Like all children Stefan lives in a world of his own—a carefree world of his own fantasies. But Stefan is the son of a Jewish lawyer in pre-World War II Germany . .. Why were those men in brown uniforms chasing that lad? Why did he deny being a Jew when he was so ashamed of himself afterwards? When such questions intrude the quiet security of his world is shattered. Doubts, fear, the first stirring of young love-new emotions enter Stefan’s world and take possession of him. He learns the meaning and the force of fear, what it means to be a Jew in Hitler’s Germany ... to see his friends disappear, his father taken away; and finally he too takes leave of home and country. In this collection of reminiscences the author captures with delicate simplicity the mood of childhood and of growing up in a time of fear.
The Simple Things
The Pocket Watch
Geraniums and Roses
On the Tightrope
The Music Lesson
X-Y and the Alms-giver
Matter over Mind
The Call of the Crutches
They were all bound for a children’s holiday home in Bavaria, and Stefan—ten years old— was the youngest in the group; but he too readily assessed the nature of Sister Jülchen whose task it was to shepherd them safely to their destination. One merely had to look at her: everything about her was round and soft—her face, her dark eyes, her small, plump figure. Moving restlessly through the carriage of the Munich Express, Sister Jülchen constantly admonished them in a subdued, half-pleading manner: “Stay together, children. Be well behaved!” Had she been able, she would have spread her blue cloak like bird’s wings over the twelve of them. Gradually, her extreme anxiety undermined what little authority she had, and the children began to do as they pleased—they ranged through the train as far as the dining car, inspected compartments, climbed over cases in the corridors and viewed the passing landscape through widely scattered windows.
At first, the other passengers regarded Sister Jülchen with the respect engendered in most Germans by a uniform. Soon though, as Sister Jülchen’s lack of authority became ever more apparent, their respect diminished, they grew scornful.
“If you can’t keep your flock together, we’ll chase them all to Palestine,” an SS man told her.
Stefan saw Sister Jülchen raise a hand to her mouth as if to stifle a cry. Terrified, she stared at the skull and crossbone emblems on the man’s uniform. She looked up at his face. Then she turned away and called: “Children, children!” Stefan hurried to her. Against the noise of the train he had been unable to understand the SS man.
“Sister Jülchen—what’s the matter?”
“Fetch the others,” she whispered.
“What are you frightened of?”
But Sister Jülchen only shook her head. “I asked you to fetch the others.”
Stefan saw the SS man grinning. He took Sister Jülchen firmly by the arm and, with a wary look at the man, he led her past him to her corner seat in the compartment.
“What did that Nazi say to you?” he asked gravely.
“Nothing. I have an attack of migraine,” said Sister Jülchen. With trembling fingers she unfastened the hairpins in her bonnet and took it off. “Such migraine!”
Stefan put a hand to her forehead.
“That’s better,” she said softly, leaning back and closing her eyes. “A little better.”
Stefan looked about the compartment at the staring travellers—the stout woman with the dachshund, the man with the stiff collar and the blinking pince-nez, the two blond girls in Dirndl blouses. Outside, in the reddish hue of the sinking sun the Rhine valley flowed past, hills and vineyards reflected in the water and a tall brown spire with a swastika flag. In the corridor the SS man kept watch. And no one stirred.
“Perhaps you have some headache pills, Sister Jülchen,” Stefan suggested. “I’ll fetch some water.”
“No. Call the others together, please. I want them here. Will you do that, Stefan?”
He slipped into the corridor, squeezing past the burly SS man. Some ten minutes later all of them were gathered in the open compartment door. Sister Jülchen still sat in her corner seat, and slow tears coursed down her face.
“Children,” she said barely above a whisper, “I don’t want you to stray away again. I’m not well, you see, and I’m responsible for you. Please, promise me —”
The rest was drowned in raucous laughter. Bewildered, the children turned to the man in the black uniform who was shaking with mirth.
“Well, are you all together?” he demanded. “A full dozen, and none missing!”
“Don’t answer him,” Sister Jülchen warned. “Go back to your seats and stay together till we reach Munich. Do you hear, children!”
Quietly they found their seats in the adjoining compartments, prompted less by her serious manner than by concern for her. When all but Stefan had gone, Sister Jülchen rose and approached the SS man. Stefan saw that she was clutching something in her hand.
“I’m returning these officially,” he heard her say. “I’ve no desire to wear them any more.” With astonishment the Nazi stared at the war- service ribbons in Sister Jülchen’s outstretched hand.
“Don’t be a fool,” he began awkwardly, but she had already cast the decorations at his feet and returned to her seat in the compartment.
She sank down and hid her eyes with her hands.
Born in Berlin in 1924, Walter Kaufmann was adopted at the age of two by parents who fell victim to the Nazis when the boy was fifteen years old. The lad managed to escape to Australia. There he lived until 1955 and in that year, a man grown, he at last returned to the city of his birth... The long, lean years in between were spent in fruit farming, as a soldier during the war, as a street photographer, a docker, a seaman. It was during this time that he began to write and a first novel, Voices in the Storm, has since been published in several languages. A second book was followed by a series of articles about Japan where he visited extensively. All of his writings reflect the diversified and rich experience of his life and his travels...
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- Artikel-Nr.: SW9783956552946
- Artikelnummer SW9783956552946
- Wasserzeichen ja
- Verlag EDITION digital
- Seitenzahl 90
- Veröffentlichung 04.03.2017
- ISBN 9783956552946
- Wasserzeichen ja