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Stock market free fall

Long time readers of this blog will know that I have a "thing" about the Holocaust. Whatever. Anyway, there's a bunch of things that will press buttons for me. And one of the things I always think about is the people who knew ahead of time that it was time to get out of Germany/Europe. So that there were two types of survivors - those who got out/hid/led resistance and those who made it through the camps. And I guess I always kind of think about how you would read the current affairs of your time and *know* that things were turning bad. How do you *know* when to cut and run?

My grandfather was out of Czechoslovakia taking a family friend's daughter to Israel and as he was making his return home, his father sent word not to come back, that things were going bad and that if he never heard from him again, to observe his death on a particular date (I wonder if my mother has that date somewhere?). Imagine getting that kind of a telegram from your father. Most of my grandfather's family, including his wife and two sons, died in the camps. One brother fought in the resistance, and was poisoned. Some of his family did get out though - I visited some in Israel in July. But when I was at Yad Vashem, D told me that my grandfather had worked out that he knew something like 90 or 120 people from his village who were killed in the camps/by the Nazis as they came through.

That's a bit depressing.

Anyway. It's backstory.

So I'm sitting there last night talking about the stockmarket crash and all the banks collapsing with my Dad and the doctor-guy. And I had this really surreal moment. We were in a room, packed with people around a table eating and drinking and celebrating the Rosh Hashanah and there we were discussing the state of the world and what we thought might happen next. How it affects the US Presidential campaign, how safe our money is etc etc. And contemplating the idea of suddenly losing everything. And I was thinking that this would be what it was like back in the 1920s/1930s when people were assessing what was going on in Germany and the war and how bad you thought things might go or what could happen. I know it was probably the shoes I was wearing, and also a little bit of an oldfashioned top, but if I squinted just a bit, and heard a Big Band type song playing in the background, it could have been 1932. It was really surreal.

Then I woke up today to hear that the US market has free fallen more than it did in the crash that caused the Depression.


Sep. 30th, 2008 03:12 am (UTC)
According to the autobiography she wrote in the early 1940s, now at Harvard, my wealthy and very secular great-grandmother (who would also proudly state that she was part Aryan, even if she'd married a Jew) believed right up until 1939 that the German people were too rational and too modern to condone such medieval anti-Semitic thoughts.

She and her daughter didn't flee until 1939. They just didn't realize -- or perhaps more accurately, didn't want to realize. Their friends, as my great-grandmother often said, were all German, as was their home.

Mind you, once they reached the States, she and her family suddenly turned Christian, but that's another story.

Sep. 30th, 2008 03:19 am (UTC)
But they did flee in the end? Do you know what made them leave eventually?
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:36 am (UTC)
My great-grandmother, my grandfather and my great-aunt all fled. Some other family members also made it out to Brazil or Israel, but many didn't. The family tree is pretty painful reading.
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)

I know.
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)
And that's the other thing that gets me cause I guess I really do believe that she really believe that her friends were German and this couldn't happen. Most of my friends are not Jewish and are sane and rational. Why would I ever believe that could happen to me? That's the bit that gets me.
Sep. 30th, 2008 03:33 am (UTC)
Her story always gets me, since she was a prominent, successful businessowner running two factories and a high end luxury store, and you can see in the pictures from the 1920s and the 1930s that she entertained and travelled a lot. In her autobiography she's clearly extremely upset about losing the store (she loved that store) and worried about the factory getting bombed (one did get bombed by the Americans and the other one was later sold to Bayer). You can tell that she's still in denial and shock -- my mother said she never got over losing that store and spent the rest of her life mourning it.

Our family heard several different stories about why they left in the end, and to be honest I don't know which one was true. (It got confusing since by the end of the 1940s they were denying the whole being Jewish, despite the obvious stuff of cousins living in Israel ("oh, they were always insane") and the large number of family members who died or disappeared in the 1940s ("it's so difficult to keep track of people during war") and the Jewish name, and the....well. Anyway. I do know that my grandfather arrived shortly before they did, using his mother's American citizenship. One of the family legends is that they were warned by the American embassy to leave, but I don't know if that's true.

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