Martine Wells sits in her favorite chair holding a small dome containing a porcelain doll, she hasn’t seen since it was stolen from her 75 years ago when she was 7 ½ years old. Someone broke into her family’s home with good intentions, but at the time it didn’t seem that way. There was a war going on at the time. The two women who took it were operatives looking for valuables antiquities and artifacts held dear to the owners of them. Martene’s family was taken by force to a concentration camp in Auschwitz, Germany. However, prior to their arrest, she and her family had just returned from visiting some friends, to find their home broken into. All of their valuable possessions were taken. One possession was a Japanese sword, along with some rifles that belonged to her father, in that he was an avid collector. Also taken were some children’s books, some manuscripts her mother wrote during childhood, among the many other things that were taken.
It was a trying time for them. They didn’t feel safe to stay in their own home, so their friends the Fishers invited them to live at their home until the matters of their property had gotten resolved. Two weeks went by, and nothing. The authorities told them that whoever took them was long gone, and it would be difficult to find them. The family received every excuse. Finally, Mr. Wells gave up.
The following morning, they were all arrested.
Martine Wells managed to escape from the camp with the help of a Nazi officer who was a business colleague and friend of her father’s. He tried to get the entire family out of the camp, but by that time, her mother had already died from a severe case of pneumonia. As for her father, he was taken elsewhere.
Now, as Martine descended the winding stairs to greet her guests, shivers went down her spine to see how many of her closest friends had been there. Walking through the crowd of people, she saw a man standing by the entry way. It was her brother Oscar. She hadn’t seen him since she was a child. They got separated when they and their parents were arrested by the Nazi’s. Shaking with joy, her knees buckled. Oscar grabbed a hold of Martine to catch her, and they embraced in a hug.
Standing next to Oscar was an elderly woman who looked to be in her nineties. She held herself up with a walker. Next to her was a package. The woman’s greeted her, “Hello, Martine. You don’t remember me. My name is Elsa. I have a special gift for you. If you’ll sit down in that beautiful chair over there in the parlor, I’ll have my daughter carry it for me to present to you.
Upon sitting down in her favorite chair, Elsa’s daughter presented Martine with the package, and said, “Ms. Wells, if you please. Accept this valuable package as a token of good faith and friendship.”
Opening the package with care, she untied the gold satin ribbon that was wrapped around the box, and tenderly removed the paper it was wrapped in. Removing the lid from the box, she carefully dug through the small pieces of Styrofoam when she discovered something familiar. Gently removing the object from the box, she was overcome with emotion, and cried, “This was taken from my home when I was a child. This dome containing my favorite porcelain doll. Wherever did you get it. How did you find it. After all these years, I finally have it back in my possession.”
“My dear, I was an operative back during the time of the war. My sister-in-law and I took all of the valuable possessions that belonged to your family to put them in safe keeping. You see..”
“I don’t understand, Elsa. You say you took them for safe keeping?” Martine wailed.
“Yes, my dear. I overheard a group of soldiers who were talking amongst themselves about stealing your valuables and selling them on the black market. I couldn’t allow that to happen. So, my sister-in-law and I confiscated them, with the help of the American Government. We collected your things and handed them over to some American agents to kept them all of these years for us. We then went into hiding for a long time. My sister-in-law died a couple years ago from a stroke. I contacted your brother with the help of my daughter. This is how I came to be at your home this evening. I wanted so badly to present the package to you,” she cried.
© Copyright, Kiki Stamatiou, 2015