I’ve corrected the grammar for her but this is her story of her childhood during the war. It’s quite moving, don’t you think?
Some memories from my youth during the last war in Stuttgart
I was about 8 years old when war broke out. I was going to school in the lower class but for long because it wasn’t possible to have school so we had to take a break. There was always a large, packed bag next to the door with all of our very important things in it, anything we would need if we had to take refuge in the cellar of the house if the bomb alert sounded. I screamed and my hands held the banister leading down the cellar very tightly, and my mother hurried with me the longer way to the official bunker down the street. The siren went off often, day and night. Most families were hurrying into the bunker, of course always with their luggage and all they could carry. My mother was alone with me – like other women – because all men were in the war.
My parents had a hairdresser’s shop. In the evenings when the shop was closed some special customers would visit us. They were Jewish women coming for a haircut. It was forbidden to service such people. I had to go to bed early in the evening because I shouldn’t see the customers and the symbol they had on their clothes. It was a big Jewish star. One day, it was the last time they came to us, they said they would be sent away. This was her last journey to somewhere. They were sent to the gas chambers.
One day the air raid siren sounded and my mother was running with me, the big luggage and the heavy hairdryer down the street and into the bunker. I only dragged our pillows with me. When we arrived at the bunker, hundreds of people were standing close to each other. No one had space inside and then the big thick door closed. It was very calm in the bunker – I think people were praying in this moment to God for help. Suddenly the first bombs started falling again and again for a long time. I will never forget the sound of those bombs for the rest of my life. First, a whistle and then the explosion with the air pressure.
It was calm outside and the air raid was finished. The air raid siren sounded off again so we knew it was over. Then the door opened. It was the most terrible sight I had ever seen in my young life. All houses in the long street left and right as far as I could see were burning and the air was very hot. The air stank and between were explosions in the house and walls were falling down.
The race began. We hurried through the city to my aunt to ask her if we could stay with her. She only had two rooms. We could stay and the neighborhood came there for their hairdressing. One day my father came back from war and were five people in two small rooms. Some organization from the city sent us a foreign woman to live with us too. At that time, each family must fill their apartments with foreigners.
And now the famine began for each of us. The food supply was very small, only enough to eat so we could survive and not starve. My mother took a bed sheet and other things we had saved to the farmers for an egg or a small piece of butter. We walked with a small cart through the city up to a village for some hours. This was normal at the time. Everybody had to do this. The shelves in the bakery were empty. We could only buy a dark, damp bread. It wasn’t made of whole meal. It wasn’t possible to buy clothes or shoes either. I was growing up very fast and had only one pair of shoes. The problem was that I couldn’t stretch my toes in them. My clothes were too short, too.
One day we got a care package from America. It was distributed by the Church to poor people. Inside the package were a can of milk powder, a bit of chocolate and egg powder. I got a light pink dress with short sleeves. It fit me perfectly and I was very proud of it. I now had two dresses. In school we each got a small plate of warm food everyday. It was called Homer Speisring, named after a general. Once we got toothpaste. We ate this like peppermint candy.
This was part of my life.