My grandmother Katarina came to America from Yugoslavia in the 70s, and settled in Madison, Ohio, a typical Midwestern suburban neighborhood next to Lake Erie. 
 Like a lot of Americans her age at that time she watched Wheel of Fortune on tv, played the sweepstakes (and lost), and attended church every Sunday. 

But if you saw her house, you’d know she wasn’t from America, and didn’t have a lot of money. For one, the garden took up more space than the house, and it was full of junk  like old kitchen wares, disturbing diy scarecrows, and rusty miscellaneous metal. But it always produced plenty of food like eggplant, zucchini, potatoes, wild strawberries and sour grapes. She only ate the food she grew, and for meat? Road kill. 

One day she stretched out her arm crying and pointed to a number tattoo. But I was too young to understand genocide, and before I could understand, she died. Her house caught on fire, she tried to save it, and inhaled too much smoke. 

To this day I don’t really know anything about her, but I want to know more…Who is my grandfather? Why were you in a concentration camp? Why’d you come to America?  


4 thoughts on “Katarina

  1. Hey Chance,
    There were many concentration camps in Yugoslavia in the early 1940’s, often pre-dating Auschwitz and Treblinka. Some run by the Croatian Ustase, some by the Nazis, and some by Fascist Italy. Do you know which part of Yugoslavia your grandma came from? She might have been a child or infant round about then. The tattooing sounds Nazi, but that’s a flimsy guess. Are you going to look further?

    – Scottish L.


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