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May 1943

Tunnels under Stalag 13

They had been hidden in the tunnels for three weeks. But the men were kind. They were given food and new clothes. Some of the soldiers spoke German. They played card games and checkers with the younger children. One nice man with an English accent even showed them magic tricks. Their fear became less noticeable, still there, but not the overwhelming dread that previously threatened to sap their souls, their spirits.

One man was the leader. He was strong and decisive. He spent a lot of time on the radio. Sometimes his voice was raised and angry. She knew then he was talking about them.

She didn't understand English, but she could hear the anger and frustration in his tone.

He would leave the chair and pace. But he was kind. His face softened when he saw them. "Don't worry," he said in German, "we'll get you out of here." He winked. The children smiled.

Once, two other soldiers came through the tunnels. They were American airmen. They looked like they belonged in the movies. The flyers were hurt and scared and so young. But the men were kind. The leader and his men fixed them up. The two Americans stayed in another area and didn't talk to them. Within two days, they were gone.

One day the man who was the leader sat them all down and spoke. "Tonight you will be leaving. Two men from the Underground will take you to the sea. There, you will board a submarine and go to England. You will be safe there. "

The adults gathered their belongings and dressed the children. Her father said, "We will never forget what you have done for us, Papa Bear." The leader smiled. "Just do what the Underground says and you'll be fine. Forget what you have seen here. Good luck."

May 1988

Arlington National Cemetery, VA

Clutching the obituary, she entered the visitor's center. "May I help you find someone, ma'am? " The soldier provided her with a map and directions. She approached the grave.

Others had been there before her. Many had left flowers. She took a deep breath and stepped towards the site. She placed several small rocks on top of the gravestone and recited the Kaddish. Tears streaming down her face, she whispered "I'm sorry Papa Bear; I will never forget what I saw."

Chapter End Notes:

Originally published on fanfiction.net. November, 2008. Winner of Best Short Drama, 2009 Papa Bear Awards

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