Concordia University MIGS

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It was November 9th, 1938, the 'national holiday of the Movement,' commemorating the fifteenth anniversary of the Munich Beer Hall Putsch of 1923. For me, it was a working day like any other, filled with professional duties. However, I felt depressed because the German Jews had been stripped of their rights, by the prospect of no longer being able to work, and by worries about the future of my wife and children. However, we could still hear the music of the Chopin concert by Cortot that we had heard the night before with our two oldest sons and this lightened our mood somewhat. On the way home we found ourselves talking about how different was the world of Chopin-Cortot from the world of National Socialism.

On November 9, 1938, I was still a German patriot. I was born into an old established family, the son of one of the most honoured German jurists and defender of rights. I myself was recognized for my twenty years of professional [legal] work, married to a German woman whose family had served in the highest ranks of the civil service, the father of four well behaved children (three sons and one daughter), and, as an officer in the World War, had been awarded the Iron Cross first degree. I had borne every kind of injustice since 1933 in the hope that, at least for my children who were half-Aryan, there would be a dignified life in my homeland, when, in a few years time, this reign of terror would have spent itself. Education, experience and emotion had made a truly patriotic German out of me, one who even remained fair to the Third Reich and, because of this devotion, resisted being propelled into the army of those who had grown to hate the homeland which they had lost. Also during the mass exodus which started at the beginning of 1938 with the expulsion of the German Jews from business life, I remained steadfast in my will to suffer the situation and to fight for the right to stay in my homeland, by making even further sacrifices. A few days before October 30th, my license to practice law had been rescinded. I had counted on remaining active in my profession as a counsellor to Jews and, in this manner, to earn my livelihood. In the face of the mounting distress outside, we maintained, within our four walls, an ever more profound and confident spiritual serenity which we inculcated in our children. We believed that we possessed the spiritual and physical strength to survive the Third Reich within Germany. Unprecedented events would have to occur to cause us to abandon this foundation upon which we had built our lives. Such events did occur in the following days.

On November 9th, we learned from the radio and newspapers that the German diplomat vom Rath, who had been shot a few days earlier in Paris by a politically desperate young Polish Jew (Grünspan), had died. The smear campaign that was unleashed by the newspapers against the German Jews as a result of this assassination had no limit. It intensified on this Wednesday November 9th. Loudspeaker campaigns and acts of violence against Jews were already being reported from Dessau. Late that night, the radio broadcast the decree of the SS Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler: that unless all Jews turned in their firearms, they would be placed in 'protective custody' for a minimum of twenty years. We went to bed filled with apprehension. We discussed whether we should still go to a baptism in Ludwigshafen, on the following Sunday, and whether we should fetch our eight year old daughter from her Black Forest children's spa to take her with us..

At around three o'clock in the morning on November 10th, we were awakened by a telephone call. Startled out of our sleep, we picked up the telephone knowing that a call at such an hour could not bode well. My wife, who had the telephone next to her bed, conducted the following conversation:

'Yes, this is 389.'

Operator (obviously moved) 'Please excuse me if I am disturbing you. You are being called by someone from a public telephone.'

A Male Voice (a stranger who did not give his name): 'I just wanted to warn you that there are serious reasons for you to be most careful.'

End of phone call.

We were frightened to death and needed a few minutes to catch our breath, control our beating hearts and collect our wits. Judging by the tone of voice of the speaker, this call could be considered a well-meant warning. But it could also be a provocation or, under the circumstances, an overreaction. What was happening in the city? In our area, which was far away from the city centre, we could neither hear nor see anything special. We rushed to the window but could not see anything out of the ordinary. I decided to wait until morning. Even if, in the worst-case scenario, there were arrests of Jews or attacks against them, I felt safest in my own home. We listened to hear whether perhaps my 75-year-old mother had been awakened by the call and whether the children were still asleep. Then we went back to bed with heavy hearts, in mortal terror, but without telling each other. To sleep was out of the question. Through the open window, we kept our ears glued to the sounds of the night. After a few minutes we heard about four cars leaving the neighbourhood one after the other. We imagined that other Jewish families near us had also been warned and were now fleeing for their safety. At last we fell into a light slumber.

At about four-thirty in the morning, the telephone horror show repeated itself but this time it was even more disturbing. It was a long warning, from a pay phone, by an unknown male voice with a cultured Baden accent and the tone of a concerned friend:

'Frau Doctor, why don't you quickly lead your husband to safety? It is urgent.The same danger threatens 11 Schubertstrasse (the address of a cousin).

My wife: 'Can you please give me your name?'

Answer: 'No, I cannot.'

End of call.

Now it was clear to us that we were in great danger and that the immediate threat was to our life and freedom, as I was the only fully-Jewish male in the family. Protective custody for a Jew very often meant a fate worse than death. We dressed quickly and tried to compose ourselves before making any decision. I saw myself at the beginning of a long trail of suffering at the end of which a terrible death loomed. While I could face the threat of my own death without fear, I shuddered at the prospect of witnessing men turning into beasts. I also felt great pain when I thought about what might lie in store for my wife and children. We exchanged only a few words but they contained everything that two people who belong together could say when in a situation of utmost distress. My deeply religious wife was able to maintain greater peace of mind than I. She asked me whether it was not possible for me, as well, to believe in and to trust in God's will in this dark hour. My answer was 'No'. I told her that I could not imagine a personal God who either countenanced or was unable to prevent such distress.. I had had the same reaction during the war.

After the second clear warning, we were now considering whether I should flee after all. Still undecided, I went to get the car from the nearby garage. The street was empty and quiet. Turning over the engine and backing the car out of the narrow yard required a cool head and this gave me the strength, once more, to resume rational thinking. As I slowly drove past our house, I said to myself that it would be ill-advised to drive into the unknown on account of some vague warning and, by fleeing, create the impression that I had a guilty conscience. If, as I feared, a general persecution of Jews was in the making, I could not escape it by fleeing anyway. On the road or away from home, I was an unknown fugitive, At home, on the other hand, I remained the well-known High Court lawyer, a man of impeccable character, and the father of three future German soldiers. Thus I decided to stay put until morning in order to await news about our situation.

First we stayed in my study for one hour. From there, I called my friend and colleague, Dr. Arthur W. in order to find out more from him, and if necessary, to warn him. Nobody answered at W's house and we interpreted that as his having been warned like me but, unlike me, having fled. At six o'clock we went upstairs to listen to the radio. There was the early morning concert, the morning exercise programme, all painful sounds in our frame of mind, and then the early morning news which merely repeated the last news we had heard the night before. The uncertainty remained. The children woke up and got ready for school; my mother, who had indeed heard the calls during the night, was calmed down when we told her that they were wrong numbers. We did not want to spread unnecessary panic before we knew what had happened. As usual, we sent our third son to school at half past seven. The two older sons (Paul and Ernst) started with their private Greek lessons in their study. After breakfast, I went down to my office where the mailman and my assistant, Fraulein Goldschmidt, arrived at eight o'clock. They both brought the first news: the Homburger Bank had been destroyed during the night and there had also been other disturbances in the city. Miss G. had driven past the bank and she reported that all the windows and shutters had been smashed, glass shards were lying a foot high in the street and that a mob of hooligans, whose baseness defied description, surrounded the building. More out of habit than a desire to work, I opened the mail and started to dictate letters. The first one was a covering letter to go with the surrender of my arms, in which I emphasized that I had borne these arms during the War, as an officer fighting at the front, and therefore asked that they be returned to me as keepsakes. In the meantime my wife had rushed to see my school friend and colleague, Dr. S., who lived nearby and whom we expected to have information as he was a [Nazi] Party member and an official. However, he too did not know anything either. I had called the office of Dr. W. in order to find out why nobody in his house had answered the telephone earlier. I was told that Dr. W. would probably not come to the office, that terrible things were happening in town, the Homburger Bank across the street had been destroyed, the synagogue set on fire, its contents thrown into the street and that the same thing had happened in the Jewish school. When I called his residence once again, Dr. W. answered this time and said that he wanted to come over shortly in order to discuss the situation. W. arrived at about half past nine. He confirmed the news that we already knew and added that there had also been numerous arrests. For example, all of the approximately fifty residents of the Jewish hotel 'Nassauer Hof' had been taken into custody and the building completely destroyed. Nearly all of the Jews living in the hotel had been on the point of emigrating and had already permanently closed their homes and disposed of their contents. A client of W. had reportedly escaped arrest by hiding for hours on the rooftop. He appeared at eight o'clock at W's house and told him that there had been two surprise attacks on the hotel. During the first one, which took place at two o'clock in the morning, all the residents were driven out of their beds, vilified and threatened. The owner, who was over seventy, was dragged off in his pyjamas and manhandled. (Later in the in morning, he died in the prison yard.) One hour later, the murderers returned and went from room to room, systematically destroying the furnishings as well as the personal belongings of the guests, smashing dishes, slashing the bedding, and hacking the furniture to pieces. The residents were kicked and beaten and all the men taken into custody in a brutal manner. The culprits, in this case as in all others, were organized troops of the SS. As confirmed to me, days later, by a number of non-Jewish acquaintances (Party members, civil servants and lawyers) and as now public knowledge in Germany, the 'spontaneous eruption of the people's rage' against the Jews happened in the following manner. After the swearing in ceremony around midnight of November 9 - 10, the entire SS. was assembled. From the highest level of command came this order: that at two o'clock in the morning, wherever Jews lived, the so-called 'Flying squad' (Murdering Commandos) was to assemble wearing civilian clothing over their brown shirts. These nationally organized murder and arson gangs were under order to torch all synagogues throughout the Reich, seek out Jewish businesses and apartments and arrest as many Jews as possible. It was not necessary to order the men to ill treat the Jews for that was self-evident for the SS. The spectators of these foul deeds consisted of other members of the SS reinforced by a rabble of onlookers, such as can be found in any city, consisting of members of the Party and the general population. The entire citizenry, civil servants, police, the general public, and workers, are all ashamed of these events and voice their outrage, but dare not react against the Gestapo terror. Each word in the German press, on this subject as well as every other subject, is a deliberate lie.

Dr. Arthur W., who had described the night of terror at the Nassauer Hof, was just coming from his brother and partner, Dr. Eugen W. Both brothers, like myself, are married to non-Jewish wives and, as commissioned officers had fought in the war. His brother told me that Eugen W. was about to seek safety by driving to the Black Forest where a friend of his, an Aryan and a Party member, owns a weekend house in the Gaistal [Valley of the Gais] above Herrenalb. Eugen W. could find sanctuary there. I knew this house because our own weekend house was located five hundred meters away from it. Arthur W. and I agreed to remain for the time being in Karlsruhe and to keep ourselves and each other informed of events. Just before nine o'clock, as W. was about to leave, there were two telephone calls which hit us like a ton of bricks: Anna Fuchs, the wife of my cousin Philipp called from her nearby apartment: 'Please come at once. Philipp, has taken his life.' I promised to come immediately and then a second call came from Frau Schweizer, the widow of my deceased partner. 'Please come at once. Something terrible has happened to my brother in law (the almost sixty year old counsellor to the provincial court, D. Schweizer.) I cannot tell you more over the telephone.' I promised to go over there as well, but first went with my wife to the nearby apartment of Philipp Fuchs. There, in the forecourt, we met his wife, in a state of physical collapse but maintaining her composure. She was surrounded by four men standing around quietly wearing civilian clothing and Party badges. They identified themselves as three police officers from the criminal investigation department and one coroner. I introduced myself as a lawyer and relative and asked to be told what had happened. I was shown the fully clothed corpse of my cousin lying in a pool of blood in his bedroom and was told the following:

Philipp F. had been somewhat late and therefore had not been ready to leave when the car arrived, shortly after eight o'clock, to drive him to his place of business at the Rheinhafen (Harbour). The driver (Fehr) had told him of the attacks during the previous night whereupon Philipp became extremely upset. (For three years, Philipp had been subjected to criminal proceedings after a dismissed employee accused him. There was supposed to be a final adjudication of the case shortly.) Philipp sent Fehr away telling him to return in twenty minutes. Before the twenty minutes had elapsed, a flying squad of four thugs with cocked revolvers, in brown shirts and civilian jackets, demanded to enter his apartment while four others stood watch in front of the house. When the order had been was issued, the flying squads were told that, if necessary, they should simply allow themselves to be arrested by the police and that they would be released within a few hours. But the police did not want to go to unnecessary bother; they simply closed their eyes and did nothing. Philipp Fuchs realized what was happening. Through the sliding glass door, he announced to the men that he would not let them in. He put the chain on the door, locked himself into the bedroom with his wife and picked up his pistol. The maid had also fled into her room. In the meantime the SS, uttering dire threats, broke the glass door, rattled the bedroom door and, threatening him with death, demanded immediate entry. In reply to their shouts that they would now shoot him, Philipp answered that that would not be necessary as he could do it himself. He put the pistol to his temple and shot himself in the head as he stood next to the bed. As he fell, he hit his head on the edge of the washstand. He died instantly. His wife had been kneeling in front of her bed the whole time waiting for her coup de grace which Philipp had promised her if ever, as both of them had feared for some time, he should decide to escape the tortures of the Third Reich by suicide. In his distress, Philipp did not keep his promise. His wife jumped up, ran over to him where he lay in his blood and took his pistol in order to kill herself but could not find the courage to do so. In the meantime, the murderers had forced their way into the room. They were angry that the dead man had cheated them out of their wish to torture him and insulted his memory by calling him a coward in front of the widow. They then left, crossed the street and seized the sixty-year-old lawyer, Friedmann, at his home, venting their rage on old Friedmann by subjecting him to repeated acts of violence. The three police detectives were embarrassed. They declared that they personally knew nothing about what was actually happening and that they were totally unaware of any arrest warrant pending against Philipp. They also said they did not know who the intruders were. I responded by enquiring as to how they proposed to deal with the serious trespass on private property which had occurred as well as the damage, threats, and more serious offences. The answer was that they would make a report and that any further steps would be up to the Public Prosecutor; the body, which had been impounded, would be picked up in the next few minutes. The three of them then went away leaving the coroner, who left soon after. In contrast to the three police investigators, the coroner had some humane words for us after I had told him, despite his Party badge, that my Iron Cross First Degree gave me the right to tell him that this spilled blood dishonoured Germany. The investigators took the maid, Rosa, with them to question her. So, except for the body, only my wife and I remained with the widow in her apartment. I suddenly remembered Frau Schweizer's telephone call. Because I did not want to leave before they had taken away the corpse, my wife took undertook to drive over there alone. I owe my freedom and life to her having done this for all Jews who turned up in the city, during those hours, were arrested. Soon after my wife left, a hearse arrived with a coffin and three city morgue attendants, decent old civil servants. The coffin turned out to be too small so that they drove off again in order to fetch a bigger one. In the meantime, I remained alone with Anna who, after the first hour had passed, slowly became fully conscious of the horror of the situation. At her request, I telephoned Dortmund in order to arrange for her mother to be informed. However, the Jewish lawyer's office in Dortmund which I had called did not answer; thus the same horror must have happened there as well. When the morgue attendants arrived with the new coffin, we lifted Philipp out of his blood, washed his face and hands and placed him in the coffin. I then led Anna in so that she could say goodbye. Even at that moment she remained composed. Philipp lay there as we had often seen him, most carefully dressed, a slightly ironic expression on his face, transfigured by the glow of deliverance which, shortly after death, once more ennobles the human face before it disintegrates. The ribbon of his Iron Cross was visible through the blood that had stained his jacket and collar. Walking behind the coffin, Anna and I escorted the deceased onto the street. When I was alone with Anna, I tried to instil courage into her and to remind her of her duty to her mother. I never got the chance to think of my own situation at all before a new horror occurred. When I called Uncle Jakob F. to report Philipp's death, his wife answered and told me with a failing voice that I should come immediately. Her husband (sixty-eight years old) must have been arrested. He walked to the station over two hours ago and had not returned; she had therefore asked Uncle Arthur F. (sixty-nine years old) to go to see me at my office immediately. He was supposedly on his way. I promised to help here as well and called my office to tell Arthur that he should wait for me. But my office did not answer (As I found out later, Miss. G. had temporarily disconnected the telephone so that no news of the terror would reach my mother who had not been informed of anything.) All this was a terrible shock but I refused to leave Anna. I called my wife at Frau. Schweizer's and learned that Schweizer had been arrested in a very brutal way. I asked my wife to drive home immediately and call me at Anna's to report whether everything was all right at home.

I counted the minutes and tried to conceal my alarm from Anna. Then, at about ten-thirty, Rosa came back from her interrogation. She sobbed aloud because she was horrified by what she had seen. She told us that Jews who had been arrested were being driven from all over the place to the district office. Sometimes there were many in one truck, other times there was one by himself in a cart. They were jeered at and mistreated. She said that, in front of the district office, there was an inhuman crowd that beat the arriving detainees half to death before they were thrown into the prison courtyard. 'Be glad, Frau Fuchs, that your husband shot himself. At least you know how he died.' Anna and Rosa begged me to flee for my own safety. I was able to leave Anna now that Rosa was with her. I drove back to our house. Before I could get out of the car, my wife rushed out of the house towards me. She told me that she had just received a third urgent telephone warning from an unknown caller telling me that I should disappear as fast as possible in order to escape being arrested and beaten. I wanted, at least, to say goodbye to my old mother upstairs in the house. But my wife insisted so urgently that I not lose another minute that I complied and drove off without my hat and coat, without luggage or provisions. As for my destination, I told my wife I was headed for our weekend house in the Gaistal (Gais Valley). Once again, driving proved to have a calming effect on me. Once I had managed to leave the city, making a wide detour to avoid the main streets, and reached the highway unmolested, I regained enough composure to think over our situation. I drove very fast along the Durmersheimer highway and turned at Mürsch in order to reach the Albtal (Alb Valley) via Ettlingen. Driving along this stretch of highway, I made the decision to go back as I feared my family would be made to suffer if I could not be found. Shortly before the intersection in Ettlingen where one turns to the right to go to the Albtal and to the left in order to return to Karlsruhe, I was overtaken by a car whose driver urgently signalled that he had to tell me something. I recognized him as my neighbour and former client, Z., a young manufacturer who had made no secret of the fact that, despite his being a Party member, he disapproved of the way the Jews were treated in the Third Reich. Z. confessed to having been the third telephone caller. He said I had to disappear immediately for a few days. The situation was grave and an unimaginable fate would await me if I were arrested. Women and children were not in danger. He had seen me drive through the city and had followed me in order to warn me. On account of my fast driving, he had not been able to catch up with me until now. He would telephone my wife again to tell her that he had seen me drive through Ettlingen. I should stay hidden in the Black Forest. I heeded his as a sign of Fate after having thanked Z. from the bottom of my heart. I drove through Ettlingen past the smoking ruins of a small synagogue. At about twelve-thirty, I reached the Gaistal, left the car a few hundred metres above our house in the forest, on a dirt road, and entered the house that was now expected to provide refuge for me and for others for the next few days. I opened the windows and shutters in the cold damp house, made a fire in the tiled stove, fetched water from the closest neighbouring farmhouse and sought, at the same time, to have a harmless chat with the neighbours. I then checked the sparse food supply that was on hand-- a few cans but, nonetheless, enough to sustain me for two or three days without my having to expose myself to the danger of shopping in the village. I wanted to be seen as little as possible. It was a glorious fall day. A bright sun shone down upon sinners and sufferers alike. As I stepped out of the door in order to get a fleeting look at the forest, I heard myself being hailed from the valley and could hardly believe my eyes when I recognized my wife with my eldest son Paul trudging up the steep path. After Z's telephone call, they had started on their way, driven here in our old car and brought me not only the news that everyone was alive and well at home but, above all, a knapsack with bread, butter and other food. Up to that point the SS had not enquired about me. My wife had delivered my weapons to the local police station. The policeman had told her that the police had no idea of what was actually going on and that they had nothing to do with the arrests. My wife informed me that there had been further arrests in the meantime and that all Jewish businesses had been destroyed and looted. I therefore had to remain up there and would perhaps receive company. Down below in Herrenalb, my wife had met Eugen W. with his brother Heini W. Eugen W. had told her that he intended to come up to spend the night in our vicinity, at the house of his friend S.. Paul stayed with me; he had proven himself in the past few days to be a son and a man far beyond his fifteen years. We accompanied my wife back down into the valley to her car, crawled back up the mountain, made tea and then dinner after which, at seven o'clock, we fell dead tired onto our beds and slept for twelve hours. In my case it could not really be described as sleeping. Neither during this night nor the following days were we able to feel safe in this little house because our presence there could not be concealed and because the Herrenalber SA could have scored a cheap victory if they had rooted us out. Should they succeed in so doing, the only choice left would be to depart from this life like Philipp did, or to give ourselves up to these oppressors. Paul would not hear of this. He seemed determined to defend his father, wanted to bash in the head of any intruder and, accordingly refused to part, day or night, with either his open pocketknife or axe. He ran around like a Tartar and listened like a watchdog. On Friday, November 11th, as we were having our morning tea, Eugen W. knocked at the door and told us that he was now our neighbour. He told us that he was about to drive to Herrenalb with his wife and son, telephone Karlsruhe from there and then report back to us about the current situation. The hours crept by and every minute my thoughts returned to the terror of the previous day and to those down below to whom terrible things might have happened in the meantime. Eugen W. sent his son to let us know what he had learned from his call to Karlsruhe: that it was not possible to go down there without exposing oneself to great danger. Towards evening, we blacked out the windows of the little house carefully so that the light would not betray our presence. We were in the process of fashioning some chessmen for ourselves when we were startled by a noise outside the house and by a voice. It turned out to be a happy scare because it was my wife who had come up quickly (about one hour by car) to check on us and to bring us news. The news however turned out to be bad. At least nothing terrible had happened at home. Nobody had asked about me and my old mother was calm. But my wife gave me the following devastatingly depressing details about what had occurred elsewhere:

An unbelievable torrent of the most vile depravity had been unleashed throughout Germany on November 10th. We had lived through a pogrom the likes of which had not occurred even in the backward Middle Ages.

Murder and torture are continuing in the camps into which tens of thousands of Jews had been driven.

From this point on, the German people, because of those who murder and torture, those who, with their lies, instigate and glorify such behaviour, and the silent majority, too cowardly to denounce this madness, has ceased to belong to the civilized world.

Among the many hundreds who had been arrested in Karlsruhe there were elderly men over the age of seventy. All these men, most of whom had been severely abused, were gathered in the Gottenaue barracks. They were put, facing the wall, into large assembly halls and were not permitted to move. They were denied food and drink. Armed guards stood over them and threatened them whenever they did not comply. At eleven o'clock in the evening, after a wait of nearly twelve hours, the men were examined in order to determine which ones were fit for internment in the concentration camp. Severely disabled war veterans and persons over the age of sixty were released. All others were taken by truck, that same night, to the infamous concentration camp at Dachau. Many would perish there from abuse or exhaustion not to speak of the mental torture to which they were subjected. The following people, from my immediate circle of friends and relations, were brought to Dachau:

  • my cousins Richard Fuchs and his brother Walther Fuchs (both of them war               veterans, and family men, aged 50 and 48, respectively),
  • the proprietors of the Homburger Bank,
  • the famous paediatrician, Professor Lust, a man nearly 60 years old,
  • the District Court counsellor, Schweizer, also nearly 60.

All these distinguished gentlemen were not used to physical labour.

Among those who had been released on account of their age were the following: Jakob Fuchs, Professor Bredig, Martin Elsass, Max Hirsch.

During these arrests, whenever the men could not be found, their wives and children were seized as hostages. For example, in Karlsruhe, Frau Lotte Emsheimer, née Vogel, had been detained for a full day for this reason. The little ten year old daughter of Arthur W. had already been dragged out of her home into the street when a neighbour saved her by commenting that the child was not fully Jewish since her mother was of German blood. When the lawyer, Dr. Heinrich Straus (also in Dachau), could at first not be found, the flying squad detained his ten year old son and only released him three hours later after his father, who had been arrested in the city, was brought in.

Dr. Julius Vogel was released because he had sustained a severe injury to his jaw as a result of having been kicked down the stairs of his home by the SS. His brother Sally had his teeth knocked out..

The lawyer, Hugo Stein, one of the severely disabled war veterans, had been driven through the city for hours during which time he was beaten.

Five hundred arrested and beaten Jews who had arrived from Mannheim in the evening, by special train, were also sent on to Dachau.

All this, and much more, my wife told me that evening before she again slipped out of the house to the car and drove home. We had agreed that we would henceforth rely on our sons as messengers when we wanted to send each other important news. She had also informed me that Arthur W. would be my guest for the night. Apparently, they had been looking for him repeatedly in his apartment and he no longer felt safe in his Karlsruhe hideout. Not only Arthur W. but also his brother Eugen arrived late that night, because Eugen did not want to continue to endanger his host S. by his presence at S's cottage. S. had been denounced because of that, and his house had been searched. Thus there were four of us in our cottage on that night of November 11th to 12th and I found it difficult to provide enough food for everybody. Day and night we discussed our situation, even going so far as to contemplate the possibility of our having to emigrate, a subject none of us had been willing to broach before. At twilight, my second son, Ernst, arrived and reported that everything was all right at home, but that we should remain up there until vom Rath, (who had been murdered by Grünspahn), had been buried, as there was concern lest his funeral give rise to further outbreaks of violence. Ernst told us that, in the local train between Karlsruhe and Herrenalb, there had been some members of the Hitler Youth in his compartment who had bragged about their participation in the looting of Jewish businesses. I kept Ernst up there with me so that I could send Paul down the following day. On November 12th, in the evening, Frau Eugen W. came up and brought us the latest newspapers which reported shamelessly exactly what was happening: the mass murder of Jews, the looting of their homes, the destruction of their property, the desecration of their places of worship, their torture, the floods of tears, the crushed hearts of women and children, the mad orgy which a dehumanised people let loose against an innocent and defenseless minority of impeccable citizens, and all that not unleashed by a sudden outburst of passionate fury but the result of a well prepared military operation emanating from the madness of a fanatic dictator. To 'compensate' the Jews for all this, they are being subjected to a government decree providing the following:

1) Their sole remaining permitted occupation is taken away from them.--Jews will henceforth be forbidden to carry on business.

2) The owners of houses which have been destroyed are ordered to repair the damage immediately, at their own expense, in order 'to improve the appearance of the streets.' Any amounts coming to them through insurance will be confiscated by the State.

3) One billion Gold Marks. (One thousand million GM) has to be contributed to the Reich by the German Jews as a whole..

4) Jews are forbidden to go to the theatre, attend concerts, go to movies or visit amusement parks. Moreover, they are no longer permitted to own or drive cars.

When we read this news, any remnant of our belief in the German people vanished as they had, without any resistance, subjugated themselves to a government made up of a gang of flagrant criminals. We preferred to start over again as beggars in a foreign country to letting our children grow up to be members of this infamous people. The unbelievable but accurate rumour that mixed marriages were to be annulled and the children of such marriages to be handed over to the State, that is, that the State would rob us of our wives and children, convinced us that there was no other choice but to flee at once. We contemplated crossing the border under cover of darkness but abandoned this plan and decided on a legal emigration. It turned out that I, a rare exception, still had a valid passport with an unrestricted French visa. At this point I still rejected the suggestion that I cross the border with this passport and have my family follow.

We were advised by S. to be especially careful on the coming Sunday, the 13th of November. It seems that we had been noticed in Herrenalb and, with all the increased Sunday traffic due to family outings, we could count on some unpleasantness. At first we wanted to hide in the woods on Sunday for the entire day but then we preferred, after all, to stay inside the house where we were left in peace. At noon on Sunday, I sent Paul to Karlsruhe (one hour on foot to Herrenalb, then one hour by local train to the city) to tell my wife to ask her brother, who had gone to Ludwigshafen (one hour by express train from Karlsruhe) for the baptism of his daughter, to come to see me at the cottage the following day. I wanted to talk to him about the immediate future of my family in case I should decide, after all, to emigrate now without them. When Paul was gone, Frau Eugen W. showed up again. She was completely exhausted because, as a precaution, she had walked up from Herrenalb and had gotten lost. She warned us, once again, not to leave our hiding place until vom Rath's funeral was over. In addition, she told her husband that her brother, who was living in America, had wired her that he intended to obtain an immigration visa for them to come to United States shortly. It was nearly midnight when the two brothers W. came back to the cottage after they had taken Eugen's wife back to her car in Herrenalb.

During those four days, I got a fever, sore throat and an earache. After we had gone to bed way past midnight, the two brothers W. came to me once more to discuss plans for the following day. We then decided to drive to Karlsruhe, at the crack of dawn, in order, for once, to be near the action for a whole day and then to form our own opinion about the situation. After a few hours during which nobody slept a wink, we got ready, packed, tidied up and left the cottage under the cloak of darkness shortly after five o'clock. Like smugglers, we stole in single file through the dark woods to the car which we had great difficulty in starting because it had been standing idle in the cold for so long. After navigating dizzying curves down the steep hill we finally left the dirt road and drove down to Herrenalb and from there to Karlsruhe at the crack of dawn. We left the brothers W. in front of their home, parked the car on the street some distance from our house and sneaked inside. Everyone was still asleep. Gertrude and Paul had only returned from Ludwigshafen after midnight. Paul had travelled to Mannheim (where his mother was) the night before to give her my message. My wife reported terrible things from Mannheim as well. These events were confirmed by my friend Brunner in Mannheim the following day. There and in Heidelberg, members of the SS had also forced their way into private apartments, manhandled the occupants and wrecked the furnishings. Furniture, pianos, paintings, and housewares had been thrown onto the street and set on fire. The Jewish law offices had been destroyed; files as well as important documents had all been burned. Both my brother in law and Brunner urged me to use my passport and leave quickly for France; my family was not in as much danger and could join me soon after. I spent Monday, November 14th, in bed to fight my cold and at the same time to stay out of sight. I made the most critical arrangements necessary to wind up my law office. My wife had to deal with the onslaught of wives of arrested clients who came to the office seeking legal advice. On top of that, she had to console and advise the many members of our extended family, visit the sick, and do much more besides. Perhaps this served to distract her from our own plight. We had no time to talk about our impending separation. We spent every second of these last two days working. We tried to find out on the quiet whether I would be allowed to cross the border but didn't get a clear answer. Meanwhile, there were always new horror stories: homes for the elderly, schools, hospitals, and orphanages had been set on fire and their occupants abused and evicted. The Jews who lived in villages in the Palatinate were thrown out of their beds at night, were forced into the street scantily clad and ordered to go to Baden as they were no longer welcome in the Palatinate. Their homes were destroyed. Half-dead, they reached Karlsruhe by the dozens, where Jewish families took them in. On November 14th, I had a visit from the notary Jutz, a former notary from Karlsruhe, whom I had asked to come in order to authenticate a power of attorney for my wife. We had a long-standing relationship based on the numerous files we had handled together and mutual respect for each other. Jutz spent a long time with me and vented his outrage at the horror of the past few days. He confirmed for me that it was a meticulously planned offensive by the SS against the Jews. According to him, the officer in command of the operation in Karlsruhe, a college professor called Mikuleit, was bragging raucously in the beer hall about its success. However, some middle-class citizens dared to express their indignation loudly. Indicative of the overall state of affairs in Germany is the following: Jutz complained bitterly about Himmler and Goebbels as the initiators of all these shameful acts. When I agreed with him but added that these two criminals only behaved in this way in order to win the approval of the top leadership, Jutz fell silent - like every other German in these circumstances. Partly out of cowardice, partly out of veneration of the mystical F?hrer, nobody dares to go further with his criticism. With very few exceptions, the [common] sense and [strength of] character of the German people stops here. Brunner went further, seeing, in the November horrors, the victory of Bolshevism and predicting that, after the extermination of the last Jew, it will be the turn of the first non-Jewish owner and intellectual to be annihilated. I discussed my situation in detail with Brunner and with my brother-in-law. Both assured me that they would help my loved ones until they too could emigrate. In the evening, I conferred, once again, with helpful non-Jewish friends about how to cross the border. They helped me with this the following day. I travelled with a small valise and a briefcase as if going on a short business trip. The border police in Kehl wanted to treat me like an emigrant, which would have made entry into France impossible. Finally my files convinced the SS officer that I really only had to go to Strasbourg for a meeting. In this way, I got through. It is easy to imagine how I felt after this successful passage through border control. My last experience in Germany caused me to shudder once again. Agitated and trembling, a fine young Jewish gentleman having also just passed the border control, entered the train compartment. His hand luggage was in shreds and he himself was in ghastly shape. The left side of his face was an unrecognisable black and blue mess. He must have been punched or kicked in the face. We exchanged a silent glance. Before I could give him a word of comfort, he rushed into another compartment where acquaintances were waiting for him. Then the train went slowly across the Rhine Bridge. I would never have imagined that I could part so irrevocably from my old homeland. From then on, Germany meant only the place from which I had to save my family as soon as possible. The land and the German people have been wiped out of my heart. As we crossed the Rhine, I threw my war decorations out of the train. Up to this point, I had never taken them off. On November 16th, 1914, I had stepped on French soil for the first time as a volunteer soldier, glowing with love for my Fatherland. Twenty-four years later to the day, I was coming back there as a refugee.

As we had agreed, I telephoned Karlsruhe from Strasbourg to announce my successful flight.

Dr. Albrecht Simon Heinrich Fuchs
Lawyer at the Regional High Court
Albert Fuchs 1893-1972



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