A Narrow Escape

1935: There she was, her delicate little sister cornered by the brutal SS sergeant. Dvorah snuck up behind, kicked the Nazi, grabbed her sister and ran for her life…

6 min

Yaakov Bar Nahman

Posted on 31.10.10

Solomon’s Trains, Part 6

Though sprite little Dvorah had her father’s sky blue eyes, her coal dark curly hair won her the nickname “Ushy”. Yehudith’s high pitched chirping voice was to win her the moniker of “peeps”.
They lived with their parents in grandfather’s grand estate house. As toddlers they were given almost free run of the house. They even got to “help” in the kitchen at times. However Reb Mordechai’s study was only to be entered by permission. On the rare occasions they were let in back in those young years often the first words the wide eyed Peeps would say were, “Wahw Ushy look at all those books!”
Even though the house had a full team of servants, the girls were not overly pampered. As they grew they both had chores to do according to their ages, and were taught to cook and sew as well.
However the chores were not always boring. Young Dvorah albeit well behaved shy and quiet, usually, did have a bit of a mischievous streak. At age 16 her job on Friday afternoon included polishing the bookshelves with special wood oil. By this time grandfather Reb Mordechai was on in years, had a bald pate and would tend to doze off during his studies. At times when this occurred while she was polishing the shelves with a glimmer in her eye she would gently lift his kipah (skull cap) polish his bald pate and replace the kipah. Then quietly quickly exit the study, giggling. Peeps outside the door almost bursting. “Ushy, if Grandpappa ever awakes and catches you.” “Nu what would he do?”
The young Anna, daughter of Hindeh the head maid servant, was charged with helping them with homework in secular subjects, accompanying them when they went outdoors as well as seeing to their needs. The three of them grew together, sometimes playing and teasing each other in an admixture of relations which was both as close friends, and as servant to those served. The sisters never took undue advantage of Hindeh and never were demeaning, and she never abused their close relationship to slough off from her responsibility or station to them. They also knew all too well that the fact that Hindeh, Gheert and their daughter were Jewish was to be kept secret.
One Friday afternoon close to Shabbat grandfather Reb Mordechai called his dear granddaughter aside while she was on her way up to change to Shabbat clothes. Dvorah thought to herself, “Oh Oh …”
“Dearest Ushy, today you had too much oil the cloth it could make the shelves sticky. It also will harder to wash off my head then other times.” He winked at her as she turned colors and zipped off up the stairs. This time it was old grandfather who was at the study door giggling.
In spite of many efforts to boost it, the German economy continued to flounder. This made it easy for the radical Nazi Party, to gain support among the public. After the failed “Beer Hall Putsch” Reb Solomon realised sadly “This is surely the dangerous mad one I was warned about by Bentsion. The good days for Jews in Germany are over. I feel I must warn people of the coming danger. Though Bentsion told me that most would not heed the warning, not from me and not from anyone else. ‘There are none so blind as those who refuse to see.’”
By 1935 half of the servants have had to be let go due to the collapsing economy. Hindeh, being second generation in service with the Suesskind family, and her husband Gheert were kept the longest since they were almost like family. They themselves even offered to work for lower wages, just to be able to stay with their beloved employers.
One autumn afternoon Mother Rivkah turned to her 18 year old Dvorah saying, “Ushy, I sent Peeps to Levi’s baker shop an hour ago and she hasn’t returned yet. Please go see where she is and what is taking her so long to buy a couple loaves of bread.”
“Yes Momma” and off she went.
Though it was a bright late summer day the streets were less busy than they used to be only a couple years ago. Many non-Jews had been drafted to the armed services. Many Jews had simply disappeared. Add that to the collapsed economy and Berlin was far from being the vibrant city Dvorah had known it to be in her younger years.
Dvorah was a delicate petite girl barely 5 foot (150 cm) tall and thin as a matchstick. She went along the regular route to the bake shop, like a typical teenager half in her daydreams and not too worried, until … until she turned the corner to the street the bakery shop was on and….
What she saw made her gasp and for a moment stop her breath. There was her little sister, Peeps, standing frozen with fright, and opposite her barely an arm’s length away, stood a tall brawny square jawed blond haired Nazi SA sergeant grilling her. In his huge hand was his army issue dagger with the skull and crossbones at the end of the hilt, pointed at Peeps’s face. Peeps was as white as a sheet with tears streaming down her face, stammering and trembling.
Of course nobody dared come near. Any would be passersby either backtracked or crossed to the other side of the street and went away as fast as possible.
As petite and frail as she was Dvorah knew that she had to save her little sister, somehow and fast.
“God Guide me Help me – PLEASE!”
She ran across the cobbles stoned street faster than she ever thought she could, and gave a flying kick to the two legged beast’s knee and scraping down his shin. He let out an animal shriek and his skull and crossbones dagger fell to the sidewalk. Dvorah screamed, “Peeps home”, grabbed her hand and the two girls sped off like lightning into the nearest alley. They ran like rabbits through the maze of old city alleys that only someone who grew up in the neighborhood would know where they led to.
The suddenness and the sharp totally unexpected pain of the desperate girl’s kick left the Nazi sergeant breathless motionless just long enough for the two girls to disappear.
Before entering the house they collected themselves and Dvorah said to her little sister, “You tell nothing to Momma, leave it to me. I don’t want her to get worried.”
When they got home their mother asked them, “Nu? What?”
“Oh nothing Momma some big stupid oaf of a neighborhood bully was bothering Peeps and not letting her go on. He loped off like an old gorilla when I came by.”
By the time the Nazi sergeant composed himself, and while cursing in his Saxony dialect picked up his dreaded dagger, the girls were gone and without a trace. He had not even managed to get the terrorized girl’s address or name in spite of a half hour of questioning. In the shock of pain from the surprise kick he had not even noticed into which alley they had ran off. To search for them would be futile and further humiliating. It was an incident most definitely not for including in his daily activity report. He would have to come up with some plausible reason for the slight limp from the scraping kick.
After Hitler’s party rose to power the inflation got worse and worse. The Deutsche Mark was devalued weekly, then biweekly, then daily, and eventually twice a day. It got to the point where the government stopped printing new bills. The banks simply got rubber stamps to add zeros to number on the existing bills.
It got to where Becka Dzubas, who was working as a secretary in Rabbi Frier’s office, received her salary twice daily in a suitcase filled with cash. Once at noon she got paid along with getting a midday leave to go buy the family needs before the prices jumped again later in the day. Then at the end of her work day she would get paid again and go shopping on the way home for by next morning the prices would be higher again.
The newspapers, the radio, the school lessons, etc. everything everywhere more and more were blaming the economic problems on the Jews. Each difficulty the government met with in its goal for gaining control of Europe was also blamed on the Jews.
Jews were disenfranchised and many other ways were found to make life terribly miserable for them. More and more Jews simply disappeared.
They either never came home from work or school, or vanished in the night from their homes.
No one dared to ask.
The nice sweet artistic culture of Bach Brahms and Beethoven availed the Jews naught to prevent the very trains they had manufactured and the very railway system they had constructed to rebuild the strength and pride of Germany from being used to exterminate them wholesale.
To be continued.

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1932: Solomon meets a hidden sage who tells him that he must immediately begin “rescuing” Jewish children and sending away from Germany to Palestine…

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