The Parsonage Chain

Whereas some 500,000 people of the Jewish faith lived in Germany in 1933, only 163,696remained by October of 1941, chiefly older men and women. As of September 19, 1941, they had to wear the yellow starand were usually used in the arms industry as forced laborers. This work provided them protection from the deportations from the “Altreich” (Germany in the borders of 1937) to extermination camps in the East, which commenced in the fall of 1941. By April of 1945, sixty-three transports to the East and 117 so-called transports of the elderly to Theresienstadt had departed from Berlin alone. In November of 1942, SS men started an outright hunt for Jews still remaining in Berlin, culminating in a raid against forced laborers, hitherto protected by their work in the arms industry, on February 27 and 28, 1943.

The Jews still remaining in Germany after 1944 usually lived in “mixed marriages”, i.e. had “Aryan” spouses. This status largely protected them, at least until early 1945. Another 10,000 to 15,000 Jews had gone into hiding. Some 3,000 to 5,000 survived with the assistance of individuals and aid organizations. The rest were apprehended, chose to commit suicide out of desperation or were denounced and then deported.

The fate of the Krakauer family is one example of the support given fugitivesand can be gleaned from a little book about the period of persecution written by Max Krakauer in 1947 after his rescue. The Cologne artist Gunter Demnig commemorates deported individuals by setting paving stones with brass plates bearing fellow citizens’ names and biographical information in sidewalks. Such “stumbling blocks” can be found in over 500 locations; the ones pictured here are in Erftstadt-Liblar.

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