Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh, the things that occur, or are helped along,

by the smallest, oddest decisions...
Federmann began to survey the immensity of the display before him, preparing his shopping list for the soldiers of his still-unborn country. In one of the first warehouses he entered, he stumbled on a strange device. It was a US Army pack rack designed to help a man carry a heavy load. Federmann hesitated for a moment. They might be useful, he thought, and they cost only twenty cents apiece. With a shrug, he marked three hundred down on his list and walked on. One day, Federmann's twenty-cent pack racks would save the Jews of Jerusalem from starvation. -- O Jerusalem!, page 121.
Avidar had one more surprise. The three hundred pack racks Xiel Federmann had bought for twenty cents almost as an afterthought on Christmas day in Antwerp had found at last a utilization. Avidar ordered the hastily mobilized men to lash their sacks to a rack and get back into their buses. They were off to the hills of Judea. -- Ibid., pp. 551-552

This human pack train of determined, out-of-shape older men kept the Jews in Jerusalem resisting until the Burma Road was completed and a ceasefire was declared. Some died of heart attacks, others fell off precipices, and all left their blood and flesh on the sharp rocks. Some made it on their hands and knees. But they made it. And in doing so they saved Jerusalem's 100,000 Jews. Federmann's sixty dollars had been well spent.

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