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Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Interviews

2. Anti-Semitism

A teenager's Gentile friends turn against him

Fred Platner was a Jewish boy living in Chemnitz, Germany, when the Nazis came to power in the mid 1930s

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"They were completely different in their thinking and philosophy and whatever.

Whatever happened all of a sudden, you know, as my good friends, you know, one of the other ones, I lost him.

I'll never forget, one came to me once and said, "I'm sorry, but I cannot be anymore your friend."

I said, "Why? Why can't you be my friend anymore?"

He said, "See, all my other German friends belong to the Hitler Youths, okay, and once you belong to the Hitler Youths you cannot have any Jewish friends. I have to make a choice. Do I want to lose all my German friends or want to be your friend? And here if I am not becoming a Hitler Youth then I'm against the German government, okay? I'm going to end up being beaten up, you know, and I'm a German, you know."

So, I said, "Do what you have to do." But I felt very bad, and so one after the other, my German friends, who went into school and who were fighting battles [along] with me when I was called "dirty Jews" all ran away from me, joining the Hitler Youths or being afraid to be seen with me, you know. Then his friends would call him "Jewish-lover" or something and they would beat him up, too, you know.

So it became more and more this bad thing about being seen with Jews, you know, or be a friend with a Jew."

Platner Interview, Tape 2, Side 2
Transcript page 35 (PDF, 942 KB)

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