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Authors: Diney Costeloe

The Runaway Family

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Preface

The Nuremberg Laws on Citizenship and Race:

September 15, 1935

Article 4
(1) A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich. He cannot exercise the right to vote; he cannot hold public office. (2) Jewish officials will be retired as of December 31, 1935. In the event that such officials served at the front in the World War either for Germany or her allies, they shall receive as pension, until they reach the age limit, the full salary last received, on the basis of which their pension would have been computed. They shall not, however, be promoted according to their seniority in rank. When they reach the age limit, their pension will be computed again, according to the salary last received on which their pension was to be calculated. (3) These provisions do not concern the affairs of religious organisations. (4) The conditions regarding service of teachers in public Jewish schools remains unchanged until the promulgation of new laws on the Jewish school system.

Article 5
(1) A Jew is an individual who is descended from at least three grandparents who were, racially, full Jews… (2) A Jew is also an individual who is descended from two full-Jewish grandparents if: (a) he was a member of the Jewish religious community when this law was issued, or joined the community later; (b) when the law was issued, he was married to a person who was a Jew, or was subsequently married to a Jew; (c) he is the issue from a marriage with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, which was contracted after the coming into effect of the Law for the Protection of German Blood and Honour of September 15, 1935; (d) he is the issue of an extramarital relationship with a Jew, in the sense of Section I, and was born out of wedlock after July 31, 1936.

Article 6
(1) Insofar as there are, in the laws of the Reich or in the decrees of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and its affiliates, certain requirements for the purity of German blood which extend beyond Article 5, the same remain untouched…

Article 7
The
Fuehrer
and Chancellor of the Reich is empowered to release anyone from the provisions of these administrative decrees.

Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honour

September 15, 1935

Thoroughly convinced by the knowledge that the purity of German blood is essential for the further existence of the German people and animated by the inflexible will to safeguard the German nation for the entire future, the Reichstag has resolved upon the following law unanimously, which is promulgated herewith:

Section 1
1 Marriages between Jews and nationals of German or kindred blood are forbidden. Marriages concluded in defiance of this law are void, even if, for the purpose of evading this law, they are concluded abroad. 2 Proceedings for annulment may be initiated only by the Public Prosecutor.

Section 2
Relations outside marriage between Jews and nationals for German or kindred blood are forbidden.

Section 3
Jews will not be permitted to employ female nationals of German or kindred blood in their households.

Section 4
1 Jews are forbidden to hoist the Reich and national flag and to present the colours of the Reich. 2 On the other hand they are permitted to present the Jewish colours. The exercise of this authority is protected by the State.

Section 5
1 A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of section 1 will be punished with hard labour. 2 A person who acts contrary to the prohibition of section 2 will be punished with imprisonment or with hard labour. 3 A person who acts contrary to the provisions of section 3 or 4 will be punished with imprisonment up to a year and with a fine or with one of these penalties.

Section 6
The Reich Minister of the Interior in agreement with the Deputy of the
Fuehrer
will issue the legal and administrative regulations which are required for the implementation and supplementation of this law.

Section 7
The law will become effective on the day after the promulgation, section 3 however only on January 1, 1936.

Nuremberg, the 15th day of September 1935 at the Reich Party Rally of Freedom.

The Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler

The Reich Minister of the Interior Frick

The Reich Minister of Justice Dr Goertner

To all those who suffered under Nazi tyranny… those who survived and those who did not.

1

The crash of shattering glass and the sound of shouting in the street below startled Laura awake. More shouting and banging, a piercing scream and then more breaking glass. Laura sat bolt upright in bed, her eyes wide with fear as she listened in the darkness to the uproar outside, the shouts, bangs and crashes getting nearer. People were chanting something, Laura couldn’t make out what, but their voices, combining into the throaty roar of a mob, were angry and frightening.

It was dark outside, though the faint light of a streetlamp gleamed through the gap in the curtains, but there was another light too, a flickering light, dancing and leaping, casting weird shadows on the ceiling. What was happening down there? What was going on?

Laura stole out of bed and crept to the window. Cautiously she lifted the corner of the curtain and peeped out. She stared down into the street in fascinated horror. A crowd was surging along the road, their snarling faces lit by the streetlamps and the flaming torches some of them carried. Many brandished stout walking sticks in the air, others carried stones, bricks and iron bars. They were led by men in uniform, guns held high, urging the crowd on. The windows of the baker’s shop across the way were already smashed, and its door hanging on a broken hinge. Even as she watched, Laura saw a man throw another brick, this time at the windows of the apartment above the shop. There was a cheer as the glass shattered, its shards flying inwards.

“Jews out! Jews out! Jews out!” She could hear what they were chanting now as the voices grew louder, stronger, as more and more people joined the crowd.

“Laura, what’s happening?” Inge, her seven-year-old sister, asked sleepily from the other bed.

“I don’t know,” Laura said, shrinking back behind the curtain, but somehow unable to turn away. “There’re people outside throwing stones and shouting.”

There was another sound too, the crackle of flames, and Laura realised with growing horror that the dancing light she had seen through the curtains was fire. There was smoke now, and the red and gold tongues of flame appeared at the windows of the synagogue further up the road. Even as Laura watched, horrified, the door burst open and Rabbi Rosner came rushing out, shouting for the fire brigade. He ran straight into the crowd that bayed with delight at his terror, and brandishing their sticks and hurling stones, they chased him back into the burning building.

“I don’t like it!” Inge was wailing. “Where’s Mutti?”

At that moment the bedroom door opened and Ruth Friedman, the girls’ mother, came quickly into the room, her face white with fear.

“Laura! Come away from the window!” she cried and, rushing over, dragged her daughter away. “Out of here, quickly.” She scooped Inge off the bed and clutching her in her arms, pushed Laura in front of her as she hurried them into her own bedroom at the back of the house. Her husband, Kurt, was already in the room with the twins, Peter and Hans, aged just three; both were crying at having been awoken so suddenly and their father was trying to hush them. Ruth turned the key in the lock, and, placing Inge on the bed, went to the twins.

“Papa, the synagogue’s on fire.” Laura tugged at her father’s sleeve. “It’s burning down, and Rabbi Rosner is inside.”

“Don’t worry, darling,” her father put an arm round her. “He’ll have got out safely.”

“No, Papa,” Laura insisted, her eyes wide, “when he ran out some people chased him back inside. They were hitting him!”

Before her father could answer, there came a thundering on their own front door, the splintering of wood and the sound of breaking glass as the window in the shop below became the target for the bricks. Ruth drew the twins closely into her arms, and Kurt gathered the now screaming Inge against him, his other arm still firmly round Laura.

“Ssh! Ssh!” he hushed them. “It’ll be all right. Mutti and Papa are here! It’ll be all right.”

But it wasn’t. Within moments they heard heavy footsteps on the stairs, and then a voice, which bellowed, “Come out, Jews! Come out, dirty Jews! Come out of your holes!”

Before they could do anything, there was a crash and the door flew open, the lock hanging sideways where a jackboot had kicked it free. A tall man in storm-trooper’s uniform, his cap – with its death’s head badge – dark over his fair hair, stood on the threshold, a gun in his hand, towering over the family who crouched together around the bed. Behind him two others moved along the landing, kicking open the bedroom doors, and shouting down to the mob below, “Jews up here!”

“You, Jew, you’re under arrest!” The first man advanced on Kurt, who pushed his daughters behind him in an effort to shield them.

“Why? What for?” It was Ruth who asked, her voice cracking with fear. “He’s done nothing wrong.”

“He’s a Jew. He’s under arrest!”

“But…” Ruth began to protest.

“Shut up,” bellowed the man, “or I’ll arrest the lot of you!”

“Don’t worry, Ruth,” Kurt said, trying to keep his voice steady. “I’ll go with him. I’m sure there’s some mistake and I’ll be back in no time.” For a moment their eyes met, hers wide and fearful. Kurt’s strong face was calm and determined, but fear flickered behind his eyes too, and, seeing it, Ruth began to shake.

“You look after the children, I’ll be back soon. And if not,” there was the slightest tremor in his voice, “go to Herbert.”

“Out!” The storm trooper grasped him by the shoulder, and spinning him round, shoved him roughly through the door. “Out! Out!” Immediately the two men on the landing grabbed his arms, one punching him violently in the stomach so that he doubled over, groaning with pain, before they dragged him, still bent double, down the stairs.

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