Sima: My mother said, “So you have found us…”
Sam: She said, “Very well.”
Sima: Yes, very well. She said, “So you are afraid that the Führer is going to lose the war when we live here?”
Sima: Yes, “Look at us,” Esther said, “we’re women and children. All we want is to survive the war.” He said, “People don’t live in any cave. We will take you …”
Sam: “You’re going to a camp.”
Sonia: To a camp. Then my grandmother said, “I know already what type of camps you have for us.” As she spoke there was another man, another Gestapo, in the back and he said, “Who’s speaking there so loud?” They pushed my grandmother aside and caught my Uncle Sam. All of a sudden my mother [Henia Dodyk] pushed me under the bed. There was no room for her and my sister Pepkale [Sima] because the other couple was there. Here I am under the bed and the Gestapo is taking my mother and sister away and I’m not even allowed to cry. I can’t say anything. I felt they’re going to take them out and shoot them, but God was good to us and they didn’t shoot them. They took them outside. My grandmother gave my uncle a signal and he ran away and then my grandmother…
Sima: My grandmother, ran away and then …
Sonia: Then they come back and we were already standing in the exit my Uncle Shula made. He made an exit five stories high. We were all standing but what happened was we were very, very lucky. My Aunt Hannah was the first to go out, then my Aunt Yetta looked for me. She found me. I was afraid to come out. She said, “Why aren’t you coming out?” I said, “Because they took away Mommy [Henia Dodyk] and Pepkale [Sima]. This was our miracle that we didn’t open up the exit. If we had opened up the exit, the police was there and they would’ve killed us all. They would have shot us up.
Olds: Did you maintain your faith in God?
Sam: We didn’t talk about that. We were very angry with him. We said, “Where is God?”
Sonia: I have to differ.
Sam: I didn’t think about God.
Sonia: I have to differ. My grandmother said that God alone has created this grotta for us. And when it was high holidays my father was praying and Bubby Esther had the Jewish calendar. Yes we questioned where is God and how come he allows so many Jewish families to be killed? And to destroy children? A million and a half children were killed. But somehow in our heart after we survived we started to thank God in our heart. Perhaps during the war like my uncle says, we were questioning, ‘Why didn’t God do something? Why didn’t this? Why didn’t that?’ Big rabbis and philosophers have talked about this and I don’t think that I am qualified to make a statement about this.
Sam: We were very lucky. Anything they did to us turned out to be in our favor. We were…
Sonia: She was caught with my mother [Sima]. Let her tell her story.
Sima: When the Germans came in the first cave, as we said before, everyone hid under the bunkers …
Sam: Under the bed.
Sima: Under the bed.
Sonia: Unfortunately there was no room for myself and my mother. My mother managed to push my sister Pepkale [Sima] underneath the bed but we were left standing and the Germans came over to us.
Click here to read Part IV
“No Place on Earth” opens this week on Friday, April 5, 2013 at Film Society Lincoln Center, 144 West 65th Street. NYC. Rated PG-13. 83 minutes.