Thursday, 26 January 2017

Holocaust (Greek: sacrifice by fire)

 Results for:  Last / Maiden Name = Flatauer        First Name = Alma        Place = Berlin
                                                                                                                         
Alma
Flatauer 1889 Berlin, Germany List of murdered Jews from Germany    murdered
Alma
Flatauer 1889 Berlin, Germany Page of Testimony                                   murdered
Alma
Flatauer 1889 Berlin, Germany List of deportation from Berlin                murdered
Alma
Flatauer 1889 Osnabrueck, Germany Page of Testimony                          murdered


We live in a 'post fact' (or as I prefer to call it, downright lies) era. In this Holocaust Memorial time,  the internet is ablaze with Holocaust deniers, claiming that the massacre of Jews, gypsies, disabled people and gays under the Nazis did NOT happen.

The survivors of Hitler's 'Final Solution' are gradually dying. Those that are left, frail but undaunted, spend their last few days having to tell their harrowing stories over and over again, as the stinking sewage of denial washes through social media. When they are gone, who will bear the torch?

As many of you know, I am the daughter of German Jewish refugees, and post the fiasco that was Brexit, I have applied for restored citizenship, so that my descendants will never have their 'citizen of the world' status wrenched from them, as mine was by the alt-right German government. At the head of this piece is the visual proof, taken from German documentation, of the 'fate' of my paternal grandmother. 

But this is my mother's story, not mine: she was born in Berlin and as the anti-Jewish laws started coming into force, she was in her early twenties. She had to leave university, where she was studying art & design, and went to work for one of the many Jewish organisation that had started getting Jewish families out of Germany as they could see what was going to happen in the future.

UK Daily Mail pre-WW2 headline
She helped organise Kindertransports and her refugee organisation supplied the papers and documents needed for adults to leave. These organisations also helped make the situation of German Jews very public and were hated as a result. Eventually, Hitler decided to close the borders. The last train was scheduled to leave Berlin on December 7th, 1941.

The way my mother always told it: she sent her own parents to the UK where, as the Daily Mail article shows, the identical 'anti-semitic/illegal immigrant' rhetoric was alive and well then, as now, but she felt it her duty to stay in Berlin and help out to the end.

So it wasn't until the last day that she packed her suitcase and headed for the station. The queue stretched for yards. She stood in line, wondering whether she was too late. Then the German police started going down the line, checking passports and documents. Time ticked on. Finally they reached her, and roughly demanded her papers.

My mother handed them over. A brief scrutiny. A consultation. A list was checked. Then she was beckoned out of the line and ordered to go with them. Her heart sank. Was she about to be refused exit? Was she going to be imprisoned? Tortured? Deported to a work camp?  She followed the police .... along the platform ... past the waiting crowd ... straight to the barrier where the train was waiting.

A curt command and the barrier was raised. She was pushed onto the platform. The barrier was closed. Still not quite believing what had just happened, she took her place on the last train and came eventually to the UK, where she met and married my father, also a refugee. Nine years later, I was born in the UK.

My father's family refused to leave Germany, believing, as so many EU citizens, migrants and refugees believe today, that civilized people would never try to deny them their human rights. They perished at Auschwitz. I am the bearer of their story. If you read a tweet, or an article, or a book by someone denying that Hitler and his military machine ruthlessly and systematically exploited, tortured, and murdered eleven million human beings whose only 'crime' was that they were not ''them'', then remember this: the people who ignore their mistakes are destined to repeat them. Over and over again.
Some 2016 UK Brexit headlines





10 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your mother's story with us. Seven years ago, my Year 6 pupils started telling me I must read "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" by John Boyne and they asked questions about how it could happen. I hope future generations remember and make sure it never happens again.

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  2. The book, though well meaning, was a very sanitized version of events ~ no Nazi child would have ever been allowed near a Jewish child inmate...for fear of contamination..but at least it sparks interest...

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    1. I fully realise that but it was a way of opening the eyes of children. The diary of Anne Frank had an enormous effect on me although the horror was when the diary stopped. It made me find out what really happened.

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  3. Thanks for sharing Carol, we must never forget. God bless.

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    1. Thanks George...I deliberately pointed out that it wasn't just Jews who were slaughtered...

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  4. Important post, Carol, and very moving. I'm hoping it's only a coincidence that Trump was elected on the anniversary of Kristallnacht

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  5. There are so many similarities in the political climate of now that it is down right frightening. Your post is very important because it sheds a very personal, therefore REAL, light upon the what has happened and what may happen.

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  6. Thanks for sharing. An important story to share in these very troubling times.

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  7. It is important that these stories are told and repeated and shouted from the housetops, CarolStar. The fact that you have a personal history of that terrible time makes your voice all the stronger. I've just beta read the biography of a Polish Jew who managed to survive the war and the uprising in Warsaw. He was a friend's grandfather and she has translated it from Polish. It is both riveting and chilling at the same time. I will never forget it.

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