A German/American Story
Excerpts from Interview with Eric Leiseroff
OH 79-6-GI SU RG 541
89th Infantry Division
353rd Infantry Regiment
Interviewed by Stella Wieseltier January 24, 1979
I was born in Dresden, Germany in 1925. October 25, and I lived in Germany until June 1941. I left Germany when I was 15 years old. I lived through the entire change, from the German Republic until Hitler. From 1932, when Hitler took over, we lived in a small town near Dresden, and the change came very slowly. I'm talking about '35, '36. In those days there was already talk about how they would walk in Jewish blood. When Germany took Poland in 1939 then it was complete hatred towards the Jews. Now as to my personal experiences.
In the beginning my friends suddenly weren't my friends anymore. I was called "Jude." I was pushed around. I went to a German school till 1936 and then I went to a Jewish school in Berlin, when I must have been in fourth or fifth grade. I had Gentile friends until I left in '41. 1 had a friend who was actually fined for speaking to me, by the German government. He was killed four days before the war ended in I 945, and his brothers were Nazis. And I remember their telling mc that if he just came to see me, they would really condemn him. They belonged to the Nazi Party. One of his brothers was in the S.A.
In 1936 we lived in a little town near Konigsbruck. There were no other Jews. I was the only Jewish child in the entire school, and my mother was the only Jewish woman in the town. When we would have tests, I hate to say it, but I was one of the smartest. I would always be the first one to finish. All of us would stand up and the teacher would give us a test and whoever was the first one to finish the test could sit down. He would ask verbal questions arid I would be always the first one, but he would never acknowledge me. And I would stand there till all the other kids finished. But that was very, very rarely. It was constantly "Hier geht eine Jude," "Here conies the Jude," "Here's a Jew,": "here's a Jew."
One time I was the last one through the door arid I didn't close the door, and I got hit in the head, in the face, really hard. I remember that very distinctly. And during lunch (I'm talking about in 1936), when all of us would walk around the circle, I wasn't able to walk around the circle.
Every little town had a little sign. "Judenfrei," and ours was a little town. But this town couldn't put up the sign, because of us. We used to take walks and we would walk through a town, my mother and myself. And there would be the sign, lentos say, Meissen: "Judenfrei" and my mother would say, "Now there are no Jews here."
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