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  • Ruth Cardin

    November 24, 1933

    I am alarmed to hear that people are being victimized just because they are Jewish? Do you know of anyone who has experienced this?

      ESTHER EBE (13 years old. Frankfurt, Germany):

      The minute Hitler came in power, it was hard. You would go […] to any public place, like the post office, you would see these banners that said “Die Juden sind unser Unglück”, “The Jews are our misfortune”. We had never seen that before.

      KURT KLEIN (Germany)

      In certain areas of Germany, not in the part where I live, Jews were definitely treated a lot worse than we ever saw it. They were being humiliated, beaten, if not worse, and also some dragged off to concentration camps and of course stories like that filter through eventually.

      ESTHER EBE (13 years old. Frankfurt, Germany):

       I went with my mother shopping. In the middle of the shopping area there was a bonfire, a pile right in the middle of the street and people came and held books written by Jewish authors and they were throwing them in that fire. They handed the books to the children and the children threw the books into the fire.

      GISELA PEIPER (23 years old. Hamburg, Germany)

       The day before my final examinations the Nazis searched my room – threw out all the books. They are such idiots you know, they would see naked figures and they said those dirty schwein Jews and that was a Michelangelo!


      In the spring of 1933, it was just around my birthday and it was not a nice birthday present, I got a letter from my sports club: you are no longer welcome here because you’re Jewish. Heil Hitler. And that was the end of that. 

      ROBERT KATZ (17 years old. New York, United States)

      May 3, 1934

      I find all of this really hard to believe because, as a Jew in America, I’m treated the same as any Christian or Muslim or anyone. 

      RUTH BRAND (Transylvania, Romania)

      We went to school together, the Jewish children with the Romanian children. The best students sat in the front and the less good ones after them. I was always sitting in the first row – I was a good student. I wasn’t alone, all the Jewish girls were very good students. Until one day the teacher walks in and says: “You Jews, sit in the back” and I think that was my first, my very first slap or anti-Semitism. I was very insulted.


      My own father finds it increasingly more difficult to do business. He is a produce broker who went around to the various farm communities to buy up hops and tobacco and other items: grain. And they would see to it that he wouldn't be able to buy sometimes. In the beginning he could still get some things but it was definitely getting much harder.


      There was one girl who had always been a Nazi. She was sitting next to me, she was talking about […] “all these dirty Jews” and I finally turned to her and said, “I am one of them. You say that you smelled it, you didn’t smell it for three years” and she said “I’ll denounce you because you are not a Jew, you just say so” She was furious that she hadn’t smelled it. 

      KARL-GEORG ROESSLER (12 years old. Germany):

      We hear many nasty words and remarks. But apart from this we are never physically attacked.


      This is a picture of books being burnt right here in the Opernplatz in Berlin on the 10th of May this year!


      This is part of the speech that Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propoganda, gave to students that night in May: “The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end… This is a strong, great and symbolic deed - a deed which should document the following for the world to know - Here the intellectual foundation of the November Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.”

      Ruth Cardin

      It brings to mind the words that the poet Heinrich Heine wrote way back in 1823: "Where books are burned, in the end, people will also be burned."

      Ruth Cardin

      Hey Robert Katz, really good to hear from you. I haven’t seen you since winter break two years ago. Anyway, sadly, this really is happening. I wish we were treated the same in Europe as you are in America.


      And not just here in Germany, Robert Katz, but also in a lot of other European countries

      GISELA PEIPER (23 years old. Hamburg, Germany):

      Already the Nazis have taken over any significant spots including the university. They sent in either the SS, the black uniform, the SA, the brown shirts and they are everywhere, they watch what everybody does.


      The teacher is reading a book to us and it is called “Der Giftpilz” which means Poisoned Mushroom. It is a picture storybook and she is teaching the kids in 1st grade that Jewish children were poisoned mushrooms. So every day I tell my mother that I don’t want to go to school. She says – you have to go to school.

      HILLEL SCHECHTER (Leipzig, Germany)

      Anti-Semitism increased and I simply could not go on, so I switched to the Jewish high school. The general studies are taught by Non-Jewish teachers who do not hide their Nazi party affiliation. I remember a biology teacher who even came in uniform. 


        To the Jewish School?


          Yes, he has a rank in the Hitler Youth, and there are days when he would come in his Hitler Youth uniform. There were some more non-Jewish teachers who do not come in uniform, but they don’t hide their loyalty to the Nazi party and express it during the lessons.


       How are Jewish people expected to make a living?


        It was sort of gradual and you kind of get used to it. Well, alright, okay we can live with that... You always adjust, you always adapt.

          ROBERT KATZ

          October 17, 1934

          What about families where only one parent is Jewish? Surely they are not treated this way?

            JUDITH BECKER (Germany)

            Now in my grade, the fifteen kids who were "mischlinge" had it bad from both sides. Their mothers, many of them, were members of the Nazi party, were antisemites who hated Jews and did not want them associating with Jews. On the other hand, parents like my parents and my uncles and so on, didn't want their children associating with these non-Jewish, you know. 

            GISELA PEIPER

            My father was shocked that I had a non-Jewish friend. Jews I think are just as prejudiced in that area.


            Only once a neighbour boy called me a dirty Jew or something and I beat him up and I was never bothered again. That was it. 


        We stayed with a farmer in a small village, sleeping in his barn. He did not know that we were Jewish. We only told him we were Jewish when we left. He then told us that had he known we were Jewish he would not have taken us. But he admitted that this was the first time he had seen Jews. He only knew Jews from the media, the picture of the distorted Jewish face of the Stuermer or the boycott signs that presented the Jew in an extremely distorted way so as to cause revulsion within the population.


        But anti-Semitism is not new. There is a long history of anti-Semitism in Europe.

          GISELA PEIPER (24 years old. Berlin, Germany)

          I remember one example when I was probably eight or nine years old when one of the girls in my class drew a swastika on the blackboard. In that whole school there was only one Jewish teacher … and she was only allowed to teach Jewish religion… I went to her and she says “oh don’t make any fuss” because she was very afraid.

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