As you read the text, keep in mind that this is a non-fiction piece based on a journal that the author kept while in hiding. Ask yourself: Why is she telling her story? What purpose does retelling her story serve? As you read, look for evidence or grounds to answer those questions.
As we read the text, we will analyze the structure of the author's story in terms of plot and other literary devices, but we will also examine the author's purpose for writing and sharing her story. To accomplish the second goal, we will use the Toulmin Model of Argument. Please view the video below for an outline of the model and its elements. (This annotation contains a video)
The author reveals that "as long as I could remember, my family moved and lived in a pack." What does this imply about her family?
Zionism is the belief that the Jewish people should establish a homeland. This belief was founded on the idea that Jewish people would be a stronger force and could live free from anti-Semitic violence if they lived as a unified nation. For more information about Zionism, please click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Based on the author's description of the political unrest in Poland, the refugees that sought asylum in her town, and her Uncle Manek's suggestion that the family "emigrate to Palestine," what term best describes the mood of the author's town?
According to the author, the Russian occupation of her town was not well-received. Prior to World War II, the Russian Czar was overthrown and assassinated along with his family. Their upheaval gave way to the rise of Lenin and eventually Joseph Stalin. As a result, Russia became a Communist nation and life under the leadership of Joseph Stalin was characterized by brutality, suspicion, and poverty. Click on the video below for a mini-bio of Joseph Stalin. Considering what you now know about the Russian forces, what does the arrival of Aunt Rosa and her family foreshadow? (This annotation contains a video)
Based on the author's reaction to finding her aunt's house empty, you can infer that she believes something terrible happened to them. This is an example of _______ to support the claim that life in her town was not stable or safe.
Throughout the text, the author provides examples that illustrate the theme of loss. First, they must give up their clothing and goods that identify their social status or worth, and eventually they must give up their identities and lives in order to try to endure the efforts of the Nazis in Poland.
Which literary device does the author use to convey the changes in the town of Zolkiew since the Russian occupation?
The use of propaganda in the form of speeches were widely used by the Communists and the Nazis. Audience members often were compelled to conform not based on belief, but out of fear of punishment if they did not comply. Click on the link below for an explicit definition of propaganda and examples provided by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (This annotation contains a link)
The author contends that entire families disappeared in the night for being viewed as a threat to Communism. She concludes, "They just ceased to exist; they never existed." What can you infer about the Russian occupation based on these statements?
As the author unfolds her story, she incorporates grounds or evidence to support her claim that she, her family, and the other Jewish people in her town were forced to endure unspeakable acts of man's inhumanity to man. As you read, try to identify other grounds that support her claim that the Jewish people of Poland were forced to endure dehumanization.
The author illustrated in the prologue that her family was close-knit and rarely lived apart from one another. Within a year, her family is torn apart by the Russian forces. What does this foreshadow?
The changes the author's life denoted a time of turmoil and great stress. Imagine if the life you knew was suddenly different. What if you woke up tomorrow and you were no longer allowed to use the internet? What if the president of the United States was imprisoned? How would you react?
Which term best describes the author's feeling about the future during this time in her life?
From this point in the text and throughout the next eighteen months, the author's life is full of uncertainty and fear. The Russians within the town are leaving abruptly and it signals the advancing Nazi troops.
Which warrant can you infer based on the grounds the author presents about the oncoming Nazi forces?
Mass graves were common during World War II. The Russians and the Germans were known for their brutality and lack of regard for human life. Below is an image of a mass grave of Polish soldiers. It is believed that over 22,000 Polish soldiers that were captured as prisoners of war were killed by the Russians from 1940-1941. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on your knowledge of history, what would you tell the author about the "rumors" she heard that people were "poisoned with gas," "electrocuted," "burned," or "shot with guns"?
The SS officers were known for their brutality and dehumanization of their victims. Unlike German soldiers, the SS did not earn their rank and position by their military service. The SS earned their positions based on their connections within the German government. Click on the link below for more information and videos about the SS, their history, and their role in the Nazi regime. (This annotation contains a link)
The changes after the Nazi occupation of the author's town: curfew, no attendance of school or the park, they must walk in the street, and must wear an armband with a blue star, illustrate which of the following themes?
The author presents grounds to support her claim that life under the Nazi regime the dichotomy of her life prior to the Nazi occupation. Though her father, Mr. Melman, and Mr. Patrontasch are spared because of their skills, they are still Jewish. Their religious identity will ultimately be the cause of their exile or extermination.
Read the highlighted statement. Do you agree with the author? Why or why not?
Hungary's involvement in World War II changed with the year. Initially, Hungary allied with with the Axis powers, was forced to invade the Soviet Union, eventually made a secret peace treaty with the United States, and was ruled by a Fascist leader backed by Germany until 1945.
People jumped from trains and risked death rather than be shipped to a rumored death camp. This is evidence of their
If you visit the link below, you will see another example of a bunker that was used to hide Jewish people during World War II. The Holocaust Museum's website has more images and stories of underground bunkers during World War II. (This annotation contains a link)
Whose side would you take in the argument between the author's parents and why? Use historical and textual evidence to support your response.
The author's belief that "Whatever happened, it would happen to us as a family," illustrates which theme?
In Polish, the term akcja simply means action. Within one night, the reality of the Nazi occupation is realized. The Jewish people of the town are killed without reason or justification. This is the beginning of the elimination of Jewish people from the author's hometown.
What does the author's father's refusal of Pavluk's offer to hide his family reveal about her father?
The purpose of the ghettos was to isolate the Jewish population. Eventually, the ghettos would be liquidated and all the Jewish people would be sent to death camps or work camps. Life in the ghetto was difficult: there was little food, space, and people lived in constant fear of death. The clip below is from the film "Schindler's List" and is known as the "liquidation of the ghetto." The scene is an extremely accurate depiction of the chaos, brutality, and indiscriminate actions of the Nazi troops. (This annotation contains a video)
When a Polish neighbor comes to see Uchka and feigns concern about her safety in a ploy to ask for her bedroom set, Uchka throws her out. The author's mother is shocked and afraid. What is the author's mother's fear? What does this reveal about the situation of the Jewish population? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Throughout the text, the author claims and demonstrates the importance of her family and how much they valued each other and would do anything to save one another. She then reveals that her family will go into hiding, but they cannot take Uchka and her children with them. This may be viewed as a fault in her argument and may be used to form a rebuttal to her claim.
The story of Klara's daughter's death illustrates all of the following themes except
Throughout the text, the author must give up many elements of her life in order to survive. The one element that she refuses to relinquish is her immediate family. Consider the warrant or inference you can make based on this claim and the grounds she presents to support it.
The author describes feeling as if the Melman's home was "alien" to her. This is grounds for which of the following claims?
The video clip below is actual news footage from the Tehran conference in 1943. It would be at least two years before an official surrender would be signed by the Axis powers in May 1945 signifying the end of World War II in Europe. (This annotation contains a video)
In the epigraph of the text, the author cites Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Reread the epigraph and the author's mother's intention that she write a diary of their journey. Based on both passages, why does the author write the text?
Three square meters is approximately 32 square feet. That is a space that is less than six feet wide and six feet across. The bunker was about four feet high. That means that they were unable to stand upright at any time.
In a world full of people who would like to eradicate the Jews from Poland, Ala is kind to the girls and encourages them to laugh and enjoy themselves. Ala symbolizes
Mr. Beck is an interesting character. From what the author has learned about Mr. Beck from others, he is an anti-Semite, which means that he discriminates against the Jewish people simply because they are Jewish. But he is willing to hide three Jewish families from the Nazis, and the author describes him in endearing terms such as his "blue eyes twinkling with mischief" prior to Christmas. This intimates that there is more to Mr. Beck than a man filled with hatred.
What does the author mean when she says, "Mr. Beck grew taller in my eyes in that small bathroom"?
The author provides several accounts of the Beck's generosity and kindness. This helps to illustrate her claim that without family, they would not have survived the war. Though the Becks are not blood-related to the author and her family, they become like family because of the risk that the Becks assume to hide the families.
What is the warrant you can infer based on the similarities between the Catholic faith and the Jewish faith?
The author's statement, "For the few we were upstairs with the Becks, there was no war, no ghetto, no hunger, and no fear." This illustrates how the Becks gave the author a sense of security and safety. In spite of all the loss she suffered, the Becks helped her retain her faith in humanity.
Though the author praises Mr. Beck for his character, when he drinks, he is less careful and more defiant. What could be one result of this behavior?
Mr. Beck becomes an extension of the author and her family. Whomever he trusts, they must trust. If he feels secure, they feel secure. If he feels threatened, so will they. This is important to remember.
Which literary device does the author use to contrast the life in the ghetto to the life prior to the Nazi occupation of her town?
The author uses imagery to convey the subtle changes that were happening over time. In the highlighted passage, note at least three changes that are intimated at or implied rather than explicitly stated.
When the author is given the news that her mother may not return to the bunker to insure "mutual survival," what does the author's understanding of the decision reveal about her character?
Though the author is maturing, she is still deeply connected to her mother and cannot relinquish her yet. This conveys the important of her family to her survival, and illustrates the theme of family.
What does Ala's refusal to leave the author in the ghetto reveal about Ala's character?
The relationship between Beck and Ala illustrates another level of the familial bond. As long as Ala is safe, Beck cannot be angry. His feelings extend to the author as well.
Can you think of any situation you have been in where the group's happiness was more important than the individual's? How did you react? Was it in your nature to sacrifice your own happiness for the group, or did you have consciously do it?
The decision to help hid the Jewish families is an extreme burden on the entire Beck family. They must all agree to conceal the families in the bunker or they would all be discovered. Ala and Julia Beck are just as considerate and selfless as Mr. Beck is.
When Beck tells the families, "We're all in God's hands" and allows them to remain in hiding, what can you infer from this his words and actions?
The author's journey is documented from the first person point of view. In an argument, this is known as testimony. Testimony is often considered unreliable because it is biased. However, the author also includes an excerpt from Lola's diary that confirms the author's account. The author's account can also be considered authority. Authority is considered an expert on a topic and the information he or she provides is considered verifiable.
The author juxtaposes Lola's story of the loss of her family in order to convey
Unlike the other families, Klara has no nuclear family left. Her actions and her tone imply that she doesn't have the same concern or care about those in the bunker with her. Do you think this is true? Or do you think this may be an example of how the author's testimony may be skewed by her interpretation of events?
As the author sits safely in her bunker, she and the other people in the bunker can hear the Jews in the ghetto being murdered. Which term best characterizes her emotions at this time?
The author differentiates between the original families in the bunker, and the Steckels. Beck hid the other families out of kindness and concern, but he hides the Steckels in order to gain money. Do you think this reflects badly on Beck? Or could there be a benevolent reason for his actions?
The author includes the story about the Nazis and their promises of food to the remaining Jews in the ghetto as a means of luring them out of hiding in order to convey the Nazis cannot be trusted. Which of the following statements can be a possible warrant based on the account?
When the author describes the cobblestone streets that were once a symbol of peace and unity, she states, "blood washed down these same cobblestone streets." Do you think she means this literally or figuratively?
The murder of the little baby Moshele is evidence or grounds that support which claim?
The metaphor used in highlighted excerpt is used to demonstrate how important the differentiation between knocks was for the author and her family. They had to prepare for anything to happen at anytime; the knocks were that essential to their survival.
Which excerpt from the text illustrates Beck's true character?
Can you imagine being four years old and not knowing where your mother is? Having your head shaved? Not knowing whose house you were in? The children's ordeal is almost more horrific than the adult's because they cannot take care of themselves and do not know a life when they were not hunted. The author's inclusion of the children's account is an example of pathos. Pathos is an appeal to the audience's emotions. View the video before to learn about the three appeals: ethos, pathos, and logos. (This annotation contains a video)
The author notes that before anyone could protest the children's presence in the bunker, Beck states, "If God brought them here, who is Beck to turn them away?" Which theme does this illustrate?
The author includes details about their daily lives that reminds you that the children are still children. Though they must endure hell on earth, they are still scared, mischievous, and innocent.
How does the presence of the Steckels change the mood in the bunker?
When Mania admits that she is glad the author and she did not go and live with the nuns, she exemplifies the theme of family and supports the author's claim that her family allowed her to persevere.
In the moment Mania escapes out of the bunker, what decision is the author's father forced to make?
When Zosia is brought to Mr. Beck's home, she is inconsolable because she is afraid and without her mother. Now the author's mother is near hysterics because she is missing her daughter. This illustrates how strong their family bonds are.
Throughout the text, the author relays countless deaths that she witnesses or is connected to through family, friends, or geography. Death is a motif in the text and helps to develop the themes of loss, faith, family, and man's inhumanity to man. The unwarranted and brutal deaths also help to support the author's claims that the Nazis were brutal and dehumanized their victims. Click on the video clip below to review the definition of motif. (This annotation contains a video)
What does the incident between Beck, the SS, and Stegfaniuk illustrate about the environment during the Nazi occupation?
As Beck tells the story of Mania's capture and death, the narrator describes his eyes as "red-rimmed." What does this indicate about Beck?
It is ironic that the author contends that her family is paramount to her, but when her sister was captured she prayed for her survival and prayed she wouldn't betray them. If you were to evaluate her argument that her family is what helped her to persevere, you may be critical of this admission.
Throughout the text, the author includes anecdotes about betrayal. First, it is neighbors betraying one another to the Russians, then denying assistance to Jewish friends when they asked to be hidden from the Nazis, and even Mania suffered a betrayal from a classmate. Betrayal is an example of which literary device?
The author presents a very clear image of Mr. Beck; she does not simply portray him as a savior of her family. Do you think this may be grounds for a rebuttal to any of the author's claims? Do you think this weakens any of her claims?
The helpless and the powerlessness the author feels when Julia and Mr. Beck are unsettled. What does this reveal about Julia's role in their survival?
Beck's behavior and responses to the SS and other Nazi soldiers is considered brazen by the families in the bunker. But the author also intimates that his casual interactions may be the reason why no one is suspicious of Beck. He appears to be so committed to the Nazi cause and so frank that they would never suspect him of hiding Jewish families.
The author's mother demonstrates a lapse in her faith when she says, "We're in God's hands and He doesn't even know we're there." Do you believe she is justified for her belief? Use textual evidence to support your response.
On one hand, you could argue that Beck was an unstable individual and could not be trusted. But on the other hand, Beck is risking his life and the lives of his wife and daughter in order to save the lives of the Jewish families in the bunker. This is an important factor to consider when you develop the characterization of Beck. Do you think he is a static or dynamic character? For more information about the terms, please view the video below. (This annotation contains a video)
The author admits that she doesn't know if she would risk her life for the Becks if the situation was reversed. If you were critical of her arguments and claims about her loyalty to her family, which element of argument could you form with use her admission?
The author's journal is grounds to support her claim that it is for her family that she persevered. This excerpt also illustrates how the author feels it is necessary to share her story for her future family. They must know so the past will not be forgotten.
Though the other families did not want to have small children in the bunker, Zygush is a source of
Yom Kippur is considered the most important and holiest day of the Jewish year. For more information about the holiday, please click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
Though Zygush is a source of humor and a distraction from the somberness of the war, when he is told that they will not have chicken for the holiday, he "knew enough not to argue or beg or complain." What type of character is Zygush?
Acting as a rabbi, the author's father explains that Yom Kippur is the day where "Jews masquerade as pious Jews." What do you think he means by this? Read the information about the Kol Nidre provided in the link below to help you formulate an answer. (This annotation contains a link)
Though they are in hiding because they are Jewish, the families in the bunker continue to pray and celebrate their high holy days. What theme does this illustrate?
As the author thinks about her sister when the adults say prayers for their deceased parents, she is drawn out of her own loss to feel pity and sympathy for her young cousin who is realizing his mother is dead. This illustrates the theme of family and how the familial connections compel the author to survive. This scene also illustrates the theme of loss. Though Zygush lost his mother many days before, he is experiencing the loss for the first time. He is now an orphan.
What do the books that Zygush and the author read symbolize?
The highlighted statement is an example of which literary device?
Julia's account of hangings of partisans and the deportation of a woman who was a converted Catholic and attended mass every day of her life illustrate the theme of man's inhumanity to man. This is also grounds to support the author's claim that the Nazis were brutal and did not discriminate in their attempts to eradicate the Jewish people from Poland. If they believed you were Jewish or were a Jewish sympathizer, you would not be spared.
In order to protect Beck and ultimately themselves, Mr. Patrontasch writes an apology letter for Beck to deliver to his Nazi boss Mr. Von Pappan. This is an example of which literary device?
Do you find it difficult to like Beck? Or do you admire him for the risk he endures to save the author, her family, and the other families hiding in the bunker?
When the author's father mentions that "since the children came to live with us... we don't have as much sleeping room," the author declares this statement as "the spark." What does this imply about the mood in the bunker?
Beck's ability to lie so well to the Nazis and pretend to be a devout anti-Semite sends fear and terror throughout the families in the basement. It is as if he could easily turn on the families and would be happy to see them die. How do you know this isn't the case? What would happen if Beck admitted to the SS that he was hiding Jewish families?
Even though Mania is dead, the author says, "If Mania were here, she wouldn't let this happen." This is __________ for the claim that family propels the author to survive.
The contemplation of suicide is another example of the motif of death. There is not a moment that goes while the author is in hiding that she is not surrounded by death.
Throughout the text, the author gives examples of how people suffered and lost pieces of their lives: their homes, their belonging, and their families. Throughout all of the loss, what does the author demonstrate she and her family are able to do when they are desperate to survive?
The author contends that the families in the bunker "had become animals." The warrant you can infer from this statement and the claim that the Nazis dehumanized the Jewish people is that the Nazis victims were not solely murdered or sent to concentration camps. All the Jewish people were victims of the Nazi regime.
Do you believe Julia when she yells, "They can all starve!" Use textual evidence to support your response.
In order to keep Zosia quiet, Mr. Patrontasch smothers her. This indicates the panic and fear that they all have when they believe that the child will expose them all.
The highlighted passage illustrates which theme?
The author states, "There was not a trace of pity in [Beck's] voice, ever." She is not implying that Beck did not empathize with their situation; she is implying that Beck supported the family because he wanted to and not because he felt obligated to. This is meant to develop Beck's image as a benevolent and selfless character.
The author includes the anecdote about the toilet clogging in order to convey what about her time in hiding?
For the first time in the text, the author expresses her wish for revenge. This conveys how the author is a dynamic character. Her time surviving the war is changing her in unexpected ways.
The author includes details about the constant threat that the Becks may leave - either by choice or by force- to convey what about the mood in the bunker?
There are so many times when the families in the bunker could be discovered. Clara and the other inhabitants of the bunker are fortunate; they are never discovered. Consider the fate of another famous holocaust author: Anne Frank. She and her family are betrayed and Anne dies in Bergen-Belsen in 1945 at the age of 15.
Do you think the families in the bunker could survive without one of the Becks? How do each of the Becks play a role in their survival? Use the textual evidence to support your answer.
When the author thinks about Beck's contention that the people in the bunker were not a formidable force, she thinks, "It was a crazy idea. I didn't have a gun. I had a spoon, a fork, and an enamel plate." What tone does she think this idea?
The constant bickering of the Becks and the poor choices Beck makes remind the reader that he is human. This juxtaposition of Beck's sins highlights his virtues. You wouldn't expect a person with poor moral character to be a savior. This implies his intentions are genuine and not selfish.
Julia Beck is a unique character. She is considered a static character because she never fails to assist those who depend on her. She is steadfast and faithful. Which of the following quotes best describes Julia's faith and its role in her decision to help the families in the bunker?
Beck is aware that revealing the bunker's inhabitants to anyone is a risk of all of their lives. What appeal does he use in order to convince his sister-in-law that no one must ever know they are hidden there?
The highlighted statement is important because it illustrates the symbiotic relationship that developed between the Becks and the families in the bunker. The author also admits the guilt she feels about hindering their lives so much.
The author states that "To give in now would desecrate [Mania's] memory." Which claim does this support?
The author illustrates that without the labels of "Nazi" and "Jew" the soldiers and the families they hunt are not different. Though she doesn't want to be captivated by Norbert's singing abilities, she is.
The author lists the series of events that occurs when the families in the bunker feel threatened that they will be discovered, and then she states, "At least we had light this morning." What does her last statement indicate?
The author's life is not something she enjoys any longer; she makes decisions based on survival and necessity. Some may argue that she is not living, but she endures because of her family and her sister's memory.
The author compares Ala to her sister Mania. She, too, is begging her father to leave to insure their survival. Do you think your parents would risk your lives for strangers? Why or why not?
Beck's courage and his character is similar to another man who risked his wealth, business, reputation, and life to save some of the Jewish people. Oscar Schindler's actions inspired the film "Schindler's List." Click on the link below to read a letter from the 1200 Jewish people Schindler help save during World War II. (This annotation contains a link)
What claim does Norbert's assertion that "a bullet is too damn good for a Jew. Much better just to hack them to pieces" support?
Even when Julia is facing Ukranian police, she does not waver. This is evidence that she is a strong and good woman who is dedicated to those who are in the bunker.
Because of Hans the Nazi soldier who brags about killing Jewish people that the Jewish families are saved. This is an example of which literary device?
Though Beck's ways of handling the Nazis and the Ukrainian police may not be understood by the author, he knows that the way to prevent people from believing rumors that Beck is hiding Jews is to appear as transparent as possible.
The video below illustrates the German geographic gains and losses during WWII. It may help you understand what a "second front" refers to in the text. (This annotation contains a video)
Do you think that the author's belief that she and the inhabitants of the bunker "might be the only" Jewish people left in Europe an example of hyperbole? Or is she simply stating her belief based on what she knows? Use textual and historical evidence to support your response.
The author and her family are not the same without Mania, but they persevere because of Mania's memory. Similarly, Beck is not the same without his wife and daughter. This illustrates the author's central claim and the theme of family.
When the families in the bunker believe something could have happened to Beck, only Klara and the author are willing to risk their lives to save Beck. What does this reveal about the men and women in the bunker? Can you judge them by their choice? Or are they justified in choosing to survive?
The author realizes that the Nazi soldiers that were living in the Beck's home knew of the bunker and it inhabitants and chose to save them. This evidence could be used to form which element of argument?
The author relays that the retreating Nazis sought refuge in the Beck's home. As a result, the Jewish people were listening to "Nazi HQ upstairs." This is an example of which type of irony?
It is ironic that the Jewish people are saved by the Russians. Earlier in the text, it is the Russian invasion that begins the arduous journey that the author and her family must endure.
Below is a short video clip of an interview with the author. She explains life after the Nazis were driven from her town and why Beck saved her and her family. (This annotation contains a video)
Though the Nazis are no longer in control of the town and the families are safe under Russian control, all of the following terms describe the mood of the author's house in the days following their liberation except
The illness the author's mother endures after surviving 18 months in hiding was not unusual for victims of the Holocaust. In his memoir Night, Elie Wiesel describes how after his liberation by the American forces, he spent about a week in the hospital suffering from intestinal issues.
What does the author imply when she says, "The 50 of us clung together as if we were in a life raft in the middle of the ocean"?
The story of Zygush's disappearance reveals a real fear and anxiety that the author experiences after the war. If she were living in the second half of the twentieth century, it may be referred to as Post-traumatic stress disorder. For more information about PTSD, click on the link below. (This annotation contains a link)
What warrant can you infer from the author's description of their home following her mother's recovery and life under Russian rule?
It is ironic that people like the Becks, who had risked so much to save the Jewish families in their town were now considered traitors. This is the opportunity that the families have to repay the Beck's kindness, generosity, and love. This illustrates the theme of family.
Throughout the text the author provides examples of fate on the side of her and her family. This is an example of another motif. Provide three examples of fate throughout the text, and describe which theme or themes this motif helps to develop.
When faced with the Russian guards, the author states, "You can shoot me if you want to. But I have to see [the party secretary]." She illustrates that she is willing to risk her life for the Becks. This demonstrates their familial bond.
Though the secretary never reveals what he will do about the Becks, a few days later, the Becks are on the author's doorstep. Which of the following adages illustrates what the author is trying to convey about humanity ith this anecdote?
The author contends that there was no logical reason for their survival. After reading the text, do you agree or disagree?
Displaced persons camps were a lifeline to survivors of the Holocaust. Families would seek one another out at these camps. The link below provides more information and photographs of people at these camps. (This annotation contains a link)
The author's survival and proliferation of her family is backing for the warrant that humanity prevails despite the efforts of others to eradicate the Jews from the earth.
The author describes Ala, Zygush, and Zosia as her family. They "had been brought together in a crucible and had become one." This illustrates the theme of family and supports her claim that family helps you persevere.