Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Leo Liffman - May 15, 1985

Fate of Family

What happened to your family during the Krystallnacht?

My father was taken prisoner, too. And he went to Dachau. And one day before I left Germany I saw him. He came home. And uh, because they left, I mean there were about 30,000, as far as I remember, and later numbers came out. There were about 30,000 people there. Taken prisoner at the time and little by little they let them go out, back home on this particular program. Krystallnacht people. Unless you had a real bad, bad uh, background as a political uh, activist or uh, otherwise anti-Nazis, then they kept you for good. There were some people who never came out again. But uh, my uh, being able to have that uh, produce that certificate for going to Stuttgart for my final papers, I think that uh, helped me to get out.

What was this...This was your final meeting with your father?

Mm-hm, final meeting with my father and my mother.

What was that... What was that like? He had just gotten out of Dachau?

Yeah, he got out of Dachau and uh, he had his...I have to inject something interesting in a minute. Um, he was uh, released to a security agent. Uh, they uh, let him go. I think on the tenth of December it was that he came out. I left on the uh, on the thirteenth. The, um... Yeah, he left...I, I tell you how it was. I went on the twelfth, I went to Stuttgart and he came out after I got back from Stuttgart with my papers. I had to go and get my uh, ticket. A boat ticket. I couldn't do anything before. I got a boat on a Holland America line. On a boat that was torpedoed, one of the first boats to be torpedoed in World War II. I had to leave Germany earlier than I thought I should or would because in Bachstadt, where I worked, some old guy accused me that I had uh, very close relationship with, with an Ar...Aryan girl. God, I don't even know who he was talking about. So, I heard that, I was informed, somebody called me from Bachstadt. So I went by night practically. Via Cologne, I went into Holland. And then my father wrote me. After I was in Holland, I got a letter from my family that my friends were asking for me. So they were after me, after information which was a lie. Just because I was Jewish they tried to, somebody tried to be a hero and have something against a Jew because it was in, near Weimar and the Weimar area, Thuringia was a very anti-Semitic area to begin with. There was a well-known guy by the name of Saukl. He was a Gauleiter. S-a-u-k-l. Saukl. And uh, it was very bad situation, I had just made it...Actually, I was out by the skin of my teeth.

Did anyone in your family survive?

No. Well, see there was Liffmans, there were about six and a girl. Seven people, I think, only one got out of the seven Liffmans and went to Ireland of all places. And the children, some of the children got out. I have uh, some relatives uh, in uh, California, who comes from the Berlin, Berlin branch. We had a Berlin branch of the family. One in uh, Florida and uh, Cleveland, which are sisters and brothers, which come from Cologne, they're living in Cologne. And their families were all dead and uh, from Wiesbaden, that's me. That's about...And there are others that were killed. We had an Essen branch, they were all killed. We had more people in Berlin who were all killed. We had um, uh, Essen, Berlin, Wiesberg, I think there were some that were killed. So, uh...

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