my home city welcomed Hitler with open arms in 1938, yet during that first
week of celebrations 79,000 people were arrested by Himmler's Police. Truly,
a taste of things to come.
I was six and had just started school. From the beginning my school life was not very happy as I was rather picked on by some of my teachers. That was because my great grandparents on my fathers side had been Austrian Jews which,under the Nazi regime made me and my brothers and sisters quarter Jews, or to use the correct term, Mischling zweitenGrades. To top it all of, my maiden name was Diamant (Diamond) which was easily recognised as a Jewish surname.You can read more about that if you click here.
This Jewish ancestry made a tremenduous difference for our life during the Nazi years. My brother had to join the German Army but my mother never got the financial assistance other mothers of soldiers received. Neither did she receive the medal (Mutter Kreuz) nor the money which went to theparents of large families. Sure she didn't miss the medal but the money would have been great as we were rather poor people. Persecution came in many ways, some I was thankful for. Joining a Youth Organisation for example, and differences in the rations we were allowed, also all children in Austria received all their school books and writing material free, but my parents had to pay for them.
I was a pretty smart kid, I could read the newspaper beforeI started school, but I could never get good grades.Consequently at the end of the four years of primary school at age ten I could not go to high school until the war wasover.
Now all of this was rather grim, especially as some of the teachers were strong in their belief in the Nazi propaganda.However I have to say that I was never picked on nor bullied by my class mates.
There was also the ever present danger that a Nazi sympathizer could report us because my father who was well respected by most of the families who lived in our apartment building was rather outspoken at times. Criticism of the Nazi Regime was not permitted and for a family TAINTED with Jewish blood it could have led to a concentration camp.Luckily we did not get any less food rations. Neither were our clothing coupons affected. I can't recall how much we received at the beginning, but I do recall that food was short in the latter part of the war and although I never spent a day without something to eat, I certainly knew what it means to be hungry for long periods of time.
Bombing also started in earnest during the last two years.before that we had a lot of air alarms most nights, but bomb attacks didn't get really frightening and dangerous where I lived till the day time bombing started. I remember those times rather well.
A lot of bomb damage was done in my neighbourhood. Whenever there was an air raid we sat in the cellar listening to the bombs fall. I am happy to say our apartment building was never hit, but quite a few houses in our street were totally destroyed.
When a raid was over people would help to dig in the rubble for survivors. Children would carry messages as there were very few private phones and if the distance wasn't too far as there was always the danger of another air raid.
In fact in the last few weeks before the Russians arrived we practically lived in the cellar and we could hear the gunfire of the Russian Army as it drew ever nearer.
Lotte now lives in Australia and is pictured here in 1997 with her grand-children. She has written other stories about her childhood :