The Puppet Boy of Warsaw
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I was twelve when the coat was made. Nathan, our tailor and dear friend, cut it for Grandfather in the first week of March 1938. It was the last week of freedom for Warsaw and for us... Even in the most difficult of lives, there is hope. And sometimes that hope comes in the form of a small boy, armed with a troupe of puppets - a prince, a girl, a fool, a crocodile with half-painted teeth....
When Mika's grandfather dies in the Warsaw ghetto, he inherits not only his great coat, but its treasure trove of secrets. In one remote pocket, he finds a papier mache head, a scrap of cloth...the prince. And what better way to cheer the cousin who has lost her father, the little boy who his ill, the neighbours living in one cramped room, than a puppet show? Soon the whole ghetto is talking about the puppet boy - until the day when Mika is stopped by a German officer and is forced into a secret life...
This is a story about survival. It is an epic journey, spanning continents and generations, from Warsaw to the gulags of Siberia, and two lives that intertwine amid the chaos of war. Because even in wartime, there is hope...he Puppet Boy of Warsaw is the story of Mika, a Jewish boy who inherits a coat from his grandfather and discovers a puppet in one of its many secret pockets. He becomes a puppeteer in the Warsaw ghetto, but when his talent is discovered, Mika is forced to entertain the occupying German troops instead of his countrymen.
. He’s gone. He died in the night. I didn’t want to wake you.’ She turned away and put her head in her hands. It would have been his birthday next week. There were no sounds from the kitchen. ‘What is happening, Mika? What are they doing to us?’ I stayed silent – there was nothing I could possibly say. I wanted to see Ellie, comfort her, hold her hand, and yet I dreaded it too. She must have been with Paul, right beside him, all through his last night. They slept on field beds next to each
much more. Our fierce resistance had caused the Germans losses and huge embarrassment and many of us still hid in bunkers, although we knew we couldn’t survive much longer in these conditions. The Germans cut the water supply so our choice was to die of thirst, be gassed or shot. But I cannot speak of the very end: I didn’t stay. Many decided to go on fighting, carrying a capsule of cyanide or a last bullet for themselves. Maybe I was just not brave enough. I didn’t want to die like a cornered
never saw any of her close family again and was brought up by a distant great-aunt in a small apartment in Queens. ‘We clung to each other like the lost souls we were and married two years later, but the tragedy of our losses always hung over us. Only when we danced did we feel lighter and truly alive. I had accepted that I would have to earn my living doing menial jobs, but Ruth pierced something in me, and suddenly, as if I could hear Grandfather’s voice telling me I needed to study again, I
crowd as they shuffled inside and assembled in the yard. So this is what the end of the world looks like, Max thought, letting his gaze glide over the huts amid the sea of snow and forest. The men were assigned barracks and allowed to stretch out on the simple hard bunks for a short while. Max slid into sleep as if he had no other thoughts. Loud shouting woke him. ‘Dawai. Outside and all clothes off.’ A round-faced guard dressed in a thick fur coat growled at the men, chasing them out into the
façade of a large church. ‘Ah, now, at least our proud Frauenkirche still looks like it did back then.’ As he neared the church Max saw scaffolding flanking the church on both sides. His heart sank. ‘Our Lady didn’t make it either, then.’ He approached the intricately carved wooden door. ‘Let’s go in.’ He pulled the brass handle and opened the heavy door. Max felt as small and insignificant as a mouse as he entered the majestic cathedral. As he took a few steps into the belly of the church,