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.

Three in a Bed

At the immigration center, we move from table to table. Mutti shows our papers and answers questions. The clerks wave us on. At the last desk, we show a certificate from our sponsor to a uniformed official.
 
“You’re good to go.”
 
 “Go where?” asks Mutti.
 
The man points to a gate.
 
 “But where will we go?” Mutti whines.
 
The man points again.
 
We can read, “Exit.” Mutti’s question meant where will we eat and sleep in the biggest city in the world.
 
 “There,” shouts Papa. He rushes to a man with a sign: “Amram Familie.” The stranger speaks our language and tells Papa not to worry.
 
 “I’m from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the HIAS,” he says. “I’ve come to help you settle into New York City.”
 
We walk a little way to a trolley that doesn’t say, “Juden Verboten.” The HIAS man pays the fare. We sit. When he stands, we stand. We follow him down a busy street and into a small hotel lobby that smells like very stale food, mostly cabbage. We’re shown a small, dark, dusty room with one bed and a dresser. The man explains that this will be our home until we can afford our own apartment.
 
We three will sleep in a double bed. Mutti decides that I must sleep in the middle so I don’t fall out. She insists I sleep with my head at the foot of the bed. I sleep looking at their feet which stick out from the covers so that I can breathe. Papa’s feet smell like the egg salad he selects at the cafeteria. To be certain that my feet don’t smell funny, I never select egg salad. 

Click on the art to see an enlarged image.
Art