There are lots of things I notice this Christmas that I’ve never noticed before. When my mother takes me shopping, for instance, which is only between the hours of three and five, there are certain village stores she will go into and certain stores she won’t. And the stores she will not enter are usually the smarter ones, the fish shop and the cooperative, for instance, which are near the best inns like Franzi Wimmer’s and have glossy portraits of the Führer prominently on show inside, while the shops she does enter are the cheaper ones, even the dirtier ones, like the baker whose bread is often stale and the dairy where the milk is often sour. They have pictures of the Führer on their walls too, of course, but smaller ones and not so often dusted. Some of them even have little specks of fly-shit on his face.
I’m puzzled by my mother’s shopping choices. I take it that as we are from Berlin, we must be a cut above the rest, so we should be going to the best shops, not the worst. And why do we go only in the late afternoon? I know that other people like Jägerlein go at any time of the day. My mother doesn’t explain these anomalies, and I sense I’m not supposed to know the real reason, although I’m still convinced it has to do with our being proper Germans, while the villagers are not. Nobody tells me where I’ve gone wrong. Nobody explains that my mother is a vicious and degenerate Jewess, that the best shops won’t serve her, that in any case she’s allowed to shop only between the hours of three and five so that decent Aryans shoppers can arrange to avoid the disgusting sight of her altogether.
My parents have always been bickering and crying (I think that’s normal—what else do I know?), but they never openly mention this source of their troubles. Imagine, I can’t recall ever being called a half-Jew yet, let alone a Yid, and perhaps I never have been. I don’t even know what a Yid or half-Jew is. Sara does, of course; she knows all right. And so do the others. But not me. Why should I? I’m never allowed out to play with the village children, so they aren’t going to tell me. And neither Jägerlein nor my mother is going to either. As for my brother and sisters—they’re certainly not going to tell me what it’s like to be called a half-Jew or a dirty Yid. Like rape victims, they never tell because they feel they’re guilty.