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What We Knew : Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany - An Oral History



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Perseus Books Group
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The shocking oral history that reveals the truth about daily life in Nazi Germany.

Author Biography

Eric A. Johnson is the author of Urbanization and Crime: Germany 1871-1914 and The Civilization of Crime: Violence in Town and Country Since the Middle Ages. A professor of history at Central Michigan University and a fellow of The Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study, he lives in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. Karl-Heinz Reuband is professor of Sociology at the University of Dusseldorf. He lives in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi
Introduction xiii
Part One: Jewish Survivors' Testimonies
Jews Who Left Germany Before Kristallnacht
William Benson, Leipzig, ``Never to forget, never to forgive.''
Margarete Leib, Karlsruhe, ``They strangled my father with a packaging cord.''
Henry Singer, Berlin, ``Anti-Semitism was there before Hitler.''
Karl Meyer, Cologne, ``In Cologne they never had this anti-Semitism.''
Jews Who Left Germany After Kristallnacht
Armin Hertz, Berlin, ``My toes were frozen . . . all of them fell off.''
Josef Stone, Frankfurt, ``All the people started yelling at us.''
Elise and Hermann Gottfried, Berlin, ``They were all detectives in civilian clothing.''
Rebecca Weisner, Berlin, ``Every few weeks they rounded up people and shot them.''
Joseph Weinberg, Stuttgart, ``We did not feel the anti-Semitism.''
Jews Who Were Deported from Germany During the War
Max Liffmann, Mannheim, 1940 to Gurs, ``Fear was not something I knew.''
Herta Rosenthal, Leipzig, 1942 to Riga, ``All the Jews were leaving, and they [the Germans] were happy, a lot of them. They were standing there laughing.''
Ernst Levin, Breslau, 1943 to Auschwitz, ``They say `we didn't know about it.' Bullshit!''
Ruth Mendel, Frankfurt, 1943 to Auschwitz, ``I wouldn't be alive if not for my mother.''
Helmut Grunewald, Cologne, 1943 to Auschwitz, ``I know that I'll be sent to Auschwitz and be gassed anyway.''
Herbert Klein, Nuremberg, 1943 to Theresienstadt, ``We were the last ones deported in 1943.''
Werner Holz, Krefeld, 1943 to Theresienstadt, ``I was blond, blond.''
Hannelore Mahler, Krefeld, 1944 to Theresienstadt, ``We didn't want to believe it because we could have been next.''
Jews Who Went into Hiding
Hse Landau, Berlin, ``I had been caught and sent to Auschwitz . . . I jumped out of the train!''
Lore Schwartz, Berlin, ``In any case, I came out of the war a virgin.''
Rosa Hirsch, Magdeburg, ``There were some people who tried to help. But they were such a minority.''
Part Two: ``Ordinary Germans'' Testimonies
Everyday Life and Knowing Little About Mass Murder
Hubert Lutz, Cologne, ``In my ten years in the Hitler Youth, I never heard anybody suggest that you spy on your parents or that you spy on anybody else.''
Marta Hessler, Stettin, ``They came and arrested my brother.''
Rolf Heberer, Freithal, ``For 60 million Germans, that was what the people really wanted.''
Gertrud Sombart, Dresden, ``Most people were, of course, for Hitler.''
Erwin Hammel, Cologne, ``They felt like members of the master race.''
Anna Rudolf, Berlin, ``You, good girl!''
Peter Reinke, Cologne, ``Why should I have been afraid? We just sat there in detention.''
Helga Schmidt, Dresden, ``There was never any particular sympathy for the Jews.''
Werner Hassel, Leobschutz, ``A large number of people really didn't know anything.''
Everyday Life and Hearing About Mass Murder
Hiltrud Kuhnel, Frankfurt, ``That was his hobby, measuring skulls.''
Ruth Hildebrand, Berlin, ``The soldiers on leave. . . did a lot of talking.''
Ekkehard Falter, Dresden, ``Rat-a-tat-tat, dead.''
Stefan Reuter, Berlin, ``One heard in communist circles that numbers of Jews were being gassed.''
Ernst Walters, Schwalbach, ``Gassed. They were killed and soap was made from the bones.''
Effie Engel, Dresden, ``[The BBC] also confirmed it, and with rather exact information.''
Winfried Schiller, Beuten, ``Auschwitz was not so very far away from us.''
Witnessing and Participating in Mass Murder
Adam Grolsch, Krefeld, ``In two days, 25,000 men, women, and children.''
Hans Ruprecht, Cologne, ``We have to carry out some `cleansing measures' here.''
Albert Emmerich, Eberswalde, ``There are three hundred Jews lying in each grave.''
Walter Sanders, Krefeld, ``I not only told my parents about that, I also told others when I was on leave.''
Part Three: Jewish Survivors' Survey Evidence
Everyday Life and Anti-Semitism
Mass Murder
Part Four: ``Ordinary Germans''' Survey Evidence
Everyday Life and Support for National Socialism
Mass Murder
Conclusion: What Did They Know? 387(12)
Notes 399(20)
Index 419

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