(All April you’ll find A to Z Historical Treasures here)
I’m all too aware of what crazy activities children get up to when adults aren’t aware. In mild cases, our four sons may show us video afterwards of what they did. Other times we may end up taking yet another ride to the E.R (It usually IS broken). Some stories they won’t tell till they are adults. Of course, we all think we’re invincible till a certain age or incident forces us to face reality.
Irene was no different–except she lived during World War 2, a time that offered decidedly different risks. Excerpted from Before the Iron Curtain: My World War 2 Childhood when Irene was 12 years old:
By 1941, two air raids were coming each night and at least one by day. Familiar places became heaps of rubble.
Hannelore’s parents had a bookstore where most of the parents bought their children’s school books. Hannelore was my age and we occasionally did our homework for school together. I was at her house one afternoon when an air raid started. Being alone in the apartment, we decided not to let the house warden know we were there when he struck alarms. From the window we watched the planes passed over our building and we tried to count them. They were heading toward the ammunition factories further south of the city. We saw them dropping their bombs, already some overhead, and heard the whistling sound as they were carried by the air to their destination. We heard many close and distant explosions that rocked the building. Smoke and flames boiled up into the sky. Then still another wave of planes came, their wings glistened in the warm afternoon sun.
“They’re coming toward us!” we both screamed. Our faces turned white, we crouched down, sure that we would be bombed. Then the sound of the motors diminished and we knew they were flying away. The bombs whistled through the air before they exploded on the steel mills. Shaken and frightened we waited out the alarm. We never disobeyed an air alert again.
Crazy Kids alright. Irene heeded the call of the air raid signals after that, but tomorrow (D is for Dreams) she recounts another adventure where she talked her way past guards into an area restricted by the Nazis.
Shout out to these fellow AtoZer’s:
Kristin King is author, publisher, speaker, mom, dog lover, military spouse, and NGO president. She has never stayed outside during a bombing but did as an adult confess other things to her parents. Irene is her hero.