Life Changes 1936-1939

I was there.

In the summer of 1936, Walter – who was then 12 years old, moved to the Auerbach children's home in Berlin. It was close to the Jewish school. Walter got to know many new friends, and on Sundays, he visited his uncle Selmar and his wife, Ottilie.

In October 1938 Walter's mother was forced to close the general store and leave the house. During the November Pogroms, shards of broken glass littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed. From the children's home, Walter and his friends could see the flames from several synagogues in Berlin that had been set ablaze.

Walter Frankenstein (1924), Germany

Walter Frankenstein (1924), Germany


Life at the Children’s Home

Walter talks about life at the Children's Home.

1) Listen to Walter as he talks about life at the children's home. Answer the question.

  • 1a. When Walter moved to Berlin, he longed for his mother and lay in his bed quietly weeping the first night at the children's home. What made him feel less homesick the next days?

The November Pogroms in 1938

Walter talks about the November Pogroms

2) Listen to Walter as he talks about the November Pogroms. Answer the question.

  • 2a. Walter says he got along well with the children at Auerbach, and that he settled in well there. They weren't particularly aware of the persecution of the Jews until November 1938. What happened at that time, and how did it affect Walter and his friends?

The Outbreak of War

Walter talks about the outbreak of war.

3) Listen to Walter as he talks about the outbreak of war.

The Situation of the Jews in Berlin 1933–1940

A slideshow that explains the situation of the Jews in Berlin 1933–1940.

4) Watch the presentation explaining the situation of the Jews in Berlin 1933–1940. Then answer the questions.

  • 4a. In 1938, the Nazi regime implemented a new, far stricter wave of persecution. From the autumn of 1938 and onwards all German Jews were obliged to identify themselves. By which measures, and why was it essential that Jews were identified in various documents do you think?

  • 4b. What were the Jewish children not allowed to do after the November Pogroms in 1938? Why was it so important to separate the Jewish children and youth in society do you think?

  • 4c. Walter says that he was prohibited from serving in the army, even though he was in good shape. What could be the reason for not admitting Jewish men into the military?

Extra Material