There was a small hole in the kitchen floor that led to a secret crawl space. That image is burned into my memory. The space was maybe five feet long by five feet wide.
The owner of the house said, “They used to fit six people inside there. When the Nazis would come.”
His name was Tadeusz Skoczylas, and the house we were in had belonged to his family during World War II. It was a small brick house in the town of Ciepielów, Poland. It had a red roof that had seen better days. The front door was just a few steps off the street. In the backyard were a few barns and other small shacks.
I had been in Poland for a few days already, and the horror of the history I had experienced was overwhelming. But this was something different. This was so personal.
I’m looking at this tiny space. And I’m imagining six people down there, hiding from death. Six real people. Crawling through that little hole right in front of me. Not that long ago. It wasn’t a history book. It wasn’t a museum. It was right there.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.