Torah by Adrienne


By Adrienne Willis

Rating: PG -- Much angst, some intense portrayals of concentration camps
Sequel: Sequel to “Liturgy”
Summary: Wilhelm’s lessons with Darius bring back memories of his childhood, the forces that shaped him and the horrible knowledge that he has gained.

Characters: Darius, Grayson, Wilhelm Friedrich (Original character); some other original characters: Brother Philippe, Brother Luke, Father Francois Lumiere, Gerald Friedrich, Constanze Friedrich, Otto Friedrich, Eli Handelman, Hannah Handelman and Daniel Cohen

Disclaimer: Darius and the Highlander concepts belong to Panzar/Davis. No profit involved. Wilhelm Friedrich is mine.

Acknowledgment: I’d like to thank my friends Shomeret and Tirnanog for their help and support. And Ammaletu and Petra for their invaluable help with German words, history and customs.

Pictures courtesy of

Comments: Well, I’m back. For those of you who liked Heritage and Liturgy and were eagerly awaiting a sequel, hope you find this meaningful.

As you might have guessed I’ve been doing more study and research. Some have commented that my stories have too much info and not enough action. I’ve tried to add more action, but the info is still there. Wait until you see the Notes section! If too much info bores any of you, you can skip the notes, but I hope you’ll take a look. You’d be surprised how many fascinating historic details are out there that most people don’t have a clue about!

I’m a firm believer that stories should not only entertain, but educate. Before we can see where we’re going, we need first to know where we’ve been. And if we don’t learn from the mistakes of the past, we’ll only repeat them.

I won’t say that I hope you enjoy this story. Many of the subjects that it deals with are anything but enjoyable. But I hope that this story does move you and makes you think.

Feedback: Yes, please!! I live for feedback!!!

St. Joseph’s: France
Monday September 17, 1945
10:45 A.M

Father Francois Lumiere made his way towards St Joseph’s kitchens. Le Petit dejeuner period was over, but his stomach still felt a tad empty and he had decided to see if he could get one more cup of tea. No doubt Brother Luke, always eager to demonstrate his skills with food and drink, would be happy to oblige him.

cuppa tea

When he arrived, he saw that Brother Luke wasn't the only one in the room. There were three others; the friary's Infirmirian, Brother Phillipe, Father Darius, a Parisian priest, who like him was on a leave of absence, and a young refugee who, from what he had been told, had been staying at the friary since early July.

He couldn’t remember the youth’s name off hand, but he knew that he was either from Germany or Austria. The Guardian had informed him that the young man had endured great suffering during the War and was to be treated with utmost sensitivity and gentleness. He had only seen him once or twice since arriving at the friary the week before. But he knew that the youth was seldom far from Darius’s side.

Just now the youth was sitting at the kitchen table, sipping a cup of tea, while the other brothers stood around him, talking quietly.

“Bonjour, Frères,” Francois stated brightly as he stepped into the room.

Luke, Philippe and Darius all looked up from their conversation and nodded in greeting. The youth briefly glanced up then returned his attention to his tea.

“Bonjour, Frère Francois,” Luke said with a smile. “What’s the matter? You just couldn’t quite drag yourself away from my cooking?”

“Well, they do say that you're the ‘Ruler of the Kitchen’ and that your food is the crème de la crème.

“Brother, please,” Luke chucked. You know that a flattering tongue works ruin!”

Francois turned to the youth who was still slowly sipping his tea. “Bonjour, Monsieur.”

The youth slowly looked up and Francois was immediately struck by his eyes. They were a striking blue, as deep as an ocean and ...sad, very sad, even old. He had to be in his early twenties, but his eyes were the eyes of an old man.

A very sad old man.

“Good morning, Father,” the young man said softy.

“Ah, you understand French?”

The youth nodded. “Yes. At school it was required that we learn another language. I know some French and a little English and Dutch.”

“Well I don’t believe we’ve been introduced. I’m Francois Lumiere. And who do I have the pleasure?”

“My name is Wilhelm Friedrich, Father Francois.”

“Delighted to meet you, Wilhelm. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better.”

“Thank you.”

Francois nodded at the cup in Wilhelm’s hands. “If I may ask, what’s that you’re drinking?”

The youth took another slow sip before answering. “Father Darius brewed it for me. He said that it has a lot of Vitamin C.”

“Well, Vitamin C is good,” Francois agreed. He turned to Darius “Do you mind if I have a cup, Brother Darius? The brethren say that you’re somewhat of an expert on tea, although I’ve never had the pleasure of sampling any myself.”

Darius smiled and nodded. “Help yourself. It’s one of my favorite blends.”

Not needing any more urging, Francois poured some of the tea into one of the extra cups on the table, took a big swallow-and struggled to keep from gagging. The tea tasted like it was made of socks!

“Would you like some sugar with that?” Darius asked innocently.

“Yes, if you please.” Francois scooped several spoonfuls into his cup and found to his dismay that it did nothing to improve the taste.

“What sort of tea is this?” he asked politely, certain that he didn’t want to know.

“It’s one of my own blends,” Darius said in full seriousness. “It’s mostly made up of arctic reindeer moss. As I told Wilhelm, it has a lot of Vitamin C in it, it’s very healthy.”

“I see.” Francois bravely tried another tiny sip, although he had to struggle to keep from spitting the horrible tasting liquid out.

The other friars had been watching with broad grins on their faces. Now they finally lost it and burst into hearty laughs. Darius chuckled as well. “I think it needs a chaser, don’t you? Perhaps you could get him some apple juice, Brother Luke?”

“I believe so, Brother Darius,” Luke said with a wide grin as he headed toward the kitchen cellar.

Philippe clapped Francois on the shoulder. “Don’t feel bad, Brother. Brother Darius has pulled that same prank on practically everyone he knows! Most of his teas are actually quite good.”

“I certainly hope so!” Francois chuckled.

Brother Philippe turned his attention to Wilhelm. During the entire exchange with Francois, the youth hadn’t laughed or so much as changed expression. He had simply sat and watched. Afterwards he had quietly poured another cupful of the moss tea and had once again began to slowly sip it...again never changing expression.

“Wilhelm,” Philippe said with a gentle smile. “You’re the only one I know who doesn’t seem to mind Darius’s ‘special’ blends.”

“It’s not all that bad, Brother Philippe,” the youth said quietly.

“Not all that bad?” Philippe’s smile grew wider “Are you sure we’re talking about the same tea here?”

“Yes.” The Austrian took another long sip. “And as I’ve said, it’s not all that bad.” He slowly put the cup down and a haunted, far away look came over his eyes “I’ve tasted worse.”

Auschwitz: Poland
September 17, 1944

barbed wire

“Wilhelm, when are they going to give us water? Daniel murmured. “I’m thirsty.”

Wilhelm sighed and squeezed the twelve-year old’s hand. “I know. It may be September, but the weather here has been very hot lately.”

He looked at his companion. Daniel’s lips were cracked and his tongue looked whitish. “But when are they going to give us water?” the boy asked again.

So new to all of this, Wilhelm thought. So new to the horror. He’s already seen too much.

Daniel and his family had arrived at the camp yesterday. When they had arrived the men and women had been separated, as was standard procedure. His mother and two older sisters had been taken toward the women’s section. Daniel and his father had been herded toward the men’s.

When they had arrived there had been a 'selection.'

Daniel’s family had lived in Germany for over seven generations. His father had fought for Germany during the Great War, had received the Iron Cross for bravery.

But none of that had mattered.

Abraham Cohen had walked with a limp ever since the Great War. From an injury he had received while fighting for the Fatherland.

At the selection the S.S. had glanced at him and then casually motioned for him to go to the left.

Daniel hadn’t gone with him. When they had first gotten off the transport, one of the kapos had asked him how old he was. Daniel had replied that he had just turned twelve, but was tall for his age. The kapo had whispered that from now on he was fifteen.

And so when the S.S. had asked him his age, that was what he said.

The S.S. had motioned for Daniel to go to the right.

His father had gone to the left.

Daniel had never seen him again.

Wilhelm had found him later that evening huddled against a wall crying. Asking over and over where his papa was.

Wilhelm knew. Oh yes, he knew.

The chimneys never stopped smoking.

Day and night you could see the smoke.

Day and night the stench never went away.

He had sat down beside the sobbing boy and put an arm around him. “I’ll take care of you from now on,” he had whispered. “I’ll take care of you.”

And he was determined that he would.

“Prisoners aren’t given water here, Daniel,” he said. “In the morning there’s coffee. In the evening after the role call there’s soup. If you want fluid between those times you have to get if from...other sources.”

“Other sources?’


Wilhelm led him to a large hollow in the ground, filled with dark, murky water.

“What’s this?” Daniel gasped.

“The only source of water here.”

“I can’t drink this!” Daniel’s eyes were wide with horror. “It’s filthy!

“There’s nothing else.” Wilhelm knelt by the water, pulling Daniel down beside him. He took a handful of water and raised it to the boy’s lips.

Daniel looked like he wanted to vomit. Wilhelm doubted that he would, the boy probably hadn’t eaten in a couple of days. “Close your eyes,” he instructed, “and hold your nose.”

Trembling the boy obeyed.

Wilhelm put the water to his lips and the boy managed to gulp it down.

Wilhelm made him take another handful. “That’s enough for now. It’s wise not to drink too much; you might become sick. I have something else for you.”

He reached into his shirt and pulled out a lump of hardened black bread. “This is my bread ration from this morning. Take it.”

Daniel stared at the bread. It looked like a lump of mud and there were things inside it; bits of sand, wood...and glass. He shook his head. “I can’t.”

“You must. There will be nothing else until after evening role call ... and what they give you then won’t look any better.”

“I can’t eat this.”

“Daniel... if you don’t eat, you will die.”

Trembling, Daniel took a bite and immediately started retching.

“I threw up the first time I ate bread like this,” Wilhelm whispered. “But you will learn. We all do.”

St. Joseph’s: France
Wednesday: September 17, 1945
10:30-11:30 P.M.

chapel window

Darius and Wilhelm sat at the table of what had become 'their' workroom. In the weeks since the Austrian had first started getting up and about, he and Darius had established a pattern.

At Saint Joseph’s the work period was two and a half hours. For the first hour or so, they would go to their workroom and polish candlesticks. Wilhelm had insisted upon it; he seemed desperate to not only keep busy, but to do something for the Brothers. “I have to be useful in some way,” he had said.

So they would polish candlesticks and they would talk.

At least it was Darius who did most of the talking; Wilhelm would mostly polish and listen. He clearly enjoyed it when Darius talked, he almost seemed to soak up the priest’s voice. Darius had noticed with satisfaction that during their talks the haunted look would fade slightly from the youth’s eyes.

For a long time Darius had talked about pleasant matters. He talked a lot about gardening, of which Wilhelm was turning out to have a keen interest in. He talked about the different monastic orders and answered Wilhelm’s frequent questions. He talked about the history of St Joseph’s. He talked about some of the people he had known in his parish throughout the years. He talked about some of his favorite teas.

He had not talked about what had been happening in the world over the past few years.

Never that.

He had sensed that it wasn’t time yet. But that time would come-of that he had had no doubt.

The time had come over two weeks ago, during the afternoon work and recreation period. Darius and Wilhelm usually spent that time in the gardens, but it had been raining that day, so instead they had retired to a large room that the Brothers often used to gather in, read and talk.

St. Joseph’s: France
Wednesday September 5, 1945

chess pieces

Five others were using the recreation room. Darius was sitting at a table playing a game of chess with Brother Marcus.

Darius smiled as he watched Marcus trying to decide on a move. Marcus was quite a good player and it had been a while since he had enjoyed a good game.

He briefly glanced over at Wilhelm who was sitting on the sofa reading from his Bible. He had once considered asking Wilhelm if he were interested in chess, but had almost immediately decided against it. Chess was essentially a warlike game and the last thing the young Austrian needed right now was anything warlike.

Brother Andrew had been in another room listening to the friary’s small radio. Abruptly he came into the room where the other Brothers were and told them that the radio had just announced that Germany’s former ally Japan had surrendered.

The war in Europe had been over for months, the war in the Pacific was now over as well.

The Brothers all murmured in gratitude.

Wilhelm though simply froze where he sat.

“Wilhelm?” Darius said softly, his concerned gaze fastened on the Austrian.

Wilhelm slowly put the book down and rose to his feet. Without a word or a glance at anyone, he walked out of the room.

Darius quickly stood up, motioning to the other Brothers that he would handle this, and followed him. Out in the hallway he had found the young Immortal standing and staring into space.

“Wilhelm,” Darius whispered as he gently put a hand on the youth’s shoulder.

Wilhelm stood silently for several moments before slowly turning around. His eyes were wide and haunted, not really seeing Darius, but things before.

“They freed us in April.” he said softly “I didn’t know what day it was, what month it was, what year it was. I...had forgotten about dates, dates didn’t matter. But I heard one of the soldiers say that it was April. A few days later I met Herr MacLeod. He came to help the sick.”

Duncan told me he had been with the British forces, acting as a medic for the Red Cross, Darius thought. He arrived at Belsen on the 24th of April. A day that he will never forget, even if he lives another 353 years.

“Daniel,” Wilhelm murmured, “Daniel was starving and he was so sick. Everyone was sick. They said that we were free...but we were still sick...we were still dying. Many did die. So many died even after they were free.”

He took a deep shuddered breath. “Free...what did that word mean?”

What indeed? Darius thought sadly. After all that you and the others had suffered, how could you possibly understand what it meant to be free?

“Everyone was sick. I was sick. Daniel was sick. He was so weak...the doctors didn’t think that he would live. I never left his side. Besides...” a slightly rueful look crossed his pale but handsome features. “I probably couldn’t have even if I’d wanted to. I was barely strong enough to stand up.”

He was quiet for a few more moments. “When they fed us they didn’t give us much at first. They said that we couldn’t eat too much because our stomachs had shrunk. They said that if we ate too much too could kill us.

“It did kill some. When the soldiers first came, they saw how thin we were, they tried to help us, they gave us some of their own food. We...couldn’t eat it. We became sick...many died.”

Darius closed his eyes. Irony of ironies. Deprived of life giving food for so long. And then when you finally receive kills.

“I didn’t eat at first,” Wilhelm went on. “I gave Daniel my food. I was hungry. But I gave it to him. The doctors, the soldiers... they kept saying that we weren’t prisoners anymore.” Wilhelm paused, “But how were we to know that?”

He swallowed before continuing. “At any moment they might come back. At any moment we might wake up and find was all a dream.”

He shook his head. “I had to make sure Daniel ate. I had to keep him alive. He was the one who had to eat. He was all that mattered. I didn’t matter.”

Wilhelm, Wilhelm...

Herr MacLeod found out that I wasn’t eating. He...he told me that I had to eat. He said that I had to grow stronger. He said that if I stayed weak I wouldn’t be able to help Daniel. He ordered me to eat. So...I ate.”

Darius closed his eyes again. He knew how Wilhelm was when it came to being ordered. The abuse he’d suffered in the camps had conditioned him to obey. If someone told him to do something he would do it. Darius was working hard to break him of that.

The Austrian went on. “About two weeks after we met Herr MacLeod, the soldiers and doctors became excited. They said...they said that Germany had surrendered, that the war was over.

“I didn't really hear them. Daniel was still weak; all I cared about was keeping him alive. That was my purpose.


Darius' eyes snapped open. Purpose. Oh, yes, he knew about purpose. During his warlord days that had been perhaps the core of his being.

It was how he had planned and fought in his countless campaigns. It was what had turned him into a superb warrior. It was what had turned him into a general without peer. And it was what he had drilled into his student Grayson time and time again.

Order, discipline, and purpose- above all purpose.

“Daniel took a turn for the worst. I told him he had to live so that he could have his Bar Mitzvah.” Wilhelm swallowed. “He...began to get better.

“I began to grow stronger as well. I left Daniel’s side one day, Herr Macleod had insisted. He said that he would watch Daniel, he said that I needed to stretch my legs a bit. He told me not to go to far, he would come after me if I did. He needn’t have worried, I was still too weak for that. I left for a few minutes. I went to another room and I...met Eva.”

Ah, I was wondering how the two of you met.

“She was so little. She was ten years old, Father Darius. Only ten and they had sent her to that place. Her mother had died. She had been alone there. She was so sick and weak.” Wilhelm’s voice began to tremble. “She was so little...just like...just like...” His voice broke off and a sob choked in his throat.

Just like who, Wilhelm? Who did she remind you of?

Wilhelm’s trembling grew worse and Darius saw tears forming in his eyes. Quickly he drew the youth to him and held him close. The Austrian leaned against Darius for several moments, shaking. He didn’t sob, but Darius saw his silent tears. In the time he had known the youth this was the third time he had seen him cry.

Oh, Wilhelm, I can see that this is a tale. You’ve been through so much horror. This unnamed one you’re grieving over now stands out in particular.

Finally Wilhelm’s trembling stopped and he slowly stepped back. “I...began to take care of her as well,” he whispered. “I had too.” He swallowed hard.

“She took a bad turn,” he continued. “She almost died. I told her that she had to live. I told her that her parents would have wanted her to live. She whispered that she loved babies. I told her that she had to live so that one day she could have babies of her own.

Wise, Wilhelm. Very wise.

“They kept saying that the war was over, but I didn’t notice. Herr MacLeod... I knew that he was worried. Not about Daniel, or Eva, or any of the others, but me. So many were sick, so many were dying. But he had singled us out. No...he had he singled me out.”

Clever, Wilhelm. You may have been traumatized, , but you weren't blind and certainly not stupid. You knew ... You knew that something was happening.

“The first time we met ... I nearly passed out. I became physically ill ... he had to help me back to my bed. After that I always had headaches when he was around.

Oh yes, you knew.

“But I didn’t care, I ignored it. Headaches didn’t matter. Daniel and Eva were what mattered. They were all that mattered.”

Despite all that had happened, despite all that was still happening, you stayed focused on your goal. You held to your purpose.

“I could sense that Herr MacLeod was watching me. He was watching...always watching. He was worried about me. But he...had much to do. So many others were sick and dying. He needed to help them as well.”

Poor Duncan, Darius thought ruefully. He was already overwhelmed with helping the many sick and dying of Belsen. There where so many, so much work to be done... He told me that sometimes he didn't know day from night.

Then on top of all that, he had to deal with a traumatized newborn Immortal who had two sick, possibly dying children.

He knew that he needed to tell you what had happened, what you where. But he didn’t know how. You had already suffered so much. Being in a death camp. Surrounded by death for who knew how long. Surrounded by death even after you were free. Numb with shock and horror. Frantic with worry about your foster siblings, not even sure if they would live...

No, the last thing you needed to deal with was talk about Immortals and The Game.

“Daniel and Eva were all that mattered. They were all I thought about. I was always at one of their sides. I would sleep at their bedsides.”

Wilhelm paused. “When I slept. When I slept I was...cold. So cold.”

When you slept the nightmares came. Oh you could ignore it while you were awake, focus on the children... But when you slept...

Wilhelm gave a slight shudder. “They...both began to get better. It was almost two months before they were both well enough to travel. I told Herr MacLeod that I was taking them both back to Holland. That was where they were from.

“Daniel hadn’t seen his mother or sisters since they’d arrived at...the other place. When they had arrived the men and women had been separated. They always did that; the men would be sent in one direction and the women in the other. That was always the first selection.

At the word selection, Wilhelm paused and breathed a harsh, almost choking breath. His shudders began again in earnest and Darius had to hold him for several moments before he once again calmed.

“His mother had been a strong woman,” Wilhelm finally continued. “His sisters were both older than him; Deborah was seventeen and Ruth was sixteen. They were both strong and fast and loved sports. Ruth loved to run. Deborah had been a champion swimmer at her school. Their friends had sometimes called them the Amazons.

“Daniel had been the baby of the family. He had never been active or even liked sports. In fact, he had been rather frail when he was younger. Frail and very timid and shy. Once, when he was five, he overheard his sisters saying that he was a shy, little mouse. He went up to them and asked them if he was a mouse. Ruth smiled and said yes, but that he was their little mouse and they wouldn’t change him for the world. That became their pet name for him: weinig muis...little mouse.

“Daniel had never been strong and he had survived. If the little mouse had survived...then surely the Amazons had as well.” Wilhelm took a deep breath. “There was a chance... There had to be.”

“And Eva...Eva had had a large family. She had three aunts, four uncles and several cousins. Many of them had gone into hiding.”

Wilhelm took another breath. “Their families... if there was even a chance that any of them might have... We had to go to Holland...we had to go to Amsterdam and find out. I didn’t know how I'd get them there. But I knew I had to try.”

The Austrian paused again. “Before all I had cared about was keeping Daniel and Eva alive. That had been my purpose. I had a new purpose now; I had to keep them safe and I had to get them home. I had to try, I would try.”

Darius looked into Wilhelm’s eyes and for the first time saw something that was not pain and grief; he saw great strength and determination. This young Immortal was not just a man of deep feeling and deep sorrow, he was a man of iron will. A man who once he had set his course would see it through until the end.

“When I told Herr MacLeod ... he didn't say anything, he just looked at me for a moment. Then he said that he would help us. A few days later he came to us with papers that would help us get to Holland. Then he said that he was coming with us, that he had received his discharge papers. Right away I knew...I knew that he was coming because of me.”

Duncan was worried about you Wilhelm; trying to figure out when and how to tell you what you where. And then you announced to him that you were leaving! He had to do some fast thinking and quick action I’m sure!

“We all set out. Herr MacLeod told us to keep close to him and if we ran into any military personnel to let him do the talking. He told us to stay with him at all times and not go off alone under any circumstances. As we traveled I could tell that he was worried.”

Of course he was. He was traveling with a weakened, traumatized newborn Immortal who didn’t even know what he was yet. And two young children who were every bit as traumatized. You were all walking targets. If a headhunter had come across you...!

Wilhelm once again paused, eyes seeing the past. “Holland really isn’t that far from Germany. Most of the trains didn’t run anymore, the tracks had been destroyed. And the roads...the roads were jammed with people. People who had been in the different...” he swallowed, “people who had lost their homes, people who were just trying to get home.”

Refugees, Darius sighed. Too many refugees. France was fortunate; we had to endure occupation, but we didn’t suffer anywhere quite near as much devastation as some of the other countries.

Towards the end of the occupation when the Allies were pushing back the Germans, Hitler ordered that Paris be burned to the ground before surrendered back to the Allies. The commanding officer however couldn’t bring himself to do that and thus disregarded the order, thank God.

Wilhelm began to tremble again. “Ruins, Father Darius. Everywhere there were ruins. One town we passed through, I had been there once father. There was not one building left standing. Everywhere we went it was ashes and ruins. The Fatherland was in ruins.”

Wilhelm paused again and Darius saw that in spite of everything, Wilhelm still loved Germany. He had considered both Austria and Germany his home and he had loved both of his homelands. He still did.

Wilhelm swallowed. “The Fatherland was in ruins, all of Europe was in ruins. The whole world was in ruins.”

I know about ruins. France didn’t suffer as much during this war, but it has before. Our devastation was during an earlier war. The Great War it was called, ‘The War to end all Wars’. Dear Lord, if only it had.

Most of the fighting occurred right here in this country. By the time the war was over, northern France was in ruins and over million French were dead. I often traveled through that area ministering to the sick and the dying.

A wave of ancient sorrow flooded through the Immortal priest. During my days as a warlord I left behind far too many burned villages. Far too many dead and dying. Oh yes, Wilhelm, I know about ruins.

Darius noticed that Wilhelm was looking at him keenly. “You were playing chess, Father Darius. My grandfather once said that war was just like a giant chess game; a game of skill and strategy. But he was wrong. War is not chess game. War is nothing but death and ruins.”

Wilhelm was quiet for several moments. “They said that the war is over. Is it over, Father Darius? Is the war really over?”

Darius gently squeezed the youth’s shoulder. “Yes, Wilhelm. It’s over.”

Wilhelm was silent for about a minute before he whispered. “How long until the next one, Father Darius? And how much will be in ruins then?”

Wednesday: September 17, 1945

Since that day their conversations had been different. Most of the time Darius still did most of the talking, usually about pleasant subjects.

But a barrier had been breached and subtle permission granted. Every so often other subjects would come up. Every so often small details of Wilhelm’s past would come to light.

11:30-12:30 P.M.

The two men put aside their candlesticks. In the pattern they had established, Darius and Wilhelm spent the first half of the work period on work. The second half was devoted to lessons. Darius had noticed that the Austrian had an avid interest in history and would ask question after question.

Over the past day or so, they had settled on a topic that Wilhelm seemed quite interested in and that Darius had judged to be ‘safe’; the history of writing.

“Before people learned to write, they used symbols and pictures to convey ideas,” Darius explained. “Cave Paintings are examples of this.” his words trailed off as memories swept over him. Memories of another Immortal who had been both his enemy and, incredibly, his mentor.

Emrys ... The name of the ancient Holy Man whose head he had taken so long ago before the gates of Paris. Emrys, who had been the oldest of the Immortals. Emrys, the oldest of the old; Emrys, whose very name meant Immortality.

“I have cared for my people for ages without number,” Emrys had said. It was I who painted the walls on the caves in which we lived, holy pictures to guide my people’s hands in the hunt or their souls to the afterlife.”

He shook himself away from the memories and returned to the lesson. “Real writing was first invented around 4000 B.C. in Mesopotamia, a region in what we now call Iraq. The people who invented writing were called the Sumerians. Their writing was made up of pictures, with one picture for every word. This form of writing is called Pictographs, and simply means ‘Picture writing.’

“Pictographs were very helpful, but also very difficult to learn because there was a picture for every idea and concept. In fact the Sumerians used over 800 pictures.”

“It would be like having an alphabet of 800 symbols,” Wilhelm said quietly.

“Indeed,” Darius chuckled, pleased with his student’s quick mind. “Writing was also a bit hard on the hands, because all of these symbols were carved or chiseled on stone or clay.

“The Egyptians had a slightly easier time. They developed their own writing system a few hundred years after the Sumerians, and they also used a complex system of pictures.”

“Hieroglyphics,” Wilhelm put in.

“Correct,” Darius said with a smile. The word Hieroglyphics means ‘Words of the gods’. The Egyptians called it that because they considered writing sacred and a gift from Thoth, their god of wisdom.

“A friend of mine taught me hieroglyphics. Darius picked up a pen and wrote on a piece of paper. “This is my name.”

hieroglyphs spelling Darius

He wrote again “And this, Wilhelm is your name.”

hieroglyphs spelling Wilhelm

Again that look, not quite a smile, came over Wilhelm’s face.

Please, Dear Lord, Darius prayed earnestly. Please let me someday see a real smile.

“When the Egyptians wrote they didn’t write left to right like most people do today. They wrote from right to left. For instance if I wanted to write ‘The dog ate the bone’, like the Egyptians wrote it, I would write it like this.”

Darius picked up his pen and wrote.

        enob eht eta god ehT

Wilhelm raised an eyebrow. “It looks complicated.”

Darius nodded. “To make things even more complicated, the Egyptians often wrote from top to bottom as well as right to left. Like this.”



Wilhelm shook his head. “You said the Egyptians had it easier, than the Sumerians?”

“Do you know what the Egyptians used to write on?” Darius asked.

“Yes. Something called papyrus, I think.”

“Correct again. Papyrus was a paper-like substance that the Egyptians made from large reeds that grew by the Nile. We got the word paper from papyrus. The Egyptians also made their writing pens out of reed brushes. Paper is a lot easier to write on then clay. When the Egyptians did write on clay, and stone it was usually on walls or statues.

“The Sumerians didn’t have papyrus so they had to keep relying on stone and clay for all of their writing. To make writing easier, pictures became more and more simplified.

“By 3100 B.C. Cuneiform writing was invented. Cuneifrom means ‘wedge-shaped’ and writing of this type consisted of standard wedge-shaped symbols. Each shape could mean a word or part of a word. Writing was at first done from top to bottom, much like the Egyptians, but soon changed from left to right.

The symbols were pressed into soft clay tablets, which were then baked in the sun. Entire libraries were made of such tablets. Ordinary people often used pieces of broken pottery called sherds to write out things such as memos and shopping lists.

“Cuneiform-type writing became widespread throughout the Middle East and was used for 3000 years. Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, Elamites, Hittites and Persians; they all spoke different languages, but they all used cuneiform writing which had been borrowed and adopted from the Sumerians.”

Darius picked up his pencil and wrote again. “This is how my name would look if it were written in ancient Babylonian.”

Darius in Babylonian

He wrote some more. “And this, Wilhelm is your name.”

Wilhelm in Babylonian

“It’s pretty, but it looks very complex,” Wilhelm said softly.

“It was.” Darius agreed. “Writing was very important, but for a long time it was also very difficult. People had to learn hundreds of different symbols for hundreds of different words. In China for example, they developed a writing system with over 3000 symbols.”

Wilhelm raised his eyebrows. “I don’t imagine I would have done very well in school there.”

Was that a joke? Darius thought. A trace of humor?

“In 1500 B.C. writing took a major leap. It happened in the regions of Canaan and Syria among the Semitic people.

“The Semitic people,” Wilhelm murmured. “Descendants of Noah’s son, Shem.” He looked at Darius. “What happened?”

“Well, someone among them had the very clever idea of making up a symbol not for each word, but for each sound in the language.” Darius smiled. Now I wonder who that ‘someone’ was? Methos was living in that area at the time and he has always been a scholar. I asked him about it once. He neither confirmed nor denied it, but I wouldn’t be surprised...

“They discovered that they needed 25 symbols for this new system, and thus the alphabet developed. This simple but revolutionary idea quickly spread and changed writing forever. It made writing a great deal easier for one thing. Any idea could now be written down by listening to the sounds and choosing the matching letters.”

“So people no longer had to learn hundreds of different shapes, Wilhelm said quietly with a thoughtful look on his face. “Such a simple idea and yet so profound. An associate of my uncle often spoke of how there were very few people who did things that really changed the world.”

Darius’s smile faded. Grayson once said the same thing.

He continued with the lesson. “In Canaan and Syria they also wrote on clay and stone, but they also used scrolls made from animal hide. The skins would be dried, scraped, cleaned and beaten flat. The skins of sheep and goats were called parchment and were the most common. The skins of calves and antelopes were called vellum and were of higher quality and more expensive. For thousands of years books were made of animal hide parchments. In fact sefer, the Hebrew word for book, literally means ‘scrape’”.

Wilhelm’s eyebrows lifted. “The Hebrews.”

Darius caught the look and knew that he had to tread lightly. “Yes, the Hebrews, later called the Israelites, were among the people who lived in that region.

“The Hebrews,” Wilhelm whispered with a far away look in his eyes. “The People of the Book.”


Wilhelm’s deep blue eyes met his.

Vienna, Austria:
Saturday September 1, 1928

“Hannah!” Wilhelm eagerly called. After dinner his parents had left to attend a performance at the Musikverein. As they usually did when going out, they had left him with Hannah. Hannah’s husband Eli had been the one to let him in when his parents dropped him off and Wilhelm had immediately gone in search of a certain familiar face.


He had always been taught to address his elders as Herr or Frau, so the proper form of address for Eli and Hannah would be Herr and Frau Handelmann. Sometimes he did refer to Eli as Herr Handelmann. But Hannah, to him, was simply Hannah, as Opa was simpy Opa.

On one occasion some of his friends had been visiting and Hannah had been there as well. When she had come into the room where he and his friends were playing soldier, he had proudly introduced her as his Patentante.

One of the children who knew about Hannah had said. “She can’t really be your Godmother; she Judisch.

Wilhelm had snapped back angrily. “She is my Godmother! A Godmother takes care of you and is a second mother, and that’s what she is! She is my Godmother! So there!”

Wilhelm’s face brightened as he finally found the woman he sought in the kitchen. It was where she spent a great deal of her time and he had come to associate kitchens with her. At the moment she was busily stirring in her mixing bowl.

mixing bowl

“Hannah, guess what?” Wilhelm said excitedly “I’m going to start volksschule on Monday!”

It was true, on Monday he would be starting first grade. At five he would be a bit young, at first, but his birthday would be in another month. He was all grown up!

The dark haired woman smiled. “Yes, I know! I remember when you were a newborn baby. And now look at you, a young man about to start school!”

A sly look crossed her pleasant face. “That reminds me, I have something for you. Your father is very fond of reminding you of your German blood, so I don’t think he will disapprove of me honoring a German custom. Close your eyes.”

Wilhelm obeyed and heard Hannah opening a cabinet. When she told him to open his eyes, he saw that she had something behind her back. “It’s a bit early,” she said, “but somehow I don’t think you’ll mind.” She held the surprise out in front of her.

“A zuckertuete! ” Wilhelm squealed in delight

Hannah smiled. “You’re undergoing a transition, Wilhelm; you’re growing up. Once a child, now a young boy. May this make the transition sweet.” She solemnly handed him the two-foot long cone filled with pencils, paper, candies and treats.

“Now remember, save it for Monday,” she admonished as Wilhelm eagerly looked inside it.

“But looking at all of these sweets is making me hungry!” he protested

“Why is it I’m not surprised? That’s why we’re staying in the kitchen for a bit; you’ve always had a sweet tooth and you’re in the right place for it. They say that pastry is the pride of Vienna and being a pastry chef’s daughter and a baker’s wife has rubbed off on me. So do you know what we’re going to do for the rest of the evening, Wilhelm?”

He shook his head.

“First you and I are going to make some apfelstrudel.

Wilhelm grinned excitedly.

“And then you can have your own private lektionen.” She nodded toward the kitchen door, which led to the den. From it Wilhelm could see the small four-shelf bookcase that Hannah and Eli had.

“I’ve always told you to be careful around our library,” Hannah continued. “Well, after we’re through baking and eating, and after you have cleaned yourself up-” She gave him a mock stern look and he giggled, “you can look though any book that you like. Having a peek at grown up books will give you some ideas of how well you can already read. Consider it a preview of your education.”

Hannah gave a rueful nod. “Education. You are definitely in the right place for it.”

“What do you mean?” Wilhelm asked, curiosity briefly turning his attention from the excitement of looking through Hannah and Eli’s books.

“Ah, education is not something taken lightly in Austria. Ours is one of the best educated societies in Europe.” She smiled. “That’s one of the many regards in which this country is a good place for Jews. My people have always stressed education. We have always been the People of the Book.”

“People of the Book?

“Yes. The Arabs gave us that name long ago; Am HaSefer, the People of the Book. They didn’t intend it as a compliment, but despite their intentions, I’ve always thought it was accurate.”

Saint Joseph’s: France
September 17, 1945

“The People of the Book,” Wilhelm whispered after he finished “That’s what they called the Hebrews...the Jews.”

Darius realized that was the first time his young charge had mentioned the word Jew.

Wilhelm was thoughtful for a moment. “I’ve seen a lot of Hebrew writing. It was so different from German.”

“It is different from a lot of languages,” Darius agreed. “The Hebrew alphabet has twenty-two consonants, but no vowels; vowel sounds have to be added by the reader.”

Wilhelm nodded. “I know. I always thought that Hebrew was a difficult language. But beautiful as well.”

Vienna, Austria:
Saturday: September 1, 1928


Hannah looked over at Wilhelm who was gazing at one of her books with a puzzled look on his face.

“What is it, Wilhelm?”

“Hannah. This book is all funny. There’s nothing written on the cover.”

Hannah smiled. “It’s the way books are written in Hebrew, Wilhelm. You see, most languages read from left to right. Hebrew however is read from right to left. So the first page is the last page.”

Wilhelm frowned. “That’s silly.”

“No,” Hannah said patiently, “It’s just different from what you’re used to. Here, look at this. She opened to the last page of the book and pointed to large word on it.

“I can’t read that. Is that Hebrew? What does it say?” Wilhelm asked.

“You chose a very important book to look at, Wilhelm. It says Tanakh.

“Tanakh,” Wilhelm tested the strange word.

“Yes, the Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible. It’s made up of three sections; the Prophets, the Writings and this...” She opened to a section and pointed to a large .

“What section is that, Hannah?” Wilhelm asked curiously. “What does it say?”

“It says Torah.

“The Torah?” Wilhelm’s eyes brightened. “I know that word! The Torah is the five books of Moses! I remember you told me that!”

“You never forget what you’re told, do you?” Hannah affectionately ruffled his thick blond hair.

Wilhelm smiled from the praise. “No, I never forget. Opa says that I learn my lessons well!”

“Very well, indeed!” Hannah said. “That’s good. It’s important that we never forget our lessons.”

He turned serious again. “I thought the Torah was a big scroll?” He remembered a few months before when his mother had given him permission to attend a Purim service at Hannah and Eli’s synagogue.

He had been excited by all the costumes and noisemakers, but he had still paid close attention to the adult goings on. He had noticed that the reader, whenever he read, had always read out of a big scroll.

“The Torah and other books of the Tanakh are written down on big scrolls like the one you saw. Scrolls are generally used by synagogues and read out loud during services.

“But when it comes to having one’s own personal copy to read and study at home,” Hannah tapped the book lightly, “most people have ordinary bound copies like this one.”

“And it’s your Familien Bibel ?” Wilhelm asked “Just like the one Mutter and Vater have at home? And like the big one Opa has?”

Hannah smiled. “It’s similar, yes.”

Wilhelm turned his attention back to the Tanakh and turned to another page, one that was covered in writing. “What does this page say?”

“It is a prayer, a blessing of the Torah.” She took a breath and began to recite.

“Baruch Hashem hagibor baruch shmo, baruch shmo
Baruch Hashem hamivorach l'olam vaed.

Baruch atah hashem eloheinu melech ha olom asher bachar bonu
mi kol ha'amim vntan lanu es ha Torah.
Baruch atah hashem noten Torah. l'amo Yisrael"

Baruch atah Hashem eloheinu, melech haolam sheh natan
lanu Torat emet v'chayai olam nawta b'tochaynu.
Baruch atah Hashem noten haTorah.”

Wilhelm stared. He hadn’t understood a word of what Hannah was saying, but he thought it sounded lovely. “What did you say just now?” he whispered.

Hannah smiled as she translated.

“Bless the Lord the Blessed One, Blessed be His Name
Blessed is the Lord, the Blessed One, for all eternity

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe.
Who selected us from all the peoples and gave us His Torah.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Giver of the Torah to His nation Israel.

Blessed are You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who gave
us the Torah of truth and implanted eternal life within us.
Blessed are You, O Lord, Giver of the Torah.”

St. Joseph’s: France
Wednesday September 17, 1945
12:30 pm

bread loaf

For several weeks now Darius had always visited the kitchens around noon to get a small snack for himself and Wilhelm. Wilhelm at first had waited in their workroom, but over the past few days he had started accompanying Darius to the kitchens and they would snack there. Brother Luke had taken a strong liking to the young Austrian and Wilhelm seemed to enjoy his company.

Today Luke was busy baking bread. He already had several loaves finished and was rolling the dough for the final tray.

Wilhelm watched him intently as he munched on the rolls and sipped from the large glass of cranberry juice that the friar had given him. Every so often he took a deep whiff of the finished loaves that were now cooling on the counter.

“I love the smell of fresh bread,” he said quietly. “Eli Handelmann owned a bakery. I thought that he was one of the best bakers in Vienna. I would visit even if I didn’t need to buy bread. I loved it there.”

“I’ve always loved bakeries too,” Brother Luke said with a smile as he placed the last bit of dough on the tray.

“Whenever I went over to visit, there was the smell,” Wilhelm continued. “I could smell the bread even before I walked through the door. I sometimes thought that the smell was every bit as good as the taste.”

He paused for a moment as he saw the past. “Eli would let me come in the back and watch him make the bread. The whole building was always warm and filled with a delicious smell. To me a bakery was something bright, warm, friendly and delicious.”

“I’ve found them to be that as well,” Brother Luke said brightly. He picked up the tray and carried it over to the oven. As he opened it, a small wave of heat came out. Wilhelm abruptly froze and stared at the open oven as if hypnotized.

“Wilhelm?” Darius had been sitting beside him and immediately saw his distress.

Wilhelm said nothing; he just continued to stare into the oven. Abruptly he dropped the glass that he had been holding and it fell to the floor, shattering and spilling juice everywhere.

Wilhelm gasped, gazing back and forth in horror between the oven and the slowly spreading tide of red on the floor.

“Wilhelm what is it?” Luke asked, face a mask of concern. Wilhelm still said nothing but already Darius had a sickening feeling he knew what was wrong.

“Nein....” Wilhelm whispered. “Please... nein.” With a choked cry he lurched to his feet and backed away.

“Wilhelm!” Darius choked out.

The Austrian backed all the way to the other end of the kitchen. When he reached the wall he slowly slid down to the floor, shaking violently. Darius sat beside him and enfolded him in a firm embrace.

“The...the bakery...” Wilhelm’s voice was hoarse. “Eli would let me peek through the oven window so that I could watch the breads rise. And Hannah...she was always baking at home. I would watch her. Watch her bake... watch her put things in and out of the oven....I always thought that it was magical.”

His trembling worsened, tears came to his eyes. “I...I used to love ovens.” His next words were a choked whisper. “But...but at... that place...there were... other ovens.

Words broke off and all that was left were choking sobs.

1:30--2:15 pm

After being comforted for nearly an hour, Wilhelm finally calmed enough for Darius to take him back to his room. The youth silently lay down on bed and didn’t move. During lunch time, a very worried Brother Luke came and left some sandwiches and a large glass of milk for him which he didn’t touch.

Darius sat at his bedside softly humming a hymn; he had learned that Wilhelm enjoyed it when he hummed or sang. From time to time the Austrian would silently reach out and take his hand.

Finally about quarter after two, Wilhelm again spoke. “I need to think about something happy,” he whispered finally. “It helps.”

He was quiet for several more minutes. “Hannah,” he said softly. “Hannah loved to bake. She often helped Eli in the bakery and she was always making something at home. Eli had always loved bread, Hannah loved pastries.”

He started talking more quickly “Her father, Brevard Jacobs, had owned a pastry shop and before she married Eli she had helped make pastries for a coffeehouse. She was always baking...cookies, pastries, pies and cakes, especially on holidays and birthdays.”

Vienna, Austria:
Wednesday October 30, 1935
3:25 pm


Wilhelm smiled happily as he got ready to toss a coin into the large fountain that he passed by on his way to and from school. When he was very young, Opa would often give him coins to toss into fountains and make wishes. When the hard times had begun in 1929 he had stopped, money was very tight and not a cent was to be wasted.

But times were slowly improving. They certainly had in Germany, according to Uncle Otto.

And today was certainly a day to make wishes! Today was his thirteenth birthday, according to Hannah a very important one indeed. His father allowed him to have pocket money and he had brought a coin with him. It shouldn’t hurt just this once.

As he tossed his coin into the water he silently made his wish. I wish that I will have many, many more birthdays and that I will live a very long and memorable life!

Throughout the day at school many of his classmates had congratulated him. Now he was eagerly heading home for his birthday party. Ordinarily it would have been held on Saturday and then he and his friends would probably have gone to Prater Park afterwards. But tomorrow his father was taking him with him on a business trip and they wouldn’t be back until Sunday.

As he quickly made his way through the streets he heard the clopping of hooves. He turned around to see Herr Max Schroeder. Wilhelm had known him for a few years now, the tall, portly middle-aged gentlemen drove one of the many fiakers around the city and his route took him near Wilhelm’s school. Now he and his two-horse team all decked in red and white, the colors of Austria, were approaching.


Wilhelm loved horses and was always happy to see him. He smiled and waved. “Guten Tag, Herr Schroeder,” he called.

Schroeder smiled as he recognized him. “Guten Tag, Wilhelm,” he called back. “And how are you today?”

Wilhelm’s smile widened. “Today’s my birthday! I’m thirteen.”

“Indeed? Happy birthday!”

“Thank you!” Wilhelm called as he hurried on his way.

St. Joseph’s France
Wednesday September 17, 1945
2:30 pm

Wilhelm looked at Darius. “Could you read to me, Father Darius?” he whispered.

“Of course,” Darius said softly, knowing to which book the Austrian referred. Since receiving the Luther Bible a month ago, Wilhelm had clearly cherished it and every day, during Meditation period, Darius would read to him; one or more chapters of the New Testament and several psalms. So far they were on the fourth chapter of The Gospel of Mark.

So far they were on the 4th chapter of Das Evangelium Nach Markus. Darius read it with Wilhelm listening silently. He then turned to the 67th Psalm and began. “Gott sei uns gnädig und segne uns; er lasse uns sein Antlitz leuchten...”

“Stop,” Wilhelm cut in softly. He lay silently for a moment and then sat up. “Could you repeat that please?” After Darius had done so Wilhelm was again silent and then repeated it softly.

“A blessing,” he nearly whispered as he gazed intently at the Bible. “I’ve always enjoyed blessings. I received a blessing on my birthday once.” He reached out and softly stroked the cover. “And this Bible isn’t the only one I have cherished.”

Vienna, Austria:
Wednesday October 30, 1935
6:00 pm

As Wilhelm headed over to the Handelmanns, he thought about the day. It had been a good birthday. After school his friends had come over and his party had begun.

There had been a lot of presents. His mother had given him some socks, two new sets of school outfits, a new pair of ice skates and some music records of Hayden, Mozart and Strauss; some of Austria’s most famous musicians. He was looking forward to listening to them.

His mother had taught him well to love music as much as her and listening to it gave him a deep sense of pride. “Ours is a proud country,” his mother had constantly told him, “and our proudest tradition is our music. When it comes to music, no country in the world has ever equaled Austria.”

His friend, Martin Gustav, had given him a puzzle of a Lipizzaner. Wilhelm smiled as he thought of it. He loved puzzles, loved the challenge of figuring out which piece fit where. And like most Austrians he couldn’t get enough of horses.

Whenever he saw a parade his favorite part was seeing the horses, and he loved to watch the city’s many horse drawn carriages. He would watch them and pretend that he was one of the Hapsburg aristocrats on his way to some royal function. Or else that he was a great warrior leading his armies into battle.

He especially loved Lipizzaners. Last year his family had gone to see them at the Spanische Reitschule and he had loved every minute of it. Austria’s horses, like our music, are the best in the world! he had thought proudly.

His friend Oscar Brandt had given him a copy of Die Abenteuer von Sherlock Holmes, something else that he knew he would enjoy immensely. Holmes had long been a favorite literary character of his; as much as he loved sports and physical activity, he also loved mysteries and mental puzzles. He knew that Großvater Friedrich would approve; he was always saying that one must hone ones mind as well as one's body.

He knew that Großvater Friedrich would approve; he was always saying that one must hone ones mind as well as one’s body.

There had been other presents as well. Wolfgang Adler had given him some books by Karl Friedrich May. He had always enjoyed May’s adventure novels, primarily because they dealt with so many far away places. When he was older he planned to travel and see some of those places for himself. The world was a huge, exciting place and he hoped someday to see it all!

His father hadn’t come home yet, but he had left his gift before leaving for work; some money and a new chess set.

And of course there had been sweets, ice cream and a cake Hannah had baked for him. She had baked his birthday cakes for as long as he could remember.

He hadn’t gotten his present from her or Eli yet and he was looking forward to it, the Handelmanns always gave good gifts. When he had turned eight Hannah had given him a copy of Kinder-und Hausmaerchen by the Gebrueder Grimm. His father would say that he was getting too old for such things, but to this day it was still one of his favorite books.

Ordinarily Hannah would have come over, but for this particular birthday she had asked him to come to her house after his party was over.

As he made his way through the streets he saw some jugglers. Late afternoon was when Vienna’s street entertainers came out. The best place to see them was on the pedestrian-only streets by St. Stephens. That was where the largest numbers gathered but one could always see other clowns, mimes, jugglers and magicians throughout the city.

It would be getting dark before long and then Vienna’s nightlife would begin. The theatres and opera houses would open. The city’s many restaurants and dance halls would come alive with music. Everywhere concerts would be held. And it would all go on long into the night.

Yes, Vienna was truly magical, one of the many things that he loved about it. As much as he longed to travel, he couldn’t imagine living anywhere else but Vienna.

He finally arrived at his destination and rang the bell. Eli Handelmann opened the door. “Guten Abend, Wilhelm,” he said with a broad smile. “Come in.”

Wilhelm smiled back. Eli Handelmann always seemed to have a smile on his face. He was bright, warm and jovial, just like his bakery and one of his favorite sayings was that God gave people faces so that they could smile.

Wilhelm followed Eli into the den. Hannah was already there sitting on the sofa. Eli motioned for him to sit in one of the chairs in front of the sofa, before joining his wife. Sensing that whatever was about to happen was important, Wilhelm sat up straight and folded his hands in his lap.

Hannah was smiling but it was a solemn smile. “Wilhelm do you recall how I entered your life?”

Wilhelm nodded. “You and mother had both met when you were fourteen and you had been friends ever since.”

Friends ever since. He felt a twinge of sadness. Hannah and his mother had once been very close, but over the past year or so he had noticed a coolness developing. Hannah was as warm as ever, but his mother...

He continued the story. “You had always wanted a big family.”

“‘Be fruitful and multiply,’” Hannah quoted softly. “When I married Eli I couldn’t wait to become a mother.” She smiled sadly. “A year later, when the doctor told me I was expecting, I don’t think there was a woman in the world happier than me.” Her smile faded as the old grief returned.

Wilhelm felt the urge to give her a hug for comfort. “I know. You were in an accident. You fell...Eli took you to the hospital. You lost the baby and the doctor told you that you wouldn’t be able to have anymore children.”

Hannah’s eyes teared slightly. “I can still remember the pain even now.”

“Mother came to see you,” Wilhelm whispered. “She wanted to comfort you, make you feel better. She made you a promise. She said that if she ever had a child, you would be its guardian and second mother.”

Hannah smiled. “Two years later Constanze married your father. Two years after that you came into the world and your mother kept her promise.”

Hannah dropped her gaze and was silent for a moment before turning back to Wilhelm and looking intently into his eyes. “From the time you were born, Wilhelm, I’ve loved you as my own. And I know that I speak for Eli as well.”

Wilhelm smiled, deeply moved. Eli and Hannah had always been demonstrative, much more so than his parents who were very formal and reserved. He knew that his parents cared for him, but he couldn’t recall them ever saying...

“We’ve watched you grow from a beautiful child to a fine young boy,” Hannah continued. “Now we’re seeing you become a young man. That’s why we asked you to come over.”

“Wilhelm, do you know what a Bar Mitzvah is?” Eli spoke now.

Wilhelm nodded. On two or three occasions he had heard Hannah talk about Bar Mitzvah celebrations that she had attended. “It’s when a Jewish boy becomes a man.”

“Yes. Now this doesn’t mean that he’s now ready to move out, get a job and get married.” Eli gave a chuckle before continuing, “However it does mean that he is now considered ready to take responsibility for his actions and their consequences.”

Eli grew thoughtful. “One big problem that I have noticed with too many people is that they never think about consequences. They don’t realize that every action that one takes or doesn’t take, affects everyone and everything else. And they’re not willing to take responsibility for their actions or admit when they are wrong.

“People often deny it and say ‘I didn’t do anything’. If it's proven that they did do something, they often try to pass blame: ‘It was his idea’, ‘he made me do it.’ Or they try to justify their actions, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong’, or perhaps worst of all, ‘everyone else was doing it’.

Wilhelm nodded. He had heard those same comments many times from friends and schoolmates. He had said them a few times himself.

“But when we act like that it is not pleasing to God, Wilhelm.” God gave each of us free will and we use it every time we make a choice. Every time we do something, that is a choice. Every time we decide not to do something that is a choice. Sometimes events happen that we have no control over. But whenever we do make a choice, that decision is ours and ours alone.”

Eli took a deep breath. “The sign of true maturity, the sign of becoming an adult, is to be aware of that. To be aware that you are responsible for your own choices, to be prepared to face the consequences of your choices and to be aware always that you are accountable for your choices; both to your fellow man and above all, to God.

“We need to always be aware of our choices, Wilhelm. Our choices, our actions and their consequences. We need to be willing to admit when we have done wrong. Most of all we need to be willing to make the right choices, even when it would be easier to make the wrong one.”

Eli leaned forward and Wilhelm couldn’t recall seeing the normally jovial baker so intense. “Remember this, Wilhelm and this is a very difficult lesson to learn: The easy thing to do is not always the right thing to do. And just because everyone else is doing something, it doesn’t mean that it’s right.”

Eli paused for a moment deep in thought before continuing. “Being aware that we are responsible for our choices, being willing to admit when we are wrong, being willing to do what is right no matter how difficult. That is what it truly means to be an adult.”

Hannah began to speak. “For a long time our people have thought of thirteen as the age when a boy begins to become accountable. When he turns thirteen he becomes a ‘Son of the Commandment.’ He is then considered responsible for his actions and is expected to obey God’s Commandments.”

Wilhelm nodded, thinking that that was a very important and solemn time.

As if hearing his thoughts Eli smiled. “Naturally this is a very big occasion for a young boy. It means more responsibility, but it is also a great privilege. In our synagogue as in many others, on the Sabbath after the boy’s birthday, a Bar Mitzvah ceremony is held for him. He is called up in front of the congregation, recites from a portion of the Torah and then he makes a speech. After that most families hold a celebration for him.”

“For a long time only boys had a special celebration like this,” Hannah put in. “But now many families hold a Bat Mitzvah, or ‘Daughter of the Commandment’ celebration for their daughters.” She smiled. “Just like my parents had for me. But whether it is a Bar Mitzvah or a Bat Mitzvah, either way it is a very important time for a young person and their family.”

Hannah looked intently at Wilhelm. “If you had been our flesh and blood, Wilhelm, we would have raised you in the Jewish faith and this coming Sabbath we would have held a Bar Mitzvah celebration for you. Well we’re not your natural parents and you are of the Christian faith. But you are the son of our heart and this, your thirteenth birthday, we consider very important.

“We’re not the only ones who feel this way; many of the Christians in this land consider thirteen to be an important milestone. Thirteen is when many Christian youths take Communion for the first time.”

Wilhelm nodded. His friend, Oscar Brandt, was thirteen and had taken his first Communion about two months before, with several other boys and girls his age. Wilhelm had been invited to attend and had been very impressed. The entire church was lavishly decorated and the aura was one of joy and reverence. It seemed as if everyone in the parish had come and he had later found out that several priests from neighboring churches had attended as well.

Wilhelm had been invited to attend and had been very impressed. The entire church was lavishly decorated and the aura was one of joy and reverence. It seemed as if everyone in the parish had come and he had later found out that several priests from neighboring churches had attended as well.

“And even many who are not religious at all see thirteen as a milestone; as no longer being a child. However way you want to look at it, Wilhelm, today you are no longer a child. Today you take a step toward becoming a man.”

Wilhelm nodded again. All day he had felt excited and happy at turning thirteen. He wasn’t a little boy anymore! But he listened to Hannah and Eli speak, for the first time he really thought about what not being a little boy anymore really meant. He felt very large, but at the same time very, very small.

“Part of being accountable to God is to obey His Commandments,” Hannah continued. We are Jewish and you are a Christian, but we both believe in the same God and we have tried to instill in you some of His Commandments.”

More so than Mother and Father, Wilhelm thought. From the time he could walk his parents had taught him to be respectful and obedient to authority. But it had had nothing to do with God; religion was a complete non-subject at home. Aside from looking inside to admire their architecture, the only time his family had ever attended church was at weddings and funerals.

By contrast Hannah and Eli attended their beloved synagogue regularly. Many times he had seen Hannah reading her personal copy of the Tanach. When he was little she had always read him Bible stories and as he had gotten older she had read to him out of a German copy of the Tanach that Eli owned. This had sparked his own interest and he had often looked through his family’s Bible at home.

“Do you know the Commandments, Wilhelm?” Hannah asked.

He nodded, he knew which ones Hannah was referring too, he had often heard her recite them. Eli had a small plaque of them on his writing table. Wilhelm had been fascinated with it when he was little, and so Hannah had patiently explained to him what they meant.

“Can you recite them?”

Wilhelm nodded and got to his feet. Taking a deep breath he began. “Die Zehn Gebote ; The Ten Commandments...

“The First Commandment; you shall have no other gods before Me.”

He smiled softly, he knew that this was considered the most important Commandment of all.

He continued. “The Second Commandment; you shall not make a graven image.”

The second he knew was closely connected to the first.

“The second he knew was closely connected to the first.”

That certainly made sense. If one was to honor God by not worshiping anything but Him, one should certainly treat His Name with respect.

“The Fourth Commandment: remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”

He could still recall the first time he had asked Hannah why God had rested on the Sabbath. “Did God get tired?” he had asked curiously. Hannah had smiled and said that no, God did not get tired; He had rested because it was His way of declaring that His work of creation was finished and now He could enjoy it.

“The Fifth Commandment; honor your father and your mother.”

He understood that one quite well. Hannah had told him once that even if his parents were strict, it was still important to honor them. Because when you honored your parents, God regarded it as if you were honoring Him.

“The Sixth Commandment; you shall not murder.”

When Hannah had first explained that one to him, she had been solemn. Then she had said that every person was made in God’s image and that no one who truly honored God would break that Commandment.

“The Seventh Commandment; you shall not commit adultery.”

When Wilhelm had first understood what this Commandment meant Hannah had told him “Your own Jesus said it best; ‘What God has joined together let no man put asunder.’ God has made the marriage bond sacred and when a husband and wife are faithful to each other they are faithful to God. And when a husband or wife betrays the other, he or she is also betraying God.”

“The Eighth Commandment; you shall not steal.”

Eli had once told him that a person could steal far more from someone than just their possessions. He had seemed solemn and Wilhelm had wondered to what he was referring to.

“The Ninth Commandment; you shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”

Hannah had once said that this Commandment not only meant that you were not to lie about someone, but not to gossip about or slander someone either.

“The Tenth Commandment; you shall not covet your neighbor's house, you shall not covet your neighbor's wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbors.”

He knew that that was a big favorite of Eli’s; he had often said that many of the greatest woes the world had seen had resulted from people breaking that Commandment.

As he finished his recitation and sat back down, Hannah and Eli both smiled and nodded. “Very good, Wilhelm,” Hannah praised. But then she grew solemn. “Remember the Commandments always, Wilhelm. And obey them.”

“I will,” he said solemnly.

“You’ve probably been wondering what we got you for your birthday.” Eli stood, picked up a small black book that was on the bookshelf and silently handed it to Wilhelm.

Wilhelm sensed what it was even before he saw the words Heilige Bibel on the cover.

“When I had my Bar Mitzvah, one of the gifts my father gave me was my own copy of the Tanach. I am now continuing that tradition with you. Your parents have a Family Bible; now that you are a young man, it is only fitting that you have a copy of your own. And since you are a Christian you should have a Christian Bible.”

Wilhelm carefully took the Bible and softly ran his hands over the cover.

“You carry in your hands a copy of God’s word to man, Wilhelm,” Hannah said. “Always treat it with reverence.”

“Thank you, Hannah, Eli.”

Eli glanced out the window. “Its getting late and you should be heading back. I know that you and Herr Friedrich have to get up early tomorrow to catch the train.

“Yes,” Wilhelm answered as he got up. “I walked over here. I’ll take the Strassenbahn back. It’s just one stop.”

“We don’t want to keep you any longer, but before you go there is one more thing.” Eli paused for a moment. “Another part of the Bar Mitzvah is that the father recites a blessing. I’d like to give you one now, Wilhelm.”

Wilhelm paused, he had never been blessed before. The few times he had attended services with Eli and Hannah he had always had a deep sense of awe as he listened to the Rabbi bless the congregation. When he had attended Oscar’s first Communion he had felt the same sense of awe as the priest had said blessings. Now Eli was going to bless him.

Eli raised his hand and began to speak softly.
“The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you
The Lord lift up His countenance upon you
And give you peace.”

Wilhelm was silent for a moment. Then wordlessly he put down his new Bible. He turned to Eli and hugged him. Then he turned to Hannah and hugged her as well.

He had learned when he was very little that his Paten... and they were that despite what anyone might say! ... were very demonstrative. Another point on which they differed from his parents. His mother was very formal and his stern father it seemed disdained emotion.

But not the Handelmans.

“Danke,” he whispered.

“Bitte sehr,” they both replied.

When Wilhelm returned home he immediately took his new Bible to his room and opened it to the dedication page. It was definitely a Christian Bible; Jews, he had learned from Hannah, never wrote inside their Bibles.

He looked at the words on the dedication page:

Diese Heilige Bibil wurde dargestellt






Well, he thought with a slight smile, there are some advantages to being a Christian.

He picked up a pen and carefully began to write.

Diese Heilige Bibil wurde dargestellt

Wilhelm Friedrich


Eli and Hannah Handelman


Mittwoch: Oktober 30, 1935

He then took out a piece of paper and began to write three Bible verses that he had often heard Hannah quote.

Psalter 119:105
Dein Wort ist meines Fußes Leuchte und aein Licht auf meinem Wege

Deuteronomium 6:5
Und du sollst den HERRN, deinen Gott, liebhaben von ganzem Herzen,
von ganzer Seele und mit all deiner Kraft. b

Kohelet 12:13-14
Fürchte Gott und halte seine Gebote; denn das gilt für alle Menschen

After carefully writing out the verses, he taped the paper on the inside front cover.

St. Joseph’s: France
Wednesday September 17, 1945
3:00-6:00 pm

“Fear God and keep His Commandments,” Wilhelm’s whisper was barely audible. He slowly sat up. “They didn’t do that, Father Darius. They didn’t keep His commandments. They broke them...over and over.”

He swallowed. “We are commanded not to covet, not to steal and not to...” he began to shudder again. “But they coveted. They looked at the lands of their neighbors, they looked at the world around them and they coveted.

So did I once, Wilhelm, Darius thought as memories flashed in his mind’s eye.

“I will build a kingdom that will shake the very pillars of the earth!”
“An empire of Immortals that stretches across the earth!”
“Someday all the world will lie at my feet!”
“A world in which I will rule and mortals will serve!”

He put his hand on Wilhelm’s shoulder, even as he felt the tears coming. Oh, yes, so did I.

“They coveted their neighbors’ lands,” Wilhelm went on. “They coveted their possessions, and they coveted their lives.” He gave a despairing, horror filled moan. “They coveted their lives, Father Darius! They wanted them to die! They wanted all of us to die!

His body shook and once again the tears came. “They coveted and they stole. They stole their possessions, they stole everything they had. At the first place I was taken there was a huge warehouse. It was stuffed with clothes and other things. Things that they taken from people that they had...”

Darius closed his eyes against the tears.

“When I was a boy I thought that the only thing you could steal from someone were things,” Wilhelm went on, “things, objects, possessions.... But there are other things to steal, Father Darius.” Wilhelm’s eyes were filled with horribly gained knowledge. “Many other things to steal.”

I know, Wilhelm. Darius silently, mournfully agreed.

Laughing as he drives his sword through a Roman Guard.
The clash of swords, the screams of the dying, the ground reddened with blood.
The city reduced to flame and rubble, the men dead and the women ravaged.
“These men have been robbed of their most precious possession...forever.”

I know all too well.

“They stole their possessions,” Wilhelm whispered. “And they stole their lives. They...killed, Father Darius! They killed and killed and killed! They killed them with guns and hunger and they killed with...”

Wilhelm abruptly began to choke. Darius held him tightly, tears silently streaming down his cheeks.

When the storm had passed Wilhelm lowered his head and was quiet for several moments. When he finally spoke again his voice was hollow.

“There are many things to steal, Father Darius, and many ways in which to kill. And they did, Father Darius, they did. They killed them with guns, whips, clubs, gallows and....the other. They killed them with hunger, thirst, sickness, cold, mud and filth.”

He paused for several moments and then spoke in a barely audible whisper. “They killed them and turned the sky black with their smoke. They stained the ground with their blood again and again.”

Wilhelm was absolutely still. Then he slowly looked up at Darius with his haunted, ancient eyes. “They killed them, Father Darius,” A toneless moan. “They killed them all.”

Shuddering, the young Austrian once again leaned against Darius. He was silent for a long time and then the haunted words began again. “They killed and killed and killed. And then...even after the Allies said it was over....”

Belgium: Saturday June 23, 1945


“Well, well. What do we have here?”

Wilhelm stared at the stranger standing in front of him. MacLeod had said that he was taking him to Paris to meet someone named Darius. He hadn’t really cared where they were going. Daniel and Eva were safe; what happened to him wasn’t important anymore.

The day after they had left the children with their remaining families, MacLeod had taken him to a small boarding house. He had said that there were things that he needed to explain him, things that he needed to know...

MacLeod had talked.

Wilhelm had sat and listened.

He hadn’t said a word.

He had no more tears or screams left.

Not after....


No, he had no more tears and no more screams.

And so he had sat silent. MacLeod had looked at him, eyes filled with concern.

Why the concern, Herr MacLeod? Daniel and Eva are safe. It doesn’t matter what happens to me.

The next morning MacLeod had told him that he was taking him to Paris. Once again they had started traveling; sometimes by one of the few trains still running, sometimes by getting rides on trucks or other transports, and other times by foot. For the past day or so it had been by foot.

They had traveled slowly. Even though he had been free for a few months and was much improved from the condition he had been in, he was still weak.

MacLeod had never left his side and was ever-watchful.

Apparently they had made good time; MacLeod had said that they would be in France by tomorrow.

They had been in an isolated area, one of the few times when there were not crowds of people around trying to get home, trying to get ... somewhere. MacLeod had said that they would need to get to shelter soon, it looked like a storm was coming.

Do you think I haven’t been outside in the rain before, Herr MacLeod?

Suddenly, Wilhelm had felt pain in his head. The same sort of pain he had had whenever MacLeod was near. At the boarding house MacLeod had explained to him what it meant.

This stranger had come.

“You’re new aren’t you?” The stranger was speaking in German, but from his accent he sounded American. His cold eyes racked up and down Wilhelm. “And you’ve obviously been in one of the Nazis’ dumping grounds.”

Dumping grounds?

The stranger had called that place and the others...dumping grounds?

Barbed wire, shouts, whips, clubs, dogs ...
His hair shaved, his arm marked ...
Branded like cattle ...

Pain, horrible pain ...
The blows coming again and again.
The guards cursing him between blows.
The other guards ... laughing ...

Stop it, please! You’re killing him!”
“We said nobody interferes!”
The roar of a gun ...
“Reverend! ... No!”
The guards ... still laughing ...

More barbed wire, more shouts, whips, clubs and dogs ...
“The only way anyone leaves here is through the chimney.”
Smoke, ashes, the stench of death ...

Darkness, screams, pain, cold, death ...

Cold, hunger, mud, lice, sickness ...
Prisoners scavenging the dead ...
Bodies left to rot where they fell ...

“Yeah, you’ve been there all right. That’s were you kicked the bucket the first time, I’ll wager.”

Kicked the bucket?

“I won’t get more than a fizzle from you, but every little bit helps.”

Most of what the stranger was saying went over Wilhelm’s head. He was still trying to grasp that the man had actually called...

“Leave him alone.” MacLeod’s voice.

“And who are you?”

“I am Duncan MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod.”

“Richard Burks. And are you this guy’s new mother? Decided to take in a newborn lost cause have you?”

Burks looked at Wilhelm again and sneered before turning back to MacLeod. “Bit of free advice, MacLeod- forget it, this guy's as good as gone. Look at him, he's nothing but a scarecrow! Do you honestly think that he'll ever stand a snowball’s chance? If you hadn’t found him someone would have whacked him by now.”


“As it is, someone will get his Quickening before the week's out… And it might as well be me!”

“Leave him alone, he’s suffered enough.” MacLeod’s voice was quiet, but Wilhelm could hear steel in it.

“I don’t care, and neither should you. The Game certainly doesn’t!”

He didn’t care?

People had suffered and died. People were still suffering and dying. The whole world was in ruins...the whole world was a graveyard.

And he didn’t care?

People had suffered...
People had died...
People were still suffering and dying...

The whole world was in ruins...
The whole world was a graveyard...

And he didn't care?

There had already been too much death...
And he wanted more?

But then...this wasn’t anything different. They had never cared, they had never had enough death. They always wanted more.

They had wanted more back at....

Day and night the chimneys never stopped smoking.
Day and night the stench never went away.
Day and night the very air you breathed was filled with the ashes of the murdered...

But the chimneys had never stopped.

They had never stopped.

“Anyone with brains can see that the Nazis are losing this war.”
“But they’re still killing us.”
“They won’t be satisfied until every one of us is dead.”

They had been losing... but they had still wanted more death.

They had always wanted more death.

They had wanted all of them to die.

This stranger, this Richard Burks wanted more death...

He wanted...

“Someone will get his Quickening... And it might as well be me!”

He coveted...

Just like they had always coveted.

“Greater Germany needs more living space!”
“We will take back what is ours!”
“Those lands are rightfully ours!”
“All the world is rightfully ours!”

They had coveted others’ lands.
They had coveted their possessions.
They had coveted their lives.

And they had taken them.

They had broken the 10th Commandment, they had broken the 8th and they had broken the 6th.

“You live and die at our whim, you filthy pigs!”
“You are less than nothing!”
“The only way anyone leaves here is through the chimney.”

Left... right...left...right.

Darkness, screams, pain, cold, death.

They had wanted their lives
They had wanted them all to die.

And now...this stranger...

“Someone will get his Quickening.... and it might as well be me!”

He was breaking the 10th Commandment and he was planning to break the 8th and the 6th.

He coveted.

He coveted his...Quickening. And he coveted...his life

He wanted his life.

He wanted him to die.

“I don’t care,” he had said.

They hadn’t cared either.

On the night of shattered glass when the synagogues had burned, they hadn’t cared.
When darkness had closed in around the innocent, they hadn’t cared.
When families were torn apart, they hadn’t cared
When the whole world was being turned into a graveyard, they hadn’t cared.

When people had starved, they hadn’t cared
When people were shot, they hadn’t cared.
When people were hanged, they hadn’t cared.
When people screamed in agony, they hadn’t cared.

When people had died they hadn’t cared.

When people had...

Darkness, screams, pain, cold, death.

They hadn’t cared. They hadn’t cared through any of it.

They ... Hadn’t ... Cared.

“I care. Leave him alone.”

“Don’t think so. Walk away from him now and we have no quarrel.”

“We already have. He’s under my protection, if you want him you go through me.”

“Fine. I get two Quickenings today.”

The strainger pulled a sword out.

MacLeod carried a sword; Wilhelm had seen it from time to time even before the Scot had spoken to him.

MacLeod took his sword out and both blades flashed in the dimming sunlight.

Wilhelm stared at the blades. Swords...When he was a boy...

Had he ever been a boy?

Yes. Long ago… So long ago…

A lifetime ago...

When he had been a boy he had loved swords. He had dreamed of someday having one of his own. He had dreamed of someday being a great warrior like Frederick the Great, or Charlemagne, or the ancient German warriors who had conquered the Roman Empire.

Swords were symbols of strength and power...
Swords were proud and noble weapons...
Swords were beautiful....

He had thought that swords were beautiful...

“Be patient, scarecrow," Burks was smiling. “First, I'll take your babysitter's head and then it'll be your turn. There can be only one!”

St. Joseph’s: France
Wednesday September 17, 1945
3:00-6:00 pm

“Even after they said it was over,” Wilhelm whispered, “it still went on.” His haunted eyes met the priest’s. “It will always go on, won’t it, Father Darius? It will never stop.”

Darius was silent for awhile. Over 15 centuries before at the gates of Paris, he had vowed that he would spend the rest of his Immortal life trying to undo the wrong that he had done. He had vowed that he would continue the work of Emrys. Emrys, the Ancient Holy Man.

Emrys, his greatest enemy.

Emrys, his greatest mentor.

He had vowed that he would teach peace where he had once taught war, forgiveness instead of hatred, compassion instead of destruction.

Saving lives instead of taking them.

Long ago he had known that the path would not be easy. He had known it every day for 15 centuries. But there were times...

For 15 centuries he had tried to aid the world, one soul at a time. For 15 centuries he had preached peace. And now, as Wilhelm had said, all of Europe was in ruins and the world a huge graveyard.

There had been times when he had nearly despaired. There had been times when he had wondered if he truly had accomplished anything.

Times like now.

He squeezed the young Austrian tighter. Europe may have been be in ruins, and much of the world a graveyard...but there was still life.

Yes, there was still life and, not to sound cliché, but as long as there was life there was hope.

And for as long as he had life within him he would continue to struggle against the darkness.

Because not to do so was to join the darkness.

“It will stop someday, Wilhelm,” he whispered firmly. “Someday by God’s grace it will stop.”

The two men were silent for a while longer before Wilhelm whispered. “Can we go outside, Father Darius?”

“Of course.” Darius didn’t need to ask where; over the past several weeks Wilhelm’s favorite spot was the flower gardens. Every day, weather permitting, would find the Austrian there.

He had dedicated himself to his self appointed tasks; first he would empty out the large seashell that had been placed in front of a pump as a water feature. Then he would head over to the garden pond and remove any of the leaves or blossoms that had fallen in from the overhead Bay and Franklin tree.

Afterwards he would sit by the pond, watching the goldfish and thoughtfully stirring ripples in the water, or he would wander by the flowerbeds silently gazing at the flowers.

Today though, instead of heading for the shell or the pond, he headed straight for the flowers and knelt, staring at them intently.

Darius came and knelt beside him. “They’re beautiful aren’t they?” he asked.

Wilhelm didn’t answer at first. Then he nodded. “They are alive.”

“And they’re so colorful,” Darius continued. “What I enjoy most about flowers are their colors. But then I’m sure that’s what everyone enjoys most.”

“Father Darius...” Wilhelm whispered, “I...don’t see their colors.” He turned to the priest. “I can’t see colors anymore. I love these flowers because they are alive. But I can’t see their colors. All I can see is gray. Everything that’s happened... it’s turned the whole world gray.”


Darius was silent for a moment, as tears once again came to his eyes. “You’re right, Wilhelm,” he said softly. These flowers are beautiful simply because they are alive. They are beautiful because even after everything that has happened...they are still here...and so is life.”

Darius reached out and took the young Austrian’s hand firmly. “And if what’s happened has turned the world gray... then it’s up to us to help bring the colors back.”



Language Notes

Petit dejeuner
- Breakfast. In France breakfast is usually light and consists mainly of bread or croissant, with juice or tea.
Père - Father
Frère - Brother
Frères - Brothers
Monsieur - Mister, Sir

Crème de la crème - The best

Bonjour - Hello, Good morning
Parlez-vous Français - Do you understand, French?
Oui - Yes
Je m’ appelle - My name is...
Enchante - Pleased to meet you
Sil vous plait - Please
Merci - Thank you

Weinig muis - Little mouse

Am HaSefer
- People of the Book. The Arabs originally called Jews this in order to distinguish them from all other non-Moslems.

Zahlappell - Roll Call
Kapo - A trustee prisoner

Herr - Mister
Frau - Mrs.
Vater - Father
Mutter - Mother
Opa - Grandpa
Großvater - Grandfather
Patentante - Godmother
Paten - Godparents

Jüdisch - Jewish

Volksschule - Elementary school
Lektionen - Lessons
Apfelstrudel - Raisons and apples wrapped in a pastry envelope

Familien Bibel - Family Bible
Heilige Bibel - Holy Bible

Fiakers - Horse drawn carriages
Strassenbahn - Streetcar

Das Evangelium Nach Markus - The Gospel of Mark
Die Abenteuer von Sherlock Holmes - The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Kinder- und Hausmaerchen - Children and Household Tales

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag - Happy Birthday
Guten Tag - Good day
Guten Abend - Good evening
Danke - Thank you
Bitte Sehr - You’re welcome
Nein - No

Diese Heilige Bibil wurde dargestellt - This Holy Bible was presented to
Durch - By
Datum - Date
Mittwoch - Wednesday
Oktober - October

Bible Notes

Psalm 67:1
God be merciful to us and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us;

Die Zehn Gebote / The Ten Commandments
Exodus 20:1-17

1. The First Commandment
You shall have no other god before Me.

2. The Second Commandment
You shall not make a graven image.

3. The Third Commandment
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.

4. The Fourth Commandment
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.

5. The Fifth Commandment
Honor your father and your mother.

6. The Sixth Commandment
You shall not murder.

7. The Seventh Commandment
You shall not commit adultery.

8. The Eighth Commandment
You shall not steal.

9. The Ninth Commandment
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

10. The Tenth Commandment
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey nor anything that is your neighbors.

Psalter 119:105
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Deuteronomy 6:5
You shall love the Lord Your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14
Fear God and obey His commandments, for that is the whole duty of man

Vienna Landmarks

The Musikverein
The Musikverein Concert Hall was constructed in 1870. Its famous for its acoustics and is home to the famous Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra . Every year the Vienna New Year’s Concert is held there. It has 1,744 seats and standing room for 300.

Vienna Prater Park
The Prater Park is the largest park in Vienna and is famous throughout the world. It was originally a private hunting ground for the Habsburgs, but has served as a public park for the past 200 years. It is over 3,200 acres and is both park and amusement park, complete with merry-go-rounds, roller coasters and other rides.

Its most famous landmark is the Prater Park Ferris Wheel, which stretches 209 feet high and is the tallest Ferris wheel in the world.

The Spanische Reitschule
The Spanish Riding School has been famed throughout the world for over 300 years. It is where Austria’s most famous horses, the white Lipizzaners and their riders, perform in amazing 80 minute shows. The horses literally perform a ballet; they leap and prance in precise weaving patterns to the accompaniment of Baroque music. The performances are so popular that tickets have to be purchased months in advance.

The Lipizzaner breed originated in Spain. They became popular in Austria and for hundreds of years were the mounts of Cavalry Officers. Even though no longer used in the military, they are still greatly renowned and both they and their riders are highly trained.

Austrian Food

It has been said that few things are more important to Austrians then good food and the country is famous for its cuisines. Austrians are especially fond of rich foods such as meats and creamy desserts.

As in much of Europe, food shopping is very specialized in Austria. Instead of large supermarkets where every sort of food is sold, there are many types of small, specialized shops:

Meat markets or Butcher shops sell meat.
Fish markets sell fish.
Produce stores sell fruits and vegetables.
Pastry shops sell cakes and tortes.
Bakeries, or Bread shops, sell breads and rolls.

Vienna sets very high standards for its bread. Over 200 years ago Viennese bakers who made inferior bread were punished by being locked in iron cages and dumped three times in the Danube.

Pastries are one of the prides of Vienna. It’s taken so seriously that pastry chefs have to go to school for three years before they are even accepted as apprentices.

Austrian Transportation

In order to reduce traffic jams and prevent pollution Austria has long been committed to mass transit. In every city there are many trains, buses and streetcars and most people take them to work instead of cars. There are few school busses in Vienna so most children go to school by walking or taking public transportation.

Austrians have long had a deep love for horses and for equestrian sports. Polo is a popular sport and horse drawn carriages are one of the favorite ways to travel through Vienna.


The Gebrueder / Grimm Brothers
The brothers Jacob (1785-1863) and Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859) (or Grimm as they are more commonly known in English speaking countries) were from the small city of Hanau. They spent much of their lives in Kassel and eventually moved to Berlin.

They believed very strongly in German unity and felt that language and stories and would help to unify its many different regions and states. To that end, they wrote a historical dictionary of the German language.

They also traveled throughout the farms and villages of Germany, collecting various folk tales and poems, including:

Haensel und Gretel (Hansel and Gretel)
Der Froschkoenig (Frog Prince)
Aschenputtel (Cinderella)
Rumpelstilzchen (Rumplestilksen)
Der Kleine Daeumling (Tom Thumb)
Die Bremer Stadtmusikanten (Bremen Town Musicians.)
Rotkaeppchen (Little Red Riding Hood)
(Sleeping Beauty)
Schneewittchen und die sieben Zwerge (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves)
Der gestiefelte Kater (Puss in Boots)

The brothers then compiled these stories in Children’s and Household Tales, which became famous throughout the world.

Karl Friedrich May
Karl Friedrich May (1842-1912), is one of the most-read German authors of all time. He wrote many adventure-novels, called “travel tales” that dealt with the American West and many other places, including Africa, the Balkans and South America.


German and Austrian Education Education is something that has been taken very seriously in both Germany and Austria. For centuries both countries were among the most highly educated societies in Europe and their schools are famous throughout the world.

A unique and much loved custom in Germany is that when children first begin Elementary School, they are presented with a schultuete (school bag), a large cone shaped bag full of candies and treats. Because of the treats it is also called a zuckertuete (Sugar Bag).

The gift symbolizes a transition. Since he or she is now attending school, the child is no longer an infant. Also now that he or she is going to school, the child’s days will be more strictly regulated. The sweets are therefore meant to give sweet consolation.

At first, the gift was presented by godfathers. Today it's usually presented by the parents. The size of the bag varies, but it is usually is about three feet long. When the custom first started, only rich families could afford sweets and children from poorer would be given pretzels or rolls in the bags. But as time passed, eventually everyone was given sweets.

The tradition began in the town of Jena 1817 and from there spread all over Germany. It wasn’t imported to Austria until 1940. But once it was it very quickly became accepted. In time the custom also spread to the German sections of Switzerland.

Austrian Schools
Austria has had a free public education system since 1776. Children start to attend Volksschule (Elementary School) at the age of six or seven.

From the ages of 10-18 students attend Secondary School (High School) and then, they have to decide rather they will enter a vocational school to learn a trade, or a preparatory school to study for college.

History of Writing

Before people learned to write, they used pictures and symbols to convey ideas. Cave Paintings are examples of this.

Pictographic writing, was the first true writing system. The first people to use pictographs were the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, around 4000 B.C. Pictographic writing was made up of hundreds of pictures, with one picture for every word. Writing symbols were carved or chiseled on stone or clay.

The Egyptians developed their own writing system, Hieroglyphics, a few centuries after the Sumerians. Hieroglyphics means ‘Words of the Gods’ and was called that because the Egyptians considered writing sacred and a gift from Thoth, the ibis headed god of wisdom.

Like Pictographs, Hieroglyphics was a complex system of hundreds of pictures and was difficult to learn.

The Egyptians wrote on a paper-like substance called Papyrus, which they made from large reeds that grew by the Nile. The word Paper comes from papyrus.

Cuneiform Writing
To make writing easier, the Sumerians steadily simplified their pictographs and by 3100 B.C. Cuneiform writing was invented.

The word Cuneifrom means ‘wedge shaped’ and writing of this type consisted of standard wedge-shaped symbols pressed into soft clay, which was then baked in the sun.

Entire libraries were made of clay tablets.

Ordinary people often used pieces of broken pottery called sherds to write things such as memos and shopping lists.

Cuneiform-type writing spread through Mesopotamia and the Middle East and many ancient people used it; including the Akkadians, Assyrians, Babylonians, and Persians.

All of these people spoke different languages, but they all used cuneiform-type symbols which had been borrowed from the Sumerians.

Sumerian died out as a spoken language around the 18th century B.C., but it continued to be a studied written language until well into the 1st century A.D., much like Latin today

The Alphabet
In 1500 B.C. scribes in Canaan and Syria came up with the idea of making a symbol not for words, but for sounds. It was discovered that 25 symbols were needed and the first alphabet developed.

In Canaan and Syria people also wrote on clay and stone, but they also used scrolls made from animal hide.

The skins of sheep and goats were called parchment and were the most common. The hides of calves and antelopes were called vellum and were more expensive. For thousands of years books were made of animal hide parchments.

Sefer, the Hebrew word for book, literally means ‘scrape’.

The Hebrew alphabet has 22 consonants, but no vowels. When reading Hebrew, vowel sounds have to be added by the reader

Unlike many languages, in which words are written left to right, Hebrew is read from right to left. What seems like the first page of the Hebrew Bible is actually the last page.


The Festival of Purim is held during the Hebrew month of Adar (Februrary-March) and celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from a massacre planned by the evil Persian official Haman around 474 B.C. It is very popular among children.

The children of the congregation are given noisemakers beforehand, then during the Synagogue service the Purim Megilla (Scroll of Purim) is read. Adults stamp their feet when Haman is mentioned and the children use the noisemakers. The reason for this is that Haman was a descendant of Amalek and God commanded that even the memory of Amalek should be wiped out, so the congregation tries to drown out the name "Haman" every time it's mentioned.

After the Megilla is read, the children are given pastries called Hamentashen and candied apples.

After services the children go from door to door in costumes with a basket of Hamentashen and fruits to give their neighbors. This is called Shalach Manos (The Sending of Gifts.)

Some people have Purim parties at home for their children. The children dress in costumes, bob for apples and eating Hamentashen.

The Tanakh

The Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible, known to Christians as the Old Testament, and is comprised of three sections:
The Torah (The Law)
The Nevi’im (The Prophets)
The Kethuvim (The Writings)

All of these books were written over a thousand year period (1500-400 B.C.) by various different authors. According to tradition, the books were collected and organized around 500 B.C. by the priest and scribe Ezra.

The Torah was written by Moses and is made up of five books:
Bereshit Genesis
Sh’mot Exodus
Vayikra Leviticus
Bamidbar Numbers
D’varim Deuteronomy

The Nevi’im is made up of 21 books and is divided into three sections:
Nevi’im Rishonim (The Early Prophets)
Y’hoshua Joshua
Shof’tim Judges
Sh’mu’el Alef I Samuel
Sh’mu’el Bet II Samuel
M’lakhim Alef (I Kings)
Melakhim Bet (II Kings)

Nevi’im Acharonim (The Later Prophets)
Yesha’yahu (Isaiah)
Yirmeyyahu (Jeremiah)
Yechezk’el (Ezekiel)

Shneim Asar (The Twelve Minor Prophets)
Hoshea (Hosea)
Yo’el (Joel)
Ovadyah (Obadiah)
Yonah (Jonah)
Mikhah (Micah)
Nachum (Nahum)
Havakuk (Habakkuk)
Tz’fanyah (Zephaniah)
Hagai (Haggai)
Z’kharyah (Zechariah)
Mal’akhi (Malachi)

The Katuvim is made up of 13 books and is divided into three sections:

Tehilim (Psalms)
Mishlei (Proverbs)
Iyov (Job)

The Five Megillot (Scrolls)
Shir- Ha-Shirim (Song of Songs)
Rut (Ruth)
Eikhah (Lamentations)
Kohelet (Ecclesiastes)
Ester (Esther)

Dani’el (Daniel)
Nechemyah (Nehemiah)
Divre ha-Yamim Aleph (I Chronicles)
Divre ha-Yamim B (II Chronicles)

Bound copies of the Tanakh
Most Jews have bound copies of the Torah and/or Tanakh at home, as well as a Siddur. (Prayer book)

These are both used for private devotions, as well as Sabbath observances performed at home.

Hebrew Words


The Hebrew word for book is Sefer. It literally means ‘scrape’ because Hebrew scrolls were made from scraped animal hide

A synagogue is a Jewish place of worship. The word synagogue is actually not Hebrew, it is from the Greek word sunagoge, which means ‘assembly’ and is related to the word synod.

The Hebrew word for place of worship is Beit K’nesset (Place of Assembly) or Bet Tefila (Place of Worship)

Orthodox Jews usually call synagogues by the Yiddish name Shul. Shul comes from the German word for school and emphasizes the synagogue’s role as a place of study.

Conservative Jews are usually the ones who use the word Synagogue.

Reform Jews prefer the word Temple, because they believe that every Jewish place of worship is equal to the original Temple of Jerusalem.

The length of a synagogue service depends on what sort of Jews attend. In Orthodox services there is not a cantor or a choir. Rabbis also don’t take out the time to call out the page number in the prayer book because everyone is expected to know and be able to keep up on their own.

In all services there are prayers, a reading from the Torah, then closing prayers.

Reform Jews conduct their services in the language of the country where they live, instead of in Hebrew.

There are also various doctrinal differences between Reform Jews and Orthodox Jews.

The Torah
The five books of Moses are called the Pentateuch
The entire Pentateuch written on a scroll is called the Torah
Every synagogue has a large Torah scroll, which is read from during worship.
An entire Torah scroll, if completely unraveled, is over 150 feet long.

The Sabbath is the seventh day of the week (Saturday) and the Jewish day of rest. On that day God rested after He finished making the world. The Jews commemorate that day by resting and worship.

The Sabbath, like all Jewish holidays, begins at Sunset. So the time from Friday’s sunset through Saturday’s sunset is considered the Sabbath.

Sabbath services are held either at sunset, or within a half hour of it to give the congregants a chance to get there.

Soferim (Scribes)
The order of Soferim began among the Jews around 443 B.C. They were responsible for copying and preserving the sacred texts of the Bible and they took their job very seriously. After completing a panel (three or four sections), their work would be checked and if there was so much as one single mistake, they would destroy not only that panel, but the panel before it, because it had touched a panel with a mistake!

The Talmud is a huge collection of Rabbinical traditions, rules and commentary about the Torah and Mishna (Oral Tradition).

Bar Mitzvah
Bar Mitzvah means “Son of the Commandment.”

Under Jewish Law, children are not obligated to observe the commandments, although they are encouraged to do so as much as possible.

At the age of 13 however, boys are then considered morally responsible. They become sons of the Commandment and are thus expected to obey the Commandments.

The Bar Mitzvah ceremony formally marks the assumption of that obligation, along with the rights and privileges of adulthood. For a Jewish male this means being able to take part in religious services, sign binding contracts, being able to testify before religious courts and to marry.

A Jewish boy automatically becomes a Son of the Commandment upon reaching the age of 13. For a long time there was no formal ceremony to mark the occasion, but during a service on the Sabbath after the boy’s birthday he would be called up to recite a blessing over the weekly reading of the Torah.

As time passed it became common for the celebrant to memorize and recite an entire portion of the Torah. In some congregations the boy would read the entire weekly portion, or would lead the congregation in certain prayers. He would also be expected to make a speech, which traditionally began with the phrase "Today I am a man." His father would also recite a blessing thanking God for removing the burden of being responsible for the son's sins. In modern times this service was followed by an elaborate reception.

At the age of 12 a girl becomes a Bat Mitzvah, a “Daughter of the Commandment.” In Orthodox congregations women are not allowed to participate in religious services, so if a Bat Mitzvah is celebrated it is usually little more than a party. In many Reform congregations, the girls do exactly the same thing as the boys.

Many have criticized the Bar Mitzvah ceremony by saying that it is outdated and implies that a 13 year old is now a full adult. But for most it simply means that one is now growing up and is now held responsible for his (or her) actions.

The Name

Jews have tremendous reverence for the name of God. They do not say it out loud and are only allowed to write it if they are writing a sacred book.

During the days when the Temple still stood, the only time God’s Name was ever spoken out loud was once a year by the High Priest in the Holy of Holies during Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. After the Temple was destroyed this practice ended.

The name of God is found written in the Tanakh and in the Siddur, but it is never spoken out loud by Jews. Instead they say or write Hashem, (God, The Name) or Adonai (Lord, Master).

When Jews are praying, they address God by various different titles; Hashem and Adonai, are the most common.

There are many other titles of God that the Jews use such as:

Adonai Elohenu (Lord God)
Elohim (God the Strong Creator)
Elohe Yisrael (God of Israel)
Hashem Eloheinu Lord Our God

Other titles of God are:
El Elyon (God Most High)
El Emuah (The Faithful God)
El Gibbor (Mighty God)
El Gibbor Milchamah (The Lord Mighty in Battle)
El Hakabodh (The God of Glory)
El Hayyay (God of my Life)
El He (The Living God)
El Kanno (Jealous God),
El Maron (The High God)
El Nekamoth (God Who Avenges Me)
El Nose (God Who Forgives)
El Olam (Everlasting God),
El Roi (The God who sees me),
El Sali (God my Rock)
El Shaddai (Almighty God),
El Simchath Gili (God my Exceeding Joy)
Eli (My God)
Eli Melekhi (My God, My King)

Elohe Chaseddi (The Merciful God)
Elohe Mauzi (God of my Strength)
Elohe Tsadeki (God of my Righteousness)
Elohe Tsebaoth (God of Hosts)
Elohe Tishuathi (God of my Salvation)
Elohe Yacob (God of Jacob)

Elohenu Olam (Our Everlasting God)

If someone is praying at home in non-Hebrew, they will just say God or My Lord.

Non-Jews say and write God’s name all the time. There is even a sect that uses the Name of God in their own name. Jews would call them Hashem’s Witnesses.

Historical Notes

A Brief History of the Jews

Early Beginnings
According to the Bible, Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Japheth’s descendants spread throughout Europe and Asia.
Ham’s descendants spread throughout Africa and the Middle East.
Shem’s descendants spread throughout the Middle East as well, and became known as the Semitic people.

One of Shem’s descendants was Avraham/Abraham

Around 2093 B.C., God commanded Abraham to leave his home in Mesopotamia, promising him that He would make him a great nation that would bless the earth.

Abraham obeyed God and immigrated to the land of Canaan, (Present day Israel) the Canaanites began to call Abraham and his people the Hebrews, which means ‘Ones From the Region Beyond’.

Abraham’s nephew Lot became the ancestor of the Moabites and Ammonites, who settled in northern and central Jordan.

Abraham’s descendants
Contrary to what some think; Abraham had several sons.

He took his wife’s Egyptian servant Hagar as a concubine and she bore him Ishmael, who became the ancestor of the Arabs of Saudi Arabia.

After his wife Sarah died, Abraham married the woman Keturah who bore him six sons, including Midian, who became the ancestor of the Midianites and Kenites who lived around the Sinai Peninsula.

Abraham’s first wife Sarah bore him Isaac, whom God chose to be Abraham’s heir and inheritor of the promised blessings.

Isaac’s Descendants
married Rebekah of Haran and had twin sons: Esau and Yacov/Jacob.

Esau became the ancestor of the Edomites and Amalekites.

The Edomites settled in southern Jordan where they built thriving towns and kingdoms. Around the 5th c. B.C. the Edomites began to be called the Idumeans. Two famous Idumeans were Herod the Great and his son Herod Antipas.

The Amalekites became nomads in the Negev and Sinai region. Haman the Agagite was a descendant of the Amalekites.

Jacob became the ancestor of the Israelites.

Jacob’s descendants Jacob had twelve sons:

Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar and Zebulon by his first wife Leah

Dan and Napthali by his concubine Bilhah

Gad and Asher by his concubine Zilpah.

Joseph and Benjamin by his second and favorite wife Rachel

Jacob’s name was later changed to Yisra’el/Israel. From that time on, his descendants were called Israelites and his sons became the ancestors of the 12 Tribes of Israel.

Slavery in Egypt
The Israelites moved to Egypt to escape a famine and were eventually enslaved there for over 400 years.

God gave the Israelites instructions for building the Tabernacle of Worship.

Moses’s brother Aaron served as Israel’s first Cohen Gadol (High Priest). His sons’ Eleazar and Ithamar became his assistant Cohanim (Priests). From that point on descendants of Aaron served as Israel’s priests.

The rest of the tribe of Levi were called the Levites and assisted the priests in the Tabernacle.

If a Jew’s last name is Levi, he’s likely a descendant of the tribe of Levi.
If a Jew’s last name is Cohen, it means that he’s a descendant of the priestly line.

The Commandments
The Israelites stopped first at Mt Sinai, where God gave them His Commandments. He also promised that He would be their God and that they would be His chosen people and a holy nation.

God gave the Israelites instructions for building the Tabernacle of Worship Moses’s brother Aaron served as Israel’s first Cohen Gadol (High Priest). His sons Eleazar and Ithamar became his assistant Cohanim (Priests).

From that point on descendants of Aaron served as Israel’s priests.

The rest of the tribe of Levi were called the Levites and assisted the priests.

If a Jew’s last name is Levi, he’s likely a descendant of the tribe of Levi.
If a Jew’s last name is Cohen, it means that he’s a descendant of the priestly line.


The Israelites wandered in the wilderness for 40 years until they eventually entered and conquered Canaan under the leadership of Moses’ successor Joshua.

Each tribe was given its own territory, except for Levi, who received villages scattered throughout all of Israel’s territories.

Canaan came to be known as Eretz-Yisrae’el, or the Land of Israel.

For four hundred years the Israelites lived under tribal leaders called Judges.

The Kingdom of Israel
Around 1050 B.C. Israel united under its first king: Saul of the tribe of Benjamin.

In 1000 B.C. after Saul died, David of Judah became king and the city of Yerushalayim/Jerusalem became the capital.

In 970 B.C. David’s son Solomon became king. Under Solomon, Israel entered the height of its wealth and power. Solomon constructed the great Israelite Temple, which became known as Solomon’s Temple.

Jerusalem became both the political and spiritual center of Israel.

Israel Divided
In 930 B.C. after the death of Solomon, Israel split into two different kingdoms:
The Kingdom of Judah in the south, (Comprised of the tribes of Judah, and Benjamin, and the various Levite groups who lived in the area)

The Kingdom of Israel, in the north, which was comprised of all the other tribes.

Kingdom of Israel
The city of Samaria eventually became the capital of the Kingdom of Israel. Israel had various different dynasties, but Judah was always ruled by David’s descendants and its capital remained in Jerusalem.

The Kingdom of Israel destroyed
In 722 B.C. Israel was destroyed by the Assyrians. The population was deported and scattered throughout the Assyrian Empire and became known as the Ten Lost Tribes.

The Assyrians brought many foreigners from throughout their empire to live in Israel. These settlers intermarried with the few remaining Israelites and became the Samaritans.

The Judeans
After the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel, the people of Judah came to be called the Judeans, and this name eventually would develop into the name Jew.

The Babylonian Captivity
The Jews were eventually conquered by the Babylonians, who destroyed Jerusalem and deported the Jews to Babylonian for 70 years.

During this time the Synagogue developed as the place of worship for the exiled Jews and Rabbis (Teachers) became the spiritual leaders and teachers.

Return to Judea
In 539 B.C. the Babylonians were conquered by the Medo-Persian Empire and the Persian king Cyrus allowed the Jews were allowed to return to their native land.

The Jews returned to Israel and rebuilt both Jerusalem and the Temple.

Around 400 B.C., the Jews formed the Great Synagogue, which dealt with the study and exposition of the Tanakh.

Over time the Midrash, a collection of allegories, and commentary on the Torah, began.

Around 200 B.C. the Mishna, a collection of oral traditions, developed as well.

New Conquerors
Israel eventually became part of the Macedonian Empire and later the Roman Empire.

While under the rule of Rome, Israel was divided into three regions:
Judea in the south (Populated by Jews)
Galilee in the north, (Populated by Jews and a large percentage of Gentiles)
Samaria in the middle, (inhabited by the Samaritans).

The First Diaspora (Expulsion of the Jews)
In 70 A.D. Israel rebelled against Rome and Jerusalem was destroyed by the Roman general Titus.

Nearly a million Jews were killed and thousands more enslaved and/or deported to other lands. Many Jews were able to remain in Judea and in time Jerusalem was rebuilt.

The Second Diaspora
In 132 A.D. Judea rebelled against Rome once again and Emperor Hadrian sent his legions against them.

In 136 A.D. Jerusalem was captured and razed to the ground, half a million Jews were killed, thousands died of hunger or disease and hundreds more were sold as slaves.

In order to prevent any future rebellions, Hadrian had nearly all the remaining Jews banished from Judea and declared the city of Jerusalem off limits to them.

Israel’s name was changed to Palestine in honor of the ancient Philistines.

Although some tiny communities of Jews were able to remain in Palestine, the Jews for the most part became a stateless people until 1948.

Jewish groups scattered throughout the world, settling in whatever country would allow them to.

Jews often stood out, not only because of their religious beliefs, but because of their strong emphasis on education, and throughout the centuries they suffered frequent persecution.

With the Temple destroyed, the Jews developed their own unique counter-culture. The Synagogue, the Torah and the Mishna became the main sources of Jewish identity and culture.

Over time both the Torah and Mishna were studied by generations of rabbis. Eventually rabbis wrote down their discussions and commentary on the Mishna. These volumes of commentary became known as the Talmud.

History of the Jews in Germany

The First German Jews
Jews first began to settle in Germany around the 4th century. In fact, Jews had migrated to the ‘barbarian lands, long before Christianity ever arrived in Western Europe.

By the 8th century there were many thriving Jewish communities along the Rhine and in the 10th century many more Jewish immigrants arrived from France and Italy. Some of their most important communities were at Worms, Mainz and Cologne.

The Jews played an important economic role in Germany as farmers, craftsmen and especially as merchants. From the 10th -11th centuries, a large Jewish merchant class developed and they established trade networks all over Europe and the Mediterranean.

In the 12th and 13th centuries, many Jews became moneylenders.

The Ashkenaz

The name Ashkenaz developed as a title that was associated with German customs and came to be applied to the merchant Jews of the Rhine area and Germany. Ashkenaz communities thrived and spread throughout Germany and France.

The Ashkenaz Jews were very much into scholarship and did extensive study of both the Tanakh and the Talmud. Major centers of rabbinic study developed in Mainz and Worms, which attracted Jews from all over Europe.

Crusades and Massacres
When the Crusades began in 1095, they caused tremendous harm to relations between Christians and Jews. For a long time Christendom had been divided, but it was now unified in a single purpose.

The Jews were now viewed as outsiders and many were rumored to be allied with the Muslims .

Crusaders would routinely massacre Jewish communities on their way to the Holy Land. The communities in Worms, Mainz and Cologne were devastated by these attacks. In 1096 alone, over 1000 Jews were killed in Mainz in one day, and the synagogues and other buildings destroyed.

Attacks like this continued during all the other crusades until the 13th century.

Increased Isolation
Another effect the Crusades had was that more non-Jews became involved in the merchant class. Also Jews were no longer allowed to run for public office.

Because of this, more and more Jews became moneylenders. Christians were not allowed to lend money, so Jews filled the niche. Unfortunately this profession did nothing to endear them to non-Jews.

Jews were no longer able to interact casually with Christians. Because more and more people were turning against them, the Jews of each city would band together in their own sections called ghettos.

This collective isolation led to the development of Yiddish, a language that was a medieval dialect of German mixed in with elements of Hebrew.

In time, many Jews spoke more Yiddish than Hebrew. The written use of Hebrew also declined and many were not even taught it. Yiddish became the language read and written by Jews.

For centuries the Jews of Germany and the rest of Europe suffered frequent persecutions. Many times they were expelled from a city or area altogether.

One slight advantage was that Germany wasn’t unified. Therefore if Jews were banished from one city or state, they would almost certainly be able to find refuge in other.

For centuries the Jews wandered and a grim cycle developed. The Jews were allowed to live in a certain area for a while, they would fill an economic role (Business and/or money lending), the role would gradually be taken over by non-Jews, persecution and violence would break out against the Jews, the Jews would be expelled.

Because of this, most Jews wandered constantly, never staying in an area for long.

Eastern Europe

Many groups of Jews began moving eastward. By the 15th century, most of European Jewry had moved to Eastern Europe and where concentrated around Poland.

Other Jews, however, remained in Germany, and by the 13th century, many communities had formed in Munich, Berlin and Vienna.

The State
The Jews’ situation began to improve in the 17th century. The rulers of the states of Prussia, Brandenburg and Hamburg began to view the interests of the State as paramount and realized that the Jews were a valuable commodity. Therefore, they began to welcome Jews into their territories.

It wasn’t easy, the State expected to get as much as possible out of the Jews and their lives were highly monitored and regulated. However expulsions declined and more and more states began to readmit Jews.

Increasing Rights and Changes
During the 18th century the status of Jews continued to improve and they were granted more and more rights. Ghettos were gradually abolished and Jews now could live and work wherever they wanted.

One negative result of this was that the autonomy of the Jewish communal government began to decline. As more and more Jews became like their non-Jewish neighbors, their cohesiveness began to fade as well.

Many Jews began to ignore the Mishna and Talmud. Other Jews had an increased interest in non-Jewish culture and a desire for secular education.

The Jewish Renaissance
The increase in rationalism and the rise of the Enlightenment began in Europe in the 17th century and it led to the Haskalah, the Jewish Enlightenment or Renaissance.

The Jewish Enlightenment began in the 1770’s in Germany and spread eastward. It lasted until the 1880s.

Jews were encouraged to study secular subjects, learn modern languages and enter the fields of art and science. Increased numbers of Jews tried to assimilate into European society in culture, dress, and manners.

The first Haskalah school was founded in Berlin in 1778 and was called both the Freischule (Free School) and Hinnukh Ne’arim (Youth Education). It provided free education for poor children and taught various languages, arithmetic, geography, history, art, Bible studies and Hebrew.

As time passed, the use of Yiddish declined, as did adherence to the Mishna, Talmud and rabbinical authority. At the same time, however there was great surge of growth in the study of Jewish history and of the Hebrew language.

Many scholars and writers studied and wrote about the meaning of Judaism and an examination of the Jewish condition. Hebrew literature thrived and there was a great rise in a national Jewish consciousness.

There was also a rise in Nationalism. Many Jews began to consider themselves German, (or the nationality of the country they were living in.)

There was also a rise in Nationalism. Many Jews began to consider themselves German, (or the nationality of the country they were living in).

Orthodox Jews were against the Haskalah, but were affected by it as well. In Hamburg and Halberstadt, the first Orthodox schools that taught both Judaic and general studies began. Other such schools followed. For the first time, secular Yiddish literature was written.

Reform Judaism
One result of the Haskalah was the Jewish Reform Movement, which began in Germany in the early 1800’s.

The Reform Movement had two main goals:
To bring Judaism closer to contemporary standards;
Prevent conversions to Christianity by making Judaism more vibrant and in tune with cultural and individual needs.

From 1810-1820, many Reform congregations formed in Berlin, Hamburg and Seesen.
Reform congregations allowed:
Mixed seating of males and females
The use of German in services
The use of a choir.
Sermons and organ accompaniment.
The observance of Jewish law was focused on ethical commandments instead of ritual observance.

Jews in the mid-1930’s By the mid 1930’s there were about 600,000 Jews in Germany, less than 1% of the population. One third of them lived in Berlin.

History of Austrian Jews

Jews first began to settle in Austria around the 10th century and a large influx of them came to Vienna in the late 12th century.

Like Jews throughout Europe, the Jews of Austria suffered from frequent persecution. However, during a Black Death epidemic (1348-1349), Vienna was one of the few cities that didn’t blame the Jews for the disaster.

More Jewish refugees continued to come, and in time their main synagogue, located in the Judenplatz, became the largest one in Europe. In 1420, however, Duke Albrecht V expelled the Jews from Vienna and confiscated their property

The Jews were allowed to return 30 years later and from 1451-1624 there was a steady number of refugees particularly from the Ukraine.

Eventually the Jews were granted their own quarter of the city - Leopoldstadt. This quarter was eventually dissolved in 1624.

In 1669 the Jews were expelled again, but this caused economic problems, so the emperor invited the wealthier Jews to return.

After this, ties between the Jews and Vienna began to get stronger. For example, in 1683, Samson Wertheimer and Samuel Oppenheimer, two Jewish agents of the Imperial court, provided vital financial support to the Austrian army againstthe Turks.

Empress Maria Theresa (1717-1780) ruled Austria for 40 years and her reign is thought by many to be the Golden Age of Austria. Austria’s power was centralized, many roads and buildings were built and many reforms were passed (the death penalty was abolished, free public education was provided.)

Unfortunately, the Empress was very anti-Semitic and many discriminatory laws were passed against the Jews.

In 1782 Joseph II became emperor and he lifted most of the restrictions against Jews. After that Vienna became a major center of European Jewry. The Jews of Vienna eventually started a Jewish printing press and Vienna became the most important Hebrew publishing center in Central Europe.

The Jewish Renaissance in Vienna

In 1867, Jews were granted full citizenship rights. As a result of this there was a huge influx of Jewish immigrants from the east, especially from Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Very quickly Jews became active in all areas of life in Vienna.

From 1878 until 1938, the fortunes of the Jews in Austria steadily improved and they, like their brethren in Germany, went through a great artistic and cultural renaissance.

Several Jewish institutions were established in Vienna:
The Rothschild Hospital (1872)
A Gymnasium
A Jewish Pedagogium, (a school for dogmatic teaching)
A Jewish Museum (1895)
This Museum was the first Jewish museum in the world.

By the turn of the century, Vienna was thriving and so were its Jews. There were many Jewish merchants, traders, and businessmen. There were also many prominent physicians and theologians, and many Jews were involved in music, theatre, art and literature.

Eventually over 50% of Austria’s physicians and dentists were Jews. So were 60 % of its lawyers and a large percentage of their university professors.

By the early 20th century, Vienna had 185,000 Jews, about 10% of the city’s population.

Important synagogues in Vienna
Vienna had two major synagogues: the Leopoldster Temple (1858) and the Vienna Synagogue. Aside from them; Vienna had over 40 smaller synagogues throughout Vienna.

Twentieth Century

World War II

World War II began on September 1, 1939 with Germany invaded Poland. Britain and France then declared war on Germany.

On one side were the Allies (Britain, France, United States (1941) Russia (1941)
On the other side were the Axis (Germany, Italy, Japan)

Germany surrendered on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe. Japan surrendered on August 15, 1945, which finally brought WWII to a close.

By the time the war ended, it had lasted for six years and had cost over 50 million lives.
Over eleven million people were murdered in the concentration camps.
Six million of them were Jews.
Five million of them were non-Jews.

Concentration Camps
After Hitler came to power the Nazis began to build prison camps called Concentration Camps to hold people whom they considered undesirable. Some of these camps were Dachau, Mauthausen and Ravensbruck

At first these ‘undesirables’ were mostly criminals and political prisoners.

But then, around 1938, the Nazis began to fill their prison camps with Jews.

Once WWII began, they started to kill them.

Death Camps
People died at all of the Nazis' camps, but some were built for the sole purpose of mass extermination and became known as Death Camps.

Some of the death camps were Treblinka, Chelmno, Sobibor, Belzec and Auschwitz.

Auschwitz is located in southern Poland, about 30 miles west of Krakow and is perhaps the most infamous of the Nazi death camps.

All of the Nazi prison camps were horrible, but some like Auschwitz, had been designed specifically to murder as many as possible.

Upon arriving at Auschwitz, men and women would be separated. Then both groups would undergo a selection.

The elderly, the sick, people with physical disabilities, women with small children, anyone under the age of 15, would be sent the gas chambers. Afterwards their bodies would be taken to the crematories and reduced to ashes.

Those who were considered fit to work would be sent right and processed. Their heads would be shaved and their left arms tattooed. They would then become slave laborers and would work in terrible conditions until they died or were killed.

The prisoners were forced to do backbreaking work and had to endure brutal roll calls twice a day in which they had to stand at attention for hours regardless of the weather.

They were fed twice a day. In the morning they were given watery coffee, and in the evening, if they were lucky, a bowl of watery soup and/or a crust or two of bread.

Between 1942-1945 over 1.5 million people were murdered at Auschwitz.

Bergen Belsen
The concentration camp of Bergen Belsen was located in Germany near Hamburg. It had no gas chambers, but food and water was not distributed and prisoners died by the thousands from hunger and disease. There was severe overcrowding, no organization or cleanliness. The prisoners literally lived day in and day out in mud and filth.

In December of 1944, a typhus epidemic broke out, due to horrendous hygienic conditions. Over 17,000 prisoners died and their bodies were either placed in piles or left to rot where they lay.

When the camp was finally liberated in April 15,1945 by the British, they found over 10,000 unburied bodies and 60,000 sick and dying prisoners.

Even after liberation, many of the prisoners were too far-gone to survive and hundreds died everyday. By the time the death toll lessened, over 14,000 more prisoners had died.

The Displaced People
Europe was in utter shambles after WWII. Countless towns and cities had been reduced to heaps of rubble.

Over 50 million Europeans were displaced; this included deported Jews, former prisoners, soldiers and civilians. All of them had all either been uprooted from their homes or had lost their homes.

More than 2/3 of the refugees found themselves in another region of their own country, (etc. Germany) but millions of others found themselves in foreign lands.

Many of these displaced people wanted to try to find their way back to their homes. Others simply wanted to go somewhere, anywhere else in order to rebuild their lives.

Many set out with no clear idea of where they were going, and some didn’t care as long as they were moving.

Travel was very difficult and often dangerous. Towns and cities had been destroyed and so had many roads, bridges and train lines. Some tried to take military transports, rode on the few freight trains still running. Some went on bicycles, or horse drawn wagons. Most went on foot.

With millions of displaced people and no organization or reliable means of travel, it was the largest and most chaotic migration in human history.


Dowly, Tim. The Kregel Pictorial Guide to The Story of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI. Kregel Publications. 2001.

The Magic of Words. Chicago, Ill: World Book Inc, Childcraft International.1974.

Stein, Conrad Stein. Austria: Enchantment of the World. New York, NY. Children’s Press. 2000.


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