That is the story of Sophia. Sophia is 28 years old and a teacher.
Sophia lived in the small town of Don Benito in southwestern Spain.
The civil war has been raging in Spain for two years and General Franco’s fascist army is gaining ground.
Her friend Valeria knocks on her door. They have arranged to wash and straighten their hair. With long and thick hair like Valeria, it is always helpful to be in pairs. Sophia’s hair was “only” chest-length and not as thick, but it was silky and shiny.
After brushing each other’s hair and braiding each other again, they sit in the kitchen with a glass of wine.
“Tonio was in the district capital,” says Valeria, “when he saw uniformed women. They had all their hair cut off up to their shoulders. ”
” Then the city is in the hands of the Falangists, General Franco’s terrorist unit. Many women are also involved.
They choose their commanders from the cruelest. ”
“He had to go to the command post because of the grain harvest.
And he happened to see Luca. ”
” Luca? Our hairdresser? That little fat sadist. What does he want in the command post? ” ” Certainly not a good thing. But how do you come up with this name? Small and fat is true. ”
“He came to my school once and suggested that children with poor grades be taught a lesson. He would cut the girls’ hair for free. He would always cut my hair for free. He already knew exactly how. ”
“And how?” Sophia shrugs.
“I kicked him out and chased it away.” Sophia takes a sip.
“Just the idea of his fat fingers on my hair. Disgusting!”
“That fits that. Tonio later met him in a bar, Luca was already drunk and told him what he was doing:
— He wanted a permit to work as a women’s hairdresser.
All he had to do was pay a fee. But now the worst is coming.
They had just arrested a woman whose husband appeared to have supported the communists. He should immediately make his skills available and help with delousing. She is said to have been dressed very elegantly.
He told Tonio how the woman tried to fight back when she saw him with scissors in hand. Two soldiers would have helped him then and he then cut her hair very briefly.
He laughed and laughed drunk, even showed him his trophy.
Two long black braids! —
A few weeks later, a brigade of Falangists, uniformed women and men entered Don Benito.
“Here some residents would support the Communists and the International Brigades!”
The arrests started the next day.
Some men and women, including my friends Valeria, Carmen and I were brought to the market place.
The leader of the Falangists started questioning.
I was the first to sit on a chair.
Of course I denied their allegations.
Then Lucas’ mother stood next to her and whispered something in her ear.
She just nodded and gave an order.
Two soldiers came up to me, grabbed me and dragged me towards the houses, right to the entrance to Lucas’ barber shop.
I tried to pull away, but one grabbed my braid and dragged me up the stairs and through the door.
Luca was standing inside, grinning broadly next to one of his shaving chairs. “Ah, my first customer, then the pretty teacher. I will of course put a lot of effort into this. Open your braid. ”
When I didn’t respond, he said: “Should the two help you?”
Then I started to open my braid and shake my hair out over my back.
He grabbed my breasts with both hands and pushed me back onto the armchair. His fat fingers ran through my soft hair, his hands clasped my neck. It was so disgusting.
He showed me his hand hair trimmer and laughs.
I had never seen a device like this before and I was terrified.
His fingers brushed my hair back from my forehead and he put this device on my forehead, cold steel. Slowly it crawled over my head. The first black curls fell on my dress.
My hair! So long and shiny. I saw her fall in the mirror, saw my white scalp. I couldn’t even cry.
But then I did what took his triumph: I smiled and in the mirror I saw his uncertain and angry expression on his face.
He was getting rougher and it hurt so bad, but I just kept smiling.
Outside I heard Valeria scream.
When he was done with me, they took me outside again.
At the door stood the howling Valeria, who had not only cut her braids off, but also wrapped them around her neck.
She screamed even more when she saw my shaved head and was dragged into the barber shop. When she passed me, she saw my smile and immediately understood.
In the end we were eight women, who were standing on the market square in the sun with their heads shaved and were being put on display.
Valeria and I managed to escape at night. We are at home, I still had my father’s old pistol. Luca was sleeping peacefully in his bed when a bullet smashed his wrist. His mother had woken up and was sitting in bed confused.
The second bullet penetrated her knee joint.
We are in the mountains, where we joined a group of resistance fighters. Otherwise we would not have survived.
I got the idea for this story after reading a novel by
For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)