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Child of the Holocaust: A Jewish Child in Christian Disguise – Jack Kuper

March 21, 2016

COTHKuper was born in Poland in 1932.

When he got home he couldn’t find his parents and he wondered where they could be hiding like the attic, the cellar, or under the bed.

While pretending to be a Christian orphan, he found it difficult to hide his identity because he’d been circumcised.

He asks: Why did God create Jews and why are we different?

Why do boys get circumcised? The Germans can tell who we are easily.

Why doesn’t God answer our prayers?

He swallows the anti-Semitism of the time, that the Jews killed Jesus, that they kill Christian boys to make into matzah mean – you can tell by looking at the brown bits – that’s their blood.

He has to cope with scabies and bed-wetting and, like the prodigal son, he eats pigswill.

COTH 2On one occasion he is with the other village children and they decide to play the game Jew – like hide and seek where only one person hides and the others try and find him and when they catch him they say pretty nasty things like, “Hand up you dirty Jew!”

During one summer Kuper was resistant to swim with his friends. He was so nervous of his identity being revealed he considered putting a piece of chicken skin over his penis. Despite his avoidance he was coerced on the hottest day of the year to go swimming. He covered himself with one of his hands, and dived with one arm. When confronted by the other boys why he was cupping his genitals, he had come up with a clever excuse. He told them that a priest said if he didn’t cover up that his penis would fall off. When the young boys questioned him he asked, “Have you ever seen Jesus’ dick?” From that point on all the boys started to cover up their genitals and dive one armed when they went swimming.

COTH 3The Poles were notable for their anti-Semitism but the author encountered many kind poles who risked their lives to help him.

He escaped to Canada in 1946

I had to look up ‘naphtha’ = petrol.

“Some of these things are pleasant thoughts, are religious thoughts of forgiveness and turn the other cheek, but my experience is that it doesn’t have a place in it. What I got out of the entire experience is that man is very vulnerable, that the world is not a pleasant place. Watch out. Don’t turn the other cheek; don’t be meek, like we were. Don’t go like sheep into the gas chamber. By all means, carry the Ten Commandments in one arm, but carry a gun in the other. Because there are animals in this jungle. And the world is a jungle… That’s what I got out of the experience, not to let them to do it again.”

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From → Biography

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