A SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN KILINSKI PARK by Arieh Stav
There were rumors; a smell of fear in the air. And yet, it all happened with incredible suddenness. The Soviets were abandoning the city; the Germans were at the gates. Mera Stollar grabbed her baby and ran for her life.
From that day on, her life became an odyssey of flight and survival. Thanks to her son’s Aryan appearance (as long as he did not lower his pants…), her resourcefulness and wisdom, they escaped from the city after the murder of its Jewish inhabitants. Without documents, the mother and child wandered among the back lanes of Occupied Poland under the guise of Polish refugees, until they reached Warsaw. On the way, they endured the ever present fear of capture, hunger, cold, illness and the cruelty and indifference of people; but there are also instances of compassion and mercy.
Their flight is accompanied by many dangers and threats. They are thrown into the street by a Christian family for having crossed themselves left-handed; a Ukrainian informer turns them in to the police – meaning transport to Treblinka; the convoy is bombed and on the first day of the Liberation, Mera is found guilty of collaborating with the German enemy, a sin carrying a sentence of execution.
A SUNDAY AFTERNOON IN KILINSKI PARK also tells the stories of Rocheleh, thrown into prison over a pair of boots; Stiepan the Ukrainian policeman whose love for Vera does not prevent him from murdering her entire family; of Lieber, protected by his father’s corpse in the Susenki killing pits; Sonia the convert, who was not saved by the crucifix she wore on her throat; Granny Jadzia, the Pole who was prepared to sacrifice her life for Libi, whom she loved like a grandchild; Alex and Irena, the two Ukrainian circus artists who, ironically, come under Mera’s protection; and Rudolph, the German paratrooper whose courtship and love for Mera lead to disillusion.
Arieh Stav was born in 1939 in Rovno, Poland at that time, Ukraine today. In 1951, he made aliyah with his mother. He was educated at Kibbutz Givat Haim, served in the IDF as a paratrooper and was a member of the Kibbutz until 1963, when he left and moved to Tel Aviv. He studied psychology, philosophy and drama at Tel Aviv University.
Arieh Stav is the Director of the Ariel Center for Policy Research, a non-partisan organization devoted to inclusive research and discussion of political and strategic issues concerning Israel and the Jewish people. Stav is the editor of Nativ, a bi-monthly periodical on politics and the arts, author and editor of numerous books and research studies. He has translated (to Hebrew) and published numerous volumes of epic poems which were written throughout the ages and in a myriad of languages.