Do you enjoy learning some new, random bit of knowledge? Maybe you enjoy playing Quiz Up or it’s more ancient predecessor, Trivial Pursuit. Those sort of entertainments are up my alley, so when I discover nuggets in a book like Survive Little Buddy I’m all together hooked. Here’s one for you from my A to Z Historical Treasure:
One day while singing and playing in the waiting room at the Riesa railroad station, the Russian patrol came so quickly we could not escape. shouting in Russian that we had committed a crime, they arrested us.
“We have been looking for you two a long time,” said one of the patrol. “You have broken the law. No entertainment is allowed in railroad stations.”
They yanked my accordion from me, forcing us outside and into a truck. It was evening when they took us into the military police headquarters.
….”You broke the law and you will be punished,” was what they repeated over and over….They took our ID cards, the contents of my pockets and Krista’s handbag….They made fun of me for all the girl stuff I had in my pockets, but I did not reveal myself and would not dare, since I always used my brother Ortwin’s ID.
….With nothing left but our clothing…we were forced…through the building….They opened a door and pushed us down another flight of stairs….They pushed us in [a totally black room] and I stumbled and fell down a step I could not see. The door banged shut and someone helped me stand up. My hands were we and we were standing in ankle-deep water….
….My eyes adjusted….The cold water looked very dirty and the odor of urine grew stronger….
Krista grabbed my hand and whispered loudly, “They’ve put us in here until they kill us or send us to Siberia!”
….I touched the wall. It was slippery and wet. Hours passed.
“How long can we stand like this?” Krista asked. “My knees ache and my feet are numb.”
I didn’t answer. We held each other and cried quietly….We counted the hours by the chimes of a church clock we could hear ever so faintly through our prison walls.
[Later]….We were taken through the same passage….A different officer was there now. With much gesturing he said, “You will be put away for good if you are caught in a railroad station again.”
….When I saw our things I knew we were going to be released. I could not see my accordion and asked the officer for it….
“You didn’t even have a an accordion, you little liar,” he bellowed. “If you don’t shut up and get out of here we’ll arrest you again and never let you go!”
….Though we stood all the way home, the train felt very comfortable after the sleepless night standing in water.
….With no accordion there was no way to make money and we had no articles to trade for food in the black market. A few days later, Mama, carrying a large bag of rutabagas for that family, made a visit to Zschopauer Strasse to ask Herr Hillebrandt to make a trip to the Musik and Toy Towns Klingenthal and Zwothal to find a new accordion for me.
….In Zwothal we walked to the factories where they made accordions and other small instruments and wooden articles. “We are not making instruments for the German population, only for Russian needs,” was the disheartening information we received.
Seeing my fallen expression, one of the workers in another factory thrust an accordion at me saying, “The Russians have a different musical scale. Here, try it. You cannot play it.”
….I reached for the instrument and found it difficult to play. The notes didn’t sound right.
….Herr Hillebrandt had heard me play my old accordion….”You want it? Think you can learn to play this one?”
“I’ll learn no matter what,” I promised.
“Okay. You got it.” He turned to the factory representative and said, “Sell it to me. The Russians took her accordion.”
He peeled some money off a roll he carried and with a wink at the factory people I now owned a new accordion. I put it in its brand new case and said a silent prayer of thanks to God. [Excerpt from Survive Little Buddy, copyright Irene Kucholick 1996. All right reserved.]
The Russians have a different musical scale? Really? I love discovering a bit like that. I wonder what their do-re-mi sounds like. I should ask a friend. One of the ladies in my book club might know, and one of them pointed out that the airman taken prisoner by the Russians in the movie “Bridge of Spies” was also put in a cell with standing water. Living in Holland, I can tell you that the Dutch could not abide a room with even a puddle, they are so determined to control every drip of water.
What pluck and determination Irene had as a young teen. Honestly, she is still like that today. A credit to Herr Hillebrandt’s kindness (K is for Kindnesses), she did learn to play that instrument and was soon riding the rails with Krista again. Her next adventure was near the Reisa black market.
Our next A to Z Challenge bring us to S. S is for….oops. Well, not really. But I used my S topic for M, M is for Music to Survive. I’ll dig up another S for you in a flash.
Kristin King is an author and publisher of Irene Kucholick’s Iron Curtain Memoirs which include Books 1, 2, and 3; My World War 2 Childhood, My Years Hidden As a Boy, My Escape to Freedom. All three books are contained in Survive Little Buddy along with photos, a historical time line, and maps not available in the stand alone books.