Two Sides of A Coin

Alex Torres
Two Sides of A Coin Alex Torres was born in New York City. He is 11 years old and has participated in the Writopia Lab summer program. He has published one short story.

“Two years have passed since his father was taken away. They hadn’t heard anything from him. It seemed like just yesterday that his father was taken away to Johan.”

 

Prologue – 1936

Introductions

Part 1 – Johan Volkhardt

War… Death… Disappearance… Economy…These are all the difficulties that young Johan Volkhardt faces every day of his life. It’s World War II, a time of great danger for many, but that’s just one of the main worries that Johan faces. Not only has the war started, but he also has lost his father, leaving his family in a poor state. Young Johan has to learn to help his family and cope with this horrible situation. But he has one hope: the war could soon end…

Part 2 – Prison

Far away from the city of Munich where he once lived, Johan’s father is full of despair. He was forcibly taken from his home after he refused to join the war and fight. Now he’s in a concentration camp with no hope of escape… just wishing that his family is alright….

Chapter 1 – 1938

Two Sides of A Coin

Part 1 – Heads

“Johan! Get up from that bed now or you won’t get any breakfast!” called Gertrude Volkhardt, his mother.

It was late into the day and he had overslept after such a hard day’s work the day before. “Coming!” he shouted back. He got off of the creaky bed and went down the thin, narrow staircase. As he got downstairs, he saw his younger sister, Ann, at the table with a bowl of small green vegetables and wearing a look of disgust. Cabbage soup again… he thought. Although he truly didn’t like it, he already knew he had to eat it or he wouldn’t get anything at all for the rest of the day. After eating the disgusting soup, which he thought barely had any flavor, he got to work. He went to the back of the house and got his old, battered bicycle from two years before. People often said that he hadn’t grown much during that time. Maybe it’s the bad nutrition, he thought.

Part 2 – Tails

“Get up you foul beasts! And get to work,” called an officer. Wilhelm Volkhardt opened his eyes just a crack. The room was dark with little air passage through it, and the strong smell of sweat was stagnant. Several others were there, but he could barely see them. Wilhelm tiredly and slowly got up; he was starving. After a while, the sealed door was opened, and all the prisoners came out. In the sunlight, it was a lot easier to see him. He had an appearance similar to that of his son: blond hair, blue eyes, pale skin, and extremely thin.

Chapter 2 -1938

The Usual Routine

Part 1 – Delivery

Johan mounted his old, rusted bicycle and went off. He was off to deliver resources to the church about ten blocks away. Most times he was paid $1 for going on the trip. It wasn’t much, but even in such a poor state, it seemed like a miracle. $1, he thought, each time; every bit helps. He pedaled back home and gave his mother the money, then he went back out to try and help others and to try and earn more money. On his way around, he saw his friend, Olaf Bechtholdt, on the road. He was a blond haired boy, with brown eyes and a thin smile. It seemed like he didn’t want to be bothered: he had his head lowered and a serious expression on his face, but he came up to him anyway. “Hallo, Olaf,” he shouted as he passed by.

He didn’t respond. Just when he was about to round the corner, “Hans, get over here…” he whispered. Johan always hated that nickname, but he knew that it must be something serious.

“What is it, Olaf?” Johan asked.

Part 2 – Horror

Tiredly walking to the eating area, Wilhelm looked around. Several dead bodies were being pulled out of the room where he was just in. Officers quickly pulled them out looking disgusted. He shivered—that has happened many times and he still hadn’t gotten used to it. He slowly made his way to get food. There was barely anything to eat. He would usually only get a piece of bread (approximately weighing 300 grams), and if he was lucky, he would get a bit of cheese and potato skins. The bread was supposed to last for a whole day and the next morning, but that seemed impossible with all the hunger they had. Sometimes, prisoners had to steal pieces of bread from the deceased to live.

Chapter 3 – 1939

WAR!

Part 1 – Departure

Two years have passed since his father was taken away. They hadn’t heard anything from him. It seemed like just yesterday that his father was taken away to Johan. A few days after he refused to join the war, a bunch of Nazi officers came into their home and carried him out forcibly. One year had passed since Olaf had told him that his father died. He expected it would happen at some point. Their family was starving. Then one day, in the middle of the winter season, Johan Volkhardt received news. It wasn’t from his father, but it wasn’t good news either.

To whomever this corresponds,

You have been drafted to the

war. Depart your home in a week and

make your way to the army.

Johan, who turned sixteen years old this year, was being drafted to war.

“Remember, Ann, I’m leaving and you must do your best to help Mama,” Johan reminded his younger sister.

She broke into tears. “Do you… do you really have to leave?” she whimpered. “If I don’t go, the same thing that happened to Papa will happen to me,” he solemnly responded.

Part 2 – A Form of Escape

“Volkhardt!” called the officer. “Get over here!”

“Yes, sir…” Wilhelm groaned. Slowly walking up to him, he thought, What could it be? Am I going to die today? Once he got there, the officer started talking.

“We’ve heard news, Volkhardt…” Please tell me I’m not going to die… “Today, you’re going to be…” Killed? “..drafted to war.” I knew it, I knew…

“What did you say sir?” Wilhelm asked.

“Are you deaf, Volkhardt? I said, you’re going to war!” That’s just as bad…

Chapter 4 – 1939

Struggle

Part 1 – Survival

The next week, Johan left his head lowered, breaking through the wind and snow, wondering what would happen. He didn’t bring much, just the clothes he was wearing. It has a long way to go, so there was plenty of time to ponder over events. It was finally time to leave his home. Now it would be much harder for his family to survive, with only his younger sister and Mama there to earn money. Both men had left. He hoped they’d be ok and he could come back soon…

Part 2 – Into The Unknown

Guess I’ll have to leave now… Wilhelm thought. At least I could escape this horror for a few days, but war is just as bad… Wilhelm left the day after he heard the news. He had nothing so he wouldn’t really need anything to bring.

Silence on the road, away to war…..

What will happen to Johan and his father? Will they die at war? Will they be able to escape?

 

Bonus:

Ann’s Story – A First Person Story

Ann was a minor character in this book, but she has her own story to tell…

I was just 7 years old when my father was taken by the Nazi army. After that, I was only left with my caring older brother and mother. The house was pretty empty without him. It left us all extremely sad. I don’t know what would have happened if I didn’t have a brother like Johan. As soon as Papa was gone, he helped us as much as he could: taking care of me as a brother should and helping Mama earn money to help us survive. Now, 3 years have passed and it’s his turn to leave. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but I sure will miss him….

 

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