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.

Nur Fűr Juden

Mutti and I strolled to Goethe Platz, an island of trees and flowers at the end of our busy street.
“Look. There’s a hat we could buy for Papa.”
 “Would your father like that striped tie for his birthday?” But we never bought anything.
We saw a bright red dress that I promised to buy Mutti with my first earnings.
A few stores had the letter J painted on them. Others spelled out JUDE. I didn’t understand why people were supposed to boycott those stores. Mutti always evaded my questions about the J. She just walked faster.
As soon as we stepped into Goethe Platz I ran ahead to my favorite bench hidden in an alcove surrounded by tall trees. It was a shady spot and lots of birds lived in the trees. Mutti sometimes pointed to the nests, identifying types of birds. I gave them individual names like Gretchen or Hannelore. The birds whistled songs and Mutti whistled back at them. I think they liked Mutti’s whistles.
Suddenly Mutti’s eyes darted around nervously. “We have to go now.”
 “Why? We just arrived. I want to play with the birds.”
 “We must go now.”
Mutti was looking past my head so I turned around to see some letters printed on the top board of the bench. Words that had not been there before.
I sounded out the short words printed on the bench.
“N-u-r  f-ü-r  J-u-d-e-n,” I said slowly. Then I put the words together in a sentence. Only for Jews.
 A week later all the other benches had words printed on them: “Only for Aryans.”  

Click on the art to see an enlarged image.