Part 2: An Unexpected Encounter

It was just another day. I was playing alone with my pink rubber doll in front of the house where we lived for rent. I liked the doll very much, because when you pressed on her belly, she made a funny squeaker.

Out of nowhere, a bunch of big boys suddenly stood in front of me. They had made lightning bows and arrows out of sticks and twine. In their belts were wooden knives, and some had chicken feathers in their hair. That they were Indigenous people on the warpath, I could not yet know, or I would have fled into the house.

Without saying a word, the biggest boy took the rubber doll away from me, flipped open a real pocketknife and cut off my doll’s head. Then he also cut the doll body. She squeaked terribly. He threw the pink fragments carelessly at my feet. I was so horrified that I couldn’t scream. With my hands outstretched and dumb with fright, I ran into the house to my mother. When she finally understood what had happened, the Indigenous people had made off laughing and proud of their brave action. What remained were the pink rubber snippets and an unhappy little boy. In my childish naivety, I could not have guessed that just a few years later this game would become brutally serious a million times over.

Time did not stand still. I had grown up and was roaming around our hometown with my friends. In terms of size, I would have thought it was enough for a small town, but the place had no train station and therefore remained – I assume – a village. But a village is characterized by farmers, cows, and pigs. But all this did not exist, because the fields around the village were cultivated by a manor, which also included a sheep farm, with its farmhands and house cleaners and day laborers.

Everyone else, except the grocers, the innkeepers, the teachers, the priest, and the mayor, who was called ‘der Schulze’ here, were miners. All of them were miners, my grandfathers, my uncles, my father, everyone I knew. On their knees, they crawled into the depths of the mountain with their jackhammers after the ore miners for a pittance – dust lungs included. The Kaiser needed the copper, Hitler even more so. The miners themselves needed it least of all. As hard as the work was, as rough and hearty was the entire life. Comradeship was everything. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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