Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Malka Sternberg - January 31, 2008

Life Under German Occupation II

Um, were there--do you recall if there were laws passed--anti-Semitic laws that were passed after the Germans occupied?

Well, we weren't there. We were lucky that we had a warning--we had a date when to be out. Other people didn't have a date, Hitler just moved in. With us he was given a date by the Munich Agreement so we had a date. It was--I remember the Simchat Torah--the end of the festivals were so sad, everybody was crying. Always Simchat Torah was so lively and that year everybody was crying. We didn't know--we understand--we knew why we were leaving but it didn't mean anything to us and uh, a few days before he entered we--everybody left. There were no Jews left when he came in. In our house we had a--well, the flats were rented so even though it wasn't our house but we had rented it for years we had been living in there and when our mother was expecting my brother eh, she decided she needed a bigger flat--apartment and she took that apartment. Everything was bought and everything was paid for far in advance and new furniture was bought in and when--what does a Jew do with the last thing when he moves into a house? Puts up a mezuzah. When they saw the mezuzah--it was an old couple--not old, in their sixties--said, "Raus!" And my mother said, "I'm not going raus, I've arranged everything, everything is paid for. My furniture is inside and I am going in. If you don't like it, get the lawyer, get the lawyer and make police get me out." So they let her in. Within two weeks the landlady loved her so much that she would've gone through fire and water for my mother. Two weeks it took her to get to know my mother. She was a very special person. And this same landlady when it came to '38--this was October '38--she said, "You don't move out." Reichenberg didn't have a mayor, it had a committee of five Nazi's--they were super Nazi's--the Reich's best men who were running this--the whole town. And her husband was one of them, he was such a Nazi. That's why he said, "Raus," straight away. And this woman was begging us and weeping not to go. "My husband, you know what he is, you know who he is. Not a hair off your head will be harmed. You'll have your business back, you'll have everything. Just don't go." Of course we went, we didn't wait for the--Hitler was coming in a couple of days. Whatever this woman could lay her hands on she sent after us and I have to this day my mother's tea towels, my mother's fl...linen, the Pesach ??? that was all covered in, in a big basket case, this whole Pesach ???. We had a beautiful candelabra and she sent that as well. Everything and I had these things reach me when I ??? through England and everything. And this candelabra I now gave to my nephew who married three years ago and nephew's got children and family but she got that out.

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