My German Question

My German Question

Growing Up In Nazi Berlin

Book - 1998
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In this book, an historian tells of his youth as an assimilated, antireligious Jew in Nazi Germany from 1933-1939 - the story says Peter Gay, of a poisoning and how I dealt with it. Gay describes his family, the life they led, and the reasons they did not emigrate sooner, and he explores his own ambivalent feelings - then and now - toward Germany and the Germans. Gay relates that the early years of the Nazi regime were relatively benign for his family: as a schoolboy at the Goethe Gymnasium he experienced no ridicule or attacks, his father's buiness prospered, and most of the family's non-Jewish friends remained supportive. He devised survival strategies - stamp collecting, watching soccer, and the like - that served as screens to block out the increasingly oppressive world around him. Even before the events of 1938-39, culminating in Kristallnacht, the family was convinced that they must leave the country.
Publisher: New Haven : Yale University Press, c1998.
ISBN: 9780300076707
Characteristics: xii, 208 p., [32] p. of plates :,ill. ;,25 cm.


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Aug 26, 2007

There are thousands ? perhaps millions ? of stories with WWII Germany as a backdrop. I'm glad to have read this one ? Peter Gay's account of growing up in a irreligious Jewish household in Berlin, and how the rise of the Nazis and their ever-constricting stranglehold on German society and "undesirables" led to his family fleeing Germany. Though Gay's family booked passage out of Germany, he and his parents narrowly escaped a much different fate when Herr Fröhlich (Gay's German surname before settling in America) decided to change luxury liners from the one originally booked ? the St. Louis! Gay's tone is conversational, lively, at times eloquent. His command of his adopted language is exceptional. While reading I detected some not-so-subtle vehemence toward the Nazis (and why not?), but also, to a lesser degree, toward the German people. It's this bottle-up frustration and anger toward his homeland he works at reconciling during the latter part of his life.


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