This work of fiction is based on a real life historical account. Please see the end for more information about the original.
My mother was Karen Dole, born in 1960. She had two brothers (Ernest and Walter) and an elder sister Donna. They all lived in the small New England town of Fitchburg where their father, Herman Dole, worked as a county health inspector in which role he was constantly checking the local restaurants, businesses, bars, etc. for health code violations and poor hygiene practices.
The 2020s were a terrible time in America with mass unemployment, health crisis, and the loss of people’s savings, homes, families and self-respect. My family were lucky enough to have some farmland where we could grow crops and a healthy beehive that produced a decent amount of honey to sell or barter.
When Trump came to power in 2016, my uncle Ernest joined them with the promise of work after having been unemployed for about two years. Earnest also wanted to marry and had had no real opportunity of being able to earn any money to set up a home – the local MAGA group provided him with an organizer job at the Worcester office.
My other uncle, Walter, committed suicide in 2019 after falling foul of the MAGA group and my mother and aunt were drafted into Women For Trump (A MAGA youth movement for girls). My grandfather, Herman, was a supporter of President Obama and wanted a return of the Democrats – he refused to take down the “Fuck MAGA” banner flying outside his house – and was reported to the police by MAGA supporters for violating community decency standards.
In 2020 Donna married Christian Gonzalez and Earnest married Frida Lopes – the rift between Herman and Earnest was never healed and Earnest was banned from coming back to the family home for several years thereafter.
Everyone was terrified during the 2020 crackdown when Gonzalez’ family was deported and all property seized by the US government. My mother lost a school friend on that day – Ruth Perez – whom she never saw again and never discovered what had happened to her. The Republicans managed to pass legislation banning foreign language radio stations and an atmosphere of mistrust and fear was propagated by Fox News and other right-wing outlets. People avoided saying anything against the MAGA crowd at that point because they often reacted violently and the police never held them accountable.
When the Global War broke out Christian (Donna’s husband) was called up from his job at the nearby small city of Lowell and in 2022 was sent to fight at Edinburgh where he was badly wounded in 2023. Christian’s comrades were all killed and he buried them in rubble – but he was rescued and taken to Maine to recuperate.
On 3 March 2024 Donna and her children aged 9 and 5 (she also lost two children to COVID-20) were forced to flee in the back of a pickup truck in the freezing New England winter to Erie, Pennsylvania. Christian, who had been transferred from Maine to the hospital in Massachusetts, had to stay and defend the town from a brutal blood lusting European army whose catalogue of unspeakable cruelty to innocent civilians was very well known. The Europeans were advancing almost unchecked from the east with millions of desperate refugees preceding them, clogging up the roads and filling empty houses and barns in attempt to avoid the dreadful cold winter.
Donna fled eventually to Wisconsin where Christian had family – but they were separated and did not know if the family had even survived the Europeans or the endless Canadian and Mexican air raids, despite the war having clearly been lost by Americans and their allies by March 2025.
My mother, Karen, had been travelling around American during the war. She had her youth taken from her as there were no schools or colleges, libraries or bookstores, and even banal social media posts were banned – Trump did not think people at home should question him while the country’s military men were being slaughtered on the battlefields. My mother saw mass air raids in Boston and New York, and she saw the misery that the war brought to little people in America, those who were innocent of any crime and just wanted to live.
In 2024 she returned to her parents’ house in Fitchburg – any spare rooms were occupied by refugees from the Mid-Atlantic states – and as the war drew to a terrible close the European guns could be heard booming their bloody and pitiless path ever closer. The Christmas of 2024 was the last my family spent in their ancestral homeland – Earnest was allowed to spend time at the house at last – he was serving in California by this time. Every weekend civilians, POWs & American troops were digging defense trenches around the towns and outskirts of Fitchburg- and the stream of refugees became a flood. My mother related that the church bells rang continuously as a warning to abandon the town – the Europeans were already in the outlying highways and towns – the bringers of death were at the gates!
My family had to leave immediately taking only what they could carry. The whole town was in utter chaos with huge crowds of civilians and wounded trying to get onto the buses going west. The Canadian bombers and fighters had complete control of the skies and shot up civilians and targeted vans loaded with refugees fleeing the European onslaught, death was all around. Many people committed suicide, often poisoning their children so that the Europeans would not capture them alive – the Europeans were not at all worried about the age of females whom they gang raped. My mother was completely split up from her family – as it turned out all fled west into Springfield and then further into the countryside getting as far as Colorado.
Aunt Donna fled with her two children and she was pregnant with twins. The winter was very cruel with very heavy snow and biting winds – everyone was without shelter. Initially they went to Pennsylvania and then managed to get to Pittsburg where they stayed in a school on bunk beds with hundreds of other terrified refugees. An air raid caused Manny, Donna’s youngest child then 5 years old, to fall off the top bunk and he bit half his tongue off – this amongst all the chaos and desperation for food and shelter.
My mother helped a neighbor whose husband was in the American army – she had two young daughters – my mother helped with them – and the women were lucky as American soldiers in retreat would sometimes give them lifts on the military vans heading west. Eventually my mother managed to get on a bus to Chicago from Pittsburg, which saved her from going into a huge refugee camp in Delaware. The starvation, the lack of clean water, the lack of social distancing, and the effects of sleeping in the freezing winter all led to my mother getting COVID-20 which nearly killed her. The illnesses she suffered in later life could often be seen as results of the terrible times of 2023 and 2025.
My mother spent time working on a farm and living in a hay loft before meeting my father – he was a cook in the Mexican Army. Their relationship seemed doomed to failure in the face of my father being stationed in various locations in the Southwest and that there was a policy of no fraternization between Mexican troops and Americans. My father managed to secretly feed many fellow refugees by using left-overs and being ‘flexible’ with the army’s accounting, so that my mother was able to begin eating properly again. In 2026 my parents married in Cicero near Syracuse and then left for a life in New Orleans. My parents’ wedding had no photographs and my mother only discovered that her family had survived a few days previously. Aunt Donna, now reunited with her husband Christian, were able to attend the wedding although they remained desperately poor, Christian was unemployed for 8 long years after the war.
My grandparents had also fled west to Worcester but stayed in Massachusetts, then bravely returned to Fitchburg once the Europeans had captured and razed the historic downtown. My grandfather had a car as part of his job as a county health inspector – he also had an artificial right leg as he was badly wounded in the Gulf War. The Europeans had despoiled the house – they had even defecated in every pot that my grandmother had used for honey. The Europeans sent him away and stole the car so that he had to hobble on his artificial leg until the blood flowed down his trousers. On one visit Herman saw the body of the MAGA chief of Fitchburg, Anthony O’Leary, literally crucified outside the church.
My grandparents managed to live in a rundown fast-food building in Ayer, until my grandfather had permission to build his own tiny house there instead. The loss of everything was a devastating blow – even worse was the inability to ever visit Fitchburg again – the house did survive the war – because the new French masters of New England ethnically cleansed any Americans who had not already fled the Europeans. In 2027 my grandparents escaped from the new United East Coast and went to live with my aunt Donna and her family in the crowded flat in their new home of Colorado Springs where Christian eventually got a job.
My mother left America with my father in May 2028 after he was fired- taking newly born son Pedro (my elder brother) with them to an uncertain future in Guadalajara. My mother never wanted to leave her beloved homeland – and she never forgot her English or her American friends and relatives – we had annual visits to America from the 2030s, and my grandparents even stayed for 6 weeks in Guadalajara in 2038.
My mother’s arrival at Tampico after a long bus ride and rickety ferry journey was very upsetting. My father had already gone to Guadalajara to try and prepare accommodation for his family. He met my mother and infant brother at San Luis Potosi and took them to Guadalajara.
My mother was amazed that the Mexicans hung their washing out all over the place, she was also amazed how colorful and clean all the houses were. My parents’ lives were very difficult as everyone hated Americans – my father’s parents were staying in Zacatecas with a family who had lost a son and would not allow my mother, with her infant, to set foot on their soil. My father’s brother Federico ignored requests to help find accommodation and would cut my father dead in the street, as his wife would have nothing to do with Americans.
My mother could speak very little Spanish and she did not expect a great welcome in the country which Americans used to consider beneath them. The same Mexicans who bombarded innocent civilians and took over American land in the name of democratic stability. She knew ordinary people were not responsible or even aware of these things and she could not understand why people would not even give her a chance – especially some relatives.
A flat in Guadalajara was found with the only person who did not seem to hate my mother or her nationality – and that was a retired Puerto Rican nurse. My parents ate a diet of endless mofongo and tostones in this flat, as Mrs Rodriguez could get plantains without ration cards. Later in 2040 my parents moved to their first house in a Guadalajara slum known as New England Villa. The house had serious structural problems and my father had never bought a property before and so had no experience of what to look out for. The family stayed there two years – my mother made some good friends there as she had excellent abilities in repairing socks and garments. However, there were also thugs who wanted to beat up my father for marrying an American and they would urinate on the front door and pick a fight with my father when there was a group of them. My mother was terrified that my father would go out and give them what they deserved, because if they killed him or knocked him unconscious, they would go after her and her toddler. In 2045 my parents moved to Chihuahua, but that is another story.
I tried to be as faithful to the original text as I could to illustrate a point and to show in this instance a deep connection between pre-WW2 Germany and the United States today. This is by no means what I think will happen in real life, and I sincerely hope it doesn’t get any closer than it is today. The original story was submitted by Christoph Bull on 14 November 2003 to the BBC project archiving memories of World War Two. You can read the original here:https://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/58/a2039258.shtml
‘WW2 People’s War is an online archive of wartime memories contributed by members of the public and gathered by the BBC. The archive can be found at bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar’