Warning: Contains a few racial epithets, though this time they’re used to speak against racism. I don’t like writing or reading certain words (the K-word in particular), but sometimes they have to be used for the sake of being true to a certain character or historical era.
Welcome back to Weekend Writing Warriors and Snippet Sunday, weekly Sunday hops where writers share 8–10 sentences from a book or WIP. This week’s snippet comes right after last week’s, when two of Darya Koneva’s friends expressed some very unpopular opinions about the humanity of the Japanese civilians killed in Hiroshima.
The soda jerk responded with more racist comments, and said all the Japanese needed exterminated before they produced more “vermin.” This strikes a very raw note with Darya, after her experiences in occupied Europe.
“That’s exactly how the Nazis described Jews, Gypsies, and Slavs,” Darya says, her voice shaking. “And by the way, they’re called Japanese, not Japs. That word is as ugly as nigger, kike, or Papist. We’re all children of God and citizens of Planet Earth, even if we don’t all look, speak, or believe the same way.”
“You should be arrested and executed for treason,” the soda jerk calls as Dmitriy turns to leave and holds the door open for his dates.
Darya rolls up her left sleeve as the Kalviks are filtering out. “I already have been arrested and tortured for supposed treason. This is what happens when ugly racial prejudice gets out of control. My American citizenship and Christian identity didn’t save me. I suffered alongside many good people whose only crime was to be born Jewish or Gypsy in a land controlled by people convinced of their sub-human status.”
Darya and her best friend Oliivia, the oldest of the five Kalvik sisters, were supposed to only spend a year abroad at a lycée in Paris, but they were trapped by the Nazi invasion and occupation, and ended up finishing their secondary education in France. Upon graduation, they were accepted to the Sorbonne, but Fate intervened again and kept them away from university degrees.
Darya and Oliivia were arrested for participating in an anti-Nazi protest in October 1942 and taken to the holding camp Drancy. They volunteered for transport to the mythical Pitchipoi as soon as they could, little realizing the journey of horrors that awaited them. Several days after they were deported, one of their friends in the French Resistance came to Drancy to try to secure their release.
More than a few American (and British) citizens ended up in concentration-camps, not just Jewish POWs. Their stories aren’t well-known, in large part because the powers that be were loath to publicly admit they’d failed to rescue their own citizens.