Young Aaron Herskowitz thought he had been called up to the army when he left the family farm in Bilke, Czechslovakia but instead was enslaved to the ruling Hungarians allied with Nazi Germany. At a tearful goodbye, he promises his neighbor, the love of his life, Helen, that he will see her again one day, as soon as the war is over.
As the Nazis and Hungarians attempt to assault the Russian front in 1942, Aaron, unlike most of his fellow Jewish slaves, survives starvation, torture, typhus and assassination attempts on his life by his fiendish captors, thanks to courage, military training and his uncanny ingenuity.
Along this torturous journey, Aaron confronts his God, hoping for answers to the inhumanity he and his fellow Jews are subject to, day after day.
With none forthcoming, Aaron abandons religious faith and instead relies on himself and his friend Ignatz Sax, a hulk of a man, to survive.
Despite his 5' 2" size, Aaron demonstrates astounding physical strength and will to live, inspired by Helen’s image. Aaron and his friend Sax escape and become heroes for the Russians, who appoint them rulers of Gerjen, an enemy town. In an incredible reversal of fortune Aaron and Sax become masters of their former tormentors.
Sax, however, enacts brutal revenge on the Nazis. Aaron’s ordeal tests his capacity for friendship and humanity.
When Aaron returns to Czechoslovakia after the war, he finds his family's home abandoned and Helen’s home torched. Assuming they have all perished, Aaron continues toward Palestine. Along the way, fate reunites him with Helen, vaulting them into their happiest, most prosperous days on earth.
In 1938, neighboring countries are seizing pieces of crumbling Czechoslovakia. In Bilke's province, many Jews were relieved that Hitler designated the Hungarians to be their new rulers. After all, they had fought side-by-side during World War I. The Jews' naive assumption was a grave mistake.
Several important skills saved Aaron’s life. One was his military training in the Czech army, and his Zionist paramilitary training in jujitsu, allowing him to remove weapons from an enemy assassin with his bare hands. Another was his expert horsemanship, a passion he maintained for life.