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Hanna and Mama
This piece is about World War Two in Poland.
As I woke up, I could tell that this was not going to be a good day. First of all, it was a Monday, Jannie was at her grandparent's house in Kosin, and I am still right here in Kolno, Poland.
“Good morning Mama, good morning father.”
“Good morning Hanna,” my mother called from the kitchen, “Your father is already at work, honey. Maybe you will get to see him tonight.”
“Okay,” I sighed. I haven’t seen my father in over a week now and I miss him.
Jannie will be back after school today, but I do not think I can survive another day without her. She is the only person that can get me through each day.
I ran upstairs and got dressed for school. I put on my collared shirt, skirt, and my socks. I always roll down my socks, though.
“What’s for breakfast?” I asked.
“I bought some fresh eggs and bacon from the store,” my Mama told me. “Is that okay?” She asked. “Would you like an omelet?”
Mama made an omelet for both of us and we had a nice breakfast. This morning I actually remembered to put on my star of David necklace.
It was still dark as I walked down the street. There were clouds everywhere and it looked like it was going to rain any second now. I didn’t hear much noise. No children were playing, no women were singing. All I heard were the babies crying.
As usual, there was a rumor about someone attacking us again. Today it sounded more serious though. It was something about the Nazis and how they wanted to kill off all of the Jews. Nothing to worry about, I thought to myself. Just a usual day in Kolno.
As I walked into school all of the teachers were running around frantically. We were all lined up inside too.
“What’s going on,” I asked my friend Jakub.
“The Germans attacked Lubin, the village next door to us. They are looking for all Jewish kids and said they should vanish. Miss Marie said to hide you and Jannie in the closet when you get here,” Jakub told me.
So I ran to the closet and stayed in there. When Miss. Marie came back she told me to be quiet and not to worry. She said that she would have me home as soon as possible. Just as I was about to leave the closet I heard loud, deep voices. As I peeked through the crack in the closet door, two big men in full uniform and armed with guns walked right up to Miss. Marie. They said they were looking for any Jewish children. I am the only Jewish child in the whole class.
She said no, and those scary men looked around the classroom and asked each and every one of my classmates if they were Jewish or not. They all told the truth. As they left I started to cry. I did not know what was going to happen. Is this going to happen every day? I thought to myself.
Miss. Marie came to get me out of the closet when the scary men left. She said that they were just some mean men that were just going crazy. She let me walk home early from school. But I didn't walk, I ran. I was scared and I did not know what would happen next. I didn't know if my parents were okay, or if those scary men came to take them away too.
I burst through the door, "Mama, Mama!" I called. She didn't respond. "Mama, Mama," I called again.
"Honey, I'm in your bedroom," she whispered. "Come on, come over here. Quick!"
"What is wrong? Are the mean men here too?"
"Yes, I just heard them next door at Mr. Kololski's house. "Honey, take off your necklace and hide it somewhere in here. Make sure no one can find us. If those soldiers find out we are Jewish, they may take us away."
Knock, knock. Again we heard knock, knock. Then a big crashing noise. Our door was kicked down. All I heard were feet running around the house. I did not know what was happening. By now it was about 9:00 at night and it had started to get dark outside. Mama and I were hugging each other in my closet and I was starting to cry. Before we knew it a flashlight was glaring in our eyes and a big man was standing right in front of us.
Before we knew it we were standing with our hands held behind us in the middle of our kitchen being questioned. Who are you? Are you a Jew? Why were you hiding? They just kept questioning us. Then again they asked if we were Jewish. Quickly I answered, "No, sir."
"Um well," Mama began, but I stomped on her foot to get her to stop talking. "We are not Jewish." My Mama did not know what these men were looking for but I did. I knew that they could not know that we are Jewish.
The soldiers left and Mama made me go right to bed. I didn’t fell asleep. I could not stop thinking about the fact that Father may not come back tonight. What if those soldiers captured him I thought to myself. I finally walked out to the kitchen and sat with Mama in silence.
"What if Father doesn't come home tonight?" I asked. "Will he come home tonight?"
"I don't know honey, I really don't. All we can do right now is pray that he is safe and on his way home from work right now." Mama said.
Suddenly the front door opens with a big bang.
"Father!" I yelled.
"You both need to get out of here right now! Grab a bag, some clothes and the money hidden under the mattress. Make your way to Romania and go from there. I have family in Sibiu, meet them there. Tell them who you are and what has happened. You have to leave now, they are coming for me. The soldiers are coming for me. If you leave now you will be fine. All they want is me. But, if they see the both of you here, they will take you."
"We can't leave you!" I cried
Bang, bang bang.
"Go out the back door, grab the money, some clothes, and food. Bring a candle but don't light it till you are out of town. These soldiers are all over the main roads. Stay on the side streets. I will see you soon. I will miss you lots. Hanna, take care of your mother for me!"
Mama and I ran out the back door, and down the road. As we were running we came across a group of soldiers at the end of the street. "Mama, these are the Nazi's I have been hearing about they are all over and they want to kill all Jews," I cried.
"I don't believe you honey, but if that is true, we have to keep moving, let's go!" commanded Mama.