Since it is Yom Ha'shoa, and I'm not living in Israel to hear the siren, I want to showcase excerpts from a book my uncle wrote, based on letters he found in a suitcase, after his mother passed away, documenting his fathers escape.
The letters he found were an exchange (in german) between my grandfather, who had managed to exit the Reich in 1938 (at the age of 28), and his mother who was stuck there, and also his sister and niece who had fled Romania.
My grandfather had a letter from a relative here in the UK, which said he was guaranteed a job, thus he was able to obtain an entry visa to the UK. He fought hard and ultimately fruitlessly to get his mother out.
Adolf (my grandfather) and Lina (his mother) were amongst the 3500 stateless Jews who were unable to get out of Leipzig after the big deportation of Polish Jews in 1938.
Poland refused to take "stateless Jews"
His Uncle, Zelig, had moved from Leipzig to Britain some years before and has established a factory. His letter to Adolf was potentially a lifeline.
Zelig was well aware of the terrible predicament the Jews were in.
Adolf wrote back to him:
"As I told you, I was arrested on the night of the 9th of November, after a long and humiliating night, during which we had to clean the streets of Berlin with toothbrushes.
We were woken up at 5m every morning. The temperature where never higher that -2"
"This whole thing played havoc with my [Type I] diabetes, I used to faint 3 or 4 times a day. This went on for 3 weeks."
"One day they call me in with some others. After standing for 5 hours outside the bureau, an officers from the SS came & announced that we 'dirty Jews' could go home.
He made it clear that they would give us 6 weeks to get out of Germany"
"If we had not left by then, we would be arrested once more. Next time he said, it would not be a holiday camp like it was this time"
"Now, obviously, I am sorry I did not get out before. When you told me to come with you, I thought it was foolish of you to do what you were doing - putting your whole family through such a traumatic experience"
"I said to Mama at the time that not only is it foolish, but cruel. Mama said the situation would blow over in a short time.

Now Mama and I are standing at the end of the road. We must do what we can to get out of this inferno as soon as we can"
"I am writing this letter to you in despair, asking you if you can find any way to get us a permit with with to enter England [...] Now with the new law that we have to have a "J" stamped into our passport, it is not possible to cross the border into Switzerland "
"We have tried France, Italy, Palestine and Rumania, but all in vain. now we are running around like chickens with no heads. You are our last hope. If you cannot do anything for us, we will be sent to the East. Mama at her advanced age, and I with my diabetes, will not survive"
By March 38' Adolf had obtained all the permits, visas, approvals and certificates he needed in order to get to England.
Lastly, a visa that allowed him to travel through Holland (which did not yet have antisemitic policies) arrived.
Boarding the train, Adolf knew that as a Jew he could only obtain a 3rd class ticket, which meant he had to walk an extra kilometer to the endof the platform.
At the other side of the platform he found a bench that did not sport the sign "Forbidden for dogs, Jews and Gypsies"
Once in the UK, he wrote back to his mother that he was "suggested that the first I should do is change my name. He is right; to go around in this country at times like this with a name like Adolf is not a good idea. I decided to adopt the name of Peter"
"[...] I just know you will love England, although you will think that people here are somewhat strange, and you may have a problem learning English"
Back in Leipzig, where letters were intercepted, Lina was ordered to come to the Gestapo office to explain "who does your dirty Jewish son think he is, talking about our beloved Fuhrer in such a way!".
She was warned if her son were to write to her again, they would get to him
Lina wrote back to her son, as a Jewish mother would:
"Are you not health because you do not eat enough? or is it because you are eating things you should not? Do you do your injections regularly? You definitely eat things you should not; you could eat cucumbers with sour cream"
"When things arrive, you should not give away anything until I get there. Now I am sorry we sent my entire wardrobe. It is quite cold here and I have only the one dress to wear. My shoes are getting worn out. I do not want anyone to see me in the old rag I am wearing now"
"As you must have known, all letters that are sent to Jews come to the community headquarters where they are looked over by the Gestapo before we receive them. You must be more careful what you write. Or write in Yiddish"
"Herman told me they plan to go to Palestine, they will travel with many "pioneers", via Danube to Constanta by the Black Sea, and from there they will take a boat to their final destination. In Palestine they are going someplace or other to drain swamps."
"I am glad I do not have to go with them. It seems to be that as bad as it is here, it is evidently worse there. with all the Arabs, deserts, swamps, malaria, camels and God knows what other calamity one can find there"
"By May 1st, the stateless have to move out of homes that are in Aryan areas.
You must ask Aunt Sarah if she could send me some butter. The only thing I can eat is dry bread"
The book is called "None of Them Were Heroes", avail here on amazon.…
On April 15, Lina wrote again to Adolf in England:
"Dear Adolf
I had to stop writing yesterday as I was told i must pay 50 Marks for them to dispose of th rest of the things. Where am I to get 50 Marks from?
Write immediately as I am worried."
April 29th, 1939
"Dear Adolf,
On thursday thank goodness, I got a message that they will come to pick up the furniture with a lorry. When it arrives with the help of God, you must find a room immediately and store all the things ... "
"I absolutely cannot cook in the room. They do not let me. When I need water I must take it from the toilet bowl. Adolf I cannot live though this.
We work from morning till night sorting out the garbage. The only good thing is that I can find food in the garbage from time to time
"You must not tell Uncle and Aunt what I told you; no one must every know that I work in a garbage dump. Please write to Uncle David and tell him that I am starving"
July 17th, from Yiddish:
"I have just come from the Gestapo headquarters. After a long humiliating wait, standing on my feet for over hours, the man gave me a permit to stay here till 1st of Aug.
"He barked at me 'if you and the other dirty Jews are not out by then, no extension on your visa will be granted. If you are not out by then you will be sent to Poland like all the others
"Now I do not have monty to buy food for this week.
Dear Adolf, I am miserable and tired. I cannot last here much longer. Maybe you can send me some sort of certificate I can show the Gestapo?"
"I heard from Goebbles, who was in Leipzig 2 weeks ago that Poland will not allow unification with Danzig and "as for the Jews their worldwide net of subversion and conspiracy is push the two peace loving countries to war"
"Dear Adolf, if the Jews are so powerful and influential, as he said, why can't they get me out of here?
Take care of yourself; do not eat what you should not. Remember you are completely on your own now. I am not there to look after you"
From his increasingly worried sister in Romania, Peter/Adolf receive this letter
Feb 1st 1939
"Dear Adolf, I have received a letter from Mama, which I am sending on to you. Things for Jews here are getting worse from day to day. Judish cannot go to school any longer"
"They say school is only meant for pure Romanians. We are no longer allowed to buy things like butter, shoes and meat. We are also restricted in sending letters. Each time I go to the post, I most open the letter and read it to the postal clerk. "
"They say it is because we Jews are all spying for the Bolshevik Conspiracy, which is trying to take over Romania. I am also unable to send food parcels to Mama"
"That is not the worst of it. These people (refugees ) come with stories that the Wehrmacht is rounding up all the Jews in the areas of occupation, together with the Jews coming from Germany and sending them to camps where they are gassed to death"
"I just cannot believe these stories, and I must say, they even irritate me. I think these people only tell them so that we feel sorry for them. I have known Germans all my live, and I know they are not capable of doing things like that"
"Dear Adolf, you must find a way to get Mama out, you cannot let the Shmuelitsches just wash their hands of the whole things. Maybe Uncle David can do something before it will be too late"
From Lina (Mama), Jan 21, 1940
"I cannot stay here much longer; we are all living on the floor of the former sports hall in the Carlebach Shul. Every day they take people out of here and send them to Poland. Soon I will be the only Jew left in Leipzig."
"I never got an answer from the Swiss consul. Apparently one must go there with 1000 Marks and as guarantee. I do not have that sort of money and how in my weak condition will I walk all the way to Dresden?"
"Tell Adolf to go to the Swiss consul in England, so I can at least get to Switzerland. Tell him he has forgotten me here, and I am fading away with no food to eat, no clothes to wear, no water to drink and no place to live"
"Dear Berta, you must to it that you and Judith never fall into the situation that I am in. I should never have believe Adolf when I promised he would get me out of here and save me"
"You must buy with all the money you have shoes. This is the most important item. If I had better shoes, I could walk properly and my feet would not freeze. Shoes are the key to your survival"
"Dear Berta, you must ask Adolf about his illness, how is he managing? Who cooks for him? You must tell him he must not eat carbohydrates. You must also tell him not to do his injection every day"
"Dear Berta, tell him not to forget me here. After all it was his idea I should come after he got himself organized. He cannot just leave me here - I will perish away. Do not wait- write immediately! I will not live much longer"
"I do not know where we can all go, Maybe this idea of joining the Zionists in Palestine is our only option.
Stay healthy and I less you and the child a thousand times. I do not know if I will ever see her again"
Peter finished reading the letter with a heavy heart. Time was running out. Newspapers came out with front-page articles on what was happening in Poland:
Mar 25 "Jews are hunted down and shot in former Poland, as the Jewish community is preparing to celebrate their Purim holiday"
A letter from sister in Romania showed she and her daughter were in trouble too
Sept 1, 1940
"Dear Adolf, from your letter I get the impression you are not taking are of your health. Adolf, you must stick to your diet and not eat anything that has sugar in it"
"I got another letter from Mama, she says she is in complete despair; she lost her job in the garbage sorting and therefore is on the list of those who will be deported to the East with the next transport. That was 6 weeks ago, maybe she's already been sent"
"I met Hans, I asked him if he'd seen Mama where they bring stateless Jews from Leipzig. He said that if she was put on one of those cattle trains and transported to Poland, there is now way she could still be living. He told me only the young survive the week long journey"
"Bloshevik soldiers just go into houses here whenever they feel like it and take whatever they can find. The worst is if there are young girls or women who happen to be there, they will just rape them right there and then on the spot, & take turns as other are looting the house"
"This happened to Lariass's mother, and since then she has been a sick person. She tried to go and complain, and the officer told her she is a capitalist pig and she should know better"
"Ten of them came to live with us, and took over the house & turned it into a brothel, with women coming and going at all hours of the day & night. We had to move to the servants quarters outside, only allowed into the house to clean up the mess they make"
"One thing I am sure of is that German soldiers would never behave in such a way. We cannot even send letters, so I will have to give this letter to a friend who is going to Jasi"
"If there were any way that we could get a visa to Palestine, we would leave tomorrow. It is ironic that when we had the opportunity to go there, and they were prepared, we did not want to go. Now that we are willing, there is not way to get there"
"Judith cannot go to school any longer, as she is the daughter of a "capitalist who exploited the workers".
Only they can send their children to school."
"In terms of clothes for Judith, there is nothing to talk about - she is nearly 13 now and is growing so fast that the clothes from last year no longer fit her. God knows what will happen
The only thing I beg of you once more is to do something to save Mama"
Letter from Lina (Mama), Yiddish. No date.
"Dear Berta, if now one will get me out today, this will be my last letter. In the meantime they will come and take me to the new place in the East. They say I will have to wait my turn. I think it is the younger ones they take first."
"We are rotting away here in the old burnt out synagogue. It is getting warmer, thank goodness, so at least we do not freeze at night any longer
Now we do not have any water to drinking. We can only drink from a broken pipe which drips from the ceiling."
"Yesterday my only friend died and her body is still lying around. I only hope I will die soon too. If I had the courage, I would have killed myself long ago. The tablets I brought to do it with are lost I do not have the courage to do it any other way"
"Dear Berta, Adolf has abandoned me, and Aunt Sarah has long forgotten that I exist. Dear Berta, you are the only one that can same me. Do not leave me here
Your loving Mama."
On June 12th, 1941, the Wehrmacht entered the town of Cetate Albe, Romania. Most of the Jews feld over the Dnjestr River, to Odessa when they realised what was coming.

Within a short time, the Rumanian Greenshirts had rounded up all the remaining Jews.
As a firs step, they concentrated them in the old synagogue by the Castle. The second stage came at the beginning of Aug 1941. The Greenshirts burned the place down with the people in it.
Adolf, received a letter in Russian, August 15, 1941

"Dear Mr Adolf Rochman, I am writing this letter with the help of my neighbour, my name is Marissa, Berta's sister"
"Berta, who was always pragmatic, did not escape across the river with the rest of the Jews. She thought the Germans would be seeking people like her with whom they would have a common language and culture"
"For some time, the plunder and looting stopped, the Germans seemed o be in control and things returned to normal.
Berta decide to go to the Castle, she planned to work for them as a nurse or translator. I warned her not to go. At the gate she met this solder she knew"
"Apparently her was student of hers in Leipzig Musical conservatory, He told her not to do date to go in. "That will be the end for you and Judith" he said. He told her she should immediately go into hiding."
"Berta came home, picked up Judith and came to our place. She was in complete shock. I had never seen her in such a state. The search parties visited all the houses there they suspected that Jews or Communist might be hiding"
"A month ago, Berta's former student moved on with the German army to Russia. There was no one left to protect them. One morning I saw from my window the Greenshirts were entering the farm. They went straight to the wine cellar. They had an informer with them"
"There was nothing I could to stop them. I ran out and gathered with the neighbours. The Legionaries came out of the cellar dragging t the two of them across the yard. They pulled Berta by the hair.
"While being dragged backwards, Berta tried to pick herself up. Each time she dod so, one of the Garda de Fier thugs could clobber her with his baton. The whole thing only took a few minutes. To me it felt like eternity. I feel like Peter betraying our lord"
"The were driven to the old synagogue. I do not know what happened after that. Most people do not come back from there. No one has any idea who long they will stay alive in the synagogue with no food or water."
This letter from Marissa was smuggled across the river, where it found its way to the Ukranian partisans. It was never delivered to it's destination. After the war, it was kept in the Red Army's archives in Moldavia.
Peter/Adolf, not knowing that his sister and niece had been killed, continue to write letters to her in the hope that she would send them on to their mother in Leipzig.
Nov 13, 1941
"Dear Berta, it has been a long time since I received a letter from you. I have not heard anything from Mama either. I must tell you the big news, On Yom Kippur, I decided not only to fast but also to go to Shul, something I have not done fo years. "
"Somehow, the war and all that is going on is making more religious. Maybe its because I think we must depend on God more. I am not amember of any specific synagogue, I chose to go to the Romanian shul on Cheetham Hill (Manchester)"
"I am going to send a telegram to Mama via the Red Cross. I hope you will receive this letter in spite of the war.
Love Adolf"
As the remaining Jews were being imprisoned in Leipzig there was an unrelenting effort by the Reich functionaries, such as Eichman & Burman, to develop an extermination system.
Each dept concentrated on developing an apparatus that would gather the inmates, with as little protest as possible from the surrounding population, and destroy this "undesirable" element within Europe.
By Feb 1942, the system was up and running. By mid Jan 1942, Lina (Mama) and the others were given postcards and ordered to write to their relative and friernds about ther living conditions.
Lina wrote to Berta (and Adolf), not knowing she and her daughter had already been murdered some six months before.
Written on a Red Cross postcard
Jan 15, 1942
"Dear Adolf, I am feeling a bit better, the food here is good and they are treating us well. The promise that in a week or two they would sending us to the family work camps in the East"
"Dear Adolf, can you send me 60 Marks though the Red Cross so that I can pay for the train? will meet after the war. I will send my new address when I get there
Love, Mama"
Translated from a handwritten Gestapo document
Feb 6, 1942
"whereabouts of Lina Rochman. Sept 24 - moved from her residence on Keil Strasse 5 to the Lubecker Synagogue, bottom floor. Left to unknown dest. on 30 Nov 1941. Was last seen on train leaving for Riga on 5 Feb 1942"
The 200 surviving prisoners were marched in the early hour of feb 2 942 from the prison camp of the Gestapo to the rail station. Dressed in rags and wearing broken shoes, hungry and humiliated, wrapped tightly in blankets to protect themselves from the bitter Feb cold.
They were escorted by SS soldiers, each holder a dog leach in one hand and a whip in the other. The guards were shouting "Schnell, schnell, verfehluten Jude", whipping those who could not keep up.
Along the way, the onlookers would throw rotten vegetables at the Jews. There was the occasional passer by who put his life at risk by push half a loaf of bread into the hands of some of the prisoners.
They waited for six hours while herds of cattle were unleaded and taken away. So intense was the bitter cold that five of the prisoners dies from exposure.
They were loaded into the carriages. The SS men lifted the children up and throw them of the heards of their paretns. It was so crowded that those who had lifted their hands had no room put form the down once more
It was impossible to know how many people had fainted or dies as a result of the gruesome conditions. The Gestapo had manages to squeeze some 50 to 60 people in a carriage that was used to transport 10 heads of cattle.
More Jews were picked up along the way. After leaving the station. of Breslau the train continued travelling east in the direction of Riga. The doors were opened and 10 of the younger men were ordered to clear the dead bodies, & the straw thaw was covered in excrement and vomit.
After a nightmarish week of travel with no food, water or fresh air, the train pulled into to Riga railway station. The guards ordered the people that were still alive to jump out.
Once they were out and standing in line on the platform, the "pajama" people went in, pulled out the dead bodies & piled them up on the trollies. They were to be burned in the crematorium in the camp.
Lina's body was last to be taken out of the carriage & thrown onto the pile.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with Yonatan יונתן يوناتان

Yonatan יונתן يوناتان Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @__jacker__

4 Apr
1/ @GnasherJew were one of the first accounts to expose the antisemitic rot permeating Labour party.

Thanks to these shots these Labour members/activists & officials were exposed as antisemites.

#ReinstateGnasherJew ImageImage
2/ I remember when I first started seeing these posts, the awful creeping realisation that I was seeing was hardcore antisemitism from Labour members, activists *and* officials

On my first encounter with some of these, my hands were shaking and my heart pounding ImageImageImage
3/ And this wasn't a few bad apples we're talking about there. It was/is a whole section of the left thoughout which this rot has permeated, infesting the Labour party in the process.

#ReinstateGnasherJew ImageImage
Read 4 tweets
31 Mar
UK's president of the National Union of Students!!

"I just want to start by declaring solidarity with siblings in Palestine who have historically decades upon decades have continued to bear the brunt of a racist system of apartheid"
At the same meeting we have Omar Barghouti stating that Israel enacts a form of "Zionist supremacism" which provides a model state for "white supremacists".
And finally Ben Jamal, of the PSC:
"[Israel] is a problem rooted in process of settler colonialism given initial energy by Balfour declaration, was accelerated under British mandate which oversaw & engineered process of huge Jewish settlement & expulsion of Palestinians"
Read 7 tweets
30 Mar
I promised someone a thread on Israeli punk/post-punk, so here goes:

Band: 3ח
Year: 1991

Saw then at the "Penguin" club
דורלקס סדלקס
(Duralex Sadlex)

פּלסטיק וונוס
Plastic Venus

"Only if you hug it will help" "רק אם תחבק"
Read 9 tweets
19 Mar
I've had a massive (and destructive) argument with a friend over whether this is antisemitism. I see a lot of people have trouble understanding this. So let me try to explain:
What you see here is not a criticism of Israel or Zionism. I can pretty much guarantee that Ed has little idea what Zionism is, or what goes on in Israel. Or, for that matter even, what Judaism is (not to mention it's long relationship with Zionism)
A rational critique might go: "I think the excesses of the IDF against Palestinians is a direct outcome of Zionism and even a manifestation of it". This is a rational argument (albeit completely untrue - and falsifiable as well).
Read 9 tweets
24 Dec 20
1/ It's that time of year again, and Banksy's simplistic, shallow but evocative political art work of Joseph and Miriam being confronted by a giant concrete wall and watchtower.
2/ The image juxtaposes of the mythological image of Yosef trying to reach Bethlehem - called forth by the xmas star (which is on the other side - unreachable). The harshness of a ten-foot concrete barrier is contrasted with idillic pastoral image of local shepherds.
3/ Border watchtower in full view, in order to invoke image of concentration camp. It is also intended to invoke the impression that "Jews were victim but now they're the oppressors"
Read 18 tweets
11 Jul 20
On the "moderate" Labour Party Forum, someone posts the question:

"Why is Labour so heave on faux antisemitism but so light on real Islamophobia?"

Here are some of the answers:
"Faux anti-semitism is the work of non-socialists"
"all the stuff about antisemitism, It's just make-believe"
Read 14 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Too expensive? Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal Become our Patreon

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!