All Nonfiction Bullying Books Academic Author Interviews Celebrity interviews College Articles College Essays Educator of the Year Heroes Interviews Memoir Personal Experience Sports Travel & CultureAll Opinions Bullying Current Events / Politics Discrimination Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking Entertainment / Celebrities Environment Love / Relationships Movies / Music / TV Pop Culture / Trends School / College Social Issues / Civics Spirituality / Religion Sports / Hobbies
- Summer Guide
- College Guide
- Author Interviews
- Celebrity interviews
- College Articles
- College Essays
- Educator of the Year
- Personal Experience
- Travel & Culture
- Current Events / Politics
- Drugs / Alcohol / Smoking
- Entertainment / Celebrities
- Love / Relationships
- Movies / Music / TV
- Pop Culture / Trends
- School / College
- Social Issues / Civics
- Spirituality / Religion
- Sports / Hobbies
- Community Service
- Letters to the Editor
- Pride & Prejudice
- What Matters
I always loved to dream. As a little girl, it started out as simple fairy tales. The cliche prince and the princess. As I grew older, it developed into more mature topics, such as my plans for the future, what I could do to change the world, how I could change the world with my words. I was born in Salzburg, Austria in 1923. I came into the world with a shock of dark hair, different from the usual blond hair of my classmates in school. I was best friends with a girl named Rivkeh, who had moved from Amsterdam when she was twelve. We never left each other's side, always in the street together playing hopscotch, scoffing the immature behavior of the "savage boys", and acting like we were older when to our chagrin, we were just thought of as amusing. All this was a normal childhood. Then, as the summer of 1939 approached, Rivkeh planned to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, with a bat mitzvah. I had no idea what this was, only I was invited. I took especial care with my hair for that specific day, because I wanted to impress Rivkeh's brother, David. We had been good friends in our childhood days, but as he had grown older, my stomach would twist on itself when he said hello, and I sometimes couldn't remember what I wanted to say to him when he was looking at me with his deep brown eyes.
I pushed these thoughts away as I fastened the last hairpin, and admired my yellow summer dress in the mirror of my bedroom. If only my hair was lighter. Then I would be perfect.
I made my way down the street to Rivkeh's church, which her community called a synagogue. She had to move to a certain place in the city a few months ago, but when I asked my parents why, they either told me they did not know or they replied in strained tones that they were busy. So I thought nothing of it.
One thing that did disturb me was the soldiers on the street. They came in convoys last year, each one filled with hundreds of men. They had cold, piercing eyes, like ice. Their mouths had no expression, and they looked like statues. If I dared to touch one, I wouldn't be surprised if I felt porcelain instead of the human softness of skin.
There were always two specific soldiers who guarded a certain corner leading to the community Rivkeh lived in, called a ghetto. I always made myself as small as possible when I passed them, but they either stared at me coldly, or forced me to step out onto the street, because they wouldn't make room for me to pass. Both situations were excruciatingly uncomfortable and I always felt like they could squish me like a bug if they wanted to.
But instead, they were not there. I noted this change with a light heart, and made my way into the ghetto. I made my way past the gate, but something was wrong.
Instead of the happy party I was expecting, soldiers gathered around trucks were herding people with clubs and guns into the cramped vehicles, and I could hear distant screams and cries of grief. I look around in confusion, trying to find Rivkeh and her family.
I found her and David huddled around her parents, there heads bent in prayer. Rivkeh's head was covered with a brightly woven cloth, and her face was stained with tears. David's face was contorted in tension and pain. Rivkeh's parents had expressions of all hope having disappeared.
I ran to them, tried to pull them back to reality. But now it hit me. This was reality. My yellow dress, my dreams, my emotions, they all faded into this gray mist of despair.
The last I saw of Rivkeh and her family was the image of her family being herded into the trucks like cattle. I tried to shout David's name, but I couldn't.
Rivkeh saw me however. She shouted one last thing to me.
"Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha?olam."
Even in the last moments when I saw her, she was praising God.
That night the Kristallnacht began.
Years have passed and still the memories haunt me. I never married, because I could never find the same life I found in David's eyes in anyone elses. I am now sure that that life is dead now. I look at the book I have written. The Nazi regime died years ago, but it it now my duty to tell the story, and honor the dead. And so I seal my sorrow in an envelope, and settle comfortably in my chair, replaying the memories of Rivkeh's laughter and David's smile in my mind to chase away the memories of screams and broken glass.