The Krakauer Family

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Max Krakauer’s account “Lichter im Dunkel” (Lights in Darkness) written in 1948 makes it possible to trace the route of his flight with his wife Karoline in detail.

Max Krakauer had run a film distributorship in Leipzig since 1919. A convinced Nazi colleague pressured him to transfer all of his rights to his company in 1933.

Attempts to emigrate to England or the USA remained unsuccessful. Only his daughter Inge was able to emigrate to England in January of 1939. The Krakauers moved to Berlin in May of 1939 since they expected better chances of obtaining a visa there.

When war broke out, the married couple was conscripted for labor: Mrs. Krakauer had to peel potatoes for a starvation wage and under degrading conditions. Later, she was assigned to repairing aerial film cans. Mr. Krakauer performed forced labor in an arms factory. The hard labor and the poor food rations caused his health to deteriorate rapidly but reporting sick was avoided, if at all possible, for fear of the Gestapo.

When Mrs. Krakauer returned home on the evening of January 29, 1943, a figure emerged from the darkness of the walls, a trembling hand grabbed her arm and a voice whispered: “The Gestapo is in the apartment. See to it that you get out of here fast! Go! Fast!” (Krakauer, Lichter, 25). A Christian acquaintance had warned Mrs. Krakauer. Most likely all of the other Jewish residents of the building, including Mrs. Krakauer’s sister, were arrested and taken away – no one ever heard from them again. Mrs. Krakauer managed to intercept her husband in a nearby doctor’s office where he was for an exam.

Source / title

  • Krakauer, Lichter, 153 © Calwer Verlag, Stuttgart