The following is excerpted from Chapter 7 of Dancing on One Foot: Growing Up in Nazi Germany by permission of the author.
On May 8, 1945, a radio announcement declared the end of World War II and the women of the neighborhood got very busy. They made huge pots and bowls full of green peppermint tea and red berry juice and they prepared plates of dry bread and cooked potatoes, whatever scarce food they could find in their pantries. The women washed their hair and put lipstick on. They colored the upper lip in the shape of a heart and then they rolled the lower lip against the upper. They smiled and leaned their heads back to pluck their eyebrows into fine, thin lines. They cut their toenails and took colorful dresses off hangers to hold against their figures, turning in front of mirrors, which they hadn’t looked into for a long time. Some painted with brown pens and steady hands, a long seam from their heels upwards to their buttocks to pretend they were wearing silk stockings. My mother fixed a red tulip flower in her hair.
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