Lindsay Nissen

Dresden Bombing

In the summer of 1940, my family was forced to flee Lithuania as the war front advanced. My parents seemed weary that under the Russian occupation, persecution, deportation, and misery would come our way. I felt that my two loving parents, Raulas and Emilija Vitkus, would protect me and my brother, Lukas, from anything. My parents shared with us the decision to flee into Germany in order to settle in Dresden as refugees and try to live through the war. They had made us a home to live in safely and had saved enough belongings and gold to beable to afford food, water and the essentials. Lukas and I were young enough to adapt to the situation. Even with the fear that we experienced, we were able to stay calm and live a good childhood.

On February 12, 1945 at 7:30 pm, I was getting ready for bed. It was very quiet outside and nothing was really going on in the streets of Dresden. I lived right on the corner of Stolpener Straße right down the street from the school. Mom prepared some wheat berry with butter and fruits. Throughout the whole war, I was lucky enough to have a family that had access to food. I never had to ration. I ate my meal with the rest of my family at the dinner table and we discussed about what to do in the situation of fleeing once more. I wasn’t sure on why Mommy would bring this up because I thought we would stay here till the war ended. Mom and Dad explained about what the rumours were. So after our dinner we packed, expecting nothing, but just in case, a bag of food and some clothes. I put on my nightgown at around 8:30 pm to go to bed.

Later on during that night, I was woken up and startled by loud alarms in the streets. I had no idea what was going on. My heart was beating so fast I thought it was going to burst out of my chest. It was a constant alarm and it was dark in the streets. Mom came rushing into my room telling me to grab my bag, and she ran out to get Lukas. I grabbed my belongings, looked back at my bed and saw Marla, my doll. I went to say goodbye, but I decided to take a couple of my clothes out of my bag and put her in instead. I was so scared. We headed to the basement to be in the bomb shelter and we stayed there for a while. I was so nervous I didn’t even realize how much time went by. I sat on my mom’s lap crying because I didn’t know what was going on, no one would explain to me. Suddenly, I heard a big bang and the room started to shake. After the first one, we waited and nothing. About ten minutes later, it was bang after bang and it was non stop. Our neighbours began breaking down the walls into our home because their house caught fire. It was a very scary event for me to go through because I never thought this would happen in Dresden. We stayed in the basement for about two days. We couldn’t go out because the bombs wouldn’t stop and they would keep going even overnight. My Mom and Dad started talking about where we would go to refuge. Italy, Austria and Germany were filled with displaced people from Eastern and middle Europe. My parents decided we would go to Austria because they knew of an American fugitive camp that gave water, food and clothes. My parents told us the plan for when we escape Dresden. They explained to Lukas and I that we would leave to the train station with our bags and they said there would be a lot of people with the same plan as us, so we would have to be careful not to get lost. With every bomb that would blow up near us, the room became very dusty, which gave me a hard time to breath so Mommy covered my nose and mouth with a thin piece of cloth to protect me from the dirty air. On the second day, there was a very big bang and it sounded like it was right over us. The room started shaking  like a very big earthquake and the floors trembled. Lukas yelled and that made me cry. I felt like it would never end, like I was stuck in a forever nightmare. Finally, no one knew that the last bomb hit. I believe it was the biggest one out of them all. It was so loud my ears rang after it hit. About three hours with no bang or sound, it was clear that it was over. The relief that we all felt was unimaginable. Mom told us to wait awhile before knowing it was safe to go out. Hours later, we heard people talking so we climbed out of the basement that was full of stone and dust and I took a big deep breath. Mom had a tear falling down her cheek and Dad gave us all the biggest hug. We went out into the street that no longer looked like one and everyone was giving each other hugs. Many cried from the loss of a loved one, but I was glad no one I knew died from the bombings.

We left for the train station and walked for about an hour and a half. When we got there, so many people were leaving at the same time. Mommy grabbed me by the arm and told me to follow. Once we got close to the train, someone knocked into me and dragged me about for meters away from my mom. She looked at me right in the eyes and got pushed by the crowd behind her and so did I. While getting pulled and pushed, I needed to get back to my mom. I was screaming for her and so was she. A man with a big bell rang it and everyone started pushing even more. Closer and closer I got to the train. Finally, I saw her getting shoved into the train. She looked back and saw me but the crowd was too big to go through. She yelled: “run”. I tried to get through and got up to the steps of the train, but the doors closed right in my face. I watched the look on my Mom’s face. It went blank and her eyes went big. She yelled something, but I didn’t know what. She went up to the window and was banging on the doors trying to open them, the train started to move and I watched her go away.

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