After the war, my parents wound up in a Displaced Person’s camp in Berlin, where I was born in 1947.
My parents and all the survivors tried to resume a more normal life in the camps. My father sold assorted goods on the black market to support the family. My mom took care of me and our small apartment.
When I was very young my mom splurged and bought a child's pocketbook for me. It looks like a fine lady's purse—made of genuine red leather.
On Sundays we went to the beer hall. I of course carried my little red purse. My father gave me some coins to put inside it—this made me feel important and very grown up. Empowered, I did the ordering. My parents told me countless times that I would go to the bartender and in my best German say, "bitte eine bier."
In 1949 we were able to immigrate to the U.S. The little red leather purse came with me. I carried it everywhere—until, when I entered first grade and instead of carrying the red leather purse I carried a brown leather briefcase to school instead.
Twenty years later while rummaging through my mom's stuff I rediscovered it. She had kept it all those years. I fell in love with it all over again. Looking at it reminds me of my family's past. It represents my parents’ survival and their journey. I don't take the meaningful life I now have for granted.
– Ruth B.