The young girl hurried from the schoolhouse knowing that she’d be expected to complete her chores before being rewarded with the usual paltry fare of a slice of hard crusted brown bread and a boiled potato. Hearing a familiar sound in the distance she started running frantically, meanwhile, looking for a place of safety. She slipped upon a patch of ice giving way to her forward momentum which brought her crashing to the ground. Scrambling to her feet, giving little acknowledgement to her throbbing head, the abrasions on her hands and the blood flowing from her knee, she continued the trek to a nearby ditch. When endangered, most would lay face down covering their head, but the survivalist in her knew clearly that she must lie on her back so she could gauge the distance of the oncoming destruction. She trembled; laying in this frozen hollow of earth, tears streamed from her soft blue eyes and cascaded down to dampen her shoulder length blonde hair.
At the age of eight, life had already repressed her youthful tenderness; her innocence now resigned to a tool employed whenever she was forced to beg for handouts. Her journey to this ditch was wrought with fear and uncertainty. Sirens warning of potential air raids were not uncommon and city wide blackouts had been experienced many times. Bombings on two previous occasions were comparatively light, but on this night Chris and her family were forced to leave all their possessions in the path of annihilation.
Sirens warned of the impending doom as 280 British Royal Air Force bombers approached. Throughout the city lights were extinguished. Christel and her family groped their way down four flights of stairs in complete darkness, instead of seeking shelter in the basement they ran towards the Rhine River; the safety of water amidst the flames was alluring. They followed the river to the outskirts of the city as the bombers unleashed their fury for what seemed like an eternity; 1200 high explosive and 380,000 incendiary bombs were dropped on Wurzburg. Almost 90% of the city was destroyed as a result of the 927 tons of munitions that fell on the previously quiet city. Once outside the city, they began their long journey to the town of Huttenheim where, other than an overbearing grandmother and uncaring uncle, she found herself a complete stranger.
As the icy cold of her refuge began to cut through her legs, which were only partially covered by a skirt, the panic subsided enough for her to regain her senses. She realized that the noise of the plane that prompted her flight did not imply danger as she remembered that the war was over. Her propensity to flee was ingrained from her past. She rose from the icy trench wiping the tears from her eyes. Life goes on.
The young girl hurried from the schoolhouse knowing that she’d be expected to complete her chores before being rewarded with the usual paltry fare of a slice of hard crusted brown bread and a boiled potato.