by Mina Wolkowicz

All my life I have searched for friendship. I grew up in gentile surroundings and went to school with gentiles. Therefore, my mentality was "cosmopolitan". Besides having friends of different nationalities, I had friends in the animal world.

We were a family of ten children plus a dog, a cat, and chickens. Our dog and cat were unusually good friends. They played together and ate from one plate. However, our dog hated strange cats. He chased them wherever he saw them. We named our dog Brill (Brilliant). He was our constant companion. He played ball with us and hide-and-seek. he went "shopping" with an order written on a piece of paper in a basket, which Brill carried between his teeth to the store. He understood our language and he was a member of the gang. In summertime Brill used to go with us to the river to swim, race and play in the water.

Once my older brother was drawn into a whirlpool and was in danger of drowning. We heard his cries for help. Brill jumped into the water and dragged my brother by the hair to the shore. As we started to massage my brother, Brill put his paw on my brothers chest, pointed his face up to the sky, and quietly yelped as we cried with him. When my brother opened his eyes, Brill jumped on him, licking his face and kissing him. Then he started jumping and turning on the sand to express his joy.

Some time later my father was sick. Brill lay under the bed and wouldn't come out. When my father was taken to the hospital, my mother shut Brill in the closet when she went to the hospital to visit. As she sat with my father in the hospital garden on a bench, a dog jumped over the high fence and here was Brill, kissing my father and crying. It was a heart-breaking function for everybody - my mother, father and the workers - to get the dog to leave the hospital.

When the second world war started, our Brill became a ghetto member - and died of hunger because he was a Jewish dog.

Here was a dog, brought up in a friendly, loving atmosphere, returning the love he received.

How about dogs from another atmosphere, another world, a world of hate? I will tell you.

At Eichman's trial in Jerusalem, one witnesses testified that a German officer in camp had a dog, a German shepherd, whom he named "Mensch" - prisoners he called "Hunde" (dog). Mensch was trained in German schools by special Arian dog teachers. He understood every word uttered by his master. His master offered "Mensch" to bite the "dog's" neck and his educated "Mensch" attacked the inmate. This mensch-dog was presumably a "high race" dog with all cultured privileges.

I encountered another dog "friend" on the thorny road of human cruelty.

After 14 months in a Russian jail in Charkow, one of the oldest jails built by Catherine II, I was imprisoned without any justification just because I was an "outsider" (from Poland). We were sent to a camp in Asia. For five weeks we travelled in cattle-cars with very little food and water and "arrived" in a desert. As emaciated prisoners, we were "greeted" by a convoy of heavily armed soldiers and German shepherds. These "heroes" surrounded us, the living corpses, and drove us down the dusty desert road with yelping dogs chasing us and urging us on.

These animals were a far cry from my beautiful shepherd Brill. My pet was full of love and compassion.

These animals were like their masters - trained in hate and cruelty.