A story based on the events of the Holocaust By Emma Mackinnon
Imagine please if you will, a grassy area full of laughing, running, happy children. Amongst them, there are two girls, aged ten years old, playing together with a skipping rope. They are taking it in turns to see how many times they can jump over the rope until one of them trips up. They cheer and encourage each other to try and beat their last round of jumps.
The girl who is skipping has long blonde hair which is tied neatly into two plaits, each adorned with pretty blue ribbons that are the same sky blue colour as her bright eyes. She has a rounded face with a rosy complexion which complements her full, red lips.
As she skips, her eyes glint in the bright winter sunlight, full of concentration as she gracefully jumps over the rope. Her smart leather brown shoes land softly on the grass making a gentle thudding sound as she swings the worn, brown rope over her head. Her gloved hands grip the handles tightly and her long plaited hair swings in all directions with each dainty jump.
Her friend stands opposite her, counting how many times she can jump the rope. As she watches, her long lashed, deep brown doe eyes follow the rhythmic pattern of the skipping girl in front of her. Unlike her friend, she has long black hair which has a midnight blue hue to it, tied up with an elastic band. Her mouth is moving silently as she counts in time with her friends light-footed jumps. Her pale pink lips are tightly set into her bonier, more chiselled face, highlighting her high cheekbones.
Despite the cold November air, she wears no gloves and has thin shoes which have holes in one of the heels. Her long brown coat is thin and patchy but the thing that sticks out most is the yellow badge in the shape of a star which has been sewn onto it. The Star of David. This was not sewn on to make her coat look pretty but as a symbol used to separate her, a Jew, from pure-blood Germans.
It was not always this way. Before the badge had to be worn by all Jews, the two girls had attended the same school and the blonde girl’s parents
had shopped in the grocery store that belonged to the family of her Jewish friend.
After the badges had been sewn on, life was very different. The Jewish girl was now not allowed to study at the same school as her friend. Her parents’ shop was boycotted by many non-Jews and slowly they got into debt, which meant eventually the shop had to close. They were a poor family now with hardly any money for food and clothes.
There were signs put up that read, “Jews Clear Out,” and “Jews Not Wanted Here.” Despite these new laws and attitudes, the two girls, who had grown up on the same street, were still very good friends even though their parents were wary. This was borne out of fear, as being seen supporting or being friendly towards Jews could have bad consequences for the so-called “ordinary” German citizen.
Their mothers tried to meet as much as they possibly could as they had grown close over the years, having been pregnant and given birth to their daughters in the same year. As the girls played, their mothers sat on a bench together, silently but happy in each other’s company. Even though they could not be seen as friends, it was important to them that their innocent young children did not have to know too much about the hatred and isolation of the Jews.
As they watched their children play, laughing and clapping while swapping the skipping rope over to one another, both of the mothers’ hearts were full of love, but also a sense of dread about the future.
Suddenly there is a commotion from up the street and small crowds of people begin hurrying along to see what was going on. A Jewish neighbour tells the women that German SS soldiers had been burning synagogues all through the night and today they were destroying Jewish businesses and homes. There were also rumours that Jewish families were being resettled to the East.
The two girls run up to their parents, confused and scared at the sudden look of panic in their dear mothers’ eyes. They start to hurry along to go home, but as they round the corner of the cobbled street they notice thick, black smoke spiralling into the clear blue sky. It is coming from the Jewish girl’s home which is above their once thriving grocery store. There are German soldiers standing nearby, shouting at a group of scared-looking Jewish people to stand on the other side of the street, pointing guns at them.
The Jewish mother grabs her daughter to her side and holds her close, but has been seen by an SS officer who shouts and storms over to them, ordering them to join the other Jews. He pushes at the mother with his rifle, poking roughly into her back. Her daughter is scared and clings tightly to her mother’s waist, too afraid to cry.
The others cower tightly together on the pavement, squashed up against the wall. Rifles are pointed at them, the officers demanding everyone to hand over money and valuables, including wedding rings. Handbags and wallets are thoroughly searched and pockets emptied. Even the youngest of children are searched in case they are hiding anything.
Soon a dusty cattle truck rounds the corner and pulls up beside the group of Jews who are now very scared and confused about what is to become of them. They look at each other in shock, wondering if anyone knows anything about their fate. The back doors of the truck open to reveal a dark, enclosed space which they are all ordered into as fast as possible. Mothers holding small children are kicked hard by the SS soldiers, as they haul themselves up the steep ramp.
When the truck is full, the door is pushed up and slammed shut, catching some of their clothes and even a man’s finger, which is eventually pulled free, causing agonising pain. The truck smells of manure and straw from its days on a farm in the country. Now it is used to transport Jews to wherever they are to be resettled, to conditions worse than those for cattle.
The Jewish girl can see out of one of the gaps at the side of the truck. She looks for her friend amongst the onlooking Germans and sees her blonde hair shining in the now cruel, winter sun. Their eyes of blue and brown meet each other and both pairs fill with tears. They smile sadly at each other as they try to understand why they are being torn apart like this. Neither of them knew what was to become of them or whether they would ever play together again, skip rope together again or chase each other around, laughing until they could run no more. But their thoughts were interrupted by the roar of the truck engine and once the SS soldiers shouted the all-clear, it lurched forward and slowly rumbled off into the distance, forever separating the two little girls.
What a shame that the beauty of friendship was taken away from these two innocents. All in the name of nothing but PREJUDICE and DISCRIMINATION, incited by an insane political party – the Nazis.
This is my tribute to those who suffered in The Holocaust and for the families that survived this horrific genocide.