Exit Berlin: How One Woman Saved Her Family from Nazi Germany
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Just a week after the Kristallnacht terror in 1938, young Luzie Hatch, a German Jew, fled Berlin to resettle in New York. Her rescuer was an American-born cousin and industrialist, Arnold Hatch. Arnold spoke no German, so Luzie quickly became translator, intermediary, and advocate for family left behind. Soon an unending stream of desperate requests from German relatives made their way to Arnold’s desk.
Luzie Hatch had faithfully preserved her letters both to and from far-flung relatives during the World War II era as well as copies of letters written on their behalf. This extraordinary collection, now housed at the American Jewish Committee Archives, serves as the framework for Exit Berlin. Charlotte R. Bonelli offers a vantage point rich with historical context, from biographical information about the correspondents to background on U.S. immigration laws, conditions at the Vichy internment camps, refuge in Shanghai, and many other topics, thus transforming the letters into a riveting narrative.
Arnold’s letters reveal an unfamiliar side of Holocaust history. His are the responses of an “average” American Jew, struggling to keep his own business afloat while also assisting dozens of relatives trapped abroad—most of whom he had never met and whose deathly situation he could not fully comprehend. This book contributes importantly to historical understanding while also uncovering the dramatic story of one besieged family confronting unimaginable evil.
restricted to the smoking room on starboard. Although Jews could use the swimming pool, they could do so only at specific hours, thus ensuring that Aryans would be able to swim in a Judenrein pool. Years later, Ralph can still remember the ship’s numerous ports of call. After leaving the German port of Bremerhaven, the first stop was Rotterdam, where representatives of the city’s Jewish community came aboard with a financial contribution for their German brethren. The Potsdam continued on,
Sara Hecht, are immigrating with me. Since March 1934, I have resided in Baden-Baden. I am immigrating to Palestine, and I have to leave Germany on February 14, 1939. I have already ordered tickets for a passage from Trieste. Our immigration has to be completed on February 28, 1939. As of now, I do not know for certain what I will do abroad professionally. I will look for work, and I will accept any position that will allow me to make a living. I include with this letter: 1. 3 copies of list
month to an individual in Vichy France, provided that the sender met two criteria. First, the individual sending the funds had to have resided in the United States for a year or more. Second, the sender had to show that he or she had been granting financial aid to the intended recipient since October 1939. Fortunately, Arnold met both of these conditions.26 Yet Dora was not requesting fifty dollars but two hundred, a transaction that would have required special permission. For those in the
day before she brought me oatmeal soup. I thanked her for both with all my heart. From a French nurse I received a donation of a cup of apple marmalade. And I have now received Quakerspeisung three times for one week—that’s all. And you write that you are contributing to relief organizations. How badly do I need a few very simple sports dresses, or material to make some. They don’t need to be new—a pinafore could replace a dress in hot weather. I urgently need a wool vest and a coat—I am
offer a guarantee. He certainly wouldn’t do it for your wife, since he has already flatly refused to do so for Aunt Martha’s husband, as you are probably already aware. He has a mind of his own, and unfortunately, I have no influence over him. I have not seen him in person at all since last October and have only spoken to him on the telephone maybe three times when he was in New York. I have always mentioned you, but unfortunately so far to no avail. It is possible that he may agree to it at a