Aunt Ekku was my friend's aunt...and I knew this story well by the time I actually met her. At 17, with a shaved head and covered in lice, she was being marched most likely to her death ,when she and a friend ran for it, scambling off the road and running for their lives. I'm sure details aren't totally accurate since the story came to me third hand but the gist of it is true.
Ekku was a Hungarian Jew in a Nazi camp that was close to liberation. As they ran, Ekku heard the gunfire behind them, and at first thought it was for them...later realized that the women she was marching with were probably being murdered..
She never saw her friend again...doesn't know whether she lived...they separated and went in different directions with Ekku making it into a German town and frantically knocking on doors until a woman took her in. I understand they remained in touch until the woman died many years later.
Ekku immigrated to the United States, married and raised children and developed a successful business in the Garment District of New York.
Her family adored her...her business associates respected her...when I met her she had long ceased to be a young woman but the grip of her handshake was solid...Ekku had a remarkable sense of presense.
I think this story needs to be told...for many reasons...history tells us of so many examples of man's inhumanity to man...the Armenians and the Turks...Cambodia..my own country's treatment of Native Americans. But there is the other side...the ones who try to do the right thing...the brave thing...like the German woman who risked her family's lives by hiding Ekku.
And Ekku herself could have become bitter...4 of her 6 siblings were killed along with her parents...she suffered terribly, immigrated to a country with nothing, not even an understanding of the language. But she survived and thrived.. My friend's Aunt Ekku is a woman I admire for her strength, her personal compassion, and her ability to rise above what most of us can't even imagine.