Friday, January 18, 2008

Writing Exercise #2 - The Mascot

Even if you have no interest in writing exercises, keep on reading. The material below is fascinating - no thanks to me!

On January 16 I listened to an extradinary interview on NPR's show The World. Anchor Lisa Mullins did an interview with Alex Kurzen, a Jewish man now in his 70's who lives in Australia but who survived the Holocaust in an extradinary fashion. When he was about five years old, the Nazis slaughtered everyone in his Russian village, including every member of his family. He escaped, only to be saved and adopted by a group of Latvian soldiers in league with the Nazis. This tiny Jewish boy survived World War II acting as a sort of "mascot" for this group of mass murderers. He witnessed many horrors, even as they were kind to him. After the war, he moved to Australia and started a family, and he never spoke of his experiences. At the age of 72, he finally told his son Mark the story and asked him to verify it all for him. Even to Alex Kurzem, it all seemed like a dream.

That's just the start of this extraordinary tale. Listen to the interview here. Scroll down till you see the segment titled "Alex Kurzem - The Mascot" and listen to the interview. It's riveting. There are also links to photos, including some of Alex as a boy in an SS uniform, and to the book his son wrote about their search for the truth.

After perusing these materials, your writing exercise is to take a moment or two from this amazing story and write it from the point of view of the five-year-old Jewish boy who has been adopted by these Nazi-affiliated soldiers. It can be anything from a haiku to a full fledged short story.

Even if you have no interest in writing, I urge you to listen to this story. It'll move you.

1 comment:

Chris said...

it is quite a remarkable story...i just learned of it this morning while searching for information on the koidanov massacre of this day 68 years ago...i was blown away when i watched kurzem's 60 minutes interview...i posted to my own blog and invite you to stop by and leave a comment...thank you for sharing kurzem's story here...how did the stories turn out?