My 2 Year Old Has Black Bags Under His Eyes Life as a Child in Germany During World War II

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Life as a Child in Germany During World War II

This may be a touchy subject for many to read, but some of the things I’m about to tell you are real and a part of life that many of us don’t want to hear.

Although there are many articles published about World War II in Germany, not many touch on the personal aspect of what it was like to grow up as a child during the war. For those of you who are interested, this article may be for you.

My parents grew up in Germany during WWII. When the war started, my mother was only three and my father eight. My parents left Germany as soon as they could after the war to start a better life in the United States.

My mother, now in her 70s, doesn’t talk much about the war as it brings tears to her eyes. It’s part of his life, I think he’d like to forget all together.

My mother was one of five children and initially lived in the far west of Poland. When Germany and Russia invaded Poland they were forced to move with only the few possessions they could carry on their backs. His father, who was in the army at the time, unfortunately died in the war. He never had the chance to know who his father was. His mother was left alone with five children to feed and no home of her own.

They moved from house to house, shelter to shelter, whoever took them. There was no money, so my grandmother sewed clothes to sell to others in need. This little money he earned was sometimes enough to get food for the family. Other times it wasn’t like that and they were lucky enough to find other people willing to help them with the food.

Their food consisted mainly of cabbage and bread. Sometimes my grandmother would stand in line for a whole day for just one loaf of bread only to find that they were all gone when it was her turn to pick.

During this time, many families took their children out of school at a young age – 12 for many so they could work and help the family survive. My grandmother despite the temptation would not allow it. That her children receive an education was too important to her, so while her children slept she sewed and sewed to earn what little money she could. For children who left school to work, the most popular places to work were bakeries and anywhere that made food. That way, you could at least take some leftover food home to your family at the end of the day.

As they were continually kicked out of the areas and constantly on the move, they lived in many shared rooms with other homeless families. It was always a constant search to find a family to take you in. The rooms were usually divided by sheets and about half the size of a garage. They slept on the floor often on hay to cushion themselves from the hard floors. If they were lucky, they got sacks of potatoes to use as blankets and often had to share them. Other times they found shelters that would be a large room full of other families. It was never a happy place – you were surrounded by sadness from people who lost loved ones. You heard constant crying and had to keep a close eye on your personal belongings so they weren’t stolen. There were no toys to play with so the children learned to use their imaginations to keep themselves busy.

The children were playing outside very close to the house in the streets among the ruins. Seeing dead horses and people in the streets was just accepted. They got used to the sound of sirens going off and ran to find shelter where they hid until it was over. Then, he played outside again.

I remember my mother telling me how on one occasion they were forced to evacuate quickly because of the bombers. Some people had horses and others carriages, but most people only had suitcases and bags of their most prized possessions as you never had enough time to gather everything. Surviving was the only important thing. As they joined the crowd in the streets to leave suddenly the bombers arrived and began bombing the streets. Children were screaming and parents were running for shelter dragging their children behind them. I don’t want to be too graphic here, but imagine being a little 5-7 year old kid watching people get hit by bombs right in front of your eyes or watching another kid you played with die suddenly.

The war was a terrible time for everyone, including German civilians. You were forced to obey Hitler’s rules whether you wanted to or not. Even after it was announced that the war was over, my father once saw a woman die before his eyes at the hands of a soldier because she happened to say “Thank God” and make a bad comment about Hitler. His throat was instantly cut. Then she was hung on a rope as an example so that everyone could see what happens when you say something bad about Hitler.

It’s sad, I know. But this is the reality of what it was like for many German civilians during World War II. No wonder many of them wanted to come to America.

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