A Match Made in Hell

by Larry Stillman (University of Wisconsin Press)

(This column first appeared in the My 6, 2004 issue of ArtVoice of Buffalo.)

 

The subtitle of this quite remarkable book better describes it: The Jewish Boy and the Polish Outlaw Who Defied the Nazis. It is Morris Goldner's story as told to Stillman. Goldner was a teenager during World War II and for once small stature - he was scarcely five feet paid off: he looked still younger. After the Germans overran Poland he, his family and other regional Jews were rounded up and marched off to a railhead where the elderly and babies were killed, the men and women separated to be loaded on a train. Goldner and his father managed to slip away as his sister and mother were sent off but after a few months the father and son were betrayed by neighbors, captured, shot and their bodies bayoneted. His father killed, Goldner survives and manages to drag himself into a nearby wood where he is discovered and cared for by a notorious outlaw named Kopec. The two form an uneasy team and carry out some amazing acts of sabotage against the German army and Polish sympathizers. When the Russians retake the region Goldner is fortunate to be assisted to the American zone by two Russian officers who keep their Jewish religion hidden from their compatriots. What makes this book most frightening is that our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan find themselves attacked by similar partisans. We may consider their motivation terribly wrong-headed but that makes them no less scary. Recommended.-- Gerry Rising