A number of years ago, my father was interviewed for the Jewish Migrant Oral History Project. Thankfully, I have a copy of the interview, and I will be publishing excerpts from it in his memory.
Interviewer: As I understand your father’s military career would affect his life later on.
Interviewer: In what way?
Dad: He came here and the war broke out, and when a couple of people he had met here told him they were going to join up, he went with them. They were very polite but they laughingly showed him where he’d been wounded and…I mean it was the upper body and one leg particularly badly.
Interviewer: But earlier on in Germany I understand that because he had served he was treated in a different way.
Dad: Yes… All government servants lost their job in 1933 when Hitler came to power. But there was a figure head, President of the Republic, he was a General and he said, “My soldiers will not lose their job.” So in 1935 he got the boot from Hitler because Hitler won that election and my father lost… oh my parents lost their jobs because my mother worked with my father, and no eating money. My parents lived very… we lived very well where we were but when you worked as a civil servant you don’t get fat.
Interviewer: Not in those days anyway.
Interviewer: You were mentioning obviously his war service. What stories did he tell you about his war service in World War One?
Dad: Well No. 1, like most people who saw service in the First or Second World War, when the war ended and he came home he was about seven stone. He wasn’t a prisoner of war but lost a lot of weight. And he told me that he had learnt that his war service consisted of 95 percent sitting around waiting and five percent having to do something, and he found that particularly trying. He was very young. He found that horse meat wasn’t too bad when you’re starving. Young horse was a delicacy. What else did he tell me? I’ve got photos of him and they were close, his unit. It was only when Hitler came to power that they laid it on the line, they could not afford to have anything more to do with him.