Welcome to the WWII authors’ WWII anniversary blog tour.
September 1, 1939, as told by Gisela Cramer, heroine of Daisies Are Forever:
I was a teenager in school when Germany, my parents’ homeland and the country where we lived, invaded Poland. I’ll never forget waking up that morning for school. My mother was in the kitchen preparing breakfast. Her face was pale, her hands shaking.
“What’s wrong, Mutti?”
My mother wiped her hands on her apron and took a deep breath before turning to me. “It has happened. War has come. Last night, we invaded Poland.”
I sat down hard in my chair, not really understanding what all of this meant. “Why are you so sad?”
She bit her lip, then placed my sausage in front of me. “Eat up. Who knows how long we’ll be able to get food like this. In the last war, the Great War, there was hunger. We didn’t have enough to eat. And the boys went off and never returned. Or, if they returned, they were never they same. That is how it was with my brother Friedrich.”
Vater strode into the room, a smile across his face. “Ah, you heard the good news?”
Mutti slammed his coffee cup onto the table, the dark liquid sloshing over the side. “There is nothing good about war. Never.”
“We had to do it. England is seeking domination over Europe again, encircling Germany, meaning to cut us off. And the Polish troops crossed the border first. We had no choice but to protect the Fatherland.”
Mutti pursed her lips before answering. “You can’t trust Hitler’s propaganda.”
Vater shot her a withering glance. “Hush. Don’t say such things. These are dangerous times.”
All of this talk made my hands clammy. I pushed my breakfast away. “Will you have to go fight, Vater?”
He shook his head. “I’m much too old. Don’t worry. I’ll be with you.”
“Don’t make the child promises you can’t keep.” Mutti brought her coffee to the table and sat down. “I’m so frightened. Look at what happened last time. This time will only be worse.” She buried her head in her hands. It had been years since I’d seen Mutti cry. Not since my sister died.
Vater held her and whispered into her hair, things I couldn’t hear.
Though I was fourteen, all of this talk made me want to crawl onto his lap and have him soothe me, too. The knot of fear in my stomach tightened. “What do we do now?”
Vater touched my hand. “We go about our lives. Today is a school day, so you will go to school. And I expect you to help Mutti with chores when you get home, the same as any other day.”
But September 1, 1939, wasn’t any other day. It was a day that changed our lives forever. It brought us such sorrow and hardship as we had never known. And also a joy that I couldn’t imagine at the time.
Question: How old was Gisela Cramer when Germany invaded Poland?
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