The bunker was damp, and a sudden explosion startled some twenty fighters huddled together under a building in the Warsaw Ghetto. These brave souls, the final remnants of a once proud Jewish community faced the German attack with a resolute bravery that has become legendary. My father was one of the last of the Ghetto’s residents to be captured. Buildings were burning, fires purposely set by the soldiers, and their grenades proved to be the final blow. My father suffered a shrapnel wound behind his ear, and in the midst of human suffering and confusion he was removed from the hiding place and lined up with the other occupants against a wall.
Time for the Shema
It was time for the Shema, he thought. Although Arnold’s brother was amongst those captured, his thoughts turned to those he lost over the past three years; his grandmother, to starvation; his father to a German officer’s bullet in front of his eyes; and his mother and young sister to the infamous Treblinka death camp. Never would he see them again. Never would he be able to mourn them at a dignified burial site. In the next two years, Arnold would battle exhaustion, hunger, frostbite -with resulting amputations-infection, dehumanization, and slave labor, as he was transferred amongst four concentration camps, including Auschwitz. The nightmare finally ended in Buchenwald after a death march from Poland to Germany.
Arnold Kay’s Legacy
Arnold Kay’s experiences during World War II, moved us to commit to volunteer work advocating for the Jewish community in Raleigh, N.C. since retiring here from New York six years ago. We have served on the Holocaust Commemoration Committee, The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Federation, as organizers of the Jewish “Boomers” social group of the Jewish Community Center. Most recently, we have worked to support Voice for Israel and North Carolina Coalition for Israel as a result of resurgent anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist sentiment in the Triangle and in the U.S. in general. Finally, we’ve spoken to school groups, the JCC, bible study groups, etc., as we venture to educate people about what happened in Europe seventy-five years ago and why it matters.
Several years ago, we read with much trepidation about anti-Semitic events in Europe, but never did we envision the state of affairs which exist against Jews and Israel in present day America. This includes attacks on Jewish students on college campuses, vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, shooting/knifings at synagogues, trafficking in Jewish tropes by congressional representatives, and attacks on Jewish owned businesses, as in Jersey City. All of these events have made the message clear to us: We cannot just say “Never Again” we must act to combat all expressions of anti-Semitism. Lovingly documented by Susan and Bruce Newman.
Left: Susan’s Grandparents, Jacob and Chana Kapusta. Right: Arnold’s sister Miriam Kapusta.
Featured Photos: Left: Susan Newman’s father, Arnold Kay (Anshel Kapusta) on left; his brother, George Kay (Srul Kapusta) on right; his sister, Miriam Kapusta in front. Right: Arnold is on the far right, the only survivor of this group of 6 friends.