Today was a day like no other. Most days are like that. Anyway, enough chit-chat. It was looking like today would be a wash-out when we pulled up the drive of a posh elder-living facility this afternoon. All the people we had previously seen were either sleeping or not interested, which is always a bit of a let-down. Nevertheless, adjusted our ties and prepared to enter the domicile of our next host. Not that he knew that he'd be our host, but he found out about it pretty quickly.

We introduced ourselves to the elderly man, his wife, and their grandchild, a 15 year old named David who laughed at my jokes and is therefore assured of eternal paradise. In what seemed like no time at all we were discussing Wolf's (for that is his name) life story. All the details are his, so no griping, okay?

Wolf was born in a Polish town, population of 35,000, on the border with Germany, in 1923. His father wore a Shtreimel (fur trimmed hat worn by many Chassidim) and was a Chassid of the local Rebbe, whose Tish (literally a table but actually meaning inspirational gathering) they would regularly attend. Wolf remembers going half day to the local Jewish Polish school and half day to the Cheder (literally a room but actually meaning Jewish religious school). The Poles and Jews went to separate schools for two reasons: In Poland, kids had to attend school six days a week. The local non-Jews would send their kids every day but Sunday, while the Jews sent their kids on all days but Shabbat. In order to avoid problems, they had separate schools. The second reason is that no Polish peasant would allow a 'dirty Jewish kid' in his kid's school.

In 1938, when Wolf was 15, the Germans kicked all foreign-born Jews out of Germany. All these Jews were thoroughly Germanized, and it came as a big shock to them. These Jews had originally left Poland ten or twenty years before in order to find a better life, and they had done so in Germany. Even though they had become German citizens, the Nazis decided to deport them. They were brought to the border on a Thursday, and put outside German territory. The Polish Government didn't want to accept them, as they were officially German citizens. The Germans had stripped them of their citizenship, so they weren't citizens of anywhere.

The local Rebbe managed to bribe the guards to allow the Jews through, but the only time they could do it was on Shabbat. All the townspeople went to the border, with their horses and wagons, and brought their fellow Jews to the town, though they had to go outside the Eruv (enclosure in which one may transport certain objects on Shabbos), as Wolf noted. Once everyone came back safely, there arrived the additional problem of food, as no one had prepared for the guests. Back in the day, everyone used to make Cholent in their homes and then bring it to the baker's oven to cook until Shabbat afternoon. The Rebbe announced that all the Cholent was now owned by the community, and would be distributed to the refugees. The townspeople went home and ate herring and crackers.

It was a beautiful town, with two Synagogues, several Batei Medrash (study halls), a kosher butcher and baker; life was good. In 1939 the Nazis marched in and destroyed everything. The local Poles lined up outside, and when they saw a Jewish family being lead away from a house, they came in and occupied it. Wolf was in concentration camps for six years. One day, in 1942 or '43, he saw a whole group of Chassidim come to the camp with their Rebbe. They all had long peyos (side locks) and kapotes (black coats), as he once had. They turned to their Rebbe as they were being lead to the gas-chambers, and asked him, "What can we do now to save ourselves?" Before, he had always had the answers yo their questiond; now, he had nothing to tell them.

In the camps, they were worked from dawn to nightfall, and the religious Jews had no time to pray in the morning. They would put on their Tefillin while they were walking to the work sites, and pray by heart. This was of course extremely dangerous, as it was illegal to possess any sort of religious article. Once a guard saw one of the prisoners putting on Tefillin, and he walked over, thinking they were some sort of bomb. When he saw what they were he smacked the prisoner in the face, and the Tefillin fell down to the ground, ruined.

After Yom Kippur one year, one of the Chassidim in the camp was desperate to do Kiddush Levana (sanctification of the moon). Everyone else in his barracks told him that he was mad, because if you left the barracks at night then you would be shot. He could not be dissuaded and jumped through a window, as the door was locked. He went to the fence to try and see the moon, and the guard shot him.

There weren't only Jews in the camps; many criminals were sent there, including some German ones. Even though these criminals were in concentration camps, they still felt that they had some power, and they were just as happy to kill Jews as were the guards.

After the war, a British chaplain gave Wolf a pair of Tefillin. Later he made his way to Sweden. In 1947 he came back home, to his town, but everything was desolate, as he had left it. The sites of the Shuls were still in ruins, and Poles inhabited all the Jewish houses. Wolf realized that there was no more life in Poland; the whole country was simply a cemetery for the Jewish dead.

While he was in the camps, Wolf prayed many times for Moshiach to come. After the war they told him he was lucky that he had survived. He said "No, the others were lucky. They died."

Where was G‑d in the camps? Where was G‑d during the entire 2,000 years of Jewish suffering? It's not my job to answer those questions, because no human, no matter how great, can answer them.