Chapter 1

"I am a Jew"

1933. The year I began to lose myself, as I see it.

We, my mother, father, and two brothers, were sitting at the table eating our dinner on that cold January night. Raphael, my younger brother, had caught a cold and his asthma was making him cough up a racket through each bite. My papa hushed us as we talked about the day, turning our attention towards the scratchy old radio.

I knew not whether to be shocked by the news I heard then, or to welcome the change with open arms. Adolf Hitler (had I heard his name sometime before?) had become chancellor of Germany. I knew not then that this day, January 30th, 1933, would live in infamy. I knew not that I should have started fearing for my life, if not my family's as well. All I knew from that broadcast was that we may have gotten a savior to pull us out of this Great Depression.

I went to bed that night, sharing a room with my older brother, Caleb, so we would not catch my younger brother's illness, who was sleeping in the room next to ours. We were not a poor family, like those unfortunate beggars on the street. I wish I could help them, but what I didn't know then was that their fate would be the same as mine eventually. We were a family who was working for a living through my father's small grocery store and resided in a pleasant four roomed home. It wasn't perfect, but it was a safe haven for me and as nine year old, that was all I ever needed.

Going to bed that night, I thought about possessing and playing with new dolls that had the factory smell still embedded in their hair and clothes that had come freshly out of a box. No more playing with the old dolls the town dog had chewed off. A little girl who thought her father's store would once again have frequent business from customers needing not only bare necessities, but pleasurable items as well. Who thought her father would once again bring home for her and her brothers, chocolate from Belgium, no longer looking worried, but rather giving them all a warm smile. Chocolate…that was the taste of that day, sweet with glory and new hope.

How wrong I was. What it should have tasted like was a lemon, picked raw and forced into my foolish, nine year old, obliging mouth.

How wrong I was.