Ursula Cher, daughter of Leopold Herzberg and niece of Kate Mendels, has made her father’s and her aunt’s manuscripts accessible to future generations by combining them in this book.
Painting vivid pictures of family life in small Westphalian German Jewish communities, Kate begins her story in 1886, covers the dread years of World War I and the short-lived period of full citizenship for Jews under the democratic Weimar Republic. Having enjoyed equality, most Jews found it difficult to realise that their progressive loss of liberty in Hitler’s Germany was irreversible.
In 1941, just two years after arrival in Sydney, Leopold records graphic descriptions of Kristallnacht and his incarceration in Buchenwald concentration camp. He tells of the degrading and inhuman conditions in such camps already before the war, even before the adoption of the Final Solution by the Wannsee Conference in January 1942. After his release, Leopold and Kate, with mother, spouses and children, escape Europe to a new life in a new land.
The original personal accounts of the authors are edited and enhanced by historical background, illustrations, footnotes, appendices and glossary, thus giving the reader a wider context for this uniquely significant book.