WeWriWa—Unexpected friends

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet starts the second scene in the fourth section of Chapter 18 of The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees. During the pandemonium which broke out during a fight at night, 18-year-old Emánuel Karfinkel and 17-year-old Adrián Fridman were able to escape.

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Boubínský Prales in the Bohemian Forest, Copyright Chmee2

Adrián collapsed in Boubínský Prales, several meters from three armed young men in dark brown clothes.  Emánuel stopped and put his hands up.

“Don’t shoot!  We’ll do whatever you demand, so long as you don’t shoot us for escaping!”

“We’re not Germans,” the tallest young man said. “We’re Czech partisans on night patrol in Šumava.  No one’s going to shoot you for escaping God knows what.  We’ll take you to a safe house.”

“Where are you fellows from?” the shortest partisan asked. “I can tell that’s not a Czech accent.”

WeWriWa—The fracas begins

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet immediately follows last week’s, as tensions ran high among a group of friends pushed to the breaking point after nine months of Nazi captivity. Four of them have kept their humanity and hope, while the other three are devolving into animals and turning on their old buddies.

Muselmann is the German word for a Muslim, but it was used in the camps to refer to a totally emaciated, zombie-like person.

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Boubínský Prales, the site of this scene, in more peaceful times. Copyright Chmee2

Several feet away, Gáspár spied a motionless Muselmann.  Without wasting a second, he leapt on the fresh corpse and began pulling off his clothes, shoes, and blanket.  Gáspár laughed maniacally when he found a partly-molded chunk of bread on a string around the dead man’s neck.

Adalbert’s sunken eyes blazed. “Hey, you have bread!  Give it to me now!”

Gáspár took a big bite, and in the next moment, both Adalbert and Ágoston leapt on him.  Several other prisoners joined in the fight, while many of the others cheered on their friends.

“Look what animals they’ve let themselves become,” Adrián said. “They never would’ve behaved so uncivilly nine months ago.”

WeWriWa—A night in the Bohemian Forest

In loving memory of my maternal grandpap, who left the material world 13 January 2017.

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week, I’m starting a scene from Part II of The Strongest Branches of Uprooted Trees, which is my now primary WIP.

This opens the fourth section of Chapter 18, “On the Move Again.” It’s now late February 1945, the eve of Purim. Four of the boys have held onto their humanity and friendship, but the other three have become very cynical and animalistic. As bitter and angry as 15-year-old Kálmán has become, he still thinks of himself as a human being, and lives for revenge.

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View into the Bohemian Forest, Copyright DeutscherAar

The seven remaining boys had lost track of how long they’d been trudging away on the road, though one of the religious men keeping a calendar said it was Ta’anit Esther.  This year, just about everyone kept the fast through default, since there was barely any food distributed for anyone.

“This is the coldest winter I can remember.” Kálmán pulled his worn-out coat and blanket from Jawischowitz tighter around himself as they huddled in that night’s encampment by the Bohemian Forest. “I wish those stingy, murderous bastards had given us furs and down comforters.”

“I’m thinking again of escaping,” Adrián said. “Thank God we’re in Czechoslovakia, so the natives will be good to us.  The Czechs are modern, enlightened people, not a pack of anti-Semites.”

Kálmán grunted. “Obviously not enough of them are like that, or else their country wouldn’t have been occupied and their Jewish community wouldn’t have been deported.”

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The Bohemian Forest is a large mountain range on the Czech–German border, with lots of historic landmarks, skiing resorts, protected forests, and spas. It’s called Böhmerwald in German, and Šumava in its native Czech.