Germany: Mysteriously, We Became Their Enemies

In the pre-Hitler years, birthdays were special productions.  Renate’s birthday cake was made from her favorite berries in the garden.  She also enjoyed sharing her Die Zwerge thrills with her friends.  However, her 7th birthday party in 1933 was no celebration.  None of her friends came to her party or even wished her a happy birthday.

For my birthday, I wished to bring three or four of my friends and family to visit the dwarfs (Die Zwerge).  My parents agreed to this plan, and I was excited at the prospect of sharing my birthday with my friends and my favorite little people. Shortly before the eagerly anticipated day, my father changed his mind.

We’re not going to view the dwarfs,” he announced.

This was very uncharacteristic of him, and I couldn’t understand the reason for the inconsistency.  Even after my father explained the cause for this reversal, it didn’t make much sense to me.  When he had gone to the restaurant to reserve a table for our party, he noticed a large new sign on the fence surrounding the outdoor café: Juden nicht erlaubt–Jews not permitted.  It was the first such sign in our neighborhood but, unfortunately, not the last.

“Does that mean we can never visit ‘our’ dwarfs again?”

I was heartbroken when I heard his gentle but firm answer.  “Yes, it means that.”

I sobbed uncontrollably.

The firemen, the owner of the dwarfs, our neighbors, and our friends had changed incomprehensibly.  Mysteriously, we became their enemies.