Lest We Forget

a touring exhibition of visual art and prose vignettes illustrating the early years of the Holocaust in Nazi Germany
and the refugee experience.

Bombs Bursting In Air

Sirens signaled lights out. Every sturdy structure, including our five-story apartment building at 25 Goethe Strasse, had a designated basement bomb shelter. Each night the shrill sirens woke us and, enveloped in darkness, we rushed to our refuge.
 
Our bomb shelter was cold, damp and gloomy. Sometimes I gagged from the smell of urine and sweat.
 
One night when the sirens whined, my parents scooped up their “one and only” to join the others in the race to the basement. This time we saw a new sign on the door, “Juden Verboten.” Jews Forbidden! Now we were to experience the RAF airplanes without the protection of the basement shelter and without the camaraderie of neighbors. Night after night we watched the RAF sky show from our windows. Papa sometimes sat with me under a table.
 
The roaring planes, whistling bombs and explosions in my head were far more frightening than the leaflets and the occasional real bomb. My small boy imagination was far more dramatic than reality.
 
Papa believed that God would protect the Jews, believed it deep in his soul. Mutti had less faith. Her rage at “Juden Verboten” increased each day as neighbors, understanding the message, stopped talking to us — even avoided us. One night she cracked. As the planes came directly over our building she stepped onto our little balcony, looked up into the dark sky and cried out, “Dear God, please let the bombs destroy this building and these people. I will be content to die with them.”
 
Quietly she added, “If they won’t live with Jews, let them die with Jews.”

Click on the art to see an enlarged image.
Art