This weeks writing exercise is to create a short story from one sentence –
“He threw their memories into the fire and he remembered the warning”…from his beloved, Anna before she disappeared. “If I am captured you must leave Germany with your new identity and throw our memories in the fire. You must save yourself. Please Peter, do this for me and for the children.” Peter remembered that night, when they put everything that was held dear to them along with a list of names into this box, so that when the time came for them to leave they would be able to grab it and move to a new life in a new country. He never thought he would be leaving alone.
It was a typical evening at the home of Peter and Anna Mueller, after dinner they sat down to read before retiring for the night. Peter will forever remember that knock on the door that started their mission to save Jewish children.
When Peter opened the door and saw his neighbor Rabbi Benjamin Kohen with two children. He quickly motioned him inside and looked across the court-yard to make sure no one was watching. In Germany you never know who your enemies were.
Rabbi Kohen quickly explained that these two children, Eva and Paul, had nowhere to go. Their parents were taken today and they were able to escape by a back door and ran to him. Could they keep him until he could get them out of Germany and to England?
Peter glanced at Anna who had tears in her eyes, they both were heart-sick with what was happening in Germany. So they both agreed and took Eva age 12 and Paul age 6 into their home. A few days later Rabbi Kohen came back and said he arranged passage for the children and he would be back that night to take the children.
Shortly after the children left Anna and Peter agreed they would help more children escape the death that would await them. They knew the risks involved but also knew that God was leading them to help His Jewish children.
They met Rabbi Kohen secretly and told them they were willing to help. Peter’s family has a farm and they had agreed to hide the children there until it was safe for them to move on.
So for the next year they would often go visit Peter’s brother Franz and his family to deliver their secret cargo. Everything was going fine until the day the SS took Rabbi Kohen and his family along with the small Jewish community and burned down the synagogue. As they watched the flames shot up toward the sky, they prayed for the Jewish people but knew in their hearts that their fate was sealed.
Peter went into his study and prayed. He asked where God was, why was He allowing His people to suffer? For the first time Rev. Peter Mueller had doubts of God’s plan.
After their dinner that night they both made arrangements on what they were to do when the SS would come for them, they knew it was only a matter of time, before they too would be arrested but they were determined to work to save as many children as they could while they can.
A few weeks later Peter arrived home to find four men in SS uniforms and some soldiers at his house taking Anna away and holding back two frightened children. He held back but not before Anna looked toward him and with tears in her eyes she screamed, “The Lord is my Shepherd”, their signal for one of them to run. At first Peter could not move he could not leave Anna, when she said it again with tears in her voice one of the soldiers hit her across the face. With her bloodied face she nodded – he was to go and save more children. He stood there hidden behind the large tree when he noticed the one soldier grab the children and threw them on the ground before shooting them. Anna screamed as they took her away and he knew he would never see her again.
His friend Dieter came up behind him and told him he must go now. Anna had already explained to Dieter what they were doing and in the event one of them was taken he was to take the other to safety. Dieter had a sister in Berlin and Peter could stay with her until he made arrangements to leave with his false identification papers. Their plan was to go to London and help the Jewish children and families relocate to England. Now he must go alone.
Dieter gave Peter a box from Anna. In the box were the names of the children and their parents so that after the war they would be able to reunite the families, along with letters, photos, and an edelweiss flower that he gave her to declare his love for her all those years ago – it was a box that contained their memories.
Before he left for Berlin he sent the list of names to his brother. Franz knew to bury them somewhere on the farm where no could find it. Franz was also to destroy the place that housed the children and some families in the event that the SS came to him. Peter then took the box of his memories and sat by the fireplace in Dieter’s sister home and as he lingered over all the memories of his life with Anna, one by one he threw them into the fire. He knew he could not take them with him because of his new identity. As he held his wedding picture and the edelweiss, he could not throw them into the fire. He placed both objects in his jacket pocket near his heart. He then got up and walked to the train station never looking back.
Peter stood in front of this apartment building where his home once stood. It has been over 50 years since he was able to return to this spot. It seemed like yesterday that he lived in the parsonage with his Anna. Now his church and home no longer stood – destroyed in the bombings during the war. He never did find Anna after the war, although he searched for years. She simply vanished like so many. He reached in and took out the worn out photo, lovingly looked at it again thinking back of happier times. He placed the edelweiss and picture on top of the flower bed in front of the building as his thoughts were of Anna and her sacrifice so that many children may live. When he arrived in London after that fateful day he was able to help save hundreds of more children from the destruction caused by evil men.
Turning to leave he noticed an older woman across the road. She looked familiar as she turned to look at him, he just smiled and then walked towards his daughter Annie who accompanied him from London on his pilgrimage to the past.
Anna was headed home to her apartment where her home once stood. She stopped when she noticed an older gentleman place something in the flower bed she lovingly took care of. She planted red roses for her husband whom she was told died during the war in Berlin as he tried to escape to London. He smiled at her and she thought for a moment it was Peter, but she knew he was gone. After he left she slowly limped from the injuries she received from the interrogation and years in the work camp, towards her apartment. She glanced at what the gentleman placed next to the roses. She found she could not breathe….she saw an old worn photograph of a happy couple and an edelweiss flower ~ a single tear fell ~ Peter.