The Angels of the War

Submitted into Contest #165 in response to: Write a story that includes the phrase “This is all my fault.”... view prompt


Historical Fiction Inspirational

He was hiding in a grove of trees near the field, one hand resting on his gun, the other tapping against his thigh. 

He did that when he was nervous. 

And he had a big reason to be nervous. 

According to his commander, a soldier reported movement in this field. Supposedly enemy soldiers. 

And who better to send than Michael Weissman to check it out. Why him, of all people? 

Because Michael Weissman was Jewish. And his platoon didn’t think highly of him for that reason. It didn’t matter that he didn’t wear a kippah, or that he was clean-shaven or didn’t keep Shabbat. His mother was Jewish and so was he. He knew Hebrew, and so there was a target painted on his back. The only other jew in his platoon was Raphael Smith, but he was sent to chop wood for a fire.

Michael’s platoon was a small group of men part of the American Army. They were undercover soldiers, sent to find intel and report it to the Russian army. Now, they were on the outskirts of Poland, about to scope it out.

That’s when someone had reported the activity in the field.

“Okay, Weissman,” His commander told him before he set out. “Go check it out. Don’t be afraid to shoot, but if it’s a Nazi, I want him alive. Make sure he doesn’t get away” 


Despite it being the summer, it was a chilly day, the sky covered with gray clouds. Goosebumps rippled across his skin, but not from the cold.

Weissman started moving, keeping to the trees, and using the shadows, his hand gripping his gun, ready to fire. 

Before long, he arrived at the place where the movement was spotted. 

He heard the wheezing breaths of someone behind a tree. 

“Take him by surprise,” he whispered to himself. He crept closer and closer, hand touching the bark, knowing someone was right there. Adrenaline coursed through his veins, and he jumped out of his spot, gun raised-

He lowered his gun. Stupid, no? 

Well, what if I told you right there was a- 

“Rabbi?” he whispered. 

The man in front of him was dressed in striped pajamas, his rib cage protruding through the thin fabric. He looked beat up, his face swollen and raw. 

But he had a full white beard and a kippah, white strings peeking out of his shirt. 

“Rabbi,” he whispered again, this time not a question and with more urgency. He took off his jacket and crouched near the Rabbi, placing it over his shoulders. The Rabbi stirred. 

His eyes opened. They looked like broken glass, gray and shattered. But when they fell on Michael, they filled with warmth. 

“You are a Jew?” the Rabbi asked in Hebrew, pointing at the Star of David pendant around Michael's neck. Michaels wife, Ruth, had given it to him as an engagement present. 

Yes,” he answered in the same language, hoping the man would understand him. 

“Shalom Aleichem,” the Rabbi said, his warm eyes getting brighter. Michael's face softened when he heard the familiar phrase. It reminded him of the days when his father, may he rest in peace, brought him to the synagogue. 

“Aleichem Shalom,” he answered, remembering the correct response. “What happened here, Rabbi?” He gently pulled the Rabbi into a sitting position. 

“I was in the Nazi Camp.” The rabbi’s voice was hoarse, like he hadn’t drunk anything for a few days. “I ran away from there.” 

“So the concentration camps?” Michael asked. “Mass murdering? The rumors were true?” The rabbi nodded sadly. “What’s your name, Rabbi?” 

“They call me Gavriel. What's yours?’

“Michael Weissman.” He didn’t pronounce it Mike-ell, like he usually did, but Mich-uh-ell. His father told him that it was his Jewish name. Gavriel smiled.

“Like the angels.”

He went on to tell him about the horrors of the camps. About the gas chambers, the inhumane soldiers, the starving inmates, everything. His voice cracked many times and tears streamed down his face, yet he continued. Michael sat near him, like a young boy listening to his teacher. He couldn’t believe how much Gavriel had been through.

But he was still alive. 

“Come, Rabbi, I’ll help you.” 

Gavriel looked into his eyes and shook his head. A small movement, but to Michael it seemed like everything. “I can’t.” 


“I can’t go on anymore.”

“Rabbi-” he started protesting. Gavriel shook his head again and looked down at his hands. Michael followed his eyes. 

Gavriel's hands had been covering his stomach. And his stomach was full of blood. 

“Rabbi? Why didn’t you tell me? I could've helped!” Michael felt angry at the man until he realized; Gavriel was dying. He took out a small kerchief and tried staunching the wound, but Gavriel waved his hand away.  

“When I had escaped, one of the soldiers shot me,” Gavriel said, his voice impossibly soft. “He assumed I was dead and left. As I was floating in and out of consciousness, all I could think was ‘I am going to die without knowing what will be of my people.’ But then I saw you. You were like an angel sent from G-d. You gave me the strength to tell you my story. And I know, with G-d’s help, you will save our people.”

Michael said nothing and lowered his head, tears filling his eyes. He had only met Gavriel a few minutes ago, yet it felt like he knew him for an eternity. 

“Look at me Michael,” Gavriel said, with a stronger voice than before. His bright eyes burned into the sad ones looking at him. “I have two requests. One, use this for me.” He pushed a small brown package into Michael's hands. “Two, avenge the fallen.”

Michael nodded. Gavriel smiled weakly and then started whispering to himself. Michael stayed near him and said one of the only things that he remembered from childhood: 

Shema Yisroel Hashem Elokainu Hashem Echad - Hear, O Israel: G-d is our L-rd, G-d is One.”

After he was done, Gavriel turned to Michael. 


The Rabbi closed his eyes and went silent. 

Michael Weissman sat there crying, for what seemed like hours. Finally, he stood up. Something fell out of his lap. It was the brown package. 

He bent down and picked it up. And when he opened it, he gasped, as tears again started to fill his sore eyes. 

A siddur (prayerbook), a tallit (jewish prayer shawl), and a pair of tefillin (phylacteries). 

The rabbi had somehow smuggled them in and out of the concentration camp. 

He kissed each object as the visions of the synagogue got stronger. Morning prayers, the chazans (cantor) wooden bimah (podium) , the big stained-glass windows, depicting the days of creation. Had he truly forgotten about all of that? 

Suddenly, realization crashed over him. He was out in the open, in Nazi Germany. His platoon was probably waiting for him. He looked back at the rabbi. 



“He’s probably dead,” Jerry Samuels said, taking a swig of water. 

“Don’t say that Samuels.” the commander, John Gray admonished. 

“I’m just saying.” 

“Yeah, Jerry’s right,” Bill Miller said. “It’s been hours. He could be anywhere.” 

“I’m right here,” someone whispered. Everyone turned to Michael Weissman.

“Weissman,” the commander said calmly, walking over to him. 

And slapped him hard in the face. 

A large oooooooooh went around the small crowd. Even some tough-looking men winced. 

“Where were you?” Commander Gray shouted. “And where’s your jacket?”

Michael said nothing. He walked over to Raphael Smith, the only other Jewish person in the platoon. 

“I need to talk to you. Outside.” Raphael noticed the distressed look on Michael’s face and nodded, following him to his tent. 

“Weissman!” the commander yelled after him. “I’ll be seeing you later.” 


“Baruch Dayan Emes,” Raphael said softly after Michael told him the story. “Bless the Judge of Truth.” That phrase triggered another memory from Michael’s childhood. 

From after his father passed away. 

A wave of grief washed over him, but not from his father’s death, seventeen years ago. 

From the death of the old man, whom he had met not even twenty-four hours ago.

From the thought that millions more people were dying in those horrific death camps, and nobody was doing anything about it. 

“What are you thinking, Michael?” Raphael asked, pronouncing his name the Hebrew way. Despite the constant jeering the other soldiers gave him, he always did that.

“We have to go bury him.” There was no other option. Raphael nodded and stroked his beard. “Then let’s go ask Gray.” 


“No,” Commander Gray said again. “I don’t care if it’s part of your Jewish rituals.”

“We have to,” Michael answered, getting angrier by the second. 

“You just wandered off for five hours for no reason. And tomorrow, we are going to scope out Poland. The Russians expect a report.” 

“I got a report for you,” Michael spat. “The camps are real. People have been mass murdered. It’s a miracle Gavriel was still alive when I found him. And he-” 

“Do you believe in miracles, Weissman?” the commander asked quietly. 

“Yeah, I do.” 

“I don’t. You’re not leaving. And that's final” 

“We are going whether you like it or not,” Raphael stated calmly. Unlike Michael, he rarely lost his temper. 

“Let them go,” Jerry said, walking into the commander’s tent. He turned to Michael. “I heard your whole story. Must have taken forever to make up.” 

“It’s real-” Michael started until Jerry cut him off. 

“So, there’s an old Jewish guy dead in the forest. Yeah, OK.” 

“There is-” 

“Let them go, Commander, the Jewish garbage.” 

“I will,” Commander Gray said, crossing his arms “You can go. But don’t come back. Gather your things and leave.” 

“Sir?” Raphael asked, still calm. 

“Leave. Both of you. You wasted my time. I don’t want to see your faces here again,” he spat.


Two hours later, they reached the field. They cut down the tall grass, dug a hole and buried the old man. Together, they lugged a big rock on top of the grave and carved a Magan David into it.

“This is all my fault,” he told Raphael, getting worked up. “I could have saved him and-”

“There’s nothing you could have done,” Raphael said. “He was on the brink of death.

Instead of mourning his death, celebrate the man who survived long enough to tell his story.”

Raphael used his own small siddur to daven. Michael used Gavriel’s. 

Going back to camp was even harder. They decided to go to see if the commander would let them gather some supplies. Then they would leave. 

But nobody was at the camp. 

“Gray said they were going to leave tomorrow,” Raphael whispered. 

“They didn’t leave,” Michael said hoarsely. “The Nazis forced them.” He pointed to a red symbol someone had painted on the commander’s tent. A swastika. 

Inside the tent, Commander Gray was slumped in his chair, eyes rolled back in his head – dead. There were no other bodies. 

But they were alive. 

He had helped Gavriel. Gavriel returned the favor. 

Two months later, they left Germany. 

Five years later, he returned to Germany to visit Gavriel’s resting place. 

This time with a kippah. 

September 25, 2022 21:56

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Shaina Kugel
00:44 Oct 02, 2022

Wow!!! Loved this so much


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Michali F
00:38 Oct 02, 2022

I loved reading this!! Amazing job.>3


O. Ben-Abou
15:09 Oct 02, 2022



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Izzy G
00:27 Oct 02, 2022

Wow, beautifully written. Uplifting story.


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15:18 Oct 02, 2022

Obsessed. Made me cry. Keep up the good work :)


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Danise Walton
13:37 Oct 02, 2022

I love this story! You're such a good writer!! And (sadly) probably one of the only writers in the contest that doesn't use swearing in their writing >︿<. Keep on being great and never give up on writing.


O. Ben-Abou
15:09 Oct 02, 2022

thank you so much, as a new writer, you have no idea what this means to me


Danise Walton
15:57 Oct 02, 2022



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Mary Lehnert
08:34 Oct 02, 2022

Excellent. Thank you.


O. Ben-Abou
15:10 Oct 02, 2022



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Wuddy Kids
03:52 Oct 02, 2022

Wowowowowow!! This is awesomeness in a story! Very well written! Very gripping! Very emotional! Love it!


O. Ben-Abou
15:10 Oct 02, 2022

wowowow! thank you! so much!


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