Another Breath, Another Sunrise: A Holocaust Novel (Michal's Destiny Book 4), p.1Roberta Kagan
Copyright © 2016 by Roberta Kagan
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events are purely coincidental.
Table of Contents
Hitler’s dreams of a Thousand-Year Reich came to an end when the Nazis surrendered to the Allies in 1945. Adolf Hitler, Eva Braun (his wife of a few hours), Joseph Goebbels with his wife and family, and several other close colleagues had been hiding in Hitler’s underground bunker when they learned that Stalin’s army was about to enter Berlin. Rather than face the humiliation of defeat, Hitler, and the rest of the group hiding in the bunker, committed suicide. But first, they murdered the Goebbels’ young children. Even though the door finally slammed shut on the reign of Nazi terror, the world’s suffering was not yet over. A bloody war still raged on in the Pacific.
As the Allies began to make their way through the territories that had been previously occupied by the Nazis, they began to liberate the concentration camps. What they found stunned the world. The horrors that the Third Reich left behind were almost beyond human comprehension- piles of dead bodies, ovens surrounded by ashes consisting of burnt flesh, gas chambers with small windows for sadistic guards to watch the killings of innocent victims. Visions so monstrous that many of the soldiers involved in the liberation said that no matter how hard they tried, they could not erase the images from their minds. And then, those who were still alive, half-starved walking corpses, had witnessed things that would change them forever. These poor lost souls, Jews and non-Jews, Jehovah’s Witnesses, homosexuals, Poles, and prisoners of war would now come forth from the darkness into the light and somehow begin to look for their loved ones. They had no idea whether their friends and family were alive or dead, and many would never find any information. These were the survivors. A handful of people who had managed to escape Nazi persecution with little more their lives. Not only had they lost everything, and everyone, they carried the guilt of being chosen to live while others perished, a haunting syndrome that would come to be known as survivor’s guilt. “Why me? Why was I spared when everyone I know and love is dead?”
Their homes and all of their belongings had been confiscated when they were arrested, so now they had no place to live except displaced persons camps. And quite often Jews who returned to the cities where they’d lived before the war found out that anti-Semitism did not end with the death of the Third Reich. In several villages, Jewish refugees were murdered upon their return by those who had once been their friends and neighbors.
As for the Nazis, some of the high officials like Himmler decided to bite through a cyanide capsule when caught, rather than face the consequences of what they’d done. Others tucked their tails between their legs and ran or hid in fear. And the handful of Nazi soldiers who were still left in the city after the surrender were busy hanging deserters in the streets.
The women of Berlin, many of whom were not Nazis but had been afraid to stand up to Hitler, now awaited the Russian army in terror, with no able-bodied men left to defend them. Rumors spread like cancer through Berlin that the Russian army was cruel and had raped and pillaged their way through the German countryside. Thousands of women in Berlin took their own lives rather than face the Russians who were bent on seeing the destruction and humiliation of all Germans.
Alina New York, USA, April 1945
Alina Margolis woke up nauseated from the sedative Dr. Stallwarth had given her the night before. She had been terribly distraught and unable to sleep when she’d learned that her dear friend and perhaps the only man she’d ever really loved, Ugo Blok, had enlisted in the army and was fighting somewhere in the Pacific. Dr. Stallwarth was one of her best friend Klara’s regular clients. Klara was a prostitute who was employed in the brothel that Alina owned. Klara had turned out to be the best friend Alina had ever known. However, she had come into Alina’s life from the most unlikely of places. Klara was Ugo’s ex-wife.
Alina had seen Ugo for the first time on the ship when she and her lover, Johan, were on their way to America from Germany. Johan and Alina had left Germany because of the Nuremberg laws forbidding the marriage between Aryans and Jews. Johan was Lotti’s brother. Lotti and her husband, Lev, had been friends of Alina’s family before Alina was born. Lev was Jewish, but Johan and Lotti were not. Johan had fallen head over heels in love with Alina the first time he saw her Then with the climate in Germany as the Nazis were rising in power, Johan had convinced Alina to leave and go to America. On that voyage, Alina had met Ugo, who was traveling alone on his way from Russian to America where he was to meet up with his wife, Klara. There was an instant attraction between Ugo and Alina, but because they were committed to other people, neither of them ever acted upon it. Then Johan had died of an infection on the ship, leaving Alina alone to fend for herself in a strange land. And she was preg
When Ugo arrived in America he found that Klara, his young wife who had come to the United States to live the American dream, wasn’t satisfied with the life of poverty that, he, an immigrant, could provide. To his dismay, she began selling her body. They had been childhood sweethearts, both of them had been raised on farms, but America had changed Klara. She wanted more out of life now, and eventually she moved into a brothel, leaving Ugo feeling like less of a man. Ugo was physically very strong. He needed work and so he began working for a company.. One day when he was transporting a piano to a home in an upscale neighborhood, he recognized Alina. He called out to her. She was glad to see him. He didn’t want to say goodbye, so he thought of a way to see Alina again. Ugo had begun taking English classes and he casually suggested that she join him. She agreed, and so once a week they began to attended class together. And, Alina and Ugo had been secretly in love since the day they met, although they had never been able to get past their pride and accept their feelings for each other. The final blow was when Ugo found out about Alina’s decision to open a brothel.But Alina needed financial security to take care of her son, Joey, who had survived polio, and she was unable to find work. Then one afternoon she’d run in to Klara Alina had a little money put away. When her wealthy husband Trevor became abusive she had begun stealing money from him in hopes of one day escaping his violent temper. When Alina saw Klara she thought that Klara would be resentful of her relationship with Ugo. But Klara had no lingering interest in Ugo; instead, Klara explained to Alina that if she took her money and invested it in a brothel, it would be good for both of them. Alina explained that she would not be willing to work as a prostitute, but Klara said that she had friends in the business who would be grateful to work for a good madam, a fair madam. If Alina opened the house, Klara would have a clean, safe place to work with an honest boss, and Alina would have the financial security she needed. And so it was Klara that had helped Alina to find, negotiate, and buy the house that would become a refuge for both of them. It was a large wooden structure, old and solid looking, located in the Wallabout neighborhood in Brooklyn near the Navy Yard. Not the nicest of areas, but because it was not in the middle of Manhattan, the clients, many of whom were married or held important positions, felt more comfortable about not being seen coming or going. The doctor had been visiting with Klara when Alina had received the news about Ugo. They’d all been in the main living room when Alina told Klara. Stallwarth saw Alina’s distress and offered the medicine to help Alina calm her nerves. After the doctor gave her the sedative, she lay in bed and thought about Ugo. He was a good friend and he loved her. She’d never doubted that, but to Alina independence was more important than love. That was because she’d lost so many people in her life, and then she’d made the mistake of marrying Trevor, When Joey was born and Trevor had been physically violent to both her and her child, she vowed to herself that she would never allow anyone to have this much control over her life again. That was when she’d begun stealing money from Trevor until she had enough cash hidden away to open the brothel. Ugo had begged her to marry him, to give up the idea of owning a whorehouse and be his wife. But she was not willing to do that. Even though she was a madam and not a prostitute, he was repulsed by her business. And so their friendship had come to a painful and bitter end.
Then a few weeks before Christmas in 1941, the United States of America had been attacked and bombed by the Empire of Japan, which was part of the Axis with Germany and Italy. That was when America entered the war. Men were enlisting left and right and business slowed down. From what Alina read of the news, things were improving for the Allies as far as the European front was concerned. Hitler was losing the war. It looked like Germany was going to surrender any day now. However, the war against the Japanese raged on in the Pacific. Then men began coming home wounded and maimed. They came to the brothel and talked to the girls. From them Alina learned that the Japanese were brutal enemies. And, now, Ugo was off fighting somewhere in the Pacific. Would he die on a battlefield in a country far away, without ever knowing her true feelings for him? And, if he came home, would she ever tell him? Probably not. But her heart ached with fear and love for him, a fear and love she would keep like a sad and bitter secret locked up inside of her, never to be shared with anyone.
The morning light filtered through the small opening in the shades It was only a thin flicker of light, but it was enough to burn Alina’s eyes and aggravate her headache. So, she forced herself out of bed and went into the bathroom to splash her face with cold water. Perhaps that would help.
Downstairs, newspapers lay on the kitchen table surrounded by cheap earrings, dirty dishes, discarded bras and clothing that needed to be laundered. Two of the girls had already begun arguing about something. Cigarette smoke mingled with the smells of fresh baking biscuits and rich coffee. Coffee was rationed but it was given to the Klara as a gift from one of her influential clients who had plenty of black market connections. The girls were not all awake yet. They had just begun trickling downstairs to the kitchen. One of the girls lit a cigarette and put her feet up on the table.
“No feet on the table when I am serving breakfast, you hear?” the cook said, and the girl put her feet down.
“Oh shit, would you look at that,” Gloria said. She was one of the newest girls . “Now that’s a God damn shame.” She squinted as she picked up the newspaper. Only a few of the girls were able to read, so only a few of them even bothered to look at the paper.
“Hush. Don’t take God’s name in vain,” Maggie said. She was a prostitute but she wore her cross and worshiped at the church without fail, every Sunday. She was a good girl with a kind heart, and no one ever pried or asked her any questions about her religious beliefs.
“Well, it is a shame. Here, look…” Gloria said, handing the newspaper to Maggie. “Oh yeah, that’s right, you can’t read it. Give it here. Let me read it to you.” Gloria began, “It says here that President Franklin D. Roosevelt died of a brain aneurism last night.”
Alina had wrapped her robe around her body. She was just coming into the kitchen when she heard Gloria reading the news. It was like a cannon had been fired into her brain. Immediately her eyes fell upon her two-year-old son, Joey, who sat on the floor playing with a toy He was so quiet since he’d recovered from the polio. An image flashed across her mind of Joey having an aneurism just like FDR. Stop it, she told herself. The US president was an old man, Joey is just a child. Then she looked at her son again and shivered. How could she ignore his twisted body, his limp arm. The polio had taken so much away from Joey, and at the same time, so much from her as well. Alina gripped the chair and eased herself into it. Roosevelt was dead from a brain aneurism. An aneurism can happen at any age, to anyone. Could it have been from his bout with polio so many years ago? Could something like this be lying dormant inside of her poor Joey’s brain? She thought about this and she was barely able to breathe. Dear God. Roosevelt had been alive yesterday. Someone said good morning to her, but she didn’t answer. She picked up the paper and began to read more about what had happened. It said that the president complained of a headache, and then within a few hours, without any real warning, he was dead!
Joey, my God, that could happen to Joey. Alive one day, gone the
Lotti April 1945, Berlin, Germany
Lotti chewed on her lower lip and then gasped as she looked out the third floor window of her small flat a. The section called Kreuzberg where she lived had been brutally hit, leaving mass destruction when the bombs rained down on Berlin. The building where Lotti lived was still standing, but parts of the structure were now broken. Of the twelve apartments in the building, only three remained intact Lotti’s was one of them. No longer could one hear the sounds of the huge railway station in the distance, because the Anhalter Bahnhof had been shattered in a daylight raid when the U.S. Air Force had attacked the heart of the city in February.
For the last several weeks, the women left behind in Germany had cowered in fear of the day when the Russian army would march into Berlin. That day had arrived. From where she stood, she could see the bedlam in the streets. Berlin, the once beautiful, cosmopolitan city, now lay in ruins from the bombings. The streets were strewn with rubble. Even bodies of dead animals that had to be shot when they escaped from the zoo still littered the pavement. White flags of surrender hung from many of the windows; Lotti knew that the women inside hoped that the flags would somehow inspire the invaders to take pity on them. There was no point in going to work at her job at the hotel switchboard anymore. All of the phone lines were down. In fact, all communication, transportation, and news of the outside world had halted abruptly. There was nothing to do but hide and pray. This was what Hitler had done to Germany. From what Lotti had heard, the Soviets had raped most of the women in the German countryside on their way into Berlin. Her hand trembled as she pulled the shade closed. Bernadette, her friend, lay asleep in her bed. She was still weak from the botched abortion she’d gone through without ever telling anyone she was pregnant. Lotti couldn’t imagine any woman doing that to herself. She would have given everything to be able to bear a child. But it was not meant to be, and even though she’d wished to be a mother more than she could ever express, she would never have that joy.
Another Breath, Another Sunrise: A Holocaust Novel (Michal's Destiny Book 4) by Roberta Kagan / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes