Zvi May/Jun 2009
Now, after so many years have gone by, I cannot believe I am still alive. During the Holocaust of World War II, many people died before my eyes. I was brutally beaten by the German Gestapo and left for dead. Often I thought about suicide, particularly when I was in the Warsaw Ghetto. And all this began when I was only 10 years old.
I am no longer a child. I have raised four children and have 16 grandchildren. In body I am no longer young, but I am young in spirit.
After the Holocaust, when I was a teenager, I came to Israel. Immediately I began fighting in the army in the War of Independence. Young men died all around me. But I stayed alive. How can this be? I wondered. How did I stay alive in Europe? Why did I not die like everyone else?
In 1948 we were only half a million people fighting against five Arab armies that came against us like the locusts of Egypt. We were facing a new holocaust here in Israel. How could we win against 250 million people devoted to our destruction? They even chanted a German motto from Nazi Germany to frighten us: “Butcher the Jews and cast them into the sea!”
During that war, I found myself asking the same question: Who is fighting our war here in Israel? Why am I still alive? I should be dead. Who is the one who has been preserving my life?
I received the answer in the Israeli army after someone gave me a Bible:
If you should say in your heart, “These nations are greater than I; how can I dispossess them?”—you shall not be afraid of them, but you shall remember well what the Lᴏʀᴅ your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt….So shall the Lᴏʀᴅ your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. You shall not be terrified of them; for the Lᴏʀᴅ your God, the great and awesome God, is among you (Dt. 7:17–19, 21).
In time I came to know the One who protected me during the Holocaust and while I fought so many wars in the Israeli army. And I received Him as my Savior. Some of my army friends were surprised that I had passed through the seven halls of hell, as we say in Israel, and yet was reading the Bible.
“How can you do such a thing?” many asked. “After all you went through, you believe in God? You read the Bible?”
“I am not the only one who has suffered,” I would reply. “Look at Job. Look what he went through. He also asked many questions.” And I explained to them how I knew that God had protected me. And I showed them from the Bible why I believe Jesus is my God and Savior.
I am not young anymore. But I still speak to my people about true faith in the Lord, according to the Bible. Do you know what some say to me? “You know, we are not young like you. At our age, you want us to start reading the Bible?” So I ask them how old they are. And after they tell me, they are always shocked to learn that I am older than they. Sometimes they do not believe me. So I show them my identity card.
They marvel that I seem so young after all I have gone through. “How can this be?” they often ask.
And I tell them, “I put my trust in the Lord. It is He who is with me, and it is He who has protected me. Until I came to Israel, I lived on the edge of death every day.”
God privileges me to give my testimony, and I explain how I came to know the Lord. Over the years He has given me great courage to speak to people who often become angry when they hear in whom I have believed. But my heart breaks for them because they do not know the Savior and have no hope.
So I continue, even though I am old in body. But thanks to God, I am young in spirit.
Editor’s Note: Zvi’s amazing story is available in book form. Ask for Zvi: The Miraculous Story of Triumph Over the Holocaust by Elwood McQuaid.