Hatred/1 by Hedy Epstein

Before starting my work for the U.S. Civil Censorship Division in Germany, I was to spend two weeks in training in Poissy, located just outside Paris. I was joined by other young German and Austrian refugees, who had spent the war years in England. We were hired primarily because of our knowledge of the German language.

The first time the train stopped in Germany, we saw raggedy children, all ages, on the platform, begging for candy, cookies, and cigarettes. Some of the people in my carriage, all of them like me, Jewish refugees from Nazi oppression, who lived in England during the war, gave the children whatever they had with them. Enraged, I asked: “How can you do that? These are Nazis!” Some of these so-called Nazis were perhaps only four or five-years old. Until that moment, I was totally unaware of my feelings, my deep hatred for Germans, even for little innocent children.

This hatred, across the board, for all Germans, stayed with me all too long. Germany was in very difficult straits, thus the begging by children was an on-going occurrence for quite a long time. Eventually, I was able to give the children candy or cookies, but they had to eat what I gave them, right in front of me because I could not be sure who was at home, maybe a Nazi. Cigarettes, which they also asked for, I refused to give them, telling them they were still too young to smoke. Cigarettes, at that time, had greater barter value than money.

These unabated feelings of hatred presented a problem. What about my plans to live in Germany? How could I live in a country where I hated everyone?

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