Because today is Yom HaShoah…Holocaust Remembrance Day, I’m taking the liberty of sharing a few flash fictions I’ve written. These are only four out of many I’ve written concerning the subject. It’s not much, but it is my way of keeping the voices of the past alive. Like many Jewish people, I had relatives who perished under the Nazis. However I never knew their names or their faces. My mother told me my grandfather, who came here to escape the pogroms in Eastern Europe at the turn of the 20th century, had been trying to help some of his relatives escape Hitler. Sadly, communications ceased. For those I never knew, I write these stories as tribute. May we never forget.
THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED
Katya played Chopin’s “Berceuse” on the imaginary piano in her coat pocket with trembling fingers. She tried to keep pace on the frozen path.
Without success, she tried to block out the image of her father, the cantor, lying in the street, his magnificent voice forever stilled. Latvia’s November wind whipped through her.
She remembered when Professor Philipp at the conservatory in Paris proclaimed, “Katya Abramis, you have an exquisite talent.”
A drunken soldier ripped an infant from a young mother’s arms and shot him. She dropped to her knees only to suffer the same fate as her son. The snow turned red beneath them.
“Shoes in this pile, clothes in that.”
Katya obeyed. What choice did she have?
Standing naked at the edge of a deep pit, Katya pictured her beloved synagogue and heard Papa sing “Lord of the World, Who was, Who is, Who is to come.”
There is little on the internet about Cantor Abram Abramis or his daughter Katya, renowned pianist of her time. Both perished in the 1941 Massacre in Riga. CLICK HERE for my source.
COMMISSION NUMBER 3
Trina wasn’t forced to wear a yellow star like her friend Hanna, but she was ostracized by the other children who called her schwarz schimpanse.
One day a uniformed woman entered the classroom. “Trina Azikiwe, I’m here to take you to the doctor.
“I’m not sick.”
The officer dealt Trina’s cheek a stinging blow. “Silence, Rheinlandbastard!”
Trina would never forget the cruel procedure that rendered her forever childless or the doctor’s admonition. “Never have sexual relations with good Germans.”
Good Germans? There were none better than her golden-haired mother and handsome bronze father who perished for their ‘sin’ in Dachau.
“Where’s Nadine?” I stamped my foot with childish impatience.
“The Juif doesn’t live here anymore.” The man hissed through pinched lips.
“Because of the Bosche?”
“No more questions.” The door slammed and he shouted from the other side. “Go away!”
Seventy years later sunlight flickers on ocean waves at Saint-Marc. I walk along the deserted beach where Nadine and I gathered seashells and dreams.
“Martine, swim with me.”
Shielding my eyes, I search the rippling waters. Nadine beckons. I’m warmed by her smile…and the twelve-year-old girl who choked her last in Auschwitz’s Zyklon-B showers lives forever in my heart.
In 1969 my mother packed me off to my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm in Wisconsin.
“But Mom, Uncle Otto’s weird. That eyepatch and those scars—ick.”
One night he took my Jefferson Airplane record from the stereo and replaced it with his own 45.
“You tink das ist protest music?”
“‘It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing,’” He sang. “The SS ransacked our nightclub, but I danced all the way to Buchenwald.”
Uncle Otto taught me more than the jitterbug that summer.
At his funeral last year I saluted my favorite uncle with, “Swing Heil!”
To those all who perished in the Holocaust, the heroes and the victims, I salute you! May your memories be a blessing.