by Jenny Harrison
‘The Ninth candle is called the helper candle, used to light all the other candles, ‘Anushka whispered, ‘It is the most important candle we have.’
A Jewish woman explaining to Chiune Sugihara the importance of the Festival of Lights of Hanukkah, explaining to a guest not of her faith but a man who saved thousands of Jews and refugees from Hitler’s Polish invasion.
‘The Ninth Candle’ is a true story. It follows one family, that of Peter Baruch, who watched as Hitler’s war machine engulfed their beloved Poland. From believing it would never happen to the ultimate tragedy that it did, this one family’s experiences were mirrored thousands, millions of times over. I have read and researched World War Two, and Poland’s story always tore at my heart. A country between power-houses who tore it to pieces and in doing so, murdered, pillaged, displaced and destroyed family after family.
The rise of fascism in the world today gives one pause. Books like this need to be read and studied because while we’re busy denying it could ever be so bad, it can be. History has proven it. Unstable leaders with a power complex create chaos and destruction. They make a race or a people the enemy and while we’re pretending genocidal extermination couldn’t happen again, it does.
For me the stand-out story in ‘The Ninth Candle’ belonged to Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Polish refugees.
Josef stammered. ‘You are rescuing us from certain death. But I don’t understand. This could cost you your life so why are you rescuing Jews in this way?’
Sugihara looked shocked. ‘I’m not rescuing Jews,’ he said. ‘No, no. Not only Jews, Josef. Anyone who needs my help will get it. My dear Josef, don’t you see It’s not just Jews who matter. It’s everyone. Everyone matters.’
‘…on July 9th 1940 Chiune Sugihara took a decision that would change the course of his life and the lives of thousands of others. He opened the door of the Consulate and beckoned the first ten of the long line of refugees to enter the office.’
It took courage and integrity. Sugihara had a Gestapo agent in his office yet he never faltered. He was a remarkable man in extraordinary times.
Jenny’s blurb tells us how each family member acted out of love, Marysia for her son, Josef for his fiancée and Adam for the children under his paediatric care. I would add that Chiune Sugihara did, too.
Thank you, Jenny, for putting this family’s history into the world. I hope it is read as much as it deserves to be.
Author: Jenny Harrison
Publisher: Lamplighter Press
Available: Amazon, Kindle, author's website (www.jennyharrison-author.com)