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Tag Archives: children of World War 2

M is for Music to Survive #AtoZChallenge Historical Treasure @AprilA2Z

Same brand Irene now owns, Hohner accordion from the Latin Collection

Same brand Irene now owns, Hohner accordion from the Latin Collection

(April is A to Z Historical Treasure featuring posts related to the memoir “Survive Little Buddy: Iron Curtain Memoirs” by Irene Kucholick.)

Do you remember your first instrument? My lil’ guys were so excited recently because they and all their classmates got recorders to learn to play. My nine-year old even tries to practice instead of doing other homework, so he’s on a time limit till that’s done.

Irene’s instrument was the accordion, and her lessons didn’t stop because she lost interest but rather because the music teacher’s space was bombed. She certainly had a World War 2 Childhood. She continued to practice and play not knowing that  music would help her survive the post-war Iron Curtain when she spent three years hidden as a boy.

One cold winter morning Krista and I walked into Chemnitz. I carried my accordion but my fingers were too cold to play. Most of the activity was, as usual, at the railroad station, so we went there to see what was happening. People were sitting on bundles of luggage waiting for trains….A few soldiers were playing cards. The only sound seemed to be the shuffle and snap of cards as they played….A melancholy mood was everywhere.

“Let’s sing and I’ll play, Krista.”

We started. heads turned and people smiled. This was the encouragement we needed. We sand some of the old German folk songs: “A Penny and a Dollar,” and “When All Fountains Are Running” and others.

Coins were tossed toward us….a young man picked up the coins and put them in his hat, gathering more as they were tossed….

“Krista, we could us this money to ride the trains out to places where food is more plentiful.”

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy

Working on 2nd edition cover of My Years Hidden As a Boy

An idea was born and we decided to try it…with permission from our mothers who gave it only reluctantly….When night came we slept in waiting rooms of railroad stations, hunched against the wall, or on a bench if one was empty.

….Police occasionally disturbed us when they came to check our IDs and tickets. Some German police overlooked our playing and singing, since it was clearly evident people seemed happier when they heard us. More often though, they forbade us to play in no uncertain terms, whether we had a ticket to travel or not. Anyone without a ticket had to leave the station and might even be arrested.

We were told, “You better watch out for the Russian patrol. They won’t allow any singing and playing in railroad stations,” and they warned us that we could get arrested for that.

Some young kids around the stations kept watch for us.[Excerpt from My Years Hidden As a Boy, Book 2 of Survive Little Buddy. All rights reserved.]

The accordion has always fascinated me. I love to watch how the player makes it breathe and sing its husky chords. Irene still plays, though I’ve only cajoled her into it a couple times, once using my children and their lack of ever having seen one played as the impetus. Unfortunately I don’t have video of her playing. We set her accordion next to her on the couch in some of her videos, though, so you can see what her current instrument, a Hohner accordion, looks like.

I want to say a quick “Thank You!” to everyone who has stopped by, left a comment, and watched our videos.

Next we’re jumping ahead into Book 3 of Irene’s memoirs where she is a young adult working behind the Iron Curtain. “N is for Nurse Comrades” in communist East Germany.

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Kristin King is an author and publisher who inquired about taking accordion lessons in middle school from the church organist. Lessons never panned out, yet Kristin still appreciates listening to players and is more likely to stop for a street performer with said instrument. She is now wondering if Irene knows whatever happened to singing friend Krista.

 

 
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Posted by on April 15, 2016 in Memoirs & History

 

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I is for Interview With a Historical Treasure #AtoZChallege @AprilA2Z

Beyond the book Irene brought for publication were so many untold stories. The last line said ” I was one of 331,000 people who escaped to freedom in West Berlin in 1953.”

So how did she come to America? Did she ever see her family again? What did she think when she heard the Berlin Wall went up?

Even after we worked together on the Epilogue, I kept learning more about her adventures. Before I moved to Holland, we met in her Maryland home to record the answers to a handful of readers’ questions. Now in production and coming to Youtube one by one, Irene’s Interviews.

To give you a feel for who Irene is in person, today’s post first links to what I call “Morgue Normal” (appx 2 minutes).

Irene’s nursing career brought a young US Army soldier named Walter Kucholick across her path. I smile and laugh every time I watch this video about how they met, how he proposed, and how he pursued their marriage.

Yep, laughed again.

V was supposed to be Vacation Soviet style, but maybe V should be more videos. What do you think?

Meanwhile…

Up next, J is for Jews In Hiding.

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Kristin King is an author, publisher, NGO co-founder, military spouse, mom to four boys, Jesus follower, and such. She is NOT tech savvy at all, and thus owes all the thanks and appreciation for the video production to her eldest son.

 

 
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Posted by on April 11, 2016 in Memoirs & History

 

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C is for Crazy Kids (#AtoZChallege Historical Treasure) @AprilA2Z

(All April you’ll find A to Z Historical Treasures here)

Photo Credit to Life.com

Photo Credit to Life.com

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.

Irene's World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

Irene’s World War 2 Childhood, (teen)Years Hidden As a Boy, and Escape to Freedom (East to West Berlin)

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.

Till then…

Shout out to these fellow AtoZer’s:

www.fictionzeal.com

http://marthareynoldswrites.com

http://pluckingofmyheartstrings.com

https://sukanyaramanujan.wordpress.com

 

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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.

 
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Posted by on April 4, 2016 in Memoirs & History

 

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