.

After the bombs were dropped and exploded, the Allies took out machine guns and tried to kill the rest of the people that didn’t die. One plane was specifically going after my great-grandpa. Zaidy quickly hid in a bomb crater, but then noticed that the plane could shoot him from the other side. He was petrified and frightened, yet knew that he had tried his best. When the plane flew closer, the pilot must have seen Zaidy’s striped clothes and realized he was a prisoner. In the last second the plane turned away, and Zaidy couldn’t believe his eyes.

The moral of this story is that even in your absolute worst moments don’t panic and give up all of your hope. If not for my great-grandpa’s courage and bravery, I wouldn’t be here to tell this story today.

Chavy Reiss; New York, USA


1. “Zaidy” is Yiddish for “grandpa.”

2. The Allied forces were the twenty-six countries, including Great Britain, the United States, France, and the Soviet Union (USSR), that fought against Germany, Japan, and other countries in World War II.



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