Jeff Green | May 01, 2008
Feature Article - May 1, 2008
Back toHomeFeature Article - May 1, 2008 My War – Ina’s storyBy Ina Hunt Turner
Ina Hunt with her brother.
The year was 1943 in Amsterdam, Holland.
I was a young girl and I had a very best girlfriend. Strangely enough her name was the same as mine, Ina.
I loved her a lot and I think one of the reasons was that she was so beautiful. She had lovely dark almond shaped eyes and light tan skin. I was a bit jealous of her shiny dark brown hair, which was long with a soft wave. Her mother would sometimes braid it and put lovely ribbons in them and to me, whose hair was short, poker-straight and of an indeterminate colour, it seemed the ultimate luxury to have such beautiful hair. She also walked with grace and dignity and was liked by adults. When I had done something wrong, which would happen frequently, my mother would say, “Why can't you be more like the other Ina?"
Her family lived right across the street from us and we were often in each other's homes. Their house was so clean and tidy at all times and her mother was always well dressed and there was usually a treat for us. Ina was an only child who had her own room and she always had the most wonderful clothes. In our household I was the youngest girl and most of the time would have to wear twice hand-me-down clothes. And I had chores to do and my mother was too busy to do any fancy cooking or getting dressed up too often.
One day as I got ready to go out to call on my friend, my mother said, "No, I don't want you to go out right now." I asked her "Why not? I have polished all the shoes." (which was one of my chores) But my mother still would not let me go out, at which I got very indignant. After all, I was the good kid who had done her job and why would my mother keep me from having some fun? In fact, I was so upset that I stormed into the bedroom which I shared with my two sisters and slammed the door behind me. As I went to the window and looked outside, a strange sight met my astonished eyes. There were a whole lot of people on the street - men, women and children being herded into trucks with German soldiers prodding them with their rifles and as I watched, I saw my friend Ina with her mom and dad just coming out of their house, dressed up and carrying suitcases with two soldiers pushing them and hollering "Heraus! heraus!"(Out, out)
With an awful feeling of dread I opened the window and yelled "Ina, Ina where are you going?" She lifted her beautiful face up to me and till the day I die, I will remember the look of terrible fear on it.
My mother, who had come into my room, put her arms around me and pulled me against her body as tight as she could and turned my face away so that I would not see any more.
A week later a parcel was delivered to our house with clothes for me, and for my brother Norbert. The school had been given those clothes by the authorities and told to distribute them to families who were most in need. When my mother opened the parcel, some of the beautiful quality clothes were undeniably Ina's, which I had seen her wear many times. My mom said "Oh, these are beautiful! Why don't you try them on?" And to her astonishment I started to cry and scream. “Take them away; they're ugly! I won't wear them!" Of course I lost that battle as my mother quite rightly could not afford to throw them out. Why I did not tell her whose clothes they were I will never know. Even today I don't know why I did not tell her. I am sure she would have understood.
But for as long as they fit me I wore my dead friend's clothes, seeing in my mind's eyes the look of terror on her face. For that she was dead I never doubted. How I knew I cannot tell, but I knew it in my heart. And whenever I wore her clothes I felt as though somehow I was responsible for her fate because I had been so envious of all that she had.
It was not until many years later when new friends had come and gone that I realized that in every relationship there are many facets. Some of them good and some of them bad and some of them in between. At times my friends have been envious of something I had or did and nothing bad ever happened to me as a result of it. Nor could good thoughts change the course of my or anyone else’s life.
So I learned to let go of the guilt and accept that I did not cause Ina's demise and with God's grace I have learned to remember her for the sweet child that she was. God be praised!