That Moment When Innocence is Lost
one significant memory of talking with Grandma during my recent visit to California:
Grandma (born in Berlin Germany in 1924) was about 9 years old when Hitler was first elected (1933); she had been largely protected from the big bad world through her childhood, and so had an idyllic understanding of life. She recalled that their family had a maid – to whom she, as a young girl, was often quite mean. After Hitler came to power, Grandma’s Aryan-German father and Jewish-German mother didn’t really share much with her, but she recalled one instance where she was mouthing off at the maid, and the maid turned on her and angrily said, “You think you’re so high and mighty, now, but just you wait; when they come, you’ll be the first they take away!” Grandma recalls that the maid went on to mock her for being Jewish (a half-blood); she didn’t say anything to her parents about the exchange at first.
She remembers sitting at the dinner table and staring at her mother, trying to understand how her mother could be like the “Jews” in the propaganda cartoons of that day – portrayed with such huge noses and with such stupidity or wickedness – and she felt certain her mother couldn’t be one of THEM. Eventually she told her parents about the maid’s outburst, and the maid was dismissed from the home, but her parents were in some ways forced to explain the ugliness of the world to her – she recalls this as the first experience that really “shattered” the innocence of her childhood.
…the more things change, the more they stay the same. 🙂