Abek is an intense and passionate young man who falls in love with Gerda at first sight and continues to love her despite her constant rejections. He is a Jewish Hebrew scholar and has a superior air about him when he speaks to people. He is intelligent and has sound judgment, and even Gerda’s father respects him. Abek is convinced that Gerda’s love is all he needs in order to maintain the courage required to get through the war. He is determined and forceful, yet Gerda sees his neediness toward her as a sign of weakness. She feels that were he more forceful, perhaps he could be the man she is searching for, but his weakness disillusions her.
In Gerda’s life, Abek takes the role of an older brother, although he would prefer to be her lover. His love for her is intense—he forces his family to help Gerda, at great personal sacrifice, and he truly believes that one day he will be able to change her feelings toward him. Abek writes to Gerda faithfully, even when he receives no response, and eventually he voluntarily transfers to the worst camp in Germany to be closer to her. Though Abek initially functions as an older brother in Gerda’s life, he eventually becomes the focus of the guilt she feels when she recognizes that he has made his life nearly unbearable in order to be closer to her. Only when he truly realizes that Gerda does not love him does he give up hope completely and begin to lose the desire to live.
Gerda Weissman was born in Bielsko, Poland. Not Bielitz.
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