Friday, June 25, 2010

Lights & Shadows: Excerpt II

Chapter 2: The Nazis ascend to power and begin
to persecute and discriminate against Germany’s Jews.

Arnold Fleischmann with his mother, Nelly.

My mother’s bridge club was made up primarily of the non-Jewish women with whom she had gone to school. Most were the wives and daughters of German military officers who were stationed near Bayreuth. Mutti had known some of these women for her entire life, and she enjoyed their company. The women got together twice a week, frequently at our house—where I enjoyed snitching chocolates as they played cards.

It must have been 1933, around the time the Nazis rose to power, when some of the women came to my mother and said, “Mein Mann, mein Vater, mein Bruder, sie haben Bedenken.” (My husband, my father, my brother, they have concerns.)

“What are their concerns?” my mother asked.

“They say we should not associate with Jews,” my mother’s friends told her. “I’m afraid we cannot have you as part of our bridge club any longer.” The ladies were tearful and expressed regret, but like many German women at the time, they were subservient to their husbands. Almost overnight, my mother’s friends seemed to disappear.

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