This sculpture is described as follows:
“An almost life-size sculpture of children depicted in bronze stands directly adjacent to the Friedrichstraße station at the intersection of Georgenstraße and Friedrichstraße. Seven boys and girls represent the Jewish children of the 1930s. The arrangement of the group reflects the contrasting fate of the children in the Nazi era.
Five figures in grey bronze look to one side, symbolising the suffering of those deported to concentration camps to meet an early demise. Two lighter bronze figures, however, gaze in the other direction. They represent those Jewish children whose lives were saved by the Kindertransports.”
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As I look at this sculpture, in my mind I see those hapless innocent children stoically marching down the path at Auschwitz to the gas chambers. I still cannot comprehend the mindset of the dreaded SS watching this inhumane transgression day and night without twinge of conscience. It was not until years later that I realized how close Wolfang and I came to being deported saved by the selfless efforts of many organizations who devoted all their energies to bring as many of us as possible to safety.
During June, 1939, I and several others at the Auerbach Orphanage had been informed we were going to France for a two week vacation. Late in the afternoon of July 3rd, 1939, indeed, we were assembled and left for the Potsdamer Banhof (station) pictured above.
We were excited to be able to go to France just to get away from the deadly atmosphere in Berlin and the harassment we were subjected to by the Hitler youth.
When we were still able to go to the Jewish school, as we left the school to come back to the orphanage, we had to run between two lines of Hitler youth who beat us mercilessly with belts and buckles. Two SS troopers stood by laughing and made sure we did not fight back against the Hitler youth. We ran as fast as we could through the two columns and hid in nearby homes until the Hitler youth got tired waiting for us to come out. After kristalnacht we stopped going to school at all.
That evening the sky was overcast with a light rain adding to the eerie atmosphere so prevalent in Berlin during those years. In the station ropes had been erected on the platform in a square in which we waited for our train. On the outside of the ropes stood our relatives. All around the ropes were the cruel SS and other armed soldiers patrolling our perimeter with snarling dogs making sure we did not talk or touch our mothers and relatives. There were other boys from all around Berlin. Altogether 42 boys were in our kindertransport to France.
My mother and grand mothers were crying. I wondered why they were crying as we would only be gone for two weeks. It was such a joyful vacation awaiting us in France. It was not until years later that I fully understood that they had arranged for me to leave Germany forever using all their wealth to pay the bribes that made it possible for me to leave. It was the last time I saw them. They were all murdered at Auschwitz as well as my mother’s father, a Rabbi, and another great aunt. All together 6 of my immediate family were deported and murdered at Auschwitz. Only my father who had been able to leave Berlin earlier in the year and myself escaped from the holocaust.
All I remember from that trip was when someone told me, on the morning of July 4th, we were crossing the border into France it seemed the sun came out and I got a cup of hot cocoa. It was night when we arrived in Paris. We were taken on a bus to the place we would live at for the foreseeable future, Chateau de Quincy, 30 km south east of Paris.
Chateau de Quincy
Not long ago a 30 second clip surfaced which shows us arriving at Chateau de Quincy. You can see me as the little skinny blond boy at 2 seconds briefly talking to the lady in white uniform. Click on lower right hand corner for full screen view.
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