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Chapter 1
Summer, 1937

Morris Hirsch watched, horrified, as six gray canvas-covered trucks drove into a quiet street in northwest Berlin, stopping in front of a nondescript five-story brick apartment building.  The tailgate of each truck dropped, and armed German soldiers jumped out and spread across the street forming a cordon, their rifles at the ready.  At their officer’s command, twenty soldiers rushed into the building.

A few lights were on in the apartment building — early risers preparing for a new day as the sky turned light with the first signs of blue showing.  Morris had an early morning meeting with his friend, Simon Saltzmann, a member of the synagogue and treasurer on the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community Center.

With Morris was his younger son, Stefan.  Stefan was seventeen, and Simon’s daughter, Sarah, also seventeen, was his girlfriend.  He was eagerly looking forward to an early morning breakfast with her.

A lone officer stood off to the side, supervising, occasionally pointing or shouting an order.  The officer, Morris knew, was Lieutenant Colonel Heinrich Schmidt, responsible for security in the western sector of Berlin and responsible for sending thousands of Jews to concentration camps.  Morris stood next to his car keeping Stefan from running to Sarah, and shocked and helpless, watched as his dear friend Simon was pushed into a truck along with dozens of others.  Simon’s wife and their daughter, Sarah, were forced into a different truck.

Within minutes, the trucks drove off, the street once again quiet.  Curtains in apartments across the street were drawn closed, no one daring to watch.

Morris felt sick, a metallic taste rose in his throat and he vomited.  Pale and shaken, he quickly drove home.  Stefan was crying.

Escape.  We must somehow escape from this madness, thought Morris.  It’s only going to get worse.  It’s one thing after another and soon they’ll kill us all.  Hirsch thought of his family — his wife Miriam and his sons Johann and Stefan, and his eyes teared.  All he worked for, all he loved could soon be destroyed, but whenever he discussed leaving Germany, Miriam would not hear of it.

"This is our home, Morris.  Our country.  How can you think of leaving?  The problems will eventually go away.  Things will return to normal.  Wait and see."

"But Miriam, what if they don’t?"

Is it even possible to escape from Nazi Germany? he thought.  Where would we go?  How would we live? 

"Morris, Why are you home so early?" asked a worried Miriam as Morris and Stefan returned home.  "I thought you were meeting with Simon.  What is it?  What’s wrong?"  She looked at Stefan, his face streaked with tears.

He told her what he had just seen. 

"It was that devil, Schmidt.  Miriam, we must escape.  It’s our only option."

Miriam’s eyes went wide.  Greatly distressed, she nodded.

Schmidt’s name was burned into Stefan’s brain and his eyes flashed with hatred when he heard it.

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