“Tell me another one.” chirped little Molly Smith, who had just heard about a story from her grandaunt, Adeleine Smith.
She was telling a lot of stories about her years as a young woman since it was Molly’s birthday. She turned 8. “It’s well past your bedtime, Molly.” replied Adeleine.
“I know!” acknowledged Molly as she bounced around on her unicorn-themed bedsheets “But please just tell me another one! You couldn’t want me to feel sad on my birthday, would you?”
“Oh, all right all right.” gave in Grandma, and then chuckled.
“It will be a tale of adventure, fear, and family. Are you sure you won’t be scared?” asked Grandma
“I won’t!” yelled Molly playfully “I’m not scared of anything!”
“Okay then. I’m going to start. So when I was your age World War II happened…”
“But, what’s World War II?” asked Molly.
“You’ll learn all about it soon enough, but for now all you need to know is that World War II was a war that happened 80 years ago. It happened when one country called Germany was taken over by an evil person who made the army attack other countries.” explained Adeleine. “I used to live in a country called France that was taken over by Germany.”
“Oh no!” exclaimed Molly.
“Oh no it is, for the people who defied the leader were arrested, and the people of France were treated poorly, but first Germany had to take over France, and this is the story of when Germany was taking over France. I used to live in a town called Sedan. It was a beautiful place, with stone-lined streets and amazing shops. I used to play with my friends in the town square and the river all the time, then. I loved it there and wouldn’t leave it for anything.”
“Anything?” asked Molly with wide eyes.
“Anything. Little did I know that in a few weeks, the Germans would come. It started when the Germans started bombing Sedan. I was only 15 years then. It was dreadful.” Adeleine grieved.
“But that’s older than I am.” said Molly in surprise.
“True, I was young, but I wasn’t an adult then. Anyway, my friend Heloise’s house was destroyed so they had to move. I never saw them again. Oh, what I would give to revisit all the times I played with my friends.” Lamented Adeleine as she wiped a tear from her eye. “Where was I? Oh, yes, I remember. So, Heloise had to relocate and I never saw her again. A lot of shops were also destroyed, so the French soldiers who were in town had to supply us with food. Bridges and roads were destroyed by French airplanes, but more French soldiers couldn’t come to help defend us. Then, it happened. The Germans attacked us, somehow. I don’t remember that much since this was 60 years ago – now that it is 2000 – but I’ll try to remember from the moment the Germans invaded. Okay, so, one day my mom woke me up screaming in my ear about how there were Germans coming. I was too sleepy to understand, so I stayed asleep. Then she poured some water on me.” Molly started to giggle. “…and I got mad, but then she dragged me outside and it hit me. There were about a hundred German soldiers and tanks, which are big metal vehicles that shoot bullets, shooting at the any French soldiers who were in town. They tried to shoot back but they were unprepared and had to retreat, leaving the townspeople to fend for themselves. All except one actually. My dad, who would be your great-grandfather came running to our house.”
“What does fend mean?” asked Molly sweetly.
“Fend means that they had to protect themselves against the German soldiers.” explained Adeleine.
“Ohhh, I get it.” said Molly.
“Anyway, I grabbed my Mom and Dad’s hand and sprinted for cover behind a house as bombs blew up and destroyed houses. I made a plan to get out of the town but there was no way to do that as the Germans had surrounded the town, so I grabbed my mom and dad again and ran back to my house and to the cellar and prayed that the Germans soldiers would leave soon since the French soldiers already left.”
“No, they didn’t. In fact, I actually took a peek upstairs and what I saw horrified me. I don’t know if I should tell you or not.”
“Tell me! You didn’t tell me something else!”
“You’re not supposed to know about the first thing but I’ll tell you about this anyway. The Germans were shooting simple French townspeople.”
Molly slightly gasped.
“And that’s not all. After they killed my fellow townspeople, they went into their homes to steal things. I was absolutely shocked, and immediately realized that we would have to hide, so I went downstairs into the cellar where my mom was and told her the situation. She told me to get some food and follow her, so I did, and she led me to a corner where a crate was, and opened it. It looked perfectly normal to me, but then she slipped her hand into what was a crack and pulled it, and the bottom of the crate came up. Underneath it was a small space about as large as a closet with a floor and walls of dirt, almost like someone dug a hole in our cellar. I was astounded, and looked at my dad for an answer, and he explained that he put a fake crate and dug a hole in it in case of an emergency.”
“That’s funny.” giggled Molly.
“It was smart too, because it saved our lives. We went into the hole with the food I had and closed both layers of the crate behind us. A few minutes later we heard the German soldiers coming into our basement.”
“Did they find you.” asked Molly, who looked nervous.
“No, but my heart was pounding like a hammer, since the Germans could discover us at any time, and in fact, they could lift up the crate’s lid at one point, but, thank god, they didn’t. We still didn’t get out of the crate for another hour because we didn’t know if the Germans had left. After a few hours cooped up in the hole, we finally went outside because we heard tanks moving, presumably out of town. I peeked out the door, and luckily all the Germans had moved on. It was nice to stretch after hours, but it was horrifying to see the ruins of the town that had once been my home. I started crying in my mom’s arms. Several minutes later we trudged out of town. We kept moving from town to town since my dad was part of the army, and I even joined the French resistance, since they fought against the Germans, and after the war I moved to America. I might tell you some of those stories later-oh!” she exclaimed as Molly had fell asleep.
She smiled to herself as she walked out of the room and to her own bedroom.