Belgian resistance fighters manage to halt the train, long enough to unlock a door. Then it starts again. Your mother pushes you towards the opening, impelled by hope – that you might survive. She hands you a hundred franc note. You tuck it into your sock. She lowers you onto the foot rail below the door. You prepare to jump. You are eleven years old.
"I saw the trees go by and the train was getting faster. The air was crisp and cool and the noise was deafening. I remember feeling surprised that it could go so fast with 35 cars being towed. But then at a certain moment, I felt the train slow down. I told my mother: 'Now I can jump.' She let me go and I jumped off. First I stood there frozen, I could see the train moving slowly forward - it was this large black mass in the dark, spewing steam."
This week, to coincide with the seventieth anniversary, the BBC website retold the story of the survival of Simon Gronowski and the daring hijack of a train bound for
Auschwitz. The three resistance fighters pulled off this feat armed with one pistol, a lantern, a sheet of red paper and four pairs of pliers. 118 Jews managed to escape alive. The date was April 19 1943 – the day the Uprising started. The last of the resistance fighters, Robert Maistriau, died in 2008. Here is his account of that day. Simon Gronowski, now a jazz playing grandfather, recently returned to the scene of his jump, the place where he spoke those last words to his mother, ‘the first of my heroes’. Warsaw