Ten-year-old Yanek entertains his family with an after dinner light show when the Germans invade his hometown of Kraków, Poland. Days later a wall is built forming the Jewish ghetto. After this, a series of rules change Yanek’s life. No school for Jews. – His father’s business is taken. – Food is rationed. – A curfew is set. – Jews are deported both to concentration camps and into the Jewish ghetto. Yanek’s family must share their apartment with three other families. Yanek must work in a tailor’s shop.
When Yanek turns 13, he and his father sneak out to an abandoned building to give Yanek a secret bar mitzvah ceremony. Soon afterwards, Yanek sees his parents being deported. Yanek decides to keep working at the tailor shop in hopes of not being deported. This, however, it the very reason he is taken. Tailors are needed at the concentration camp. Yanek lives through ten concentration camps and two death marches over the next three years.