Birthdays were important to Renate as a young child. However, one by one, the Nazis stripped her of the right to have friends and celebrate something so simple as a birthday.
As the seasons passed and we grew older, our birthday parties became smaller, and our friends no longer came to share the fun of balloons and candles. We were crestfallen the day when no one showed up to celebrate and play blind man’s bluff with us on the lawn.
For my birthday, I wished to bring three or four of my friends and family to visit the dwarfs. My parents agreed to this plan, and I was excited at the prospect of sharing my birthday with my friends and my favorite little people. Shortly before the eagerly anticipated day, my father changed his mind.
“We’re not going to view the dwarfs,” he announced.
This was very uncharacteristic of him, and I couldn’t understand the reason for the inconsistency. Even after my father explained the cause for this reversal, it didn’t make much sense to me. When he had gone to the restaurant to reserve a table for our party, he noticed a large new sign on the fence surrounding the outdoor café: Juden nicht erlaubt—Jews not permitted. It was the ﬁrst such sign in our neighborhood but, unfortunately, not the last.
“Does that mean we can never visit our dwarfs again?”
I was heartbroken when I heard his gentle but ﬁrm answer. “Yes, it means that.”
I sobbed uncontrollably.
The ﬁremen, the owner of the dwarfs, our neighbors, and friends changed incomprehensibly. Mysteriously, we became their enemies.