Vol. 15


A Child’s Nightmare

1944; Wiener Neustadt, Austria

It was 1944. I had just turned five and was full of energy, my mind full of interesting thoughts. . . . I had drawn my new favorite drawing — a boy walking through a lively market. Then my mom walked into my room and told me to get into bed. I lifted up the covers and curled in bed, admiring the quilt blanket my mother had sewn for me long ago. I closed my eyes and listened to my mother singing my favorite lullaby, my mind and body slowly relaxing and finally falling asleep.

What I dreamt after that was amazing: I was on the street outside my apartment . . . when I suddenly shot up into the air and was over the whole city. I was flying! I glided over the city, wind brushing against my face, my shirt waving in the wind. Then I saw something — far off in the distance. They were just specks getting closer and closer.

I woke up with sirens blasting through the city. They were getting louder and louder — my ears felt like they were about to burst. The door opened, and my mom ran in. She grabbed my hand, and we headed for the street. Hundreds of people were running through the street — some crying, some screaming — but they all headed the same way, toward where the bomb shelter was.

Suddenly I felt my hand slip from my mother’s hand, and everything was silent. I looked up in the sky and saw three gray planes flying over my head. Then they dropped cylinder shapes from the bottom. All at once, parts of the city blasted into flames. I expected to hear screaming, but I heard nothing. As I looked around, I saw nothing — no adults, no kids, no living thing. All I saw was the planes bombing the city, the houses blasting into flame, and complete havoc.

But I just stood. I couldn’t move. I was stuck, watching as the flames grew and grew, getting closer and closer. But I was frozen in place. Everything felt eerie — it was so unusual that there was no sound. I just stood there, my head spinning.

And then I snapped out of it. I quickly ran into my house, into my room — and hid under my nice quilt blanket lying on my bed.

Only then did I notice that I was scared. I could feel the sweat dripping from my neck down my shirt, giving chills throughout my body. I huddled up and hugged my knees, shaking like crazy. I closed my eyes and slowly rocked myself to sleep.


This story is about my grandfather, who grew up in Wiener Neustadt, Austria, during World War II. After this incident my grandfather was severely traumatized — he could not speak anymore. Eventually he learned to speak again, but to this day he still stutters.

Many years later, after immigrating to the United States, he met one of the U.S. Air Force pilots who had bombed his city.

Milan Oosthuizen; Colorado, USA



This copyrighted story may be copied and/or printed for limited classroom or personal use. To reprint this story in an article about The Grannie Annie, please contact The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration for permission.


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