Flash Fiction Friday – Bar 49

January 31, 2022, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story about “the’ 49ers.” Who or what are they? What is the significance of the number? Do you follow the Gold Rush history or venture into new territory? Go where the prompt leads!


Bar 49 – by Hugh W. Roberts

“Who’re all these men in this old photo, Gran?”

“That’s my grandfather with a group of men known as the 49ers.”

“Forty-niners?”

“Yes. Unfortunately, they all died in Auschwitz.”

“The concentration camp?”

“Yes, and you’re old enough to know the truth. In Berlin, the men were all arrested in a bar known as ‘Bar 49.’ Homosexuals frequented it. They were rounded up, made to wear the symbol of a pink triangle and taken, some with their families, to Auschwitz.”

“Gran, I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry, Carl. Be happy that you are marrying the man of your dreams tomorrow.

***

Image of gold miners from the late 19th century
Image Credit: Charli Mills

Written for the 99-word flash fiction challenge hosted by Charli Mills at the Carrot Ranch.

***

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37 thoughts on “Flash Fiction Friday – Bar 49

  1. It’s unsettling to think that such brutality is not that far in our past. Hugh, you did a good job of making the reader feel that tragic history and then give us an infusion of hope with the wedding. Excellent writing!

    1. Less than 100 years ago, Charli. And throughout the world, people are still imprisoned or face the death penalty for being gay. There is still a lot of work to do.

      Thank you for the lovely endorsement of my story. As you can see, I went down a very different track with the ’49ers’ prompt.

  2. I didn’t know that piece of history, Hugh. There are still so many wrongs that need to be righted. The only way is to bring them out into the open and discuss them.

  3. I was talking to a friend Peter who like you came to London in the 80s to try and be himself as a gay man and he reminded me that the early symbol worn at the early Pride gatherings on the South Bank were pink triangles which he didn’t realise had that gruesome link for some time until the rainbow took over as the Pride symbol. It’s a beautiful crafted piece Hugh and painfully apt though with that levenibg of hope.

    1. Thanks, Geoff. Glad you enjoyed it so much.

      Yes, I remember the pink triangle being worn and displayed a lot back in the 1980s. However, I did know its meaning, probably because of my interest in World War II history when at school. My mother, mainly, used to dispair at me watching ‘The World At War’ on TV. That is probably where I picked up the meaning of the pink triangle.

      Your friend Peter is somebody who may have crossed my path in 1980s London. The LGBT community was vast then, yet it was also a very close society.

  4. A nice twist on “The 49ers,” Hugh.
    With the rise of anti-Semitic acts lately, and the execution of two gay men in Iran, I’m hard-pressed to believe that the hate will ever end. I’m glad your story, at least, has a happy ending.

    1. Thanks, Aimer. I wanted to go down a different route than the one I thought some of the participants might go down when they saw the prompt ’49ers.’

      There is still a lot of work to do to wipe out all kinds of discrimination. Unfortunately, I think I will have long gone from this life before it’s likely to have happened, but I like to think that my next journey will take me to a world where discrimination doesn’t exist.

    1. Thank you.

      I always like to try and think of a story with a theme that no one else will come up with, Colleen. When Charli’s prompt said, ‘Do you follow the Gold Rush history or venture into new territory?’ I knew which route I wanted to take.

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