Stepping Stones In My Life

By : Hana Dubova, written 2004


Getting off the Main Station, the first sign which caught my eyes was “TELEFON & TELEGRAF”. Hurrah. Hurrah. This foreign language, cannot be so different from my own. I find solace and comfort in uttering aloud these two words. They sound so familiar, although I am aware that I am not at home here. 

The train ride was suspenseful, strenuous and mainly very scary and oh, so sad. It was only yesterday I boarded a train in a familiar train station, from where we so often traveled to my grand parents to celebrate holidays and other occasions. It was only a one hour train ride. 

But, this time I sat alone on the train for hours, crossing different countries. Papers being examined by passport controls sourly officials, giving me dirty looks, stamped and handed back to me with a sneer. 

How much anxiety, energy, and wait was spent in obtaining this document, which does not even have my proper nationality or my name. My father and I stood for 48 hours in front of the Gestapo Headquarters in a mile long line, to obtain an exit permit for me, stamped in the issued passport. And then we found our that it is a German Passport as “Protectorat Bowman und Mahren” (Protectorate Bohemia and Moravia) as we already were under Nazi occupation and lost our independence. My name was not HANA, but SARA, as all the Jewish females were renamed Sara and the Jewish males Israel. The passport cover and all the following pages had a huge red J across, indicating JUDE (Jew).

Every time the train stopped for this or that control, I trembled handling my passport. Am I going to reach my goal? Am I going to be arrested? Am I going to be sent back home? Changing trains in Berlin, there was a physical examination of my private parts, in case I was hiding jewelry or precious stones, which they confiscated long ago. 

Back, back home. In a way I wished I could see my parents and my brother once more. It was only yesterday that we all stood on the platform of Wilson Station. We were all trying bravely to keep a stiff upper lip. Embracing, kissing, hugging, embracing, kissing again and again. Last minute advice, “Be a good girl,” “know where you come from.” Good bye, good bye, good bye. 

The war will be over soon and you’ll come home.

I was 12 years old. 

I found out the Danish language has absolutely no similarity to Czech. 

But I was safe and saved.