Ever since I can remember, our lives were pleasant, carefree, quite enjoyable. Papa had his store, and Mama stayed home where she took care of all us kids.
We had nothing to worry about. That was, until the news reports on the radio hinted of increasing civil unrest and speculations that German Nazis had invaded our country and were taking Jewish people as preisoners and were invading their places of businesses and homes.
We didn't understand why some people hated us. I personally didn't see anything wrong with being Jewish. It was who I was and I felt proud to be of the Jewish faith. I loved going to synagogue on weekends and on special holidays like Yom Kippur, Chanukkah, and Passover. I loved hearing Papa's low, rumbling voice as he read from the Jewish book and how he smelled of cherry pipe tobacco, polish sausage, and shoe polish.
I loved Mama's rich Jewish cooking: matzo balls, unleavened bread, and gefeltah fish were favorites in our household. I loved Mama's beautiful high soprano voice as she sang the familiar songs that endeared us to our faith and how she held us whenever any of the kids were sick.
Suddenly, it seemd that being Jewish was a "sin". People who were Jewish were suddenly being forced to leave their homes (often brutally) and were being taken to places unknown. Families were being ripped apart and there were reports of people being beaten, shot, or even killed.
The news was terrifying. I suddenly wished that the Nazis hadn't come: they were ruining the peaceful existance that once surrouned our lives. I hated them with a cold, hard, black hate and I wished that someone would kill THEM for doing this to my people.
Not long after those first initial news reports, the Nazis came to our door. When Papa answered the door, he had no choice but to lef the black-booted, crisply-dressed soldiers in. They started smashing dishes and pictures, yelling at us in German. We had no clue what they were saying (or what they wanted), but I knew that whatever was going to happen couldn't be good. I was never so scared!
Some of the soldiers had big, black-and-tan German shepherd dogs, who growled and snapped at us without provocation. There was not to be any arguing, not with those long-toothed animals (or bad soldiers) in our house! Mama started weeping as she gathered us kids like a mother hen does to her chicks, and Papa was forced to lie on the ground, a gun pointed to his head.
It seemed like a million hours before the soldier finally raised his gun and told us in rapid-fire German to follow him. Where we were going was anyone's guess. The only thing I could understand what the soldier was saying was "Dirty Jew, Dirty Jew". It made me feel ashamed; I suddenly wished I were some other religion or faith. Somehow the soldiers made being Jewish a bad thing and there was nothing more than I wanted to do than to abandon my faith/religion.
~To be continued.~