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Out of Germany

My Mother's Art: My mother was an artitst. Johanna Liebman remarked that it showed none of the horror of most survivor art.In my search for my mother, I have both sought knowledge and intentionally avoided it. For example, the Leo … Read More

By / September 26, 2007

My Mother's Art: My mother was an artitst. Johanna Liebman remarked that it showed none of the horror of most survivor art.My Mother's Art: My mother was an artitst. Johanna Liebman remarked that it showed none of the horror of most survivor art.In my search for my mother, I have both sought knowledge and intentionally avoided it. For example, the Leo Baeck Institute is one of the leading German Jew research centers in the world, and it's only 50 blocks from my home, but I've not been able to bring myself to go there.

Honestly, I'm afraid. I know how difficult I became to deal with while writing, and therefore reliving my failure in business memoir. And that was just about losing $4 million and people being put out of work. How will I face the world trying to put myself in a time of millions killed?

That said, one night I Googled relentlessly on a town my mother may have lived in, Karlsruhe. This is how I found Johanna Liebman at the Queens College Holocaust Center.

And so, I share some of her story, which is likely very similar to my mother's. (The very formal style of the interview is because my girlfriend is both a wonderful person to document it and a lawyer. So it does read a bit like a very very scary Law and Order.)

On Saturday, July 9, 2005, David Silverman (“DS”), Carol Silverman (“CS”) met with Johanna Liebman (“JL”) at 10:30 a.m. at the Holocaust Resource Center (“HRC”) at Queensborough Colllege in Bayside, New York. JL recounted her experience at Le Camp de Gurs (“Gurs”) in 1940. Life In Germany Before the Deportation JL said that life in Germany for the Jewish population started going “down the hill in every way” in 1933 when the Nazis came to power. First, the Jewish population began to lose its privileges as citizens. For example, the cities took away Jewish citizens ability to have phones in their houses and to have radios. Additionally, JL said that the Germans were using propaganda to teach the children to be prejudiced against the Jews. JL showed us a book called “Do No Trust The Fox In The Meadow And The Oath Of A Jew,” published in 1936. This book was a picture book depicting horrific caricatures of Jewish men as compared to the angelic blonde Germans. CS asked JL why she thought that the Germans blamed the Jews. JL said that “Jews are used to that because we are always the scapegoats. We are thought of as poison that should be destroyed.” Then CS asked what the Jewish people thought about how far the treatment of Jews would go. JL said “I don’t think anyone had enough imagination to see how far things would go.” In fact, JL said that Jewish people were deported in Steltin (now part of Poland) outside of Berlin in February of 1939, but the Jewish population in Karlsruhe did not think it would happen to them. Still, JL recalled that she was horrified when she saw synagogues being destroyed every day.

It's a long story, but I felt it was worth being posted in its entirety, so more below.

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