Vol. 10


The Worth of a Diamond

c. 1942; Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland

Have you ever wondered what a diamond is worth?

Yaakov Hirsh was born in 1910 and had eight brothers. He came from a small town in Czechoslovakia. When he was only twelve years old, he went alone to the city of Prague to become an apprentice to a great shoemaker. He learned how to make leather shoes by hand.

Around 1942, when the Nazis crept in, Yaakov was taken away to a concentration camp. Since he knew how to make shoes, they had Yaakov working and repairing leather boots for the Nazi soldiers. (If he hadn’t been given a job, they would have killed him.)

One day a German soldier brought Yaakov a pair of boots that he had stolen from a Jew who had been killed. He asked Yaakov to fix and clean the boots so he could wear them. When Yaakov took off the heel of the boot, he had a great surprise! Hidden in the heel of the boot was a precious diamond! It was as shiny as a pot of gold and silver.

Instead of feeling happy and excited, Yaakov was very afraid. He knew that if the Nazis found out that he had the diamond, they would kill him for it. He knew in his wisdom that he had to get rid of the diamond. He sold the diamond on the black market* for half a loaf of bread and a bowl of uncooked noodles. That’s how much food was worth to him in that time. That is how much a diamond was worth to Yaakov Hirsh.

Yaakov Hirsh was my great-grandfather. He was alive until I was five years old. When I was younger, I was lucky enough to see him often and spend time with him. I was, and I still am, very proud to be his great-granddaughter. Yaakov Hirsh was brave, strong, and very intelligent. He was a survivor. If he had not survived, I would not be here today.

Malka Neuman; New York, USA


* The black market is a system for illegally buying and selling goods, especially rationed goods.


This copyrighted story may be copied for limited classroom use or reprinted in an article about The Grannie Annie.


Return to Vol. 10 Stories page



Built by Hen's Teeth Network