This is the story of one boy's journey from an ordinary childhood in a European middle-class family into an alien world of terror and persecution where fear and violence reigned. Millions had to perish before Germany was defeated and the Continent could return to sanity.
The Nazis' rise to power had transformed occupied Europe into a hostile environment where life for Jews had become a living hell. Suddenly, old relationships had been swept aside as neighbours and friends had suddenly become enemies and would-be persecutors. Survival now depended on learning new skills and sharpening newly acquired instincts. The margin between freedom and incarceration was often minute. Under such a brutally repressive regime life became dependent on quick thinking and adjustment to every new situation. Living on the razor's edge those instincts soon become second nature, and with it new, hitherto unsuspected abilities to cope. With familiarity and increasing self-confidence it was inevitable that some bravado could also creep in. How else could such escapades as earning money in the epicenter of the Nazi war machine - a German Army HQ in occupied Budapest be explained? .
Also described are the realities of life under continuous bombardment, from the air and by artillery, in a city laid waste and under siege where one was continually in danger, hungry and cold. To alleviate that hunger it became necessary to find food from unusual sources such as cutting flesh from army horses killed in the shelling and drinking melted snow. Everything had its uses and was recycled: even shoe polish could be used as a substitute for candles for lighting up a dark cellar in a ruined city where electricity, gas and water supplies as well as all the amenities of modern life were but a distant memory. The siege of Budapest ended with liberation by the Red Army and the realization of the terrible cost in human terms - especially that of Jews - of the Nazi regime.
Starting a new life in England and a return to normalcy, concentrating on integration and education; preparing for a worthwhile career in a free and happy environment bring the story full circle. It shows that trauma need not necessarily be injurious but can also have a positive effect that leads to a greater appreciation of life and acts as a stimulant for achievement.
Service in the British army, immigration to Israel and serving in the Israeli army as well as creating a family and a career conclude the narrative.
Originally this memoir was intended for my children, but as it took shape I felt it could be of interest to the general reader who may wish to look at this cataclysmic era as seen through the eyes of a child.