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: I hear stories of German Jews leaving the country with no money. Literally you leave, you leave with nothing. Hear of stories of people leaving without visas even for getting out. And other countries for instance, England, discouraging this movement of people. What stories do you have in relation to that – obviously your family is part of that?
Dad: Yes. Part of Hitler’s… now when I talk of Hitler and his boys I don’t talk of Germans generally. First of all that bastard was an Austrian and secondly he lied, he was never in World War One, he was not gassed. His behaviour can be best explained by what happens when you have syphilis and there is no penicillin – number one. Now after Hitler came to power and by 1935 they realised, Hitler and his boys, no country wanted Jews. Not only because let’s say they preferred other people but the economics was very bad. Australia, for instance, was in the grips of a huge recession, depression, there was no money, nothing. And they felt they couldn’t afford to have lame ducks.
Okay, so what Hitler did was he told the world and his Jews, you’re free to go with our blessings. You can go wherever you want. Except leaving with nothing, no-one wanted them and they couldn’t get out.
Interviewer: In relation to your story, what are your earliest memories, growing up in Germany?
Dad: Very kind memories. Only child. My father had a government position. Parents felt guilty having me away from communal life and I became a ruff neck. I was very big for my size in those days. I had a dog, a wonderful dog, a boxer. And once Hitler after ’35, then others, became more openly anti-Semitic and taking my dog for a walk with a boy who lived next door and someone called out, “Dirty little Jew boy,” and the boy next-door said, “Do you hear what he called you?” So I set the dog on him and the dog took out his crutch and naturally months later the dog went missing. We heard later that he had evened the score by shooting the dog. From ’35 onwards things like the neighbour with that …figure.
Interviewer: With the caricature?
Dad: Yes, and I, idiot of a boy, lost my dog.