The Silver Sword Essay
The Silver Sword
The Silver Sword is a story about the Balickis’, a Polish family, living in Warsaw. The story is about their separation due to the Nazi injustice in 1940 and how they reunite themselves in Switzerland after the war. It took them 5 years to reunite, the children have grown up, the adults have aged but at least they are all together again, along with a new member of the family. The first person that was separated from the family was the father, Joseph Balicki, he was taken away from his family and sent to a Prison Camp in Zaknya.
During a scripture lesson, Joseph turned the picture of Adolf Hitler’s face to the wall and the news spread around and he is taken away. Eventually Joseph escapes prison after numerous attempts. He goes back to Warsaw with the help of an old couple along the way. The couple shows great kindness and bravery as Joseph was almost caught hiding at the home. On arriving in Warsaw, he was greeted with terrible news concerning his family. His wife was taken away to Germany to a concentration camp, and his children are believed to be dead. He still searches Warsaw just in case he finds them as he does not believe that they are dead.
He realizes that his children are not in Warsaw and he decides to travel to Switzerland as it was the plan if they ever got separated. Before he takes off, he meets a young boy named Jan. Jan is an orphan who lives by himself with his cat. He is an animal lover. Joseph asks Jan to look out for his children Edek, Ruth and Bronia in the event they meet, and tell them to find him in Switzerland at their grandparents’ home. In return, Joseph lets Jan keep the silver paper knife. Jan helps Joseph to catch a train to help him travel to Switzerland. Eventually Jan meets Ruth and Bronia.
Edek was taken away after caught smuggling bread and eggs. They join together to travel to Switzerland to make the journey easier and less painful. Ruth befriends a Russian sentry who helps them locate Edek. Edek is discovered to be in Posen, so the three children set off to go and reunite with him. When the children reach Posen, they discover that Edek fled the prison camp. They then have no other choice but to continue on with their journey. The children then stop at a soup kitchen where a fight emerges and when Ruth is caught in the commotion she grabs onto a hand. Ruth didn’t let go of this particular hand.
When the people scattered, Ruth realized that she was holding Edek’s hand. Edek has a terrible case of Tuberculosis though. But they are all happy to be together. Now that the children are reunited, they continue on with their journey to find their parents’. They next arrive in Berlin in 1945, shortly after the Second World War. The children arrive at a refugee camp where Jan goes missing, later to be found making friends with a chimpanzee which had escaped from the zoo. He also befriends a British army officer called Mark, who wrote a letter to his wife about the chimpanzee and its antics.
Jan eventually returns to the others and along with Ruth he gets a job. The children then arrive in Germany. Edek’s Tuberculosis has worsened and he is very ill. His shoes had also worn out so his walking has become slower and more painful. Ruth and Jan get jobs to try and make some money to buy Edek a new pair of shoes. Jan is bringing home many different types of meats which he has smuggled from the American trains in the area. He claims that the farmer has been giving them to him for his hard work. Edek doesn’t believe this so he goes to investigate. When Edek is investigating he finds out that the food is stolen.
Edek was on the train ramp talking to Jan and telling him off, but Jan just persists on Edek leaving, but of course he doesn’t. When the alarm goes off Jan flees, leaving Edek in front of the Officers gun. They are both prosecuted by the judge but Edek is cleared of any crimes whilst Jan leads a defense where he points out that there are certain American troops that are guilty in stealing from the conquered Germans as well. Jan is sentenced to a week’s detention because they cannot afford to pay the fine. When he is released, the children continue south and befriend a Bavarian farmer called Kurt.
All of the children are put to work on the farm. Except for Edek, who assists the farmer’s wife with chores inside the house. A Burgomaster’s car crashes outside the home of the farmer, Edek goes to help the Burgomaster. Bronia follows him and asks a question in Polish which gives away the children’s identity. The burgomaster then tells Kurt to send them back to Poland, or else he will. To avoid sending the children back, Kurt helps the children escape on canoes. Jan also hides Kurt’s dog, Ludwig, in his canoe. The children row down the Falken River, trying to dodge the soldiers.
After the canoe journey, Jan realizes that he does not have the silver sword. He believes that it is at Kurt’s house. This makes Edek’s tuberculosis worse as that was the children’s symbol of hope. Jan and Ludwig go missing, and an American lorry driver named Jo Wolski gives them a lift to find Jan. On the drive, Jo jokes that there are some animals in the back of the lorry and when he goes to investigate there are Ludwig and Jan lying there. The children arrive at a Red Cross camp and meet a superintendant, who informs them that he has a message from their father. They also received a letter and a package from Kurt.
He sent them to the Red Cross camp knowing they had to reach Switzerland. In the package there lay the silver sword. Just as the children are so close to their destination, they have to cross Lake Constance, which capsizes their boat. Edek is too weak to swim, and he almost drowns, but Jan saves the Balicki children. Finally the children reach Switzerland and are reunited with their parents; they then reintroduce Jan to them. The family then sends his records to the authorities but his parents are not traced, the Balicki family then accepts his request to join their family.
Later, the Balickis’ are put in charge of a Polish House in the International Children’s Village in Switzerland. Bronia realizes her talent for art and continues to draw and paint the memories of the war. Edek spends 2 years recovering from Tuberculosis and then chases his dream to become an engineer. Jan then gets a Jewish cat and names him Arlo. Jan stops stealing and he is called regularly to care for the sick animals in his village. Ruth becomes a teacher, after marrying a French man she is put in charge of the French House in the village. While Mrs. Balicki holds onto her prized possession: the silver sword.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 1 November 2016
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