Alicia A. Appleman-Jurman
September 17, 1998
I was born May 9, 1930 in Rosulna, Poland, as Alicia Jurman. Rosulna is a small village in the Carpathian mountains. At the age of five, I moved with my family to the city of Buczacz (pronounced “boochach”) in eastern Poland. This city is located in the part of Poland which was annexed to the Soviet Union after World War II and is now part of the Ukraine.
My parents, four brothers and close relatives numbering about eighty were all killed by the Germans and their collaborators. During the war years I lived in the Ghettos of Buczacz and Kopechince and learned to survive in the forests and fields surrounding those cities. I escaped death several times. In our ghettos as well as in all of our region, the Germans killed us in “Actions”. They would surround the entire ghetto, or a neighborhood and those Jews who were found in homes and in hiding places were taken out to the meadows and forests and shot into open graves.
During my struggle to survive I was able to save several Jewish lives as well as those of two groups of Russian Partisans who were operating behind the German lines. As a witness to our tragedy I have related my story and the story of the Jewish community in our area both during and immediately after the war, in my autobiographical book Alicia-My Story which has been published by Bantam Books, Inc. The hardcover edition is now a collector’s item. A paperback edition was published in January 1990 and has been reprinted many times to date. The book has been translated into seven foreign languages and distributed throughout Europe and the countries called “Six Cherry Blossoms”, which is an allegory of the Holocaust.
After the Germans were defeated, I joined the “Brecha” and helped smuggle Jews out of Poland to Austria, from where others guided them to Eretz Israel. In early 1947 I sailed on the “illegal immigrant ship “Theodore Herzl”, hoping to land in Eretz Israel. We were caught by the British navy and sent to Cyprus, where I was interned in a British concentration camp for eight months.
In December 1947 I was one of the thousand Youth Aliyah children Golda Meier managed to get out of Cyprus. I was sent to study at a Youth Aliyah school, “Mikve Israel”, near Tel Aviv. When the War of Independence began in 1948 I took part in the fights against the Arab villages threatened the lives of our students at Mikveh Israel. I was also part of the Palyam and later joined the navy, “Chayl HaYam” forces which fought in Jaffa.
While serving in Israeli Navy I met Gabriel Appleman, a volunteer from the United States. We were married in 1950 and came to the United States in 1952. We returned to Israel in 1969 and were there during the Yom Kippur War in 1973. We came back to the United States once more in 1975.
For the last 45 years, I have spoken in synagogues, churches and schools, telling my story and the story of the people in my part of Poland and how we survived. Most important, I tell the story of how we did fight back during those years…the story of brave people, mostly children, who did not survive to tell the story themselves. I have spent week-ends with youth groups such as Adat Noar and have been called upon to speak at teacher’s seminars and public schools by the ADL in Southern California.
When I speak I tell my story simply, but I can see that I reach into the hearts of my listeners. I do not use notes or read my talks. It is not necessary because I speak about my own experiences. Although I have a slight accent, I have a good command of English and have been told that I speak well and that I do not lose my audience. Some of the groups I have spoken to have been very large, the greatest being thirteen thousand people at the Long Beach Arena in California, where I addressed a convention of International Networking Enterprises, which is associated with the Amway Corporation.
* Alicia-My Story was chosen by the Literary Guild Book Club as a featured alternate selection and has been licensed for translation and publication in Sweden, Finland Denmark, Holland, France, Italy, and Switzerland. The English Bantam Press published Alicia-My Story in hardcover for its Spring 1989 season and issued Alicia in paperback March 1990.
* Alicia-My Story won a CHRISTOPHER award for 1989. Christopher Awards are given each year to recognize creative writers, producers and directors who have achieved artistic excellence in films, books and television specials affirming the HIGHEST VALUES OF THE HUMAN SPIRIT.
* Alicia-My Story was also awarded the prestigious BERNARD LECACHE 1989 AWARD by the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism LICRA-, in Paris, competing against six French authors for the honor.
For speaking engagements or a videotape of my presentation, please call 408-371-9691 or write to:
3470 Lapridge Lane
San Jose, CA 95124-2501