In 1942, 38 members of five desperate Jewish families escaped the Nazis by descending into a muddy hole in southwest Ukraine. They had no idea that the pitch-black cave they discovered would be their home for nearly a year. When the cave dwellers finally emerged, they were greeted by a blinding sun that some of the children had forgotten existed. In 1993, cave explorer Chris Nicola was mapping one of the world's most extensive horizontal cave systems with a group of elite Ukrainian cavers. He discovered unusual objects: buttons, shoes, a grinding stone, even a rusty, old house key. Over the next nine years, Nicola pieced together a most unbelievable story: with no gear or training, a desperate group had lived in this cave for months on end, and survived.


Janet Tobias