Recap: Mimi is traveling with Fraidy and Benny in a truck driven by a man named Hans, who is dressed as a Nazi but who is part of the underground. He is taking them to the last Kindertransport boat in Holland. Mimi has to remember that she is supposed to be “Anna Schmidt” and Benny is “Peter” and Fraidy is “Kristy.” The Miller girls are hidden in the back of the truck. They were stopped by a Nazi soldier demanding identification papers.
The Nazi examined the identification papers and then peered into the window of the truck. I looked down at my lap. My whole body shook. I just kept saying to myself, “Ein od milvado.”
The officer said something in German and Hans responded. Then the officer stepped away and Hans continued driving.
I worried about Serena and the girls in the back. How were they doing, hiding back there under the straw?
The hours blended together. Soon the sun was setting. I told Benny to play with Fraidy, so I could daven Minchah. I had my little pocket siddur and I davened with all my heart. I asked Hashem to grant us a safe journey and to bless my parents and grandparents and the other parents with m’nuchas ha’nefesh. As awful as it was for us, it must be even worse for parents to let their children go. I thought of a painting Mama had made when I was younger. It was a painting of a mother bird sitting on a nest, watching her baby birds flying off into the distance. I always found that painting poignant.
Hans pulled to the side of the road. “We have to take a break here,” he said in broken Polish.
When the motion of the car stopped, Fraidy and Benny started fussing. Hans closed his eyes.
“Shh!” I pointed at Hans. “He’s sleeping.”
We stayed parked for quite a while. At one point, to my horror, one of the Miller girls appeared at the side of the truck. “We are so nervous. Why aren’t we going?”
“Go back quickly.”
Just then, an army vehicle pulled up. I told her to duck under the car. I didn’t know what else to do.
He woke Hans. The two men spoke together. Then the second man sped away. Then Hans turned on the car. “Wait!” I motioned to him frantically.
“Please.” I motioned for him to look outside the truck.
Serena poked her head up and his eyes grew wide.
He motioned her to go back under the car. “We must wait until dark. Tell her to stay under there until I give signal. Dangerous.” He clucked his tongue.
The minutes ticked slowly. I prayed that she would stay put until dark and that no more cars would come to stop near us.
Finally, a dark curtain descended all around us. The sounds of strange night creatures shrieked and cawed.
Hans stepped out of the car and leaned down. He pretended to be fixing one of the tires. “Come,” he said.
Serena slowly slid out from under the car. He motioned for her to freeze. He looked each way, then carefully lifted her into the back. “Stay, please,” he said. “Dangerous to come out.”
He turned on the car, but just then we heard the tramping of goose-stepping soldiers. A Nazi emerged out of the dark and stood in front of the truck.
The officer demanded our papers.
My neck muscles tightened.
Hans handed them to him.
Then he motioned Hans to open the car door.
My whole body was shaking. I kept reviewing all of our fake names in my head. “PIease help, Hashem. Please!”
“What is your name, girl?” The Nazi’s ice blue eyes bored into me.
I took a deep breath. “Anna Schmidt.”
“These two. Who are they?” he barked.
“My sister Krista,” my voice sounded high and strange. “And my little brother Peter.”
He grunted. “This man is your uncle?”
There was a long pause. I thought my heart would explode out of my chest.
The Nazi motioned with his arm and, baruch Hashem, we were able to drive away.
We drove on and on for what seemed like unending days. The only sound in the car was Fraidy’s and Benny’s questions or chatter. Hans was totally focused on his driving.
It seemed like we would be driving forever until late one night we stopped. Hans pointed to a harbor. “The boat is over there. I want you to know my stepsister is Jewish. I do this because I hate what the Nazis are doing.”
He shook his head and then he said, “I will drive us right up to the boat. I will let you out and there are people in that little boathouse who will register you and get you onto the boat.” It was a huge boat. I shielded my eyes with my arm and studied the boat. This was our ticket to peaceful freedom – away from war.
A man wrote down our information. He was Jewish, and Mama had instructed me that the people in charge of the boat would want to know our real names. Then he handed each of us a tag attached to a string. It had our identification and who would be meeting us in England. Fraidy and Benny and I would be going to the same family, Mr. and Mrs. Berkowitz. The Millers were going to a family named Spiro.
We boarded the boat and, a few hours later, the boat started our journey from Holland towards England.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for The Queens Jewish Link and she writes freelance for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivahs and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.