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Author's note: Its a true story except the end was added by the real brother
WORLD WAR II... THE NAZIS... THE HOLOCAUST... THE
DEATH CAMPS.. . THE PAIN.. . THE SUFFERING. .. ADOL F HITLER...
HE SAID HE WAS TRYING TO MAKE A SUPERIOR RACE. HE SAID THAT
HE WOULD BE A GOOD CHANCELLOR... HE SAID HE WOULD MAKE
THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE- FOR EVERYONE.... HE LIED... ADOLF
HITLER CAUSED IT ALL... HE INVADED COUNTRIES... HE TOOK
CONTROL OF EVERYONE... HE STARTED THE WORLD WAR... HE
KILLED ALL THOSE INNOCENT PEOPLE, MILLIONS AND MILLIONS OF
PEOPLE, INCLUDING MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY... THE GERMANS
SAID WHAT THEY WERE DOING WAS RIGHT... THERE’S ALWAYS TWO
SIDES TO EVERY STORY- WELL HERE’S MINE...
I WAS BORN ELIZABETH ANNE BARRETT ON MAY 9TH 1929
TO A JEWISH MOTHER AND AN AMERICAN FATHER- MARY AND
DANIEL BARRETT. MY FATHER HAD LOST HIS FIRST AMERICAN WIFE
TO TYPHUS A MONTH AFTER ARRIVING IN COPENHAGEN. HE GOT A
JOB TEACHING IN THE SCHOOL MY MOTHER WORKED IN. HE
REMARRIED WITH MY MOTHER, AND HE AND HIS 18 YEAR OLD SON
CARTER BARRETT JOINED THE FAMILY. ON JULY 22ND 1935 WE
WERE GIVEN MY LITTLE SISTER JULANNE. WE LIVED IN A SMALL 2-
STORY HOUSE IN COPENHAGEN THAT WAS A BLOCK AWAY FROM
THE SCHOOL WHERE MY PARENTS WORK. IT WAS A COZY LITTLE
PLACE IN A PEACEFUL, FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENT- UNTIL THAT APRIL
Early in the morning, as I was getting ready for school,
Julanne came in saying-“Eli! Eli! Soldater! Soldater!” She ran to
the window and pointed at the corner covered by the slottis
trees and kept saying “Soldater! Soldater!” Sure enough I went
to the window and there were 2 soldiers standing in the
corner overlooking the intersection. Julanne ran down the
stairs saying “Mor! Far! Mor! Far! Soldater! Soldater!” I ran
down the stairs after her. When I got down she was in the
kitchen tugging on my mother’s dress trying to take her
outside to see the soldiers. My mother and father both looked
at each other in a worried look, then they looked at Julanne.
My father scorned in German-“Honig- Sprechen Deutsch!”
When my father said that, my eyes widened at him. He had
always told us to speak Danish and not to speak German even
though that is the language we speak most in school.
My mother gave Julanne her bookbag and told her to
wait at the door. When she left, I went to my father and
asked, “You have always told us to speak Danish here at
home. Now you tell us to speak German?” He came closer to
me and said, “For your own safety and Julanne’s. Promise me
you will not speak Danish for now.” I took a step back. “You
and mother always told us to be proud of our Danish
language! It is the Jewish language! You-”, my father
interrupted me. “Shh! Listen to me. We are German. We must
speak German. We must follow the German faith, not the
Jewish, for now.”
That made me furious. “No!” I raised my voice. “I am
Jewish! I love my Jewish faith and my Jewish language! I want
to be Jewish, not German!” My father looked at me with an
angry look, as if he were ready to slap me, but then he turned
away. “Fine. Be Jewish. But they will know. They will
remember your face.”, he said to me, without looking. I asked,
“Who are they? The soldiers?” My father just sat down and
said, “You’ll be late for school. Go on. Remember what I said.”
My mother walked in and grabbed me by my arm and said,”
Julanne is waiting for you. Be careful Elizabeth. Have a good
day at school.”
I got to the door where Julanne started tugging on my
arm. She was anxious to go see the soldiers and talk to them.
We were halfway across the street when I remembered
everything my father said. When we got to the corner where
the soldiers were, Julanne ran to them. I ran to her and
grabbed her bookbag to hold her back. The two soldiers
looked down at us, for they were tall in those shiny boots they
wore. They asked us in German, “Well aren’t you an anxious
little girl. What is your name?” I answered in German, “Her
name is Julanne.” They looked at me and said, “And yours?” I
said, “Elizabeth Barrett.” They looked at each other then
turned back and said, “Are you two girls Jewish?” I
remembered what my father told me then I said, “No. We are
German. Both of us.” Julanne looked at me. The soldiers just
smiled and said, “Oh that’s good. Hurry along or you girls will
be late for school. Have a nice day.”
I grabbed Julanne’s arm and quickly walked both of us
away from the soldiers. When we got to the corner before the
school, we saw two other soldiers. I looked everywhere. They
were on every corner. They were talking to every group of
children they saw. My father had said they will know. They are
the soldiers. They are looking for Jewish people. Throughout
the whole day I thought about what my father said. I asked
myself, “Do I want to be Jewish, or German?” I looked at the
good and bad things of being Jewish or German.
I was raised Jewish. They are looking for the Jewish
children. If I became German, they wouldn’t look for me, but
then again, I would be betraying my blood and faith. I
wondered, “Is it the right thing to do? Being Jewish is my heart
but it might end up hurting me. Do I want to be what
everyone else wants me to be, or should I just be myself?” I
took a long think at it, after we passed the same 2 soldiers
again, after dinner, up until it was time for bed. As I fell asleep,
it all came to me. I know what I am, even though I shouldn’t
be right now. But that didn’t matter to me. As I closed my eyes
and fell asleep, I said to myself quietly, “I’ll be German, for
I went down for breakfast that Saturday morning. I was
anticipating the aroma of freshly brewed coffee that I smell
every morning. When I got down stairs, it smelled stronger
than usual. I saw that both my mother and father were eating
toast as they do every morning, only this time was different.
There was no butter for the bread, not even a pitcher of milk.
My father followed my surprised look and said, “We are
making a small change to our diets honey.” My mother had
both a sad and worried look when my father said that. It made
me wonder what the real reason was. As if my mother read
my mind, she looked to my father and said, “Juli is still asleep.
Eli is old enough to know what is happening. Tell her Daniel.”
He got up, then took me to his office upstairs. He shut the
door, closed the curtains, and sat on his office chair.
“Elizabeth, something big has happened,” my father said in
that deep but hushed tone, “something serious, and bad. It is
the reason for me wanting you and your sister to be German.”
“So that they won’t have reason to find us or remember us.”
“But you are American. Not Jewish. Why would they look for
you? The Americans haven’t done anything wrong, and
neither have the Jewish. Why would they look for us?”
“Elizabeth, for your safety, I can not tell you everything.
It is for the best.” After that he tried to walk away, but I
didn’t let him- at least not yet. I said to him, “This is bigger
than the Jews and Americans combined. But who are they?
The Germans?”, I raised my voice, “You want us to be the
enemy?!” My father shushed me then looked out the curtain.
He breathed a sigh of relief, then turned back to me; this
time, he was angry. “Do you have any idea how dangerous it
is to have said that out loud?! You could have exposed
yourself and your sister!”
Julanne walked in silently, and my father went on with
his scolding. “You need to understand the situation! If you
don’t, then both you and Julanne will get taken away!”
Julanne started crying and ran away.
“Look what you did, DAD. You didn’t need to make her cry
like that,” I said.
“You still don’t get it, do you? This is serious. Please. Try to
understand the severity of all this, Elizabeth,” he said to me.
“You have no idea how it felt when the soldiers in the corner
asked us if we were Jewish and I had to lie and say that we
were German. Julanne looked at me in a different way when I
My father sat in his chair. “At least they know you and
Julanne are German. Hopefully we can keep it that way,” he
My mother walked in with Julanne; thankfully she was
not crying anymore. My mother started to talk in that
cheerful tone but she used those eyes that said “You’re in
trouble.” “Honey,” she said to my father, “Would you come
talk to your other daughter, please?” My father could tell that
my mother was not in the mood for a “pass” so he went to
talk to Julanne in the other room. My mother sat down in my
father’s chair, then she looked at me with a worried look.
“Elizabeth, things are happening, and your father is just
worried about you two. You know you both mean the world
“Mom,” I said, “Tell me. I need to know.” She looked at me,
sighed, then said, “It’s best if you don’t know everything. It
helps you be brave if things get bad.”
“If things get bad? What do you mean?” I asked.
“Oh, don’t worry honey.” She looked at the clock. “Oh, no.
You are going to be late. You go on ahead; we’ll take Julanne
My father walked in with Julanne, who was very happy.
She shouted, “Daddy’s going to buy me an ice cream cone
today!” My mom looked at my father, smiled, then
said,“After you come home from school we can go to Mrs.
Jennifer’s Bakery and get an ice cream cone for Julanne and
Eli I know you love her pumpkin pie. You can have a slice.”
That made me happy. I quickly went to the door and shouted,
“Let’s go, Julanne!” We both grabbed our bags and ran out
the front door to school. At least I had something to look
forward to after school.
After school my mother and father picked us up and we
went walking to Mrs. Jennifer’s Bakery. It wasn’t that far- only
about 2 blocks away from my house. When we got to the
corner a block away from the bakery we saw that a soldier
was locking the door and preparing to leave. My father
walked up to the soldier and asked in German, “Is the bakery
closed?” The soldier looked at my father with a strict
expression and said, “The store is permanently closed. The
woman who used to own this does not live here anymore.”
Then the soldier turned around and walked away. My father
came to us and said, “That’s strange. Mrs. Jennifer isn’t here
anymore.” My mother and I walked towards the window and
looked in. All that was in there was a table and ropes like
those they use for big lines of people. But what would they
need that for? And where did Mrs. Jennifer go?
My father looked in, then looked back at us, and said,
“Well, we could go to the mall and look for ice-cream and pie
there.” Julanne was thrilled with the idea, but I wasn’t sure.
The mall was 8 blocks away, but the weather was really great
today, so I said, “Sure, why not?” Then off we went.
While we walked I put much thought into the closing of
the bakery. Everyone buys pastries at Mrs. Jennifer’s, so I
don’t think she ran out of business. She always has enough
money for the rent. Her bakery was famous in this town,
especially for her pink-frosted cupcakes. I couldn’t come up
with an idea of why she would close her bakery permanently
and just leave. Everyone loved Mrs. Jennifer. I could hear my
parents whispering about it behind me. My father kept
talking about Mrs. Jennifer being Jewish as a reason why her
shop was closed. But what would being Jewish have to do
with her bakery closing?
As we walked we passed more shops, like Mr. and Mrs.
Hendleton’s flower shop, and Ms. Mary’s craft shop, but they
were closed, too. They had German signs on the door that
said, “CLOSED” in big, red letters. It kind of scared me. Why
were so many shops closed?
Finally we got to the entrance of the mall. There were 2
crowds of people, one to the left and one to the right. I could
hear a man announcing to the crowds, “Jews to the left!
Germans to the right!” My father looked at my mother and
said, “Let’s go right.” So we went to the right. As people
walked into the mall, they were given armbands. We got red
armbands with the Nazi insignia. The Jewish people got blue
armbands with the Star of David in the middle.
All around the mall all the stores had either the Star of
David or the Nazi insignia on the door. A little girl with the
Star of David armband tried to walk into a store with the Nazi
insignia, but they didn’t let her in. They told her to go to a
store with the same sign as hers. So if you were Jewish, you
could only go to Jewish stores. If you were German, you could
only go into German stores. Most of the stores were German,
though. Only like 8 or 9 stores were Jewish. The other 16 or
more were German. The empty spaces looked like they used
to be Jewish stores, but there was nothing inside, and the
door had the Stars of David on them.
We walked into a German bakery. We ordered what we
wanted; an ice cream for Julanne, my slice of pumpkin pie,
and my mother’s and father’s plate full of vanilla cake with
coffee-flavored cake in the middle. While we were eating, a
saw kids with the Star of David armband with just a slice of a
regular loaf of bread. They looked at us and then they looked
upset. I asked my father, “Why don’t they get pie or ice
cream like us?” My father looked at my mother then at me
and said, “I guess the Jewish bakery ran out.”
It wasn’t until an hour later that I found out that
citizens weren’t allowed to have milk and butter because all
of it was being sent to the German army. The army got all the
meat, butter, and milk so that they could keep their strength
up. We had to have juice and tea instead. It was okay since
Julanne and I really enjoy having orange and apple juice. But
then again, I was going to miss the creaminess of milk and
butter, and my father was going to miss having steak. Oh
well, “just a few changes to our diet.”
The next 2 days went pretty much like normal days. School.
Soldiers at the corners. Now it’s Sunday. We go to the
synagogue. But I had a feeling... that today... things were
going to be different.
9 AM. Today we went to the synagogue earlier than
usual. They called us because Rabbi John said he had
something important to tell us. My mother and father held
each other’s hands while we were sitting down. They knew it
Once everyone arrived, Rabbi John spoke. “My friends,”
he said in a worried tone, “today we have gathered together,
so that we won’t have to walk into the darkness alone. Last
night, the Nazis came, and took our lists, of all the Jewish
families, their names, their home addresses, all of it. I’m
sorry, we couldn’t stop them. Please, do not waste your time
being angry, or accusing. Now is the time for the family to be
together, to be united. Now, we must all be friends, to help
each other in these times. We do not know why the wanted
with the lists, or what they will do with the information, but
we hope, that no danger comes to all of you. Now go home,
get ready. We do not know what is coming, but I fear, that
these upcoming days will change. Bless you all, and farewell.”
Everyone did what we were told. In our building, all our
Jewish neighbors started to pack up. My father and mother
were worried. Now we couldn’t hide that we were Jewish.
The Germans would know. My father picked up the phone
and called someone. He said that times were changing, that
we needed to leave. Then he started talking differently. My
mother said he was talking to a fisherman. All I heard my
father say was that we were going to have to take a boat ride.
He decided to pack up, and go to my brother Carter’s house
in Sweden. We hadn’t seen Carter since last year. It was going
to be nice to see him again. Too bad it’s in a bad time. I used
to love it when he would take me to Mrs. Jennifer’s bakery
and buy me a cupcake with a smiley face on it. I wonder what
we are going to do when we get there, and how long we will
be there for.
We packed our things as our father told us to do. 6
outfits, 2 dresses, and a few extra shirts and skirts. Julanne
had nothing but shirts and skirts. Along with the clothes, my
mother packed extra tea bags and bread for the trip. It was
going to be a long one. Longer than the half hour drive to get
to the other side of the city for groceries.
My father drove us far. Farther than I had ever gone in
my whole life. We passed open meadows, where dear
roamed free, and you could see small houses on the far side
of the meadows with cows on the plain. The first thing
Julanne shouted when saw the cows was, “MILK!” We all
laughed on that one.
Few hours later we made it to the shoreline. Sweden is on the
other side. It looked like an ocean away. And the only way
past, was by boat.
5 AM. Once we were at the shoreline, we all got off
from the car. Julanne and I went to the shore to go touch the
water. It was cold, like ice, and so clean, and blue. This was
the first time I had ever seen the ocean, let alone touch it.
A fisherman came to us from his boat. I think he was
the same fisherman my father talked to on the phone. They
talked for a while, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying
over the sound of the waves. But I could tell they were talking
Suddenly my father came quickly, and told us to get our
things quickly. I remember Julanne getting her bag and
running to my mother. We all quickly grabbed our things, and
my father locked the car behind us, then gave the keys to the
fisherman. Right away, the fisherman escorted us to his boat,
where the wooden floor was open, and there was a little
room inside. He told us to get in. First my mother, then
Julanne, then me, then my father. Then the fisherman closed
the ceiling, and it got dark. We all sat down on the floor. The
rocking was making Julanne dizzy.
A while passed, then Julanne spoke. “Papa,” she said,
“What are we going to do?” My father put his hand over her
mouth. “Shh,” he whispered, “We cannot talk until we get
there. Do you understand? That goes to you too, Elizabeth.
No talking, no matter what you hear. No matter what
happens, until we get back to shore.” Julanne nodded in
approval, then my father removed his hand from her mouth.
A minute or two later we heard the fisherman talking to
someone else in German. “We are all set. It’s time to cast
off.” Then the other man said, “Let’s get on it then.” We
could hear their footsteps as they walked across the deck.
Then we heard something fall in the water, and we could feel
the whole boat move with the waves.
Suddenly we heard someone shout “STOP” in German.
Then there was a tug on the boat. Next we heard footsteps, a
lot of footsteps. Then we heard someone say in German,
“Where are you going?” The fisherman said, “Fishing. It’s a
beautiful day.” Then more footsteps. Along with the
footsteps we heard the pitter-patter of feet, then we heard a
sniffing sound. Then there was a bark, and a growl, from a
dog. It started clawing at the floor, like it was digging, right on
the ceiling above us. Then, light.
A man opened the ceiling, and looked down at us. The
first thing I saw, were big, shiny, black boots. I felt scared. The
man looked at the fisherman, and said in an accusing voice,
“Fishing, eh? It appears you are smuggling 4 Jews!” The man
looked behind him, “Take them! All 5!” Then another man
came and stepped down to where we were, and picked up
Julanne. She started kicking and screaming, but that didn’t
even affect the man. He handed her to another man, who
took her away.
He turned around, and lifted me up. I didn’t react at all.
I was just scared. Another man grabbed me by my arms and
lifted me up. He took me with Julanne and started walking us
off the boat. I looked at the dog as I got off. It growled at me,
and I could tell it was angry. I turned back to see them lift my
mother and father out and bring them down from the boat
along with the fisherman. They walked us past a big forest of
trees, with the dogs behind us, so we couldn’t run.
Finally we got to this train, full of those boxcars they
use for animals. Outside them were more men, with guns,
and dogs. They made us get in. There were more Jewish
people inside. I knew some of these people. From school,
neighbors, store owners. It scared me even more. They closed
the door behind us. We sat down in the darkness again. I
asked my father, “Papa, where are we going?” He said, “I
The ride was long. Hours and hours and hours long.
Julanne and my mother fell asleep. My father just sat in the
corner. I couldn’t tell whether he was asleep or not. He just
sat there, like if he was disappointed. I could understand if he
was upset. He did so much to save us. And now we’re here.
Going somewhere we don’t know. He’s probably scared too.
Just like me.
Suddenly the train stopped. Then we heard dogs
barking. The door opened. All the light hurt my eyes. I looked
out, and there were soldiers all over the place. One shouted
“Out!” in German, and everyone ran out. My mother and
Julanne woke up and quickly got out. My father slowly got up
and came to me, grabbed my hand, and walked us out. He
They made us walk out. Then a man shouted, “Men to
the right! Women to the left!” My father looked at us, gave
my hand to my mother, and said, “Be careful. I love you all.”
Then he went with the other fathers. My mother, Julanne,
and I went to the left. 2 soldiers walked by us. One pointed to
Julanne and my mother, then they walked away. They went
to the front of the line, pointing at all the little children. One
shouted out loud for everyone to hear, “All the children
younger than 15 must go to the trucks.
Julanne looked at my mother. I could tell she was
scared and did not want to go. My mother did not want to
leave her. When all the children went, he came over to my
mother, who was tightly holding onto Julanne. He said in
German, “She must go.” My mother still wouldn’t let her. He
said, “Very well. You could go with her if you’d like.” Then he
looked at me. He asked, “How old are you?” I looked at my
mother, then she said, “She’s 15.” He said, “She must stay in
this line of women then.” My mother came to me and
whispered, “I’ll be back.”
They left with the other children. The soldier came
went back to the front and shouted, “The elderly must also go
with the children now!” A lot of elderly people left to follow
the children, slowly, but off they went. All the children and
the elderly, including my mother and Julanne, were lifted
onto the truck, and taken away. Julanne waved to me and my
father. That was the last time I ever saw Julanne and my
mother. I never knew what happened to them.
My father and the other men were taken one way. All
the women went the other way. We walked for a while, then
we got to a big building. We walked in and it was dark. It had
a lot of beds. This is where the women stayed. They made us
change into a worn out brown uniform. Then we walked out
to the yard. There were people out here working.
My father, in his uniform, came to me and hugged me.
A soldier came and split us up. He told us to get to work. My
father got angry. He punched the soldier in the face. My
father then grabbed my hand and we ran off. Suddenly the
soldier got up and shot my father. He was dead before he hit
the grounded. I kneeled down next to him and cried. I kept
saying, “Papa! Papa! Get up! Please!” He didn’t get up. I kept
crying and crying, but nothing. 2 other uniformed men picked
up my father and took him away. I couldn’t stop them. The
soldier picked me up in one swift move and said, “Stop crying
you idiot girl! Either work or go to the showers!”
This was the decision that changed my life.
I went to the showers to cry. In there were some of my
friends. I went to them, then the soldiers closed the door.
Through the top little balls fell down on top of us. It started to
smell bad, and burn my eyes. I fell on the floor and closed my
eyes, coughing. I never saw anyone else. I never got up. In
these few seconds of gasping breaths I must tell you my
story. And everything that brought me to this end. A ball
came right under me. My last breath. And to think, this whole
book took place in a 10 second flashback.
Wood Dale, Illinois
WOODLAND HILLS, California
West Milwaukee, Wisconsin
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