WeWriWa—Where are Emánuel and Adrián?

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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, which closed with 18-year-old Adalbert asking their friend Emánuel if he has any fancy psychological mumbo-jumbo to explain their situation now and saying he has to crack sometime.

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Memorial to 200 Hungarian victims of a death march, Copyright Haeferl

“Mani’s not here,” Ágoston said. “I say good riddance.  I hope he stays far away from us from now on.”

Kálmán looked around, his heart racing faster and faster as he failed to find Emánuel anywhere.  Adrián had also disappeared.

“Why didn’t you tell us!  We could’ve already buried both of them, and didn’t get a chance to say our goodbyes!”

Adalbert grunted. “I grew to hate both of them.  It’s every man for himself now, and long past the time when we could’ve carried on like normal human beings.”

WeWriWa—Giving up isn’t an option

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Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when 15-year-old Kálmán and his friends were forced to start digging graves for attempted escapees and prisoners who were shot while a fight was broken up.

18-year-old Gáspár laments how he couldn’t be one of the corpses going into a grave, while Kálmán can’t wait to turn the tables and dig the graves of their enemies.

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“It’s how the Germans’ minds work,” Ágoston said. “They only kill us when we want to live.  No matter how much we demonstrate having given up, even point-blank asking to be shot, we’re not allowed to die.  It gives the Nazis more sadistic pleasure to keep us alive when we want to die.”

Kálmán’s shovel finally made a dent in the hard ground. “The Germans want us to give up.  We can’t give them that foul satisfaction.”

“Do you have some fancy mumbo-jumbo to explain this now, Karfinkel?” Adalbert asked. “You’ve got to crack sometime.”

WeWriWa—Thick tensions

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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, when the seven remaining young men in a group of friends from Abony, Hungary were encamped by the Bohemian Forest in late February 1945.

Tensions among them have been running higher and higher since they left the mining camp Jawischowitz about a month ago. Four of the boys are determined to survive, while the other three have completely given up hope and turned on their friends.

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View from Boubínský Prales, the specific location of the scene. Copyright Chmee2

Emánuel coughed his deep, hacking cough. “When we’re free, we can discuss all the reasons for this mass madness in detail.  There are so many complex reasons behind it, which didn’t arise overnight or in a vacuum.  I’m more than guilty of being a terrified bystander too.  I was too afraid to fight back or disobey those hateful laws, and now look what’s happened to us.”

Ágoston sneered at him. “You’re still talking like some pampered intellectual sitting in his ivory tower, out of touch with reality!  You should care more about a slice of bread and better shoes than abstract psychological theories!”

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Emánuel Karfinkel wasn’t originally slated to survive, but I came to realize I’d killed off WAY too many people for no other reason than to try to drive home the devastating impact of the Shoah in Hungary. I also wanted to show cruel reality in contrast to the miraculous survival and escapes of almost all of my Polish characters.

After I took this book out of hiatus and turned an unrealistically long monologue into a flashback Part II (modelled after the flashback chapters in Leon Uris’s Exodus, which are an integral part of the narrative), I decided to save more people. I always had a soft spot for Emánuel, and wanted him to live. To keep the main narrative focused on the original core cast, the characters I rescued survive separately, and don’t immediately link back up with the others.

Emánuel was on track to go to the Liszt Academy in Budapest, and dreams of playing violin in a national symphony orchestra someday. Since working in a coal mine for several months, he’s picked up a cough his friends suspect is tuberculosis or another lung disease.