Berlin. I was sixteen years old. It was the 1st of August, 1944, my birthday. And my birthday was my favourite time of the year; and it wasn’t your typical reason for receiving presents… but it was because my father came home.

It was 1944, the time of WWII, so in short, deep grief, fear and despair. But for me, my birthday provided an escape. It trumped all the negatives.

I climbed down the stairs, feeling wistful that a missing piece in the puzzle of our family would be complete. Almost complete. My mother’s side of the family (her parents, her sister and their kids) had moved to London when I was born, but we didn’t end up going; it’s always been my dream to visit the UK. I guess not so much anymore, since the two countries are opposing.

I took a deep breath and stepped outside.

The sky was a beautiful cornflower blue, not a white puff of cloud in sight, the trees were sweeping and a deep green, and the air filled with not only a deep warmth enveloping anyone who had the fortune to be under the deep glare of the beams, but a certain feeling in the air engulfed me.

I stood by the door, waiting anxiously, closing my eyes in anticipation, nervousness, excitement, until I heard footsteps coming up the cobbled paveway leading up the road to the house. I looked down, and saw some scuffed up leather boots, with an eccentric blue trim; I immediately knew who it was.

“Vater!!”, I exclaimed, sprinting towards him, throwing myself at him. 

“I missed you so much”, he said. 

The whole family was reunited together: my mother, my father, and me. Just like it was almost 4 years ago. We ate a meal together, played some games, and my life finally felt whole again. After a while, I retired to my room, thrilled from all the fun we had had today. I walked into the kitchen to drink some water when I heard my parent’s hushed whispers, listening from the stairway.

“You’re going to have to move, honey. I’m sorry, but this is the way it has to be”, my father whispered, wearily. “I have to keep fighting this battle, and you two will not be able to survive here over our savings. Not until this war ends. I have already spoken to your sister, she is ready to take you in”.

I peeked a glance at my mother’s face, her looking outraged.

“WHAT!”, she exclaimed. She looked around again, her face apologetic but her deep brown eyes telling a different story. “How do you suggest we even get there? How do you suggest your daughter would take this news?? And…”. My mother’s gaze to my father suddenly softened, looking him deep in his eyes. “How do you suggest we would even cope without you?”.


Without him? Let alone moving, leaving Germany, my whole life behind? But… I cannot manage without my father.

I stepped in, consciously stomping my foot so they would acknowledge my presence, and to snap them out of the trance my mother put the two of them in with her emotional outburst.

“Dad, you can’t be leaving. We… we need you here. I need you here”, I said, tears welling in my eyes. But under all those tears spilling out of my eyes, deep down, I knew what he was saying was right. I had seen our financial situation; the rations started to need to last longer, things needed to be stretched out.. But I didn’t want this argument to be. I knew what my mother and I had to do, for the best.

A few days passed, and we had managed to pack together our house. My father had left, to go back to the trenches, and I promised him a letter every week.

Dear Vater, 

You have only been gone a few days yet so much has changed. I miss you so much. It’s so surreal, having to pack everything. I could only bring one bag, so I made sure to keep the copy of the book you gave me for my birthday, Oliver Twist. He persevered, and I know I can do the same.

Mama and I brought together all our valuables and pawned them, giving us enough money to pay Aunt’s friend to take us in a cargo train to France, shipping resources (and us), from which we will travel to Calais and take a boat to Dover. From there, we shall travel to London. Aunty and cousin Anna wrote us a letter, containing their address. They live near the river Thames!

But for me, the strangest part is having to change my name. Obviously, the name Karin is palpably German, and for the least dangerous route, Aunt suggested I change my name to Karen, for safety purposes. I suppose it sounds the same, more or less, so I will try not to focus on it. In London, I will be homeschooled along with cousin Anna, by her father, who seems to be inexplicably wealthy, and is also a trained teacher. 

I could write pages and pages more to you, Vater, but we are only allowed one sheet, and Mama wants to write on the other side.

All my love to you Vater, I will write to you when we get to London.

Yours Sincerely, 


A year and a bit later, 4th of September, 1945

I opened my eyes, reluctantly, after having a dream about my father, in Germany, about our old life. I looked to my right; and the opposite cot was empty, meaning my mother had woken up. I grudgingly sprung out of bed, and settled into the morning. 

I was in the midst of making tea, staring out of the window in a daze, when the usual bang at the door for the paper came around. I opened the door and, out of habit, reached down, not looking up.

But to my surprise, when I scanned the front page, only 2 words caught my eye; ‘war over’.

I looked around, but the only thing I could see were some scuffed up leather boots, and a ball rose up in the throat when I saw that familiar old blue trim. I gasped, and looked up, tears welling in my eyes.

“Vater?”, I whispered. He looked just the same, yet so different, like he had aged 20 years since I last saw him, even though it had only been 1.

It was him. He was back from the war, and I would never lose him again.