Why did they haul dad off so many times? Other than that he preached from the pulpit something the Nazis did not like.. I knew nothing. Only that the third time, mom said something about dad having asked questions about people with yellow stars on the left side of their chests. Something about them dad was upset about and asked too many questions.
Dad died too early, to this day I would have 1000 questions for him.
Mom liked to wear a hat when she went to Halle. No not in Brachwitz.. only in Halle. The one I remember most was a big green one, I think mom’s favorite color was green.. because all our couches were green. It was a very muted green of course not a loud color at all. That would not have been “fine” one of mom’s favorite words, we all had to be “fine.” Fine in this case meaning “uppety,” so to speak.
I asked if I could go to Halle with her this day and she finally relented, she said she needed a new hat! We climbed into the bus and went to Halle.
We then took the streetcar that took us to the Marktplatz, the town center. Georg Friedrich Haendel stood there.. imposing and beautiful.. all in stone of course. Halle was his hometown and he was born there. I always did and do love his music.. it is uplifting and tragic at the same time. Hard to explain but any music lover will know what I mean.
We passed the statue of Haendel and walked into the “Kleine Marktstrasse”, mom was looking for a certain store. I was so proud and excited that she had allowed me to come along. Much foot traffic on that day, lots of people out, walking, shopping etc.
Then I noticed something odd, there were people who had a yellow, 6 pointed (I counted) stars on the left side of their chests. I asked mom why those people had a star on their chest. Mom did not know. We walked on and I began to pay attention to people with this yellow star. There were many of them and I racked my little brain why people would wear this star? I just could not figure it out, and mom said she did not know either.
Finally we entered a store that had hats for sale. Suddenly mom turned to me and said “lets get out of this store and look for another one..” I asked her why.. because I saw many very pretty hats. Mom mumbled something about that we were not allowed in this store. I was used to so many things that I could not explain, I asked no more questions. Finally we found another store.. and mom bought her hat, I remember.. yes, it was another green one. We then browsed around the town a little bit, but by now my attention had focused on people with that 6 pointed yellow star on their chests. I just could not stop wondering, what it meant? But mom had no answer either, so I planned to ask dad when we got back home.
Finally.. after a long day in Halle, we got home.
The first thing I did when I saw dad.. I asked him “Vati.. why do some people wear yellow stars on their chests?”
Dad was quiet, the typical quiet that was dad’s way, when he had to answer one of my questions. Dad never said anything “off top of his head” everything was measured and well thought through. Finally he said “It was something about the people with the yellow star on their chests… that the “SS” picked me up and took me away for.” He said “I had questioned why these people were marked such.. and what was their fate!” Of course, this answer left me questioning the subject even more, but that’s all I could get out of Dad, he would not say anymore. Just think.. if I would have run outside talking to one of my village friends and told them “Dad was hauled off by the Nazis because he asked questions about those ‘yellow star’ people!” Unthinkable.. and so dangerous and Dad knew this.
I’m sure he wanted to say “Kid, shut up..” but this was just was not his way.. so the subject was dropped all together and all my questions remained just this: Questions!
Then.. not much later, maybe weeks I do not remember.. the people with those yellow stars vanished. I figured, they got tired of being stared at, so they took them off. This explanation was satisfactory to me. I just wondered why the adults with the yellow stars had put that same star on their children also. The whole thing was strange to me, but then, I had many things on my mind to deal with, and I forgot all about it.. til later.
Something of a ‘mascot’ in our village was Karl, a sweet, about 30 year old man who was severely retarded. All of us loved him, talked to him…teased him a little like kids do, etc, all of it in a good natured way, of course, for everyone love Karl.
I noticed that I had not seen Karl in a while.. was he sick maybe? But, no, Karl never was seen again by anyone.. Karl was gone.
His mom walked around with a very sad face and I asked her one day “Where is Karl?” She sunk her head even lower and she said “They took him to the hospital.. but I don’t know which one or where.”
What did not escape my very inquisitive mind was that the people with the stars on their chest were gone about the same time Karl was gone.
So far go my memories…. and they tie in together with what all of us found out so much later. But this would be a story I can not tell because I know no more or less than the rest of the world does.
But the memories of a little girl are filling in some missing pieces. What I feel about my homeland and certain history that it is responsible for, makes me want to cry cry and cry some more, and I dare say, at that time; that so many, and especially we, as children did know nothing, nothing other than what I wrote down in this blog. I am so sad when I think about Karl… and heartbroken about the people with those yellow stars….