Under The Radar of War
1: A Smooth Way Out
1934 August: Hitler becomes Führer (head of state) as well as Chancellor.
1935 The Nuremberg Laws strip GermaN
Jews of citizenship. Jews lose their right to use public transportation, restaurants, theaters and stores. Jewish children are banned from public schools.
1936 August: The Olympics are held in Berlin.
Restrictions on Jews are lifted temporarily to give tourists the impression that all is well.
Frank’s first memories are of Uncle Herbert giving him sunflower seeds to feed the pigeons in Venice. Hundreds, no, it could have been thousands of pigeons were flying everywhere. He could hear them coo above the sound of musicians playing their violins. I imagine his father, Fritz, and his mother, Hilda, waltzing in the piazza, perhaps a tear or two rolling down his mother’s face, while Frank was fascinated by the birds.
“At the start the cooing was pleasant,” he said. “Then it became a monstrous, unfamiliar noise jumbled with a
bombardment of other new experiences.” The pigeons seemed to fill Piazza San Marco. They were bobbing their heads, pecking holes in the marble of the Basilica San Marco. They flocked toward him from every direction, nibbling at the seeds in his outstretched hands. He could hear them flapping their wings as they landed near his feet, on his shoulder, then on his head. He quickly figured out to drop the seeds, to stop feeding these scary birds even though his papa insisted, “Mucki, hold out your arms so the pigeons can reach the bird seed.”
It was the end of August 1936 and photos show a little boy dressed in short white pants, a white shirt and light jacket with white shoes up to his ankles, a typical German outfit for an almost 3-year-old boy, the same outfit he had worn the day before on the train from Berlin to Venice. The next day he would continue his journey to Palestine, his new home.
This day in August was a day of rest. It was special because Frank was visiting with his only uncle who worked in Zurich and was vacationing in Cortina, not far from Venice. Frank’s papa, in his jacket, starched white shirt and tie, wept as he hugged his younger brother goodbye. Frank was also crying, probably from fear of the birds, too young to understand a permanent separation. “Don’t cry,” Uncle Herbert said. “Pigeons and doves are of the same family. They symbolize the peaceful land you are traveling to.” Then he swept up his nephew and carried him to the shops that sold trinkets. “Pick something to help you remember today,” he said as they walked through the ancient stone arches to look into store windows.
Frank told me he was thrilled to be safe in his uncle’s arms, happy to get away from the birds with their...READ MORE>>