Walter Frankenstein story

Discussion in 'The Holocaust' started by HA96, May 20, 2019.

  1. HA96

    HA96 Member

    my local newspaper last Saturday printed a moving story about this man and his family.
    I have tried to translate most of it in the best way (80-90%)

    The Walter Frankenstein story


    We were the only jewish family in Berlin which completely survived the Nazi terror. He and his wife Leoni and their two boys.

    When he said this in the large hall of the High School in Wangen (half way from Ulm to Lake Constance), it was stock-still. The students of the 9th class seemed breathless.

    Surviving in Berlin? In the capital? The center of the Nazi regime?

    Those were the questions you could read from the faces of the students. Surviving while millions of Jews were send to the gas chambers, shot or beaten to death?

    Yes, says Frankenstein, stepping down from the podest. He is 95, his eyes are weak, but he can talk.

    The students are very concentrated, and so they should be.

    The principal head master Heiko Kloos invited Walter Frankenstein for a lively history session to talk about what happens if racism and social exclusion takes over.

    To millons of killed people answers Frankenstein laconically.

    For the past 10 years Frankenstein visited schools to tell his story.

    Many members of his family died. His mother was gassed in Auschwitz.He stayed alife. A miracle. He was a special case. He was never in a concentration camp. Frankenstein and his small family survived as “U boats” as he keeps saying. In these days it was a common term for those who managed to go underground into illegality. In Berlin there were about 4000, only 400 survived however.

    A good place to hide were theatres or cinemas, because the checks were seldom.

    In one place he was nearly “grabbed” by Stella Godschlag, jewish, but also a Nazi agent, blackmailed by the SS.

    A gentle groan by the students followed.

    The event was moderated by two female students, asking the questions on behalf of the other students. “How did you manage to go underground?” “We were lucky. In early 1943 there were about 1500 forced labour registered incl. Walter and Leoni. Leoni was pregnant and soon to give birth to have another child. Hitler ordered the GESTAPO those forced labour to deport those faster. The day before the next massive raid they were advised a lager flat, but the GESTAPO still had the old address. Next day he went to work, ironically in the RSHA (main security office deciding about deportations).Frankenstein was a brick layer. He asked his foreman, “Where are all the other forced labour?” “Deported, what are you doing here?” said the foreman. Frankenstein quickly went back to to Leoni He send her and the baby by train to Leipzig.

    Her mother lived there, and married a Christian, which was some sort of security in these days. However a neighbour was too inquisitive and they had to go back to Berlin.

    Somehow they managed to wiggle through. And with a lot of help by strangers like a brothel Mama and her prostitutes, and a factory manager. A military Police Officer let them go by saying: “I am looking for deserters not for Jews.”

    And the constant bombing also helped him. Brick layers were in full demand to re-build homes. Nobody asked for documents and passes. Life had to carry on.

    The students were shocked. “Life could have been finished within days/hours.”

    Another question:” since when did you sense Anti-Semitism?” Frankenstein answered: “ I was born 1924 in Flatow which is Poland today. My parents had a small corner shop with a restaurant attached and we all lived and celebrated together. The cut came on 30 January 1933 and on 1 April we had the first pogrom in our small town. I was almost 10 and watched the SA mob marching past our .shop. One SA man fired a pistol shot damaging the window, and I said to myself, if this man is not instantly dead, I will not believe in god anymore. The man was not dead, ever since I am an atheist.”

    12 years later he did not thank god, but a Russian soldier for the freedom with lots of Vodka involved. I was drunk, but happy.

    In 1948 the family moved to Palestine and he fought in the independence war. 10 years ago Leonie passed away and for health reasons he then moved to Sweden, still to follow up with his mission – Something like the Nazis must never happen again.

    And to the students: “ Don’t get mislead by phrases!” followed by a long applause.

    Frankenstein is a Swede today, but wants the German passport to be able to vote against the right wing parties in Germany today.
    Stefan.
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    canuck likes this.

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