On my first visits to Israel in the 1980s, it was natural enough for me, as a radio writer myself, to make contact with people engaged in radio, and that’s how I first got to know Shmuel Huppert. He was the head of literary programs for Kol Israel’s domestic radio channels. Over the years my wife and I became close friends with Shmuel and his wife, Mimi, but it was only slowly that it emerged that Shmuel was a Holocaust survivor. Born in Czechoslovakia in 1936, at the age of seven he was imprisoned in Bergen-Belsen concentration camp with his mother Hilde, where they stayed till the end of the war. Then, through friends, they both managed to be included in a batch of Jews from Europe legally admitted to Israel, then still under the British mandate. Shmuel and his mother later recounted their experiences in a book they called: Hand in Hand with Tommy.
Many years later, the Israel Museum in Jerusalem mounted an exhibition of Holocaust memorabilia, and the intense impression it made on Shmuel moved him to express his feelings in a poem, written in Hebrew, which he called “The Suitcase.” One day he showed it to me, and asked if I would like to translate it into English. Together we worked out precisely what each and every word signified – and, even more, the intention behind each word selected by Shmuel.