Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Story: John Silberman

John Silberman
German Jewish schoolboy, Berlin

As time went on I became aware that business for my father seemed to be getting difficult. I didn't fully understand why, but there were pressures on customers not to buy from a Jewish manufacturer, and pressures from suppliers to get higher prices, or not supply Jews. My father's situation was not unique, it went on all over the place. It wasn't so much a rule or requirement from the Government to trade and industry, it was the taking of advantage by individuals: right, he's a Jew so we can squeeze him, and what can he do about it?

There was this perpetual threat that if you didn't comply with non-Jewish requests, you'd be report to the Gestapo and be arrested. One always heard of people disappearing, or being arrested then coming back after a week or so having been beaten up or given hard labour or, occasionally, being killed - although the latter was much more common from 1937. But even in those early days, talk of the Gestapo (the secret state police) was always rife.

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