Woman recalls nightmare of Nazi persecution

December 30, 2019 | |Post a Comment

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREPettersson scores another winner, Canucks beat KingsGrowing up as Ingeborg Mendershausen, she remembered coming home in tears because teachers had picked on her and her sister, Vera, the only Jewish students at their school in the town of Nienburg. She recalled signs that barred Jews from parks and beaches and the seizure of the family’s feed business under laws that discriminated against Jews. The family moved to nearby Berlin to improve their living situation, but things only got worse, she said. She recalled seeing Nazi officers entering their apartment building and fearing they’d finally come for her father. She also remembered Kristallnacht, the Night of the Broken Glass, the pogrom on Nov. 9, 1938, in which thousands of synagogues and Jewish-owned businesses in Germany and Austria were ransacked and destroyed. “From our apartment, we could see the flames from the synagogue that we went to,” Johnson said. “It was like the Watts Riots. You had a lot of people who were out there going berserk. “That’s what happened that night: A lot of people were going berserk.” Inge Johnson considers herself one of the lucky ones. Most of her family was able to flee Germany or go into hiding before the sweeping roundups that led to the execution of millions of Jews by the Nazis in World War II. “Anything could have happened,” said Johnson, 78, a retired elementary school teacher now living in Long Beach. “Anne Frank was three months older than me and look what happened. I just feel so fortunate that I was able to leave with my parents and my siblings. I really consider myself so fortunate.” Still, the events surrounding the persecution of Jews affected her family. An estimated 30,000 Jewish men were arrested during the pogrom and sent to concentration camps. Luckily, her father had been warned of the danger and avoided arrest by riding the subway all night. She was 9 when she and her immediate family escaped to America, helped by an uncle who’d petitioned for them to come. But German troops caught up with her grandparents and aunt, who were arrested in the town of Karlsruhe and transported to Gurs, a concentration camp in Nazi-occupied France. Unable to survive the poor conditions, Johnson’s grandmother died a month later. Her grandfather was eventually sent to a monastery and her aunt escaped and went into hiding for three years. It would be years before Johnson would be reunited with family members, many of whom left Europe to escape persecution. Still affected by the events of her childhood, Johnson is taking a memoir-writing class at Cal State Long Beach and hopes to share her memories of that horrible time. “I do still today sometimes have nightmares about it,” she said. [email protected] 562-499-1303160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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