The Seventh Miracle
by Jorge I. Klainman
Edited & Translated from the Spanish by Kal Wagenheim
Winter 1943. A Nazi concentration camp in Poland. A fifteen-year-old Jewish boy stands naked, shivering, at the edge of a deep ditch. He and several other prisoners have been marked for death by the psychopathic camp commandant. Ukrainian guards, holding machine guns, accompanied by snarling dogs, wait for the command to fire.
"My mind refused to comprehend the reality of what was happening. The end had come. They were going to shoot me and burn me. I thought of my loved ones, and that soon I would be joining them. I thought of the tremendous pain caused by bullets penetrating my body. My teeth chattered so hard that my gums hurt. It was total madness....I reached a state of mind where I just wanted, with all my being, to get it over with....Many of the condemned prayed aloud, others looked straight ahead without seeing...One of the Ukrainians pushed me into the hole. After that, I blanked out."
More than half a century later, Jorge Klainman, the author of this harrowing --
and ultimately inspiring -- memoir, tells how he miraculously survived, after the guards opened fire, and left him for dead.
Klainman, who lost his entire family in The Holocaust, vividly depicts the horror of life, and death, in a series of Nazi concentration camps. Yet it is also a tribute to the resiliency of the human spirit. In many ways, it epitomizes the triumph of the Jewish people who—despite the Holocaust—have prevailed.
The story begins in Poland, where, before the Nazi invasion of 1939, Klainman´s family enjoyed a prosperous life. His odyssey continues through a series of Nazi camps, where the teenage Klainman, through ingenuity, the occasional kindness of strangers, and plain good luck, manages to elude death.
At the conclusion of World War II, Klainman begins a heartbreaking, fruitless search for surviving members of his family, which ultimately leads to his suffering a nervous breakdown.
Finally, in 1947, he makes contact with a long-lost aunt in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He experiences more adventures during the journey from the Old World to the New.
Twenty-eight years later, Klainman, now married, with a successful business in Argentina, travels to Italy, to exhume the remains of his beloved brother, another victim of the Holocaust, to transport them to Israel.. In an emotional ceremony, with family and friends present, the remains are buried in a Tel Aviv cemetery, as Klainman recites the Kaddish, the Prayer for the Dead.
Twenty years after that, in 1998, Klainman, now a grandfather, returns with his wife Teresa to his birthplace, Poland. He has come full circle, standing frozen at the front door of the apartment where his family once lived, and, later, on the edge of the ditch in the camp where he was shot and left for dead.
Jorge Klainman began writing this memoir (about 70,000 words) on his sixty-eighth birthday, on March 28, 1996. It is related with remarkable restraint, understatement, and, even, with occasional surprising touches of humor. In the moving prologue to his story, he explains:
"In October 1947, when a train left me at the...railroad station of Buenos Aires, I was nineteen, and I began a new life.
"At that moment, I wrapped up all the memories of the previous twelve years and buried them in a deep well of my mind. There they remained, hidden and protected by a wall of silence that I had built, brick by brick. At the time, it seemed like the only way I could go on living. On my sixty-eighth birthday, I decided to take a pickaxe and knock down that
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I receive many books for review; thus, when I opened Jorge Klainman's The Seventh Miracle, a Holocaust memoir, I planned to skim through it, but I couldn't. It grabbed me from the strt. Klainman relates his tale of horror like a born storyteller...His story is both heroic and sad, and yet (I can't believe that I am writing this) it also has moments of humor. This is highly recommended reading, gripping, breathtaking until the very end. --Mario Wainstain, Aurora Weekly, Tel Aviv