By Elli Kohnert
World War II was raging. My Mom with my two brothers and I had just survived another night of bombing. Looking around outside we were horrified when we saw the destruction around us and were amazed to still be alive.
Then we heard on our battery powered radio that more bombers were heading for the German border, and that everybody should remain in bomb shelters until the worst of the attack was over.
We stayed in the cellar of our apartment building, which had been somewhat reinforced around windows and doors to become a bomb shelter of sorts. It was Christmas Eve, the most meaningful day of the holiday season, but there was no Christmas spirit among the building’s occupants who were huddled in that gloomy space.
Evening came, and since no streetlights or other outdoor lights were allowed, and all windows had to be covered so that no light would shine outside, it was completely dark. This total darkness was strictly enforced to keep the bombers from finding their targets.
Suddenly, there were strange scratching noises coming from our radio and a voice was heard speaking in a garbled voice saying, “do not fear – there will not be a bombing attack on Christmas Eve”, then some more scratching and then we heard the singing of Silent Night – but in another language.
We were startled and skeptical, but we shrugged our shoulders and thought we might as well join in the singing of “Holy Night, Silent Night”.
Some of us had brought candles, and these were lit, giving us a flicker of light from the small flames. The faces of everyone in the bomb shelter had a warm glow from the candle light as they were singing, and some mothers were holding babies who had peacefully gone to sleep in their arms.
There was no warning siren and no roaring of bombers that night; but we remained in our bomb shelter – just in case the message had been some kind of cruel hoax.
However, we had all believed that strange voice from the radio.
Why did we believe the enemy?
No one could ever answer that question. But for that memorable Christmas Eve night there was peace in one corner of our war torn Germany.