Lotte.

LIn recognition of National Holocaust Remembrance Week (in the US), I am looking back at the stories told by some individuals I interviewed when I was in college.  Lotte was one of the people who shared her story with me.

Born in Germany in 1920, Lotte was educated in a Jewish school, and her family kept kosher (though, primarily so that her father’s family could eat comfortably when they visited).

magnusLotte was part of a group of children who were able to escape from Nazi Germany to America.  The United States had put a strict quota system into place, which pretty much slammed the door in the face of European refugees.  But working through, and around, this red tape a variety of organizations found ways of bringing refugee children to the United States.  Religious and private organizations, along with hundreds of volunteers, brought small groups of children — some as young as fourteen months and as old as sixteen — into foster families between the years of 1934 and 1945.  For more about these efforts visit the One Thousand Children website.  One Thousand Children was organized in 2000 to help connect some of the individuals that had come over as children and to tell their stories.

Lotte shared with me when she first discovered that she would be leaving her family to go to America.  It was around the same time that she began to recognize that there were dangers edging into her world.  In 1933 restrictions were being placed on the Jewish community, “I felt the undercurrent at home, that business was falling off and that people were not paying their bills to my father and things were being stretched.”

One day I came home from school and our maid, who had been with us since I was two years old, opened the front door and she was just in tears.  And I asked her, “Has something happened to my father?”

And she said, “No, go see your mother.”

And Mother was telling me, “You have to go to Stuttgart,” the next day.

“Why Stuttgart?”

“To get a visa.”  She had to explain to me what a visa was and,

“What do I need a visa for?”

“Beacuse you’re going to the United States, and won’t that be nice.’

Well, I didn’t think so, because I was in a group of Zionist youngsters, and we were planning to go to Palestine.  And, at that time, it seemed like Hitler was going to be out of office in a year or so, like so many others had been.  I left them with the understanding… with the expectation, that… and my parents I think also, that I’d be back in a year or so when all the Nazi stuff will have blown over.

Lotte also recalled, clearly, one thing from the day she left home:

My father… was leaning on his cane, not even looking up.  And I remember him saying to me, as I got on this train — ‘If you aren’t back by the time you’re sixteen, we’ll never see each other again on this earth.’  At that time I didn’t take it seriously, still I always remember my father standing there like that.


Lotte shared her story with the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center, and their interview with her is available online.

 

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18 thoughts on “Lotte.”

  1. I… I think I got a piece of our shared past in my eye…
    It’s so easy to overlook the personal element of world-scale events.

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    1. Oh! I thought I had included a little about that… but apparently it didn’t make the final cut. Though, now I think I’m remembering I didn’t include it because that is a whole other story itself — who she saw again, who she didn’t, and why (and when). I think I’ll just have to do another post down the road to tell the rest of the story.

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  2. The last time I see someone I love, is always quite clear in my mind. For Lotte, that vision of her father must be as vivid today as it was when she left her home that day. Never forget what absolute power can do. Keep Lotte’s story alive for others to read now and in the future.

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  3. What a lovely post, Alli. I am glad to have found this post. Sorry I haven’t been visiting. I am having a hard time catching up with posts because my internet access is limited, kids are taking much of the time, and I currently am recuperating. When I do get to be online, my attention is either on trying to post for the challeneg myself, or on trying to visit blogs I’m supposed to check out first (I’m not doing it fast enough either due to my condition)…Anyhoo, keep it up! Let’skeep A to Z’ing!!! 🙂

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  4. Did you do a book of these stories? It is heartbreaking. I figured she never saw her father again. If she left, and he stayed behind. He’s dead, and she lived out her life in America. The world is a cruel place. And, yet, some people are kind and good and risk everything to help another.
    Play off the Page

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    1. I don’t have a book of it, though I have thought about it. For the project in college I did put together a website that was hosted through the college server — it doesn’t exist anymore, but I am hoping to get some of those pages revamped and host them on this site (which will give the bigger story of their lives).

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  5. It makes me sick thinking about how the U.S. insisted on all these miles of red tape even in the face of a most dire emergency. At least some people were able to break through the red tape and come to safety before the Nazis devoured them all.

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