A little girl in Wittenberg, Germany:
It is Monday morning, July 18, 1949: When I opened my eyes this morning – I woke with a start of excitement! My name is Christa, and today is my 11th birthday! What surprises will the day hold for me I wonder?! It has been a little over four years now since my father’s tragic death at the end of World War II, and my family and I are slowly and painfully beginning to rebuild our lives. As I dressed and made my way to the kitchen, my two older brothers greet me enthusiastically with “Hertzliche Gluckwunche zum Geburtztag Kleine!” (Best wishes on your birthday little one). My mother – though we don’t have much – has a kleinichkeit (“just a little something”) waiting for me at the breakfast table. A banana – I have never had one! But there’s no time to linger long over breakfast – my mother and oldest brother are preparing to leave for work; my second brother has work in the garden and the rabbit hutch must be cleaned today; as for myself – there is always the housework. I wonder if perhaps I’ll have a spare moment to read a chapter out of my favorite book. I do so dearly love to read. Late this afternoon when we gather together again, I will look forward to having a slice of Erdbertorte (“Strawberry Torte”) which my mother has prepared from strawberries out of our garden. I wonder if it’s too much to hope that there might be some whipping cream to go with that torte?
A young boy in Ogden, Utah:
It is Monday morning, July 18, 1949: When I opened my eyes this morning – it was still completely dark and quiet outside, and I am very tired. My name is Richard, and I am 14 years old. I can hear my mother in the kitchen as she prepares my father a thermos of coffee and urges my older brother and younger sister out of bed, It is 4:00 a.m. and we have to hurry – today we are driving to Willard to pick fruit – and we have to get on the road. The dew is all over everything and the air is heavy. I fleetingly contemplate sleeping another hour in the backseat of the car. We have barely made it to the edge of town – now wait a minute – are those truck headlights coming toward us? It invaded us violently and without warning – hot twisted metal, shattered glass and shattered lives – and then complete and utter silence. My head hurts so bad , and I can’t move my jaw – it just hangs limply as I try to call to my family. My mother – I can see her on the highway, but she‘s not moving. Max – Juanita – Where are you? Are you okay?! And then blessed darkness.
My father did lose his mother and his sister on that day long ago. That one moment in time changed his life forever. The family sedan was struck head-on by a produce truck driven by a 19-year old who had been driving all night and had fallen asleep at the wheel. My grandmother died instantly. Juanita died some hours later from a head injury. My father suffered a head injury, a broken jaw and various internal injuries. His brother Max went through intensive rehabilitation for a broken leg and internal injuries; however, he did survive. My father left home and joined the Army at the age of 17 and ended up stationed in Frankfurt. My mother went on to graduate from German high school and “tailoring” school. When she was 17 years old, she traveled to the “west” (Frankfurt) to visit an aunt and uncle. While in Frankfort, she met my father at a pub, and they were married shortly thereafter. Like I say ~ it’s destiny.