Then suddenly your classmate has gone. Forever!

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The most evil acts of the Nazi regime were done to children. I often have thought about how I would feel if suddenly my classmates suddenly started disappearing from school,mostly without any real reason given or sometimes only a  vague explanation.

This what happened in schools all across Europe during WWII, Below are just a few accounts of school children that suddenly disappeared.

JOSEPH MUSCHA MUELLER

Born: 1932, Bitterfeld, Germany

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Joseph was born in Bitterfeld, Germany, to Gypsy parents. For reasons unknown, he was raised in an orphanage for the first one-and-a-half years of his life. At the time of Joseph’s birth, some 26,000 Gypsies–members of either the Sinti or Roma tribes–lived in Germany. Though most were German citizens, they were often discriminated against by other Germans and subjected to harassment.

1933-39: At age one-and-a-half, Joseph was taken into foster care by a family living in Halle, a city some 20 miles from Bitterfeld. That same year, the Nazi party came to power. When Joseph was in school, he was often made the scapegoat for pranks in the classroom and beaten for “misbehaving.” He was also taunted with insults like “bastard” and “mulatto” by classmates who were members of the Hitler Youth movement.

1940-44: When Joseph was 12 he was taken from his classroom by two strangers who said he had “appendicitis” and needed immediate surgery. He protested, but was beaten and forcefully taken into surgery where he was sterilized, a procedure legalized by a Nazi law allowing the forced sterilization of “asocials,” a category that included Gypsies. After his recovery, Joseph was to be deported to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, but his foster father managed to have him smuggled from the hospital and hidden.

Joseph survived the remainder of the war by hiding for five months in a garden shed.

JAN-PETER PFEFFER

Born: May 3, 1934, Amsterdam, Netherlands

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Jan-Peter’s father, Heinz, was a German-Jewish refugee who married Henriette De Leeuw, a Dutch-Jewish woman. Frightened by the Nazi dictatorship and the murder of Heinz’s uncle in a concentration camp, they emigrated to the Netherlands when Henriette was nine months pregnant. They settled in Amsterdam.

1933-39: Jan-Peter was born soon after his parents arrived in the Netherlands. He was 18 months old when Tommy, his baby brother, was born. In 1939 the parents and brother of Jan-Peter’s father joined them in the Netherlands as refugees from Germany. Jan-Peter and Tommy grew up speaking Dutch as their native language, and they often spent time at their mother’s family home in the country.

1940-44: The Germans occupied Amsterdam in May 1940. Despite the German occupation, 6-year-old Jan-Peter did not feel much change in his day-to-day life. Then just after his ninth birthday, the Germans sent his grandmother to a camp called Westerbork. Six months later, Jan-Peter and his family were sent to the same camp, but his grandmother was no longer there. During the winter, the Pfeffers were sent to a faraway ghetto called Theresienstadt where Jan-Peter felt cold, scared, and hungry.

On May 18, 1944, Jan-Peter was deported with his family to Auschwitz. He was gassed on July 11, 1944. Jan-Peter was 10 years old.

NADINE SCHATZ

Born: September 10, 1930, Boulogne-Billancourt, France

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Nadine was the daughter of immigrant Jewish parents. Her Russian-born mother settled in France following the Russian Revolution of 1917. Nadine was born in Boulogne-Billancourt, a city on the outskirts of Paris known for its automobile factories. She was fluent in Russian and French.

1933-39: Nadine attended elementary school in Paris. Her mother, Ludmilla, taught piano, and her Russian grandmother, Rosalia, lived with them. After France declared war on Germany in September 1939, Nadine’s mother moved the family to Saint-Marc-sur-Mer, a small village on the Brittany coast, hoping it would be safer. There, Nadine resumed her schooling.

1940-42: Victorious German troops reached Saint-Marc-sur-Mer in June 1940. After France surrendered to Germany, the Germans remained in Brittany. Nadine and her mother moved to the nearby city of Nantes. But local French officials frequently cooperated with the occupying Germans to help enforce anti-Jewish laws. In 1942 Nadine and her mother were arrested by French police. Nadine was separated from her mother and deported to the Drancy transit camp east of Paris.

Twelve-year-old Nadine was deported to Auschwitz on September 23, 1942. She was gassed shortly after arriving.

BERTHA ADLER

Born: June 20, 1928, Selo-Solotvina, Czechoslovakia

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Bertha was the second of three daughters born to Yiddish-speaking Jewish parents in a village in Czechoslovakia’s easternmost province. Soon after Bertha was born, her parents moved the family to Liege, an industrial, largely Catholic city in Belgium that had many immigrants from eastern Europe.

1933-39: Bertha’s parents sent her to a local elementary school, where most of her friends were Catholic. At school, Bertha spoke French. At home, she spoke Yiddish. Sometimes her parents spoke Hungarian to each other, a language they had learned while growing up. Bertha’s mother, who was religious, made sure that Bertha also studied Hebrew.

1940-44: Bertha was 11 when the Germans occupied Liege. Two years later, the Adlers, along with all the Jews, were ordered to register and Bertha and her sisters were forced out of school. Some Catholic friends helped the Adlers obtain false papers and rented them a house in a nearby village. There, Bertha’s father fell ill one Friday and went to the hospital. Bertha promised to visit him on Sunday to bring him shaving cream. That Sunday, the family was awakened at 5 a.m. by the Gestapo. They had been discovered.

Fifteen-year-old Bertha was deported to Auschwitz on May 19, 1944. She was gassed there two days later.

ANDRAS MUHLRAD

Born: July 27, 1930, Ujpest, Hungary

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The second of two children, Andras was born to Jewish parents living in a suburb of Budapest. His father was a pharmacist. The Muhlrads lived in a large house with Andras’ grandfather and aunts. As a toddler, Andras often played with his older sister, Eva, and their cousins in the big yard behind their home.

1933-39: Andras was 4 when his family moved to their own apartment. It was 1936 when he began primary school and Hitler had already been in power in Nazi Germany for three years. At night his father would turn on the radio to listen to news of the Third Reich. All this still seemed far away from Hungary. The young boy concentrated on earning good grades. He knew only a few top Jewish students were admitted to the public high school every year.

1940-44: Four months before Andras turned 14, the Germans invaded Hungary. Soon after, the Muhlrads had to leave their apartment and move in with the family of Andras’ friend Yannos, whose building had been marked with a Star of David. At first, living together was tolerable, but conditions became increasingly more crowded until there were 25 in the apartment. The residents were allowed to leave the building for errands a few hours a day. Then one day a gendarme took up guard in front of the entrance. The residents spent three days trapped inside fearing what would happen next.

Andras and his family were among the 435,000 Hungarian Jews deported to Auschwitz in the early summer of 1944. Andras was later moved to a camp in Bavaria, where he perished.

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