It escapes us; Nature has created for it, withrespect to man, a perpetual alibi. If she reveals itto us for a moment in a single gleam of love, she hidesit for years in the depths of the shadowy earth or inthe discreet bosom of the oaks. And even when discovered,captured, opened, dissected, and examined bya microscope in every detail, it still remains to us anenigma.
"Small means," you say, "and great results! How could these littlebeings come to the aid of an infinity?" You would not cherish thedoubt, if you had been ever a witness of the awakening of the silkworms,when, one morning, they are hatched with that vast hunger noabundance of leaves can satisfy. Their proprietor has supposed himselfin a position to content them with a rich and beautiful plantation ofmulberry-trees; but it counts for nothing. You supply them withforests, and they still ask for more. At a distance of twenty or thirtyyards you hear a strange uninterrupted buzzing; a murmur like thatof brooks incessantly flowing, and incessantly grinding and wearingout the pebbles. Nor are you mistaken: it is a brook, a torrent, aboundless river of living matter, which, under the grand mechanismof so many minute instruments, sounds, and resounds, and murmurs,passing from the vegetable life to that of insects, and softly but invinciblybases itself on animality.
They lavish with royal magnificence theirlast days. And wherefore should theyeconomize, when to-morrow they die?Break forth then, O life of splendour!Sparkle, ye gold and emeralds, and sapphiresand rubies! And let that incandescentardour, that torrent of existence, thatcataract of profuse radiance, be poured outin one common, rapid flood!
A strong September wind is now blowing, and, this very day, hascast in upon us a beautiful reddish-coloured caterpillar. Though shehad not come of her own accord, but in spite of herself, we felt thatwe ought to respect misfortune. We did not know from what plantshe had been torn, but supposed from her motions that she had beencarried away at the moment she had begun to spin. We presented herwith a variety of leaves; but none of them pleased her taste. Shemoved to and fro, displaying an extraordinary agitation. We supposedshe wished to find rest upon a branch, but the rain fell in torrents.As many caterpillars and larvæ work underground, we brought it someearth. But this, too, was useless. Thinking she might like a webat a time when she was engaged in weaving, we placed her on thelace-work of a cushion which lay in the window; but the lace wascold and coarse, and did not please her. Moreover, the wind, the littlewind which entered, would have cruelly frozen her during a wholewinter. Finally, by a feminine marvel of intuition, we concluded that,since she was about to weave silk, she would like the silk-velvet liningof our microscope.
Not just the electric blanket. Also using an accomplice to fire a shot in the air with an innocent witness within earshot, to establish a phony time for the murder, and give the actual killer an alibi.
Another mother, Neida Serrano, bags beneath her doe eyes, recounted the moment in June 1993 when Guevara burst into her home, screaming that her son Armando had killed a man. The murder of the factory worker had taken place four months earlier, on an ordinary weekday no one in her family could recall, leaving Armando without an alibi. The judge relied on the testimony of one witness, a heroin addict and convicted robber, to sentence her son to 55 years in prison.
Saez dropped face-forward into a grass patch along the curb. Another car parked along the street shielded him from the torrent of bullets that followed. When the shooting stopped and the car drove away, Saez ran back to the apartment building where he found Merkes, dying, with a gunshot through her back. He went to check on Rodriguez.
The strategy backfired. In closing arguments, prosecutors jumped on the other witnesses' silence, suggesting if they really could have provided an alibi, they would have done so in open court.The jury took little time in deciding its verdict. Guilty. On all charges.
Raised in an affluent neighborhood on the outskirts of Chicago, she worked from 1999 to 2004 in the Illinois State Appellate Defender's Office, the agency representing poor clients on appeal. Around the office, she and her colleagues kept an unofficial list of bad cops. These were names of officers that popped up repeatedly and credibly from their clients. Guevara's name, she said, always neared the top. After five years, frustrated by Cook County's justice system ("Who do you have to fuck to get a fair trial?" she asked), Bonjean quit and moved to New York. She opened her own law practice. But not without taking some of her Chicago cases with her.The Almodovar aunts heard of Bonjean through the courtroom grapevine and contacted her. She gathered the case files. Robert's case was easy; he had a rock-solid alibi. She looked through the decades of statements given by Mary and others present during the fight. They simply hadn't changed. She interviewed Sassy, who had long since broken up with Robert and thus had fewer reasons to protect him. Yet Sassy still stuck to her story: She was fighting with Robert at the time of the murders. The key witness, Kennelly Saez, had clearly cut a deal to get himself out of jail. And Jackie Grande, the other witness who maintained her ID? A bulk of social science research had since come to light undercutting the reliability of eyewitness identifications such as hers.
Left to right, from the top row: Mary Rodriguez (aunt of Robert Almodovar, sentenced to life), Gladys Ramirez (aunt to Robert Almodovar, sentenced to life), Juan Johnson (exonerated after 11 years incarcerated), Sara Ortiz (mother to William Negron, sentenced to life), Donnovan Hernandez (son of Juan Hernandez, sentenced to 111 years), Esther Hernandez (mother to Juan and Rosendo Hernandez, sentenced to a combined 211 years), Tony McDowell (father to Antonio McDowell, sentenced 110 years), Maria Serrano (sister to Armando Serrano, exonerated after 23), Jessica Almodovar (cousin to Robert Almodovar, sentenced to life), Makayla Goins (niece to Antonio McDowell, sentenced to 110 years), Malachi McDowell (nephew to Antonio McDowell, sentenced to 110 years), Ruthie Pena (sister to Angel Rodriguez, exonerated after 3 years, co-founder of Comite Exigimos Justicia), Francisca Rodriguez (mother to Angel Rodriguez, exonerated after three years, co-founder of Comite Exigimos Justicia), Diane Spraggs (aunt to Antonio McDowell, sentenced to 110 years), Florine McDowell (mother to Antonio McDowell, sentenced to 110 years), Christina Rodriguez, Juan Rodriguez, Jasmyn Almodovar (daughter to Robert Almodovar, sentenced to life), Moses Vazquez (brother-in-law to Jose Montañez, exonerated after 23 years), Lisa Spiloto (cousin to Jose Montañez, exonerated after 23 years), Maria Jimenez, Angel Rodriguez (exonerated after 3 years), Neida Serrano (mother to Armando Serrano, exonerated after 23 years), Jose Montañez (exonerated after 23 years), Jacques Rivera (exonerated after 23 years), Carmen Montanez (sister to Jose Montanez, exonerated after 23 years), Michael Spiloto (cousin to Montanez, exonerated after 23 years) Paul Diaz (cousin to Jose Montañez, exonerated after 23 years), Blanca Gonzalez (sister to Nelson Gonzalez, released after 23 years), Reynaldo Hernandez (best friend and alibi witness to Edwin Davila, sentenced to 50 years), Stephanie Weiner (community activist with Comite Exigimos Justicia), Lynette Serrano (daughter to Nelson Gonzalez, released after 23 years), Iesha Gonzalez (niece to Nelson Gonzalez, released after 23 years), Kayla Gonzalez (mother to Nelson Gonzalez's two sons), Victoria Carrillo (granddaughter to Nelson Gonzalez, released after 23 years).
The only weather my autopilot needs to navigate around is this ceaseless torrent of pilot lies. Hardly the illustrious future of powered flight the Wright Brothers had in mind when they were duct taping wings to a shopping trolley in order to prank their elderly neighbor back in 1903, is it?
One sunny summer day, Ziunia looked through the cracks of the roof and seeing the bright sun and children playing outside, she said, “Tell me, mommy, why do we have to hide here in the dark without daddy and without food, and other children can play in the sun and have their father?” I had no answer. I was choking, trying to suppress my painful emotions, but tears were running over my cheeks. My daughter patter my face with her little hands and said, “Don't cry mommy. Daddy will come back, and we will be together again.” I had no such hopes, but at the same time I didn't want to believe that I would never see him again.[Page XII]Our clothing was falling apart. I asked Mrs. Rajski to give me a needle and thread, and I tried to sew the holes together. She gave me a skirt and an old jacket from her husband. She was a religious woman and whenever I found her resentful for our being a burden to them, I used my religious persuasion which helped a little. We gave the farmer all the valuables we had. I had sewn them into the vest I wore and luckily this was not taken by the bandits. I found out that they were hiding another Jewish family, the Einlegers. They later left them, but they know about us which was to our benefit. That farmer belonged to the Polish underground and used to have meetings at his house. In the winter of 1943–1944, German soldiers were stationed almost in every house of the village, but the farmer knew how to avoid them by pretending that his family was sick, so the Nazis stayed away. At that time, we had to be especially careful not to make any sounds. At night one of us was always awake when the other slept, to keep guard. We heard their singing in the evening and picked up certain verses which were amusing to my daughter. I tried not to run out of stories. I told her that the war would end soon and that we would be free; we would go to America. She had an uncle Leo, and Aunt Martha there who would teach her to play the piano. We would have plenty of food. I would cook big pots of good dishes. I would bake big loaves of bread as big as a table. She would be able to shout and sing. There would be no more whispering.At this time, I would like to mention that my younger brother, Leo, with his wife Martha, were in Vienna when the war began. My sister–in–law succeeded in leaving for the U.S.A. in 1939 on a visa from my aunt; but my brother could not go because he did not have Austrian citizenship. He got a permit to go to Cuba. In May 1939, he entered with several hundred other Jews who were fleeing from Austria on a French vessel, Flandre. When they reached Havana, they were allowed to land. They tried other countries, but they were refused everywhere. They were cruising for six weeks on the ocean, and finally France let them in. My brother was interned for three months. In the meantime, Hitler invaded France. My brother was in the Pyrenees for eight or more months and after many hardships, he came to the U.S.A. on a visa from our relatives in 1941. At that time, I received a telegram that he arrived in New York.All through the winter in the attic, we covered ourselves with straw and an old coat which I had with me. The entrance to the attic was covered with a straw mat which made it darker. The waiting seemed endless. We could not wash or change clothing. There were times when there was much shooting and burning, and I was always afraid that the barn would catch fire. Sometimes, I could not believe that this was happening to us. Only my child gave me the strength and courage to endure all the suffering. I was trying to fight off the moments of despair and told myself that I must be strong. I could not break down. I have my[Page XIII]child to live for. I must go on. We need each other. We were in the attic for ten months. Finally, in March 1944 we were told by the farmer that we could step down from the attic and that we were free. The war was still going on. There was loud thundering of the bombs as the Germans were fleeing, and the Russians came. We got a ladder to come down. I could not believe that it was true. We were still filled with fear. We were weak, undernourished and could hardly walk. We got something to eat and started to walk to Trembowla. On the way, we met Russian soldiers. Some gentiles invited us to their house and gave us food. We did not rejoice; our spirit was broken. We felt alone, unwanted, betrayed by the whole world. My daughter was crying. She could not walk, and I could not carry her. She was whispering for weeks; she couldn't raise her voice. I encouraged her to shout and promised to teach her to sing, but I had to wait in anguish, afraid that she had lost her voice. In Trembowla, we met more survivors, my sister–in–law Henia Selzer, came with her daughter Musia. They were the only survivors from their family. We embraced each other but we had only tears in our eyes. More survivors started coming out from their hiding places, about twenty to thirty people. We all gathered in the house of Dr. Sass. It was shocking to learn that so few of us were left. We felt physically and spiritually broken to pieces. There are no words to describe the pain we felt when we were faced with the unbelievable reality. My sister–in–law, Fania, said, “I wish I would have gone together with my family. What do I have to live for?” It is strange that after going through all that hell, everybody felt the same way. The war still was going on and there were rumors that the Germans were coming back. We started to run again, closer to the Russian border, until we came to Podwoloczysk. We found a few houses there with survivors in a crowded room. Many houses were demolished from the bombs. Suddenly, an epidemic of typhoid fever broke out and almost everybody got sick. We were taken by buses to a nearby village, “Kaczanowka”. The abandoned houses were turned into hospitals. Bundles of straw were used for beds. There was a nurse, a Jewish girl, who was previously working with the Germans under disguise as a gentile. She helped us greatly, but there was little medication. Many of the survivors died. My daughter and I were released after three weeks, but my sister–in–law, Fania, had to stay on. I didn't know where to go from the hospital. I was walking from house to house, begging people to take me in with my child. My offer to them was to sew dresses, blouses, etc. Finally, a woman with two children invited me to stay with them. She allowed me to use her potatoes and vegetables to cook soup, and I brought some of it to the hospital for my sister–in–law Fania. After her release, we had to leave the village because the woman refused to house all three of us.We went back to Podwoloczysk, where I met my sister–in–law, Henia, with[Page XIV]her daughter. They lived in a very crowded place, but invited us to stay with them. After being there a few weeks, we went back to our hometown, Trembowla, which was occupied by the Russians. They were occupying my father–in–law's house and returned it to me. I struggled to make a living, went through a lot of hardship and fears. I remembered the address of my aunt who lived in the U.S.A. and wrote her a letter, so she would know about our survival. She notified my brother, Leo, who was in the U.S.A by that time and was saying Kaddish for us. I started getting letters and packages from my brother and sister–in–law and was filled with new hopes of putting together my shattered life. On May 7, 1945, Germany surrendered and the war in Europe ended. I will never forget that day when a friend of ours came knocking on our window to tell us that the war was over. A parade and music were going on in the streets, and Ziunia wanted to go out and see it. Soldiers were parading. Some were hugging and kissing, rejoicing with their friends and family. My daughter looked on and said to me, “Maybe, I will find my daddy here.” The tears were choking me and running over my cheeks, and I only had one question in my mind. Where would I go and what would I do. I felt so lonely and forlorn that I had to go home and sit down and cry. I have no words to describe that feeling. We subsequently left the house in Trembowla and went to Bytom, a city in Poland. From there, we went on to Austria, with the help of the “Haganah”. We were stationed in Ebensee, in a camp which was once built by the Nazis as a death camp for the Jews. We found machinery from the gas chambers and other equipment of the concentration camp still there. After being there three months, we were transferred to Germany, to an area occupied by the Americans, and after two years in a camp for displaced persons, we arrived in the U.S.A in 1948.[Page XV]In Memory of Chaim HerbstBy Sabina HerbstI met Chaim Herbst in the Zionist Organization, where he was an active member. He was an idealist and worked with devotion to inspire the Jewish youth with love of their heritage and the Hebrew language. At the time the idea of a Jewish State was still a dream. How happy he would have been to see it!Chaim had a beautiful Hebrew library and he mastered the Hebrew language. David Turkel, of blessed memory, was his best friend, and they worked together towards a common goal. They organized an elementary Hebrew school and Chaim was a very successful teacher.We were married in 1936 and in 1938 our daughter was born. In 1941 the German–Russian war broke out and Chaim was one of the first victims of the holocaust. I shall never forget Chaim, my dear friend and husband.Recollections of a Six Year OldBy Myra Herbst GennIt was a magnificent spring. Blue skies, the bright sun warming the earth. The first green shoots breaking through the ground and the world coming alive with color. There was a loud, urgent knock at our window. The war is OVER! There'll be no more running and hiding. We are FREE! Now my father will come home.We rushed outside. Music in the streets. Crowds, khaki uniforms everywhere; soldiers handing out chocolates to children. I search through the crowds; surely my father will be among them. But the faces of the soldiers belong to strangers. The memory I clung to for the three desperate years – in the ghettos, hiding in caves, in the attic – will remain only a memory. There's just my mother and I. Two people alone; thrust into a big empty world. How do you begin again when death is all around? And spring! – that teases with false promises.[Page XVI]Eye Witness Report on My Sister's Death(written in Polish, April 11, 1943 and received July 26, 1968)The 7th of April this year was a horrible day for the inhabitants of the Ghetto and to people who had a spark of human feeling left. The things that happened exceeded all that was told so far until now, and they cannot be compared with the last local “action”. The barbarism of the past centuries is pale against the present one which is in complete contrast to the culture of the 20th century. 2b1af7f3a8