Sample of my next book Kriegszeit
Release date: May 2018
Terror from the Sky
The air raid sirens sounded. It was dark in the streets of Stuttgart-Mitte. I heard bombs swishing through the air, falling towards the ground. There were explosions from all directions. I could not make it to a shelter in time. I ran through the streets, trying to escape. I tripped on a loose paving stone and fell to the ground, face down.
I jolted awake. It was only a bad dream. I raised up in my bed and rubbed my eyes, realizing that my life was now only a bad dream. I got up and went into the hallway that led to the wash room. I removed my night clothes and stepped into the shower. I turned the faucet handles and let the soothing water flow over my hair and face. Water started to back up in the drain. Soon I was standing in several inches of water. Grandfather was having trouble with the drainage in the old house. He and my father had dug a trench from the house to a free-flowing channel below the back yard. But the problem persisted.
I shut the water off. Once the water overflowed the low tiled shower basin, the entire second floor could get flooded. It was a quick shower but at least I had time to wash my hair and cleanse myself.
I dressed, putting on my white BDM blouse and standard black skirt. I was ready for a new day.
Grandmother had breakfast ready in the kitchen. Sausage and eggs, our usual fare in the morning. I ate quickly and swallowed the powdered milk fast. I did not like artificial milk.
I went outside to wait for my mother. This was her shopping day, and she was going to marktplaz to buy meat and vegetables
It was a beautiful morning, as golden rays of sunlight filtered through breaks in the clouds. A slight breeze moved our porch chimes making a pleasant soothing sound. Apples were ripening on the stem, and I knew that it was nearing the time to pick them.
I went up the brick walk to the white gazebo, admiring Grandfather’s flower gardens that he planted on each side of the walk and around the gazebo. The sweet smell of flowers entered my nostrils.
Mother came out of the house in a long floral print dress with a white bonnet. I shook my head.
“Mother, not a bonnet! You dress so old fashioned,” I complained.
She looked at me and smiled. “Are these short skirts the girls are now wearing considered good fashion, Katherina?”
I grimaced. “We have to wear our skirts short in the BDM so that we can compete in the exercises. Your long dresses would only hinder movement in the types of daily activities we must complete.”
“These are certainly different times, “Mother sighed. “The youth of today are being misguided.”
I choked back my exasperation once again. “You must be careful in what you say, mother. Never say anything against the Nazi organization.”
Mother gave me her sour look. “Let’s go, Katie.”
We continued up the flower lined brick walkway to the front gate. A black wrought iron fence paralleled the street. The fence was high and kept my Grandfathers’ German shepard from escaping from the spacious front yard. We opened the creaky gate and exited to the street. The gate clanged shut. We headed down the residential street and waited for the electric street tram.
There were several people at the tram stop, including Frantz, a man with physical deformities and mental impediments. He was sitting on a bench, rocking back and forth, humming. I would see him at the tram stop every morning at this time. He would call out my name and repeat it over and over. I gave him some coins from my pocket book and smiled at him.
“Hello, Frantz. How are you today?”
He put the coins in his pocket and continued to rock. “I am good, Katherina. I am good.”
Mother always glared at me when I gave him money. She did not believe in giving handouts.
We rode the tram to the central district. Mother went shopping on Marktplaz while I went to my BDM meeting at the new modern administration building a few blocks away. The building was five stories high. I walked up several flights of stairs to the fifth floor. The elevators were too slow for me, and I enjoyed the exercise.
I walked into the meeting room. I was the first one there, perhaps a little early. I waited at a large conference table for the other leaders to arrive.
The BDM leaders arrived at 8:30 am. The meeting was under way immediately. We discussed memberships, promotions, and future camp activities at length. I listened carefully; being only a junior leader, I was still learning. I was put in charge of purchasing supplies needed for our upcoming sports competitions at Schlossgarten park. I was able to buy items at my Grandfather’s store for a discount.
I left the Nazi headquarters building and immediately headed to the store. The street was crowded with shoppers.
I came to Marktstrasse, and I walked up the wide brick avenue. I made a right at Kirchstrauss, and where the street forked was the tall cathedral with a clock tower. I glanced at the clock. It showed 10:20 am. There were many shops and restaurants along the street, and it was busy with shoppers. Suddenly, air raid sirens sounded all around, and everyone panicked and ran for the underground shelters that were located in the basements of nearby buildings Then there were loud explosions, and this caused mass terror. As I ran towards a shelter, I saw a little girl who had fallen down on the red brick pavement, and she was crying and calling out for her mother. I reached down and picked her up and continued to run towards the stairs of the shelter. We were not used to bombing raid during the day, this was very unexpected, and this made everyone tremble in fear. I continued to move forwards with the mass of people, down the steps into the bomb shelter, holding the girl.
The loud explosions were probably our own artillery fire, shooting up smoke bombs and flak to thwart the enemy bombers. Those big guns were just as frightening as the bombs that were about to drop on us.
The shelter was dimly lit so it was difficult to see. Steel beams supported the ground floor above, which qualified this basement as a bomb shelter.
The little girl clung to my side. I was the only security she had. I picked her up and held her close, and she wrapped her arms around my neck.
We could still hear the ground guns firing at the enemy planes. However, there were no bombs exploding above us. We knew that it was the Americans, because only they were brace or foolish enough to conduct daytime bombing.
I felt around in my handbag for some mint candy. The envelope with the money to purchase supplies for the SDM was still there. Deeper down in my bag I found a piece of candy. I gave it to the girl.
“Danke,” she said, giving me an adorable smile.
“What is your name?” I asked, returning the smile.
“That is a beautiful name.”
The ground suddenly shook as several bombs hit somewhere in the heart of the city. Then we heard an airplane that was hit, the sound of its rapid descent, and the explosion as it crashed.
“I am afraid,” Annelise said, clinging to me tightly.
“It’s alright. It will be over soon,” I reassured her. “We are safe here.”
“Where is mamma?”
“We will look for her,” I said. “She must be here.”
“I have Annelise here!” I shouted. “Where is Annelise’s mamma?”
I repeated this several times but there was no answer. I tried as best I could to explain to Annelise the situation.
“The crowd was pushing and shoving to get to the shelter when the sirens sounded. When you lost mamma, she must have been very frightened. The crowd probably caused her to become separated from you. I think she must be in another shelter nearby. Don’t worry, I promise that I’ll find her when the danger has passed.”
More bombs exploded, closer this time. Several children began to cry. Annelise snuggled even closer. Mothers were trying to comfort their frightened children.
Some men looked up at the concrete ceiling with concern. They talked amongst themselves, wondering if the ceiling would be able to remain intact with a direct bomb strike. We had never gone to these shelters before. Stuttgart had been a safe haven for most of the war. While places like Hamburg, Cologne, and Frankfurt were being pounded by air raids, Stuttgart had been untouched. The city’s location in rugged terrain made it a difficult target to bomb. But now it seemed like our luck has ending, as more enemy bombers were getting through our defenses.
The big guns fell silent. We waited for the all clear signal. It was almost 11 o’clock when it sounded, and everyone began to exit the shelter. I felt a sense of relief to be outside and away from the dark shelter.
Then I saw a woman wearing a scarf running towards us, screaming and tears streaming down her face. She called out to her child, and the little girl cried, Mamma! Mamma! I gave the little girl to the woman, and she thanked me over and over again for helping her little girl.
There was black smoke south of Marktplaz where most of the bombs had hit. I could hear the sirens of emergency vehicles in that area of the city.
I walked past the Stiftskirche heading up ? strauss towards Konigstrauss. There was Grandfather’s store, in a brick and mortar building that was century’s old. I pushed open the glass door; it swung shut behind me.
“Grandfather! Grandfather?” I shouted.
“Yes, I am here, Grandfather.”
He came out from the storage room in the back of the store and walked up the aisle. We embraced, and I kissed his cheek.
Grandfather was a heavy-set man with a well-rounded belly, bald on topo, and he wore wire rimmed glasses. He had grey trousers with suspenders over a white shirt.
I could hear the radio from the store room. It was turned up loud.
“Where is your mother, Katie?”
“She was shopping at Markt plaz when the air raid started. I’m sure she’s alright, she probably went to the shelter at the rathaus.”
“Yes, I am sure she is fine.”
“What have you learned on the radio, Grandfather?”
“A few apartment buildings south of here have been hit. Many people are dead…”
“This is terrible news, Grandfather. Now we are being bombed during the day and at night!”
“Yes. Day and night non-stop. The war has come to us, Katherina.”
I reached into my bag and pulled out the envelope, pulling out the list of items needed for my BDM unit. I handed it to Grandfather. He looked it over.
“I am not busy now. I will fill your order, we have all of these items in stock.”
I gave him the money, and he counted it. “That should cover it,” he said. “I will pack it is boxes. Go upstairs and get me some medium sized boxes.”
I immediately walked to the old, creaky wooden stairs located to one side of the store at the back. The boxes that Grandfather wanted were on the second floor in the receiving area, but I continued up the dirty dimly lit stairs to the top floor. I entered a narrow room. I had spent many hours up here when I was a child. So many pleasant memories here.
I went back down to the second floor receiving area. I found the medium boxes and took them to Grandfather. He had already gathered several items, but he didn’t have enough tape to seal the boxes. I went back up to the receiving area to find some tape. The receiving area was still a mess. Grandfather was usually more organized. There were several boxes sitting on the conveyor belt, and the sliding freight doors were open. I could see the stores across the street, and the sounds of the busy street below. The tape was in a desk drawer over by the freight door. I made my way to the bulky wood desk and opened the sticky drawer and grabbed a roll of tape.
I heard some men shouting from the street. Looking out of the open freight door I saw four SS officers and some soldiers. They were directing a long line of prisoners. The forlorn men and women marched by quickly. There were also several children. I was shocked to see Franz near the end of the line of prisoners.
I felt revulsion and anger at the soldiers and SS men. This was a part of the Nazi system that I was beginning to detest; the forced removal of ethnic populations and undesirables from their homes. This policy of cleansing had been going on now for several years. Many people said that they were put into labor camps or sent out of the country. I could not express my feelings openly, to do so would jeopardize my family and status.
Why Franz? He never harmed anyone. He was a gentle, peaceful soul and he had lived in our community for many years. Now they take the sick and weak to the labor camps? How absolutely terrible.
One of the SS officers looked up and saw me through the wide open freight door. He nudged his partner and pointed towards me. They seemed amused.
“Fraulein, come here. We have something for you!” The first SS officer shouted. They both laughed again. I darted behind some boxes and hid from them.
“Fraulein, come here now! We have a surprise for you!”
I peered through a gap between the boxes. They were staring up at the freight room, directly where I was hiding. They knew where I was. I felt panic sweep over me.
The first SS officer laughed again and hit his comrade on his arm and winked.
“We will come back for her later. I’m going to be watching her. She looks like a prime candidate for the lebensborn program.”
They both heaved long boisterous laughter as they walked away. I dreaded the SS. I had heard reports of many BDM girls going to the lebensborm clinics and getting impregnated by SS men. They all had blonde hair and blue or green eyes. I fit that category well. Most of the leaders in my BDM unit frowned on such practices. I was warned that some girls were now b being coerced into the program; and bred to bear perfect Aryan babies to create a master race of blond haired, fair skinned people.
I did not know at this time how much of this was rue and how much was rumor, but I knew that a few of our girls had gone off with SS men. Aryan blood had its advantages in the reich; along with all the privileges.
I thought of Franz and the others who were rounded up and forced to march out of the city. This was all a part of Der Fuhrer’s master plan to purge all Germany of the so called inferior races and incompetents.
I felt uneasy with the realization that I was now a prime candidate for lebensborn. I had to avoid the SS at all costs. I hoped that I would never see those men again.
I retreated to the stairs and went back down to the store level. I gave the tape to Grandfather and he taped up the boxes.
Grandfather looked at me with concern in his eyes. He always sensed when I was upset.
“What’s wrong, Katie? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I am alright, Grandfather. I am a little unnerved by the air raid, I guess.”
Of course, I did not want to tell Grandfather the real reason that I was upset. I did not want him t know. He would become agitate3d, perhaps even confrontational with the SS men, and he would be hurt.
“The order is ready,” Grandfather said. “I will have it delivered to BDM headquarters today.”
“Thank you, Grandfather.”
The BDM leaders would be impressed at how quickly the order was processed and delivered. This would be a good reflection on me.
The door opened, ringing the little bell at the top. Mother came in. She looked worried.
Mother and Grandfather embraced. Tears welled up in mother’s eyes. “These bombing raids are getting worse and fraying everyone’s nerves,” she said.
“Yes, It is terrible for business, also. I have no customers now except for Katie, “he replied. “The war has come to our door,” he continued. It can only get worse from this point on.”
I nodded. We all knew that we were now vulnerable. It was only a matter of time before our city would be shattered like the cities in the North.
Mother and I helped Grandfather around the store until closing time. Grandfather closed and locked the doors, then we took the tram towards home.
Grandmother had dinner ready when we got home. She made excellent schnitzel and au gratin potatoes. With applesauce and bread. We did not suffer so many food shortages as in the northern tier cities. We raised a lot fo our own food. Grandfather grew potatoes and vegetables in his garden behind the house, and our grapes and apple trees were producing. The hen house out back provided our eggs and poultry.
After dinner I went to the carriage house and got the ladder and some bushel baskets and picked more apples. Grandmother wanted to make some pies and pastries. The flour was now in short supply, so this would be our last sweets for a long time.
The sun started to set as I finished picking apples. I had two full baskets. Grandmother was happy when I brought them into the back room next to the kitchen.
I went upstairs to my room. I gasped when I opened the door. My little sister Eva had ransacked everything. She had gone through my drawers. Socks and underwear were left dangling from the drawers. When Eva turned thirteen last year, she started to borrow my clothes. I wouldn’t mind so much if she were neat about it. But when she messed everything up I became angry.
I found my journals laying on the floor by her bed. I was now ready to ring her beck. How dare she riffle through y stuff and read my journals? I picked both fo them up and put them on my bed.
I leafed through the journals to see if Eva had done any other maliciousness. Then I updated them.
I had been keeping journals since I was twelve, and I had documented many of my most cherished memories.
These journals now seemed more significant than ever. These were uncertain times, and I did not know if I would survive the war.
I picked up my first journal and skimmed through the pages. Here I had documented my earliest memories.
The public hall in Frankfurt is immense in size
Copyright © 2018 by R. David Anderson
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.