WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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For the benefit of those who think that childhood experiences determine a person's basic choices in life, let me say that the Soviet Tartars did us no harm. Neither my mother nor her little six-year-old daughter was molested or raped.

Late in 1945, we returned to Berlin, where the three of us lived in one room, first on Uhlandstrasse and then on Holsteinische Strasse, both in Wilmersdorf.

In elementary school I was a conscientious and well behaved student. The school was so crowded that it was split into two sessions. Added to that, the school closed down completely in .winter because of the coal shortage. I would spend whole days playing hide-and- seek with my friends in the acres of rubble, trying to climb to the roofs of the bombed out houses and searching for hidden treasure.

In those days no one ever spoke of Hitler. Before April 1945, I remember reciting little poems in honor of the Führer in kindergarten. I spent my childhood among the ruins of Berlin, unaware of why the city had been destroyed and divided into four sectors. The only explanation for the world in which I grew up was: "We have lost a war and now we must work." My father didn't talk much and neither did my mother, unless she was heaping abuse on my father, which was not unusual.

When I was at the difficult age of fourteen or so, my parents began to get along better. Then I became the object of their recriminations. Neither of them had learned anything from the tremendous upheaval they had gone through. They were not Nazis, but they had voted for Hitler like everyone else. Still, they felt no responsibility for what had happened under the Nazis. Whenever my mother and her neighbors talked, they ended up whining about the injustice of their lot and recalling the precious things they had lost in the war. There was never a word of pity or understanding for other nations; they bitterly criticized the Russians.

Berlin resounded with the roar of airplanes bringing us food during the blockade. I asked no questions of others nor of myself, but continued along the path that had been set for me. In 1954 I was confirmed in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, but even then I had no faith. To this day I have remained a total stranger to the problem of religion. At that time, however, Providence was good to us: we moved into a two-room apartment on Ahrweilerstrasse, and I finally had my own room.
     
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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