The Holocaust in Germany: Individual Experiences

Figure 1.-- This family photograph was apparently taken in Hannover during 1935 or 1936. It shows how extensively many Jewish families were assimilated. They are a middle-class Jewish family by the name of Judenberg. The family looks to have survived the early NAZI years. Berhard Judenberg, the father, was a successful dealer in live stock. NAZI regulations would have eventually prevented him from trading livestock. He is shown here with his wife Frau Thekla and their two sons, Werner (about 15) and Horst (about 8).

Too often accounts of the Holocaust deal with statistics and numbers. The numbers are so large to be overwealming. Behind every single one of those numbers are individuals. Looking at these individuals it seems almost unbelievable the fate awaiting them. We are interested in how the Holocaustvaffected individual families. We are collecting information about some families. With many we do not have a full account, but these accounts provide details on how the Holocaust affect individuals and families. We will also include here photographs we have found of individuals even though we may not be able to identify them.

Ruth Bild (1935?- )

Ruth Bild's family was deported to Poland by the NAZIs in 1938. The family managed to reach Belgium, where they were interned in a dentention camp known as Marneffe Camp. When the Germans invaded Belgium (May 1940), the Bild family escaped from the camp and settled in Brussels, hiding from the NAZIs. Ruth was taken to Namur, under pretense of being an orphan, and housed in the Convent du Bon Pasteur with false papers, using the name of Monique Lannoy. Soon afterwards Ruth returned to Brussels to be baptized, but the priest would only baptize the child if her mother (who was in hiding) were present. Ruth returned to convent where she hid throughout the occupation.

Peter Feigl (1929- )

Peter contacted up to point out his experiences in France during the German occupsation. [Feigl] He was born in Berlin, Germany. Because of the NAZI campaign against Jews, the family moved to Vienna in 1937. His parents were non-practicing Jews and had him baptized in the hoe that this would avoid him being subjected to persecution. After the NAZI Anchluss a terrible campaign was unleashed againsdt Austrian Jews (March 1938). The Feigl family fled to Brussels until the German invasion of Belgium (May 1940). Peter and his mother fled again, this time to France. They settled in the town of Auch where they were joined by Peter's father (spring 1941). Peter was saved because his parents sent him to a Quaker summer camp. While he was at camp, his parents were arrested by Vichy authorities in Auch during the round-up of Jews (August 1942). They were transported to Auschwitz where they were killed (September 6, 1942). He started a diary and addressed it to his parents, who he desperately missed and hoped to see again. The disry is a poignent document revealing what these children endured. Peter did not understand that theNAZIs were killing Jews. The French gendarmes come for him, but a medical certificate saves him. The Quakers undertook to hide Peter. They arranged for him to be hidden in the mountain village of Le Chambon sur Lignon (January-September 1943). Peter lived in hiding with the help of false identity papers. While hiding in Le Chambon, his diary was taken away for his own security, but he later started a second diary. Peter with a group of other children fled to safety in neutral Switzerland. There he he stopped writing. Peter immigrated to the United States in 1946. He married Leonie Warschauers. They have two daughters and two grandsons.

Albert Gompertz (1922- )

This photograph of the Gompertz family was taken in Gelsenkirchen, Germany during 1930. The Gompertzs wwre a family tracing their history in Germany back to the 16th century. Here we see the parents, Leo and Betty Gompertz and their three boys, Albert (8 1/2 or 9 years old), Fred (nicknamed Fritz, 6 1/2), and Rolf (2 1/2). They were a middle class family with a comfortable life. The father had a furrier business in Gelsenkirchen. The two older boys seem to be almost identically dressed in short trousers with long stockings and blouses with open collars. Fred (and probably Albert also) are probably wearing Leibchen (notice the hose supporter clasp which shows on Fred's leg). The Gompertz family were Jewish and suffered under the Nazis. Albert had some bad experiences in school. His gym teacher wore a Stormtrooper (SA) uniform. The music teacher had the children sing song with anti-Semrtic lyrics like "When the Jewish blood runs from our knives. He and other Jewish children had to be constantly alert to avoid being being up by Hitler Youth boys. The family managed to avoid major trouble until Kristallnacht. After that they managed to escape to America through the Netherlands. Most of their relatives in Germany perished in the Holocaust. Readers may want to look at Akbert's detailed account: Experiences of Albert Gompertz. It is available in both English and German.

Wendy Held

An American girl tells about his German Jewish mother who managed to get out of Germany. His mother met his American father in 1937 in London. He remembers the care packages sent to her mother and father and other relatives. The Red Cross replied that they could not be delivered because the addressees could not be located. He rembers his mother crying late at night when she thought he was asleep. The girl was 5 years old when the war ended. After the War her mother spent 10 years visying displaced person camps in a home of finding her family. She never found one relsative or friend. Devestated she took pills to end her life. [Held]

Judenberg Family

This family photograph was apparently taken in Hannover during 1935 or 1936. It shows how extensively many Jewish families were assimilated. They are a middle-class Jewish family by the name of Judenberg. The family looks to have survived the early NAZI years. Berhard Judenberg, the father, was a successful dealer in live stock. NAZI regulations would have eventually prevented him from trading livestock. He is shown here with his wife Frau Thekla and their two sons, Werner (about 15) and Horst (about 8). Werner wears a double breasted dark short pants suit with a wide-collared shirt open at the neck and folded over his lapels. He wears knee socks with a stripe around the top. Horst wears a white short-sleeved shirt buttoned at the neck, gray short pants held up with suspenders, and three-quarter length white socks. Horst attended a special school for Jewish boys. I am not sure if he began in this school or was attemding because he was forced to leave the state schools. Once the deportations began, the children and teachers were never sure who would be in clss the next day. abolished by the Nazis. Most included lessons in English, hoping that this would prove useful if the families managed to get visas. These Jewish schools were eventually closed by the NAZIs. The family was deported in 1942. A holocaust monument in Hanover states the following: "Judenberg, Bernhard, 49 J., deportiert am 31.3.1942, Warschau; Judenberg, Horst, 14 J., deportiert am 31.3.1942, Warschau; Judenberg, Thekla geb. Rothschild, 53 J., deportiert am 31.3.1942, Warschau." That means the family except Werner were deported to the Warsaw ghetto on March 31, 1942. This was just when the transports to the death camps were beginning. The family was probably muredered at Auschwitz. We have no information on Werner.

Karliner Family

The Karliner family was from Silesia, a province in eastern Germany disputed between Austria, Poland, and Germany. At the time of Worlld War II it was part of the Reich. Here we see Ruth and Herbert in 1937. The family attempted to escape from Germany as conditions for Jews in Germany deteriorated, especially after Kristalnacht (November 1938). The family was able to book passage aboard the illfated St. Louis to Cuba (1939). After the Cubans refused to allow Jews to debark, the Karliners returned to Europe. They were admitted to France. After the Germans invaded and occupied France (1940). Vichy authorities cooperated with the Germand to persecute Jews. The Karliners as foreign Jews were arrested and interned at Dancy. From there they were deported to Auschwitz. Somehow Herbert appears to have avoided deportment and survived the War.

Steven Muller (1927- )

Steven Muller was born in Hamburg. He remembers a pleant early childhood, but this began to change when the NAZIs came to power. Other boys began calling him rude names. Former friends now in Hitler Youth uniforms beat him up on the way home from school. Hi father was arrested on Kristallnacht, but was later released. As his mother was a gentile, authorities told his mother that if Steven and his brother were castrated, they could join the Hitler Youth and lead normal lives in Germany. The family managed to leave Germany only days before World War II began, after which exit was virtually impossible. Once in Britain, Steven and his brother were evacuaed with the other British children. Some of the boys wanted to fight when they found that Steven and his brother were Germans. Once in America, Steven was recruited to make movies, ironically because he had a British accent.

André Previn (1929/30-2019)

Andrée Previn is a name familiar to most Americans interested in music. He was anoted German-American pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor. Andreas Ludwig Priwine was born in Berlin to a wll-toodo Jewish family. He was the second son and last of three children of Charlotte (née Epstein) and Jack Previn (Jakob Priwin) who was a lawyer, judge, and music teacher born in Graudenz, now part of Poland. Their oldest son Steve Previn became a director. Thir parents gave all three children received piano lessons, but André was the most interested and the most talnted. His parents enrolled André in the prestigious Hochschule für Musik (Berlin Conservatory) at age 6 years, probably in 1935 before the enactment of the Nuremberg Laws or because the administration was not yet thoroughly NAZIfied. André as a result received an old-world musical education and spent many evenings playing Beethoven symphonies in piano reductions with his father. His father was evebtually told that Andre was no longer welcome at the Conservatory (1938). This despite the fact that André was awarded a full scholarship in because of his talent. The reason of course was because hhe was Jewish. [Ruttencutter, p. 35.] The parents by this time had applied for American visas, but decided to gonto France to wai out the applicatiin process. They enrolled André at the Paris Conservatory where André was introduced to music theory. The family recived their American visas and sailed for New York City (October 20, 1938). They got out just in time. A month later Kristalnachy occured in Germany. The NAZis stole their propoerty, but the family survived. They headed for Los Angeles. Los Angeles had become a haven for numerous talented European Jewish families fleeing the NAZIs. In so many areas Germany's loss was America's gain. Charles Previn, a second cousin to Andre's father, was the music director for Universal Studios who provided support. His father who was a lawyer struggled becauuse he could not practice law. His son, however, with his prcocious musical taklent thrived. André became a naturalized U.S. citizen (1943). He began learning English through comic books and other reading materials and a dictionary. And of course watching films. He began working at Hollywood studios while still in High School. He graduated from Beverly Hills High School(1946). He performed with Richard M. Sherman at his own graduation.

Hans Augusto Reyersbach (1898- )

Hans Augusto Reyersbach was born in Hamburgh (1898). Here we are primarily iocusing in children imoacted by the Holocaust. We mention Reyersbach and his wife Margaret, also a German Jew, because they were the author and illustrator of the wonderful children's book series--Curious George about a muschevious monkey. It boggles the mind the artistic creations and scientific accomplishments lost to mankind because of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Germans. Curious George is just one small example of a treasure that survived. Howmuch more was lost we will never know. Hans shortened his name to Rey. He was woking in Rio de Janeiro. He met Margaret there when she fled NAZI persecution. They married (1935). Here they had pet monkies who tire uo their home. As they both loved Paris, they retuned there and together wrote a book about a mischeviou monkey they called Fifi (1939). Before they could publish, the Germns struck. They escaped Paris in cobbeled together bicycles with drawings of Fifi. They managed to get to Amerca where they published their first book about Curious Geoge.

Erich Rosenberg (1924-41)

Erich Rosenberg was born in 1924 at Rotherbaum, Hamburg, Germany. We are not sure what happened to his parents, but Erich was orphaned. Erich at the time of World War II lived at an orphanage at Hamburg and was deported in 1941 with other Jewish orphans to Riga, Latvia. The NAZIs after the invasion of the Soviet Union (June 1941) set up a ghetto there for Jwws. Erich and the other orphans soon after their arrival were murdered by the NAZIs.

Edgar. E Stern (1928?- )

Edgar E. Stern was a Jewish writer born in Speyer, Germany. As a boy growing up in Speyer, Edgar was known as "Egon". Stern writes interestingly of his childhood in Speyer in a book entitled The Peppermint Train. His younger childhood was a happy one. He grew up in a loving, prosperous family. The family was forced to flee the country in 1936 because of Hitler's persecution of the Jews. Photographs in the book give a good idea of how he dressed as a boy of about 5 years in 1932.

Unidentified Bar Mitzva Boy

This German Jewish bow had his Bar Mitzva portrait taken in the 1930s. We suspect it was taken in the early or mid-1930s. By the late 30s, because of NAZI repression, conditions for Jews in Germany had become very difficult. There is writing on the back, but we can not make it out very well. Put your cursor on the image to see the back. A reader writes, "This is very difficult to read. I can only make out single words. It is written in old German handwriting. It is addressed to a girl named Rosa.


Feigl, Peter. E-mail message, February 10, 2010.

Held, Wendy. "A victim of survivor gelt," The Washington Post May 28, 2004, p. W11.

Ruttencutter, Helen Drees. Previn (New York: 1985).

Stern, Edgar. E. The Peppermint Train (University Press of Florida, 1992).


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Created: June 3, 2004
Last updated: 4:02 AM 8/25/2019