What is a summary of Alicia: My Story by Alicia Appleman-Jurman?

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Tamara K. H. | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Alicia: My Story is a memoir by Jewish-American author Alicia Appleman-Jurman, born in Poland, concerning her personal experiences during the Holocaust.

Alicia, called Ada in her childhood, was comfortably raised as the only daughter of a Jewish owner of a fabric business in Buczacz, Poland, a small town with a Jewish community comprising one-third of the population. However, all comfort ceased when the Nazis invaded Poland, eventually leading to the deaths of all her family members, except for herself. The first member of her family of six to go missing was her father, who left the house one day to register at the police station. He and 600 other prominent Jewish businessmen disappeared that day. It was not until 1967 that she learned all 600 had been murdered that day en masse. Soon after her father's murder, her remaining family and all other Jewish residents were relocated to a ghetto. The next member of her family to disappear was her middle brother Bunio, who, while out gathering wood for the stove, was rounded up with other strong, young boys and sent to the labor camp Borki Wielki. Bunio was later shot as punishment when one of the boys tried to escape. Next, on a day when young Alicia was spending time with a doctor and his daughters, who were family friends, Alicia along with other women and children, including her youngest brother Herzl, were rounded up and put on a freight train to be taken to a concentration camp, but Alicia managed to escape and return to her ghetto home when she and a few other children were pushed out the train's window. However, Herzl was unfortunately not among those to escape. Later, SS officers began raiding Jewish homes, forcing Alicia, her family, and any remaining citizens to hide in attics and bunkers. It was during one of these moments in hiding that she witnessed SS soldiers murder a newborn baby. Soon after, her one remaining and eldest brother, Zachary, was executed for leading a resistance movement.

With all three brothers gone, Alicia and her mother ran from the town and took to hiding in the forests and ravines. They also traveled from village to village, disguised as either Poles or Ukrainians, and acquired work on farms for bread and sour milk. Their greatest saving grace happened when they were taken into hiding by a recluse, where they remained until the Russians invaded Buczacz, freeing the Jews. However, the story of horror started up again when the Germans again took Buczacz, and this time, Alicia and her mother were rounded up by a firing squad. Though Alicia managed to escape, her mother did not.

When the Russians began trying to recapture Poland, Alicia proved the strength of her courage by freeing Russian soldiers from a German prison. The Russians awarded her with documents that allowed her to travel with more safety through Poland. She even started her own orphanage for Jewish children. By the time she was 14, the war was over, and she then became involved in illegally helping Jews escape to Israel. After more trials and tribulations, she herself eventually made her way to Israel, where she met and married an American soldier, who brought her to America.

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