Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust

By Anita Brostoff; Sheila Chamovitz | Go to book overview
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The Sewing Basket
Marga Randall
b. Lemförde, Germany, 1930

We stood in the middle of the cobblestone street in front of my grandparents' house. The windows were not shiny glass any more, with those lovely lace curtains. They were all boarded up. It was getting dark. I clutched my doll and my sewing basket close to me.

We had survived Kristallnacht in this village of Schermbeck, in the Rhineland, North Germany. We stood there, my mother, my Aunt Paula, my grandparents, and I. We were about to walk away from our home, where generations of my family had lived.

As we were leaving, my Christian friend, Irmgard, leaned out of her second story window and asked, “Wo geht ihr hin?(Where are you going?) I told her I was not sure, but we would go to a big city and stay with my aunt's family. I couldn't even tell her when I would return. She had been a loyal and sweet friend to me and now I had to leave her. Impulsively I tossed my sewing basket to her. She caught it and began to cry.

We walked toward the train station silently. It was a long sad journey. My grandmother was ill, my Aunt Paula weak from worry and stress. As for me, at eight and one-half, I just felt secure because I had my mother there to hold my hand.

At the train station we boarded the train to Berlin. Special documents in hand allowing us to travel, we found our seats and the train slowly pulled away.

I loved this place. The village, the church bells so crystal-clear with few street noises to interfere. Horses' hooves, clickety-clack on the cobblestone streets, accompanied by pots and pans rattling in the distance. How excited I would get! But when the horse-drawn wagon appeared around the corner, I would stay close to the front door. The gypsies were coming through Schermbeck on their way to the countryside where they would camp overnight. I loved the lake where the ducks chattered, the swans honked and the frogs made their unique sound.

Our family welcomed us in Berlin. Through air raids, food shortages, and curfews, we managed to stay together until my mother, sister, and I were permitted to leave Germany in 1941.

Meanwhile, in Schermbeck during the war, my friend Irmgard kept under her bed a wooden suitcase built by her father. She stored all of her precious


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Flares of Memory: Stories of Childhood during the Holocaust
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