Young Heroes

Alicia Appleman-Jurman

by Josie Skopec from San Diego, California in United States

123443Alicia Appleman-Jurman as a young girltimetoast.comAlicia Appleman-Jurman was subject to many horrors in her young life, despite her age of only 11, and she leanred to fight through them. Alicia Appleman-Jurman was born on May 9th 1930 in Rasuna, Poland. She had four brothers, a mother and a father. Her family was physically active because their house was in the mountains.  “My parents, brothers, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles educated me. They had faith in me and let me experience life in the mountains.” The people in her life contributed to her knowledge of how to survive. Alicia was only eleven years old when the Nazis forced her family to flee her home. She survived the trials and tribulations of World War II thanks to her strength, bravery, and selflessness in helping others. A hero must possess bravery and selflessness. Bravery means taking calculated risks. During World War II, Jews were constantly at risk of being killed by Nazis. Bravery means having the will to survive despite incredible obstacles along the way. Bravery involves a commitment to endure to the end. Selflessness means looking out for others, putting their needs ahead of one’s own. Despite the risk of being caught by the Nazis, helping out strangers in need was the very definition of selflessness. Alicia Appleman-Jurman was brave and selfless. Bravery, in Alicia’s case, meant not giving up despite losing her home, her friends, and her family members. She vowed to go on, not only for her own sake but for her mother’s too. She selflessly shared her meager food with her mother, and helped other refugees find shelter even when it was a risk to her own safety.

Alicia exhibited incredible bravery for a girl of only eleven. Instead of giving in to grief when she lost her brother and father, she promised to never give up. She traveled from farm to farm to work for whatever food scraps she could earn. “My mother began to sit out in the sun, safely hidden in the wheat field, to gain a little color and to help heal the sores on her scalp while I worked in the fields” (Appleman-Jurman 135). Alicia bravely went searching for available work knowing she could be easily caught. She spoke several languages, and when she would hear the other farmers talking among themselves, she chose the appropriate dialect in order to blend in. If the farmers had known she was running away from the Nazis, they would most likely have turned her in.  Being in this terrifying situation, it takes a brave soul to be willing to sneak out to get food for the family. The consequences that could happen was risk taking in order to survive. Not only did Alicia find work without being caught, she was thrown out of a train that could have killed her. “Appleman-Jurman was deported when two SS men entered their home while she was innocently playing chess with her brother and demanded that they board a train. During the journey she was thrown from the train and survived by rolling herself into a ball as she hit the ground” (Rosenzveig).  Alicia showed bravery through her actions. She was forced into a train that was heading toward a death camp. She was thrown from the train from the adults, in order to save her life. With no money, food, parents or other adults, and in an unfamiliar location, she managed to make her way to safety and back home. The marvelous bravery that Alicia showed at only a young age, inspires others to be brave and take risks, endure till the end no matter the obstacles in the way.

123453Alicia Appleman-Jurman aliciamystory.comIn addition to her bravery, Alicia also exhibited incredible selflessness that had changed and helped the lives of others. “The sour milk, pieces of bread, and an occasional boiled potato I brought her kept Mother from starving but not from going hungry, and they certainly did not give her the nutrients she needed to help her sores. Both of us, we knew, were suffering from malnutrition”(Appleman-Jurman 171). Though she herself was starving, she shared everything with her mother to help her survive. Food was very scarce in those times, and Alicia chose to share it with her loving mother. Alicia also demonstrated great selflessness as she cared for others and put their needs ahead of her own. While she was working in the fields one day, Alicia spotted a woman and two small children. They looked frightened and desperate; Alicia knew there were soldiers nearby and that this family was in grave danger. “During this period, Alicia gained confidence and she rescued a Jewish mother with two children. She worked in the fields and kept to herself by day and at the end of the workday she would bring the food she earned back to those who were hidden”(Redbourn). Even when her own life was under constant threat, Alicia still went out of her way to help hide a mother and children from the Nazis. If other people were in this situation, they might not have thought to take care of or help someone other than family. Her act made a big difference for the poor people she helped. In this terrible situation she had hope that they would survive. She worked as hard as she could bringing back whatever she earned in the fields to everyone. She showed how selfless she was, sharing the food she had. In a situation like the Holocaust, selflessness was rare. Alicia teaches us how helping others, even in small ways, can make an impact in a person’s life.

123446Alicia Appleman-Jurman on courage videoyoutube.comBeing brave and selfless as a young girl went a long way for Alicia. It helped her survive the war. Alicia demonstrated her bravery by not giving up even in the times of loss. She vowed to go on taking care of herself and mother, despite scarcity and constant threat of death. Alicia is a wonderful example of a brave and selfless young girl. She certainly deserves to be called a hero. Her willingness to care for another soul, not thinking about herself in a situation like the Holocaust is impactful and heroic. At only age thirteen, Alicia has been an inspiration to many. She showed her bravery, selflessness, and her caring self. At the end of one of  Alicia’s interview videos, she is asked about what kind of message she would like to tell her children, grandchildren, and those who are listening. “I would like to tell my children that they have a heritage of proud people, that they are what they are, that they should be proud of who they are. They should communicate with others, show others respect, make sure that every person at all times in their life protect people’s rights...children should be protected at all times in this world” (USC Shoah Foundation 2:51:05). Her interview can influence the children in these times to make sure that what she had said can make an impact in the world. After writing her book, Alicia visited a school for a week and shared her story of her life in the old days. The students had read the book so they knew what it was about. This speech and lesson she gave prompted all sorts of teachers to plan units around a theme of the Holocaust. Alicia Appleman Jurman showed her leadership and teaching ability even at an old age after her books had been published. Alicia Appleman-Jurman is a real hero and an inspiration to others. She demonstrates her bravery and selflessness in her story and throughout her life. Though her name is not familiar to everyone, everyone can learn something from her story.

Page created on 4/18/2018 6:12:15 PM

Last edited 4/30/2020 12:40:56 AM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Appleman-jurman, Alicia - Article about the life of young Alicia

Extra Info

Works Cited

Appleman-Jurman, Alicia. “Appleman-Jurman, Alicia.” Holocaust Memorial Center, Appleman-Jurman, Alicia. Alicia. Bantam Press, 2014.

USCShoahFoundation. YouTube, YouTube, 13 July 2011,

Related Books