I’ve forgotten what my grandmother was wearing the time that nasty word ‘Asia’ got her back on her feet. The bomber squadrons, which now passed overhead in broad daylight on their way to Berlin, were already out of earshot. Someone had pushed open the door of the air-raid shelter, and in the bright triangle of sunlight at the entrance stood a pair of knee-high black military boots, and in them an SS officer, whose blond brain had registered every single word my grandmother had uttered during the long air-raid alarm: ‘No, no, I’m not budging from here, I don’t care if they kill me, one old woman more or less won’t matter.’

‘What?’ said the SS officer. ‘Tired of living? You’d rather fall into the hands of those Asian hordes? Don’t you know that the Russians lop women’s breasts off?’

That brought my grandmother wheezing to her feet. ‘Oh, God,’ she said, ‘what has humanity done to deserve this?’


The Great Migration
Buchenwald