The Boy in the War Zone

They carried assault rifles and clearly were not ordinary army soldiers. My father believed that they were Waffen SS or paratroopers. They were shouting “Raus!”, an unmistakable order to evacuate. We hurriedly stuffed our meager belongings into two suitcases and to my chagrin we were leaving things behind, including family photographs that were lost forever. My father, who spoke a little German, implored the soldiers for a respite to the evacuation. All he got was more sharp shouting and threats. My mother’s crying did not help the situation. My little brother was screaming miserably. And off we went, another escape in our excruciating exodus as displaced victims of the war, once again pushing our cart in the dark. The rumbling of guns was our constant companion. In a state of despair and near exhaustion we walked the five miles north on the via Flaminia from Riccione to Rimini, the very town where we had first become homeless. At least my parents knew the town and at long last we reached a decrepit empty Hotel not far from our apartment building, that had been vacated long ago. The caretaker, a Navy veteran, let us spend the night there, sleeping in a room with two battered beds. In

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