The Plight of German Jews

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Thanks to your efforts, information about the persecution of Jews from Munich, Frankfurt, and other cities in Germany, France, Poland, and other European countries will soon be searchable online for free.

The roughly 500,000 Jews living in Germany in 1933 (less than 1 percent of the total German population) were among the first victims of Nazi persecution. Susan (Hilsenrath) Warsinger experienced that persecution firsthand growing up in Bad Kreuznach, about 60 miles west of Frankfurt. The Jewish community there dated back to the 13th century. Susan was the eldest of three children. Her father owned a thriving linen store, and her mother took care of Susan and her two brothers.

After the Nazis came to power, Susan was forced to leave the public school, along with the other Jewish children. Even walking on the streets could be dangerous because the neighborhood children often threw rocks at her. Susan’s father had to close his business and sell fruit door-to-door to support his family. On November 9–10, 1938, which is known as Kristallnacht (“The Night of Broken Glass”), Nazi thugs smashed the windows and furnishings of Susan's home. Months later, Susan and her brother Joseph were smuggled into France. Eventually, they made their way via Spain to the United States.

Today, Susan is a volunteer at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where she speaks with visitors and participants in the Museum's educational programs. "People ask me, 'How can you go there over and over again?'" Susan relates. "My response is, 'How can I not go?' I experienced some of this horror. I am compelled by my conscience, and I am honored to join the educational movement this Museum represents."

Watch this short video about why Susan volunteers at the Museum: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o14wydPBfWI.

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