I am afraid!
I am afraid that my homeland, the once ‘united’ Kingdom is coming to an end.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is now deeply divided over whether to remain a part of the ‘club’ that is Europe. Our neighbours, friends and allies.
A continent that within living memory was divided, conquered and won back with the loss of Millions of lives and yet, our memory is so short that there is a very real danger of it happening again.
Since the decision was made to withdraw, the media has been awash with reports of racist assaults and abuse.
This made me think.
I am writing a novel which is set during the last world war and some things I have written are becoming chillingly familiar.
Below, I reproduce a segment from Chapter Four which is set in Munich in 1939… or is it?
You are welcome to agree or disagree but, for me, it rings some chilling alarm bells…
Munich. April 9th 1939. (or Manchester 2017?)
…She didn’t have to wait long. At this time of the morning trams were frequent and soon she was on board and rumbling back towards her own home.
Sitting by the window in the half empty tram she looked sadly at the smashed and burned shops and businesses that had once belonged to Jewish people and had been destroyed just five short months beforehand during a time now known a Kristallnacht. She had been on duty that night and the suffering had been abhorrent. Families were driven from their homes and savagely beaten before being loaded into trucks and driven away to goodness knows where.
She herself had almost become a victim. She had been on her way home, as she was now but after a long day shift and had turned the corner as a group of men were smashing the windows of a tobacconists shop and dragging the occupants out into the street. One particularly burly attacker grabbed a frail old man and pushed him along towards a waiting lorry. The old man lost his footing and fell forwards onto the cobbles, hitting his head as he fell. She heard his assailant shout:
“Come on, you filthy Jew, get up, we haven’t got all night!” and swung his foot hard, connecting with the old man’s ribs. She heard the cracking of bone and the scream of his wife who ran to him.
The burly man raised his hand, in which he was holding a wooden baton and was about to bring it down hard onto the head of the old woman when Maria grabbed him, screaming:
“No! Stop it, You’ll kill them!”
The man swung around and raised the baton again, intending to strike her but, as he brought it down, he realised she was a nurse and relaxed his blow, allowing the baton to remain hovering.
“Get away from here!” he screamed at her, “This doesn’t concern you!”
Although it was dark, her bright blue eyes flashed with anger.
“Of course it concerns me!” she screamed back at him, “You can’t treat people like this.”
“People?” he shouted back, “People?! These aren’t people! These are Jews!” and he swung another kick at the old man, his boot connecting with the man’s face, breaking his nose and causing him to lose consciousness. Blood poured out onto the cobbles, mingling with the shards of broken glass that glistened like so many crystals in the flickering flames of what had once been his livelihood.
“For God’s sake stop!” Maria yelled at him, unable to move now as she was being restrained by several of the people who had gathered around the scene, the tears pouring down her face.
He glared at her for a moment.
“Perhaps you are a sympathiser,” he growled, pointing the baton at her, the tip just a few centimetres from her face. “A Jew lover maybe?”
The man turned once again and shouted to no-one in particular but in her general direction:
“Get her out of here before she ends up on the truck with the rest of this lot!” He then turned away and pushed the old woman along with his baton.
By this time, the old man had regained some of his senses and as the people in the crowd pulled her away Maria saw him being dragged and pushed onto the lorry along with the old woman who was also being struck and beaten by the bully.
The tears rolled down her face.
“Why won’t you help them?” she sobbed as she struggled to break free from the firm grip of a couple of men who were preventing her from returning to the scene. “You know them, you were customers of theirs, you bought your tobacco and cigarettes there! How can you just stand there and let this happen?”
“Don’t you understand?” a voice close to her hissed, “We are saving your life! It’s the Nazi’s. You cannot fight them. You will disappear yourself if you try, now go from here, go home, shut yourself away until it is over and don’t try to stop them. They will kill you”
Maria heeded the anonymous advice and walked on in shock, broken glass crunching unnoticed beneath her feet, until a tram rumbled up beside her.
She climbed aboard, numb, and sat silently for the whole journey, just looking at the blazing shops, broken windows and, worst of all, the violence. The beatings, men, women, children. People who had lived their lives here, serving the community, friends, neighbours, now unwelcome and being treated worse than animals. She saw lorries being loaded with people and their properties destroyed. The scenes she had witnessed this night would haunt her for the rest of her life.
When she got home, that day, she went straight to bed with the briefest of greetings to her parents and she never told them what she had witnessed.
“Have you been crying, Sweetheart?” her mother asked with a frown, “Your eyes look a little red and sore.”
“No, Mama,” Maria lied. Something she had never done before to her mother but she couldn’t bear to tell her about the things she had seen. “I am just tired, It has been such a long night.”
She smiled weakly, rubbed here eyes with her fingertips and left it at that..
She lay alone in her bed that night and cried softly until there were no more tears left and she slept little. The few hours she did get were haunted by terrible dreams of flames and violence.
That though, was five months ago to the day but this day was different. The streets were quiet and the tram was almost empty as it rumbled along taking her home…
Words and Image Copyright 2016 The Author . Reproduction and/or transmission in any form is strictly prohibited without the written permission of the Author.