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.

Reluctant Grown-up​​​

Three officers entered our apartment, all in calf-high shiny leather boots and all carrying drawn pistols. “Gestapo,” announced the lead officer in his intimidating black uniform. His visor cap displayed an eagle and a death mask – or was it a skull? On his left arm, he wore a red band emblazoned with a swastika. Pointing with his gun, he told my mother and me to stand in a corner. The other two officers holstered their guns and started searching my favorite room, Papa’s storage room.
 
Perfectly white walls with perfectly white shelves showed off bolts of fabric in every imaginable color and texture. I loved the colors from pastel pink to glowing red, from aqua to royal blue, from lemon yellow to grass green. I loved Papa’s fabric room better than going to the park, even better than eating ice cream. The colors made my heart beat faster.
 
When the officers had finished hauling away the last bolt of fabric they looked at my mother, clicked their heels, gave a small bow and, in unison, shouted a “Heil Hitler.”
 
Mutti locked the front door and we went into Papa’s storage room. The glass chandelier made the white walls even whiter. All white! No color anywhere. We both cried. That was my last cry for many years.
 
The next time the men in uniform returned with their terrifying knock, I unlocked the door myself. This time I stood in front of my mother—not behind. I looked straight at the lead officer with my arms crossed. I guessed that was the proper posture for a grown-up.

   

Click on the art to see an enlarged image.
Art