My First Traumatic Moment

Germany to America

From Germany to America

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The first memory I have is of being forced away from everything I knew. I am so incredibly lucky for this to be the case; otherwise, I’d likely be dead. The earliest memory I have goes as follows: It was the evening of February 15, 1934. I was yanked out of bed by my parents. They were nervous; I could feel it, so I became nervous too. They were not saying much, but then again, I was only four-years-old, so I would not have understood the gravity of the situation at hand. I looked for my most important possession: my blanket. I was not allowed to bring it with me.1 I felt the pull of my mom’s arms under mine as my feet left the ground. She carried me out the door, my dad by our side with nothing in his hands but a few documents. My mom locked the door to our house. That is the last I saw of my home; and of Germany.

Now would be a great time to introduce myself. My name is Ruth Liechtenstein. I was born in Germany on January 23, 1930. I am Jewish.

Looking back to the beginning of my life, I now know I was born into a particularly alarming political climate. 1930 was the year the Nazi party became the second largest party in the Landtag of Saxony, setting the stage for the next few years of my life. When I was merely three-years-old, the leader of the Nazi party, Adolf Hitler, was appointed Chancellor of Germany. The result: my parents frantically searched for a way out of Germany. Like I already said, I am extremely lucky. Many people denied the chance of Hitler coming to power and waited too long to leave Germany. My parents decided it was time to go just in time to find a way to get a Visa to the United States. Not only did my parents make a chance decision, it was also extremely unlikely to actually find a way to legally immigrate to the U.S. However, we got out.

 

My First Traumatic Moment