Abraham escapes his comfortable and luxurious life in Germany and immigrates to Israel prior to the breakout of the Second World War. As a means to support his family amidst financial hardship, Abraham enlists in the Israeli branch of the Royal Pioneer Corps under the British Military.
Through fighting in battles in Tobruk and Greece, he finds a new sense of strength and resilience to survive. His wife,Genia, struggles to raise their son as a single parent in a new country . She faces the temptations of infidelity when a young chivalrous man appears in her household. Their son Aaron, is sent to an orphanage, and like his father , finds the strength to continue living under gruelling conditions.
The plot line is based on real-life events, combined with the personal story of an Israeli Royal Pioneer Corps soldier, and provides a hatch to the story of 1500 Israeli Royal Pioneer Corps soldiers, taken and kept captive in Germany until the end of the war.
Targeted Age Group:: 40-66
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
In the midst of the Covid-19 closure, I had plenty of time to go through the photos and documents of my family.
I found my grandfather's soldier certificate and the date of his enlistment. While browsing online, I came across a group of relatives of the Israeli POW from WW2. I discovered the name of the unit in which my grandfather served (Port Operation Unit 1039). Interestingly enough, his captain kept a war diary until his capture.
Through the stories and the date in the diary, I was able to trace the route that my grandfather took until his capture.
All I had left to do, was to dive into the depths of the research and the stories of the prisoners in order to develop the plot of the book. For me it was definitely a real once in a lifetime experience.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
This is a true story of my grandfather from WW2. Might be a bit biased but it’s truly amazing and you should all read it.
Getting Ready to Walk to Captivity
The sounds of shooting got stronger by the minute and seemed very close to the tree grove. I felt helpless; the inability to do anything nailed me to the ground. Even the taste of fire we experienced in Tobruk was nothing like the anxiety we felt at the fear of facing the German soldiers physically.
I searched for our commanders but I did not find a glimmer of hope in their behaviour. It looked like they were also scared and helpless. We were alone without the higher British command, which had deserted us.
Thinking of their abandonment replaced my anxiety with anger. Why do we need to experience all of this?
Almost immediately, Captain Yosefi pulled himself together, called and gathered us quickly at the edge of the grove. We stood around him in a circle.
"Dear men," he opened, his voice warm, but serious and humbled, "I am not a man of good news, in my darkest dreams I did not imagine getting myself into such a tough situation." He fell silent and took a deep breath. A few very loud explosions shook the ground and our hearts.
All of us looked at him – Josef and Israel, David and Yehezkel, Hassan and Eichya and the rest of my friends. "A few minutes ago, we received an order from the British brigadier to lay down our weapons and surrender to the Germans. From this moment on, it is each man for himself. I morally cannot command any of you to surrender."
He paused again and made eye contact with each of the soldiers standing there, looking at him with misty eyes. No one spoke, and he saw in this a sign to go on. "I can only recommend that you go into captivity with me, as a group." His voice broke, but he pulled himself together, "I believe that our chances of survival in captivity are higher if we get there as a group then as singles, who could be executed in secret, with no witnesses around."
At the conclusion of his speech, Captain Yosefi stayed silent and stood steady, his gaze sharp and clear. The only tremble I noticed was at the corner of his mouth. Someone moved a rock with their foot and the sound of it rolling away was loud and clear in that silence.
"Why weren’t we evacuated? Why were we left for last?" Albert finally posed the question we all were thinking.
Yosefi was silent for a moment and then said, "I assume that during the sea evacuation, the combat soldiers were prioritized over the combat support soldiers."
Silence fell again.
We all contemplated the sharp, cruel meaning of his words.
"This is ridiculous," said one of the soldiers, "I, as a German citizen, might find myself being executed for treason. Can someone vouch for my safety?" he asked, and I felt as if he had taken the words right out of my mouth.
Yosefi's gaze dropped and he lowered it to the laces of his shoes. "No," he said in a quiet voice.
The single word felt like knives in my ear. "I cannot vouch for your safety or for the safety of anyone else in this division," he paused for a moment, but when he spoke again, his words came out quickly, as if the situation demanded that he hurried. "I suggest we burn any documents that might indicate our former nationality. I ask each of you to bury your weapon and ammunition and join me in an orderly walk to captivity."
He lifted his gaze again. His next sentence made the realization of the horrible thing happening to finally sink into our minds, "Let us make sure to shave," he said, his voice louder and stronger, "clean up our uniforms and shine our shoes. We will go together to captivity as Israeli Jews, walking tall and straight, and if we are fated to die, we die proud."
Usually, it was not hard to sympathize and relate with Captain Yosefi, but in that moment I could not understand his words. How can you be proud in walking to captivity? I thought that the immense stress he was under had completely taken over his mind. In that moment, I had made up my mind.
I had never hesitated, as an individual, to go against the majority and to make decisions that will serve my personal goals only. We were asked to prepare for our surrender and captivity, but I had a different plan, albeit dangerous, but with probable chances for success. Other than the possible danger, I felt I had nothing to lose.
Captain Yosefi had initially said it was a case of each man to himself. I had no doubt that as a German citizen, I was in mortal danger. I could be considered a traitor, as a soldier or a spy, and this could lead to my execution, without a trial.
I said goodbye to the friends in my division, who tried to convince me to give up my intentions.
"Abraham, think well before you go off on your own; our chances of surviving as a group are higher," begged Yehezkel.
"Being reckless won't help you," warned David.
"I believe that our commanders know what they are doing," Alex told me.
"I am not sure about that at all," I told them, "I appreciate our commanders, but there are situations in which I prefer to go against the system. I am not asking you to join me because of the risks involved, but you are welcome to decide."
I trusted my intuition which usually did not fail me. My friends were familiar with the stubbornness with which I was blessed with and did not try too hard to convince me to join the rest of the group.
"Yehezkel," I walked up to him, "Please, when you get to an organized location, please send my wife a letter to this address." I handed him a note with our address in Herzliya. "Tell her about what happened and let her know that as soon as I get the chance, I will send her a letter."
I parted with my friends with a quick embrace. I began my journey, alone with my weapon, along the shoreline heading south.
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