Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Leo Liffman - May 15, 1985

Family Life

While all this was going on, what, what was your family life like at home?

Family life, just what you say it is, family life. You had a family. Even so, I was an only child but my father, my mother, on Friday nights we always had somebody for dinner. On Saturday, well, my father worked on Saturday but I worked, I...When I went to school, we had no school Saturday morning, very often I went to synagogue, I belonged to a choir in synagogue. We, in turn, were invited by people. I must say, my father's group...Actually they had some Gentile friends at that time. But, on Friday nights, we usually, what we did on Friday nights, we had one or two young Jewish fellows who had no home, who were working in the town, in Wiesbaden, and they had no one else to go to, so we invited them in our home. We had a, a good life really. Sunday nights we went usually out, for a family dinner to some restaurant, also with a group of people. We went to theaters. We went to the Kurhaus... You see, Wiesbaden, or maybe you may not know, was quite a spa because they have hot uh, springs there and actually the whole name was Aquis Mattiacis, the water of the Mattiacis. Water of the old German tribe that used to live there, on the sideline. But, we went to the Kurhaus, which was a very nice building, as a matter of fact, it's one that's still standing, very imposing. Concerts...It was a normal life to a great extent. I mean nobody told us you cannot come in here because you're Jewish. That did not exist. The life was...It was educating, we went wherever we could go for, to further our education. Basically, my schooling was all right, excluding the incidents I mentioned to you, but I had access to the schools as it were. My education was going along fine, but friendships, or lasting friendships actually, were not formed.

At what point did um, things start to change and get...Were you more aware of uh, open anti-Semitism and did your attitudes change? Was it after 1933 or before 1933?

No. Long before 1943, I mean the anti-Semitic attitude what I told you what, how I felt about it, what happened to me in school and so on and so forth happened to all the other Jewish people too, in various uh, grades, various degree. But anti-Semitism really lived with us openly since about 1923, 1924. We heard about anti-Semitism. When it got worse, as we got older in school, I mean, that eventually the Nuremberger, Nuremberg laws came in, that was a culmination of a process that started long before Hitler came into power. In smaller towns, if a Jew, God forbid, talked to Aryan girl or was even going out with her in nineteen hundred and into twenties, '28, '29, he liable to get hit over the head. Nazis were going to kick him around. Tell him, "Hey, don't...You dirty Jew, don't take out any of our girls." That happened long before Hitler came. Not necessarily in my hometown but I know of places where it did happen not too far away from it.

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