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Pre- Kristallnacht 1938

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago


This photo of my great grandmother, who the family calls Oma (grandmother in German), 

holding me in her hands shortly after my birth, brings emotions to my heart. I never knew much about my Oma since she passed away when I was about a year in a half old. I have heard great things from my mother about the amazing woman my Oma was, but I never had the opportunity to get to know her. Looking at the picture of my Oma, I recall being told a story at the holiday table of how my Opa made the decision to get up and leave the life he and his family had and persecution against the Jews in Germany to come to America in search of freedom. My family had been living in Hamburg, Germany and in 1940 they were able to obtain visas which allowed them access into America. The family consisted of my great grandparents, Opa and Oma, and their 3 female children. My grandmother is the youngest of the children; thank god all are still living today. At this time I would like to thank my grandmother and her sister, Lee, for the help they gave me in recalling memories they had from this time period.


My Family had been living in Hamburg Germany since 1928. My Opa had owned a successful Matzah Factory in Germany. Matzah is unleavened bread that Jews eat during Passover. In 1938 there were many Jews living around the different cities, big and small, in Germany. Hitler had been in power for five years and now the Nazis were running the government under Hitler's commands. At the beginning of Hitler coming to power he made it known that he wanted a 'Jew Free' Germany. In later years the national anthem for Hitler declared “Jewish blood will flow" showing their opposition of Jews living in Germany. As the year 1938 went on, Jews were humiliated and tortured in the streets by Germans. The German government came out with many laws against the Jews. Jews were no longer able to practice medicine, law, or business. The Jews in Munich and Nuremberg had to watch their synagogues be burned down (Read, 30). Jews throughout the centuries had seen occurrences of persecution and assumed like many times before that the situation would pass. My family like many others thought the recent pogroms would pass and that’s why they stayed in Germany despite relatives in America trying to convince them to make the move. They also figured that they were safer living in Hamburg because it was a big city, rather than smaller cities where many Jews lived in Germany.


For me, reading information of the time period and hearing about persecution that was happening against Jews pains me, and gives me hatred toward the Nazis. Jews have always been persecuted for centuries for just being Jews; Jews are human beings just like everyone else. There is no reason that Jews should have to go through all the torturing they have endured for so many centuries.




 German soldier having fun                     Jewish lawyer forced to carry sign in streets                 Jews forced to scrub the sidewalk,

cutting a man's beard in public.            that reads "I will not complain to the police again"                 while the public looks on.




Seeing photos, from Germany 1938, of Jews being humiliated in the streets makes me feel so bad for the people that had to endure the humiliation (photos seen above all taken from "I survived"). I know for myself that it is never a good feeling to be humiliated. Even though I have no idea what the people in the photos feel because I was not there, I just feel bad and humiliated for them. I feel their pain in my own imagination of what I think they feel, but I really cannot even compare to what they are feeling because I am not experiencing it. For me seeing another Jew being hurt, tortured, humiliated makes me feel like I am in that situation, even though I am not. When I see another Jew I see them as family and when someone is bothering family it is disturbing. These are my emotions I feel when looking at these and many other devastating photos.


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