Survivor of wartime massacre, saved by strange twist of fate, searches for his past

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DZERZHINSK, Belarus: Among the splinters of a memory shattered by the Holocaust is Alex Kurzem's image of himself as a jolly little boy who liked to climb an apple tree in the family garden, pretending to be a sailor scanning the horizon from the crow's nest.

Then, at about age 6 or 8, a carefree childhood ends and life becomes a story of horror and deliverance. ...

Now gray-haired and in his 70s (he is still unsure of his age), he tells his story in a book, "The Mascot," written by his son and published this month in the United States. But still the search is incomplete.

His quest has led him to Dzerzhinsk, a village in Belarus, which he has visited four times and come to believe is his real birthplace.

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