Sonia Pressman Fuentes
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Hermann Pressman's Diary
Berlin, Germany, between July 21, 1932 and May 6, 1933
photo: Father Zysia, mother Hinda Leah, brother Hermann and sister Sonia, Berlin, circa 1930.
Note: Most of Hermann’s comments below were his translations into English of his diary entries from the 1930s, written in German shorthand. At times Hermann also included his thoughts at the time he was doing the translations. Those current thoughts expressed can be found below in boldface print. Also, the contents of the diary have been edited by Steven Lasky and Sonia Pressman Fuentes.
Today is December 14, 1987. I am Hermann Pressman [and] I'm sitting here in my home at 57 Trenton Ave. in Long Beach, New York, in the United States of America, thank G-d. I am trying to record the contents of my diary, which I started to record on July 21, 1932, in Berlin in Germany, where I was living when I celebrated my eighteenth birthday.
Now I am going to the diary.
I was born on July 21, 1914, in Neu-Isenburg, a suburb of Frankfurt am Main in Germany.
Berlin, Thursday, July 21, 1932.
Today is a very important day in my life because it is my eighteenth birthday, and I am starting to keep a diary, which I hope to continue. At the moment, I am sitting at my desk. It is in the evening. We hear the tumult and noise of a great city and the exciting atmosphere is waning but still holding on in the behavior of the people about politics, which has occupied the last few days in Germany. My friend, Imber, told me that my father and my sister Sonia (born May 30, 1928) are presently in Nordenei in Germany, which is a resort near the North Sea. My mother gave me thirty marks for my birthday, which I used to buy this diary and a photo album. With the rest of the money, I intend to buy a few small practical items.
Looking up to G-d above, our arranger and producer of all in the world, I thank G-d from the bottom of my heart from a Jewish young man. G-d almighty, may you guide this young person and protect him with your ways and your customs over me and my family. Keep my heart open for your teachings and the commandments, which I will try to follow with my body and soul so that I shall act in fairness and hold my head proud to you, dear G-d. You should bless your people so that everyone that we deal with will be fair with each other.
They had an election where that wonderful Adolf Hitler and his cohorts let everybody in Germany know that if they didn't elect him and the Nazi Party (National Socialist Party), their ballots would be marked and they would be killed. So you can understand why I had mixed emotions as a young man born and raised in Germany, never having traveled out of my country, and looking forward to beginning his regular way of life with the Hitlerites running the show.
Let me explain why I am translating my tapes. I am seventy-three years old. I will not live forever. I would like my children, my sister, my wife, and others who would be interested to read my transcribed diary to understand what happened in Germany after January 30, 1933, when Hitler took over as Reich Chancellor. There are those who want to tell the world that the Holocaust never happened. Some of them maybe are intelligent enough to be taught the difference.
Berlin, Saturday, July 23, 1932.
This evening my dear father has telephoned us from Nordeney. He told us that he and my sister Sonia are doing just fine. My mother and I then went to a beer restaurant which was pretty nice. There was dance and music. The ladies were nothing much to write home about.
Berlin, Sunday, July 24, 1932.
Today I slept until 9 a.m. Then, I went with my mother walking along the promenade for an hour. Afterwards, we went to the property that my parents owned at Kripkenesstrasse in Berlin.
At 1 p.m., we ate dinner, which you eat in Europe in the middle of the day. My mother went to sleep until 5 p.m. while I pasted my photos into my new album. Today I relaxed. I want to write here about a friend from July 1, 1932, a young lady I met while on vacation at Hoffman's Hotel in Nordeney. On Saturday, July 2, 1932, we spent an evening near the Rhine. We went to a Roten Teppich (Red Carpet). Her name was Ruth Hamlet from Bieberfeld. We went to the beach together on Monday, July 3,1932. We went swimming and made plans for a rendezvous. The next day we took pictures and left the camera when we walked towards the dunes. And we lay on the beach together. Ruth said, "Hermann, you should remain here with me for four weeks. That would be a very nice vacation." We had tea together. At 5:30 p.m. we went to a dance in the Oak, a place similar to the Red Carpet. Then Ruth promenaded with her family. After dinner Ruth and I went for a promenade on the beach. In the evening we met my mother and Ruth's relatives. We said good-bye to them and returned to dance. We promised to be home by 11 p.m. At 10:30 p.m. we left the dance hall and went into the woods behind the park. We sat together and remembered that Tuesday we would both be leaving this resort. We kissed good-bye and went back to the house at 11:30 p.m. When I returned to my room, my mother already had her valise packed. I quickly packed as well.
Berlin, Tuesday, July 5, 1932.
I went to the photo-developing store. I picked up my prints and gave Ruth Hamlet a copy of them. Ruth and I went to the beach. We rode a horse-drawn bus to the port of the island Nordernay. We took the steamboat to Nordesh and said adieu. Ruth departed with her relatives by wagon. My mother and I waited for a railway coach. The train was nothing very elaborate. I thought about Ruth on the train ride home. I decided Ruth was nothing very exceptional, but she was good at kissing.
Berlin, Friday, July 8, 1932.
I received a picture postcard with one great heart on it, which opened like a little door to a house. Ten little picture cards came out as if from an accordion. This card was printed in Bad Salzuflen. "I found this card and send it full of beautiful photos to you. Hearty regards from Bad Salzuflen, Ruth." I wrote back and thanked her for this card, sending best regards.
Berlin, Monday, July 25, 1932.
It was a nice quiet day. I was in the evening with my mother at an open garden restaurant and dance. The situation in Germany, the people are all waiting for the voting on the new Reichstag, the legislature. This would be a contest between the Social Democrats and the Nazis. Many Germans thought that if the Nazis took over, it wouldn't last more than six months until the people would be glad to return to Social Democrats.
Berlin, Wednesday, July 27, 1932.
Today I went in Strent Bart Mittlesei. This is like Atlantic City, you take a train from the city for half-an-hour and you are by the beach. It began to rain. I disregarded the weather and swam anyway before a quick return home. I met a very nice young lady who talked about her job in a lawyer's office.
Berlin, Thursday, July 28, 1932.
Tonight after our business closed at 7:30, my mother told me to shave quickly, so we could go the the railroad station to meet my father and sister, Sonia, returning from Norderney. My mother cursed my tardiness. In my rush I cut my face terribly. We arrived at 8:10 at Letter Banhof. The train arrived by 8:35. I took the valise in the taxi and we drove home. At home, I took out my pictures. My father cursed me for looking at the pictures. I went into the bathroom so they wouldn't see me cry. My father was yelling from guilt. He had visited another girlfriend at Norderney. But had he not yelled at me I would not have known. I marked in my diary my anger at my parents for yelling at me on my eighteenth birthday.
Berlin, Sunday, August 2, 1932.
My father let his apprentice read a letter from, and write correspondence to, the woman whom he met in Norderney, Rachel Schnuck. I remembered this woman's address. The next day I wrote her under the name Meyer. I said that I saw her in Norderney, and wanted to return to meet her. Rachel was anxious to meet me; she asked me to send a photo to remind her who I was. I never returned that letter. I hope she suffered the way she made my mother suffer. That was my duty to my mother--it was my job, a job well done.
Berlin, Friday, August 7, 1932.
Last night I was in the beer garden in Hausenheimer. I met Ms. Vera Grumens. When I meet her again, I will recount it in this diary. Yesterday, I only walked her home. My parents had gone to the movies. They went separately.
Berlin, Monday, August 10, 1932.
Yesterday, Sunday, my family went to the zoo and then to the Rubenstein kosher restaurant. My parents took my sister home. I went to the café to meet my friends. I was home by midnight.
Berlin, Tuesday, August 11, 1932.
This morning at 8 a. m. I opened the business at Skarlesstrasse. Shortly later the workers began to arrive. Arthur Kamintsky began to tell stories about the Hitler regime. He talked about forced labor if one didn't show obedience to the regime. Kamintsky told these stories to scare me. I feigned disinterest. I warned him to return to work. Later Kamintsky tried to pinch my face. I walked away. He followed me and grabbed me. I did not try to defend myself. I said, "Let this go. Stop playing around." Walter Rotki, the apprentice, heard and saw everything. Kamintsky did not let up. I tried to defend myself: I kicked him. He began to swing furiously, aimlessly. I called my parents and cautioned Kamintsky to leave the private office he had followed me into. Mr. Cohen said that I instigated the incident with Kamintsky: "Herman is always fooling around." Walter Rotski, the apprentice, said he saw nothing, but that I had kicked Kamintsky. My father said to me that if I didn't know how to be a boss, I should go to the grave. He sent me home. I write these things to remember how my parents treated me.
Berlin, Sunday, August 22, 1932.
It is Sunday. Sonia woke me to go the beach, as my parents had asked us to do. There we waited until my father arrived at 11 a.m. At noon, I went into the water because it was so hot. The sand on the beach was too hot to walk on. The water was very pleasant. Time flew by. Someone came into the water and said it was 2:30. I ran quickly from the water. My mother was angry, yelling and cursing. She threatened that my father would kill me. My father was very angry. I did not want to make a scene, but my mother cursed me. She urged my father to hit me. When he didn't, she cursed him, too. She was so loud that the people around us began to make remarks. She stormed away. My mother walked to the woods. I followed her there, and she began to calm down and tell me the story. Practically having a nervous breakdown, yelling and cursing, she fainted. I ran to get two emergency men. They were able to calm her down a bit. After the train ride home, Sonia fell asleep. Father wandered about. At 8:30 p.m., I realized I was hungry. Father said that I was too cheap to go out and spend a franc on my own. Well, I went out to Rubenstein's kosher restaurant. I dined for two marks and drank a Pilsner for thirty-five cents. Afterwards, I went out to the Ulandect, a coffee house and dance place. I had a carafe of Café
HAG (Sanka). I danced with two nice young ladies, one of whom, Fraulein Tikei, I hope to meet again. I was home by 12:45 a.m.
Berlin, Monday, August 23, 1932.
Mother is still in bed. She complains that she is still sick from the events of the preceding day. Last week, I had made an appointment with Fraulein Vera Grumens for tonight, but I forgot it and missed it. In the evening, my parents went to the movies. I spent the evening with our maid, Ilsa. This evening I saw the excellent movie, The Song of One Night."
Berlin, Tuesday, August 24, 1933.
Ruth from Bielefeld wrote me a letter saying she would continue to love me. I thanked her for her letter.
Berlin, Monday, September 6, 1932.
On the first of September, I was home with a cold. The next day I had to go to court for a case. On account of that, I left my bed. I came home feeling sicker. I had tickets for the Metropole Opera on Sunday, but I was still feeling sick. The show was, A Woman Who Knew What She Wanted. It was a wonderful picture. After that, I knew I wouldn't leave my bed again until today. Yesterday, Mr. R. Folkmeyer was dispossessed. The sheriff said he couldn't do the job himself. The sheriff asked me to pick up the papers from the courthouse. He also needed me to bring a temporary injunction. At 9:30 a.m. I went to the property to meet the sheriff and the marshal. Folkmeyer wasn't there. His furniture was moved from the house onto the street. Many of the people watching blamed me for the dispossession, and the situation began to get violent. Flagel, the local pharmacist, protected me by barring the door of his store to keep the crowd outside from lynching me. I called the police for protection. One policeman came and arrested some of the harassers. The second policeman remained quiet. I wanted the police to escort me to a taxi, but they said they could not because they had to watch the store. I asked Ms. Zimmer, the superintendent's wife, to order a taxi for me. She refused, taking the side of the clamorous crowd. Finally, the police ordered a taxi, and I returned to work. Flagel called to say that the crowd was incensed with him for protecting me. The crowd claimed that they only wanted to kick the guts out of that Jewish guy. My parents hollered at me because they didn't know that I had been to Folkmeyer's house. I had told them before I left, but they didn't remember.
Berlin, Wednesday, September 8, 1932.
I am back in bed. Yesterday I visited Dr. E. Kaminsky. He ordered medication for me and told me to sweat it out. Because nothing helped, on September 14, I went to see Dr. Hans Feldman. He prescribed medicine that did help. While I was laid up in bed, my mother went to the house from which Folkmeyer had been dispossessed. She hired Max Kletka as an agent, and she gave him power of attorney over the establishment.
Berlin, Sunday, September 19, 1932.
I am out of bed. I have prepared all the papers and receipts for Mr. Kletka. All this work was a great strain on me due to my illness. I was again very sick. Dr. Feldman came to see me. He ordered me to remain in bed most of the day.
Berlin, Tuesday, October 4, 1932.
I thought that I was recovering, but every time I would try to leave the house, my temperature would spring up again. On September 29th, my mother took me for a thorough examination. They were unable to determine whether anything was wrong with my respiratory system. The hospital wanted me to remain for ten days for further testing. My mother instead took me home. Today is the first day I have gotten out of bed; I hope I will be well. I received another letter from Ruth Hamlet for Rosh Hashanah. I enjoyed her letter and sent her a New Year's card with some pictures of our trip together.
Berlin, Saturday, October 8, 1932.
On Wednesday, October 5, 1932, I answered Ruth's letter and sent her an enlarged photo of herself at the lifeguard station. This morning I visited the doctor again for blood tests. I am still sick, but today I worked at my father's store. In the evening I had received ten marks for my work. I gave my sister Sonia five marks for her savings bank. Then I went to the movies.
I was itching to get out since it was my first night without temperature. My parents refused to let me leave the house. They didn't even want me to listen to the radio. I was quite angry about that. I don't want to just work and not have a little bit of pleasure.
Berlin, Sunday, October 16, 1932.
My blood test showed that I was fine. Now my mother is in bed sick herself. I spent the whole week working. Saturday, my father had aggravation at work; he took it out on me and put me in a bad mood. Today, I was at the Café Berlin at the zoo. This week I was given ten marks pocket money.
Berlin, Sunday, October 23, 1932.
Yesterday I was given ten marks pocket money. I must have been feeling a lot better because in my diary it says I had a fun time before bed with Irene Izeberger.
Berlin, Tuesday, October 25, 1932.
On Friday, October 21, I went to the movies with my mother and saw a film with Max Hanson and Gitta Alpar. On Sunday, I saw a film with my parents. It was very humorous, but of no great value. Today I received a picture postcard from Ruth Hamberg. I will answer her in the next few days. Today I went to the attorney to discuss renting a store at 121 Gunther Strasse. I was interested in opening a branch of my father's tailor shop.
Berlin, Friday, October 28, 1932.
On Wednesday I was at the law office to conclude the leasing of the shop. On October 27th, I celebrated the grand opening. It was fairly busy. Yesterday I went with my mother to see the movie, "Anxiety #202," with Fritz Schultz and Magda Schneider. The film was a comedy with no great plot.
Berlin, Sunday, October 30, 1932.
Yesterday I was busy in my branch store. My parents, on Friday, went to sleep. I had a good time in my room with Ilse Berger. Today in the afternoon, I took 5 p.m. tea in Café
Berlin. It was very nice, but there were no exceptional girls that I would want to meet. This week I had fifteen marks pocket money from my father. I have written a postcard to Ruth that I'll mail tomorrow morning. On one side were the lyrics of various hit songs; on the other side, I thanked her for her card and sent regards. I am signing off at 11 p.m.
Berlin, Thursday, November 3, 1932.
Tonight I saw two movie premieres with my mother, Eight Girls in a Boat, and The Girl's First Love. The films were about love and rebelling against one's parents. I enjoyed them very much.
Berlin, Monday, November 7, 1932.
Since November 3, general transportation strikes have been paralyzing Berlin. Now some street cars, subways, and buses are beginning to run again. In conjunction with these strikes, the elections were greeted with pogroms and riots that threatened general business in the city. On Saturday evening, I received twelve marks.
Berlin, Friday, November 11, 1932.
Yesterday I went to the cabaret owned by the Hungarian comedian-actor, Sircas Sakar. After the stage show, I went to Café Yulandeker. The clientele did not appeal to me, and I left early. My parents went to the movies just when I retired to bed. Before bed, I spent time with Ilse Berger. Yesterday, I received twenty marks pocket money. Today, I did some bookkeeping.
Berlin, Sunday, November 20, 1932.
On Monday, November 14, after closing the store, I went to the dentist, Dr. Bernstein, on Weinerstrasse. He pulled a tooth, which was a painful experience. On Wednesday, the pain increased, and I returned to the dentist. He told me that the pain was not from the wound but from the wisdom teeth growing behind the wound. I took many painkillers to ease the pain, but to no avail. The dentist then explained that the tooth was impacted and would not grow correctly. I had awful pain.
Yesterday, I received seventeen marks pocket money from my father. Yesterday, my parents and I went to Eidmirage Palace, they presented, Lillian, starring Hans Alper. Lillian is the German equivalent of, Carousel. My parents didn't enjoy it as much as I did. Today, Ilse, my mother, and I saw the film, Drink for Your Sorrows.
Berlin, Monday, November 21, 1932.
I thought my toothache had gotten better, but now it is coming on again. I am going to bed.
Berlin, Sunday, 1:00 p.m., November 27, 1932.
On Friday evening after supper my parents went for a walk, and I had a good time with Ilse Berger, so I must be feeling better. Yesterday I got twenty marks pocket money. I had an appointment with Mr. Wolfenberger, whose father is making a coat for my mother, but he never showed up. Instead, I went to Café Berlin by myself, and I had a very pleasant evening dancing with a young lady from Leipzig. We could not make any future appointments because she had to return to Leipzig, but she was very nice. I went home around 1 a.m. and was in bed before 2 a.m. Today I got up at 9:00 am. It was 11:00 a.m. before I was shaved and dressed. I went to my tailor and tried on the suit my father was having made to order for me as a present. At noontime I walked with Sonia. Yesterday evening I sent a postcard from Café Berlin with the heartiest regards to Ruth.
Berlin, Monday 11:00 p.m., November 28, 1932.
Yesterday afternoon I went walking with my mother and sister. In the evening I was at the movie theatre and I saw two very nice films.
Berlin, Monday 9:00 p.m., December 5, 1932.
Yesterday afternoon I was at the café and at Hausen Heider #69. There were few people there and it was quite nice. There I met Ms. Erta. We danced together a lot and then decided to meet again on Saturday evening on Hermanplatz. She lives on Birationplatz. She is slim and said she is a professional motorcycle racer. She spent two months in England and she speaks English very well. She was born in Germany, but her parents are French, so she is a French citizen. Perhaps, she will come on Saturday evening. After that I spent last night with my parents in Bendovers Bundt; it was very nice. Shortly before midnight I went to sleep. Tonight I slept well until 4 a.m., after which I could not fall asleep again. In any case, yesterday was very well spent and pleasant. Thank G-d for that and for the fact that my parents feel well.
Today my father had a creditors meeting, and he hopes that all will go well. An agreement has not yet been reached, and it will have to take more meetings to achieve that.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:00 p.m., December 7, 1932.
Last night my dentist put in a filling and did some drilling in my front tooth. He also made an impression to make a golden cap. Yesterday I went with my parents to a konditorei in Morrisplatz. There was no music, but it was pretty nice. Now I am going to bed. Good night. Berlin.
Sunday 12:00 p.m., December 11, 1932.
Today is the second Sunday before Christmas, and you are allowed to keep your business open. Friday night I went to the movies with my mother to see Paprika, with Francis King and Paul Halbinger. The film was pleasant. Yesterday my dentist gave me the golden cap which he had prepared. I paid him twenty-three marks for it. Yesterday I got thirty marks pocket money. In the evening I waited until 9:20 p.m. for Erta, but she did not come. So, I went to the café, which was pretty nice. I met a17-year-old Jewish girl, Ann Reiber Mendelson. Maybe, I will call her to make an appointment for next week. Ziegfried Arnold, the actor, was there, and I got his autograph. I took the night bus home at 2:45 a.m. and I went to bed.
Tuesday 10:00 p.m., December 13, 1932.
Sunday evening after closing the business and having dinner I went to the Cuckoo Movie Theatre. The film, with Renata Miller and George Alexander, How I Am Going To Tell My Husband? was pretty humorous and entertaining, but not of great educational value. Last night I was with my parents in the Konditerei Kuchenkaiser (The King of the Cakes) on Oranienburger Platz. It was pretty nice and I was glad to have the opportunity to read an English newspaper. Now my parents went for a walk. My little sister is sleeping. In a little while I will go to bed. I listened to a cantor from Poland singing on the radio. It was very nice.
Berlin, Thursday 10:00 p.m., December 15, 1932.
Yesterday I had an argument at the business with Mr. Hugo Arnan, one of the salesmen. He refused to attend to a customer, and I fired him. I checked telephone information and found out that the telephone number and address for Ann Reiber were not correct. I did not worry too much because I wasn't that interested anyway. Now I am going to bed. (It is interesting that fifty-five years ago when I was in Germany writing in my diary I always wrote "Good Night" in English).
Berlin, Sunday 10:00 a.m., December 18, 1932.
It is the last Sunday that businesses are allowed to be open before Christmas because in Germany businesses must all be closed on Sundays or they will get a summons. On Friday I went to the Cuckoo Theatre and saw Maria Schneider and George Alexander in a very humorous and lively show. Yesterday I received thirty marks pocket money from my father. After eating dinner my father went to Kafé Koenig. My mother went to a movie theatre. I went home to take my bath. While the water was running in the bathtub, I was listening to some dance music on the radio. Then Ilse Berger, our housekeeper, came home. I danced with her for a little while. Then we lay down on the sofa and we were getting ready to get comfortable when we heard my mother coming home. I hopped into the bathtub quickly. My mother asked me where Ilse was. I told her that Ilse was in the dining room. I think my mother has some idea of what was going on. My mother acted as if she noticed nothing, and when I returned from the bath I went to bed. This morning my parents asked me a number of questions. I admitted that I did have a little relationship with Ilse Berger at times. My parents told me that having relations with the house girl could ruin us all. If I did that again, I was told that I would have to leave the house. I was told that I could go to a girl, but not in the house. Otherwise, my parents treated me very nicely. I must admit they are really correct and mean well and good for me. I promised my mother that I would not do that again with Ilse. My parents forgave me completely. I want to be a good son, and I don't want to cause them or myself any trouble.
Berlin, Monday 10:00 p.m., December 19, 1932.
Last night after closing the business and eating dinner at around 9:00 p.m., I went out to the zoo. There I made a mistake in changing trains, and I arrived at the Café Berlin at the zoo by 10:00 p.m., It was very crowded. I danced with different ladies, but they were nothing special. Then I met Sonia Klein, and I expect to met her again on Friday, the first night of Hanukkah. She lives near Norendorf Platz. We agreed to meet there. At 1:45 a.m., I caught the streetcar and arrived home at 2:00 a.m. My dear mother had prepared something for me to drink and left it by my bedside. Today my mother warned me to stop running around so much. She wants me to be home by midnight if I go out again. Now I am going to bed. Good night.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:45 p.m., December 21, 1932.
Last night I went to the movies with my mother. The movie starred Lilly Agover; I did not like it. My sister is sleeping. My parents went out to a café. Ilse Berger has her day off. After dinner I did correspondence. I have prepared the tub and will go to bed after the bath.
Berlin, Friday 5:30 a.m., December 23, 1932.
Yesterday I was at our real estate agent for Kapengastrassen. I picked up a power of attorney and managing rights from him. Today I will take care of the tenants. Last night I had finished more writing and then gone to bed. For Hanukkah today I bought my father cigarettes and chocolate and a box of candy for eleven marks for my mother and sister. Today I awoke very early and everyone else was still asleep. I will do a little writing work and then begin my day. I will eventually go to court to represent my parents in a case regarding our building. I only want to testify to the truth because that is the only way to win and be fair.
Berlin, Saturday 9:00 p.m., December 24, 1932.
Tonight is Christmas Eve. Last night I locked up the store punctually, and after dinner I went to Norendorf Platz. I arrived by 6:00 p.m. and met Sonia Klein. She lives in Berlin at West 57 at Palacestrasse 8 and 9. Sonia Klein is Jewish and her birthdate is February 8, 1908. She is just a little smaller than I am. She has black hair and dark eyes, nice teeth, nice facial expressions and features, and a pretty nice figure and shape. She is also very nice, but a little old. She is the supervisor of a stocking department. We went out and liked the music. Sonia was very nice, and we danced and both enjoyed it very much. Around 1:00 a.m., we left and I took Sonia home. We planned to meet tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. at Norendorf Platz to go out again. I had to take a streetcar home and arrived home by 2:00 a.m. My mother told me early this morning that nice, decent people come home before midnight and don't schlep around. Yesterday and today we lit the Hanukkah candles. I gave my mother the candy and my father the cigarettes. My father bought me piece goods as a present. Now my parents are out, and I am going to bed. Good night.
Berlin, Tuesday 11:30 p.m., December 27, 1932.
On the first day of Christmas, my father and I took all our inventory and placed it in Scarsenstrassen 135. Then I was with my sister in Kafé Kugenkaiser. Around 7:30 p.m., I went to Norendorf Platz. Sonia Klein met me there fifteen minutes later. We went walking around. Together we admired the beautiful display windows in the stores. We also saw that all the coffee houses were filled and the theatres were sold out. We then went into a movie theatre: Mozart, Norendorf Platz #5. Impossible Love was playing with Hilde Hildebrand and Arnold Swankey. The film was very good. After that, I brought Sonia home, and then I went home. I arrived by midnight. Yesterday, the second day of Christmas, I was out walking. I went with my parents to Café
Berlin and the zoo. It was pretty nice, but it was really too overcrowded. Today I telephoned Sonia Klein. We made a date for New Year's Eve, which in German is called Silvester.
Today after dinner, I went with my father to store 135. I listened to the radio and wrote correspondence. Now I am going to bed.
Berlin, Thursday 5:30 p.m., December 29, 1932.
I've picked up my tickets for New Year's with Sonia, and I went to the tailor to fix my clothes.
Berlin, Sunday 1:00 p.m., January 1, 1933.
On Friday afternoon I went with my cart and I bought a hat for four-and-a-half marks, and a tie for eighty-five pfennig at Alexander Platz. On Thursday evening my parents took me to a movie, Me in the Daytime and You in the Nighttime. It was an entertaining comedy. Friday evening my parents took me to Café Kochenkaiser. Yesterday I received ten marks pocket money from my father. I had to get myself ready right after dinner, shaved and dressed. I went to Norendorf Platz. I arrived after 9 p.m.; Sonia arrived shortly thereafter. We took a streetcar to the Philharmonic. I picked up our tickets at the box office for four marks each. We had a hard time finding our seats. Luckily, we discovered two very good seats. We took a bottle of Graf, white Bordeaux, for four marks. We enjoyed dancing together. I had at first proposed that at the beginning of the New Year we should resolve to call each other by the informal "du," but that never occurred. We consumed a few bottles of seltzer for one mark. We danced as tiny snowflakes fell from the ceiling. Small pieces of confetti and balloons showered upon us. After 4 a.m., we left. I brought Sonia home and kissed her hand adieu. I took the elevated train home. I was home by 5 a.m. Today I awoke at 12:30 p.m. My parents gave me the following lecture: A girl that is out with me that late in the evening cannot be a nice, respectable lady. I don't agree with them at all. I should join a club and belong there and have a friend from there, so I, as an eighteen-year-old man, should not run around with girls and schlep around the whole night. In that respect, I agree with my parents, at eighteen years old, I don't need to be tied to a woman. But I defended myself saying that I had no commitments to any woman. I am committed to my father's business and to spending all of my days there. My father said that if I come home again after midnight, he'll break my legs, so I will no longer go shlepping around. In this respect, my father contradicted his own statement. Not so long ago my father was saying that his son was afraid to go out and never spent any money. My mother said that I spend twenty or thirty marks on women; my mother was wrong. She said that I schlep around with shiksas, but that was not true either. On New Year's Eve, we only did what nice people do; we didn't even get drunk. She is a nice Jewish girl. My parents were fundamentally wrong; they're not very fair with me. Perhaps they mean well, but they behave differently. I know I am not a bad person even though they describe as one. They don't understand me, and they don't know how to say the right things. Today I received a New Year's greeting card from Ruth Hamlet. I responded and apologized for not having written first. I explained that it was because last time she had not answered me. I wrote this letter while I was doing some work on the property for my parents. Today I promised Sonia Klein that I would call her next week for a date. Only G-d will know what will be with that.
Berlin, Monday 11:00 p.m., January 2, 1933.
Last night my parents were out, while I took care of business before retiring early. I got five marks pocket money because on Saturday I only received ten marks . (My parents' arithmetic was not so good. My mother thought I was spending twenty to thirty marks each week on women but they were only giving me fifteen marks allowance each week.) My parents played checkers while I worked on the Kapenstrasse property.
Berlin, Tuesday 11:30 p.m., January 3, 1933.
This week we have a court hearing with Mr. Armand. It's not proper or fair. Mr. Armand had two witnesses, Kaminsky and ______, both of whom lied on the stand. Last night I bought two tickets for The Big Theatre in advance. I called Sonia Klein, but she didn't come to the phone. I tried again today to no avail.
Berlin, Sunday 4:00 p.m., January 8, 1933.
Yesterday in the evening I called Sonia Klein. We agreed to meet today at 7:30 p.m. at the Grossen Show Plac Haus (The Big Theatre). I got fifteen marks pocket money. During the day I saw the movie The Blond Guys with Marlene Dietrich. In the morning, I showed some customers Kapengaplaza. In the late afternoon I rested and read newspapers. As I finished with my writing work, I wanted to put my fountain pen away, but I turned it too strongly and broke it. It was my last fountain pen.
Berlin, Monday 8:00 p.m., January 9, 1933.
Last night I was in the casino theatre with my parents. We went right after dinner at the Gross Shop Plac Haus. I had my tickets from the cashier. I met Sonia Klein for a walk around before the show started at 8 p.m. Sonia apologized for not calling; she claimed she had not received all my messages. I gave Sonia the candies my mother had given me; we enjoyed them before and after the show. We checked our coats and climbed up to our seats, way in the hinterlands of the balcony. The binoculars couldn't even help. Sonia acted as though she was happy so as not to upset me. All she said was, it didn't matter because she saw pretty well. We bought a program. The beginning of the show was good: the costumes were elaborate and the presentation delightful. Our seats, however, were uncomfortable. The show was called, Ball At The Savoy. It featured Gita Alper, Dean Colvar, and Schoerder. The supporting ensemble was also fantastic. Paul Abraham was the director, deserving of great praise. Then, I spied two vacant seats in the first orchestra section. After the intermission, we snuck down. At first, Sonia was hesitant but then she agreed, and we enjoyed the performance much more. These seats would cost sixteen marks each, but it was money saved on binoculars. The show was even more beautiful and the music more melodious from a few feet away. The show ended after midnight. As a courtesy, I offered Sonia coffee to go, but she declined. Instead we began to walk home. The walk was certainly very nice as we had a pleasant conversation. I sent her home with a kiss on the hand. We planned to dance during the next week. In the interim, we would speak on the phone; she promised to call me. I took the night bus home and arrived shortly before 2 a.m. Waiting for me was warm milk from my mother, but no speeches and no lectures. I began to feel guilty for not realizing how good my parents are. I will have to thank them for being such wonderful parents.
Today, I had luck with my fountain pen. I returned it and purchased a new one. This afternoon I went to try on my tuxedo. Now I will go to bed. My parents went to the Bundesburger.
Berlin, Tuesday 11:30 p.m., January 10, 1933.
Today was the first time I set up the display windows in my father's store. The display turned out well, except that I put up the wrong price. Now I must learn the special artistic handwriting to use for window displays. This weekend my parents took me to Café Kochenkaiser.
I intend to look into a club for young businessmen of Berlin, which meets weekly. That way I could meet other people and not be so reliant on dating.
Berlin, Wednesday, January 11, 1933.
This morning I started to arrange the other two windows of my father's store early in the morning. Now I will take care of some tenants from my parents' Kapengastrasse property. My parents are now away, and my sister is asleep. Our housekeeper is away. All is quiet.
Berlin, Thursday 11:35 p.m., January 12, 1933.
Today I had a lot of aggravation. I finished negotiations with a tenant. My father kicked me out of the store because he didn't like the way I negotiated. He turned to the tenant I had chosen and said that I had nothing to say about it and that he would not lease the apartment to this person. My father threatened to hit me with a chair. I did not defend myself against my father, but I kept thinking about leaving their house. I can no longer tolerate living with them. However much they may love me, at times I can't tolerate the way they treat me. My mother was crying; she begged me not to leave the house. I gave my father notice that I would not be to blame if I were no longer so hard working and devoted to him.
This evening my tailor fitted me for my tuxedo.
Now I am going to bed. I do notknow how long it will take me to fall asleep. Good night.
Berlin, Sunday 1:45 p.m., January 15, 1933.
On Friday evening my mother took me to the movie, Baby with Annie Andra, a light and humorous comedy. Before I went to the movies, Sonia Klein called to make a rendezvous for Saturday at 9 p.m. because on Sunday she is going with a fellow worker to the Holtzbein Theatre. After the movie, I took a bath. Last night I called Sonia Klein to ask her if we could meet a little earlier. Then, I, myself, was a bit late, arriving at 8:45 p.m. Sonia had not yet arrived as she was very busy in the store where she worked. I walked to Palacestrasse, where she lives. As I arrived, she was just leaving to meet me. We went by bus to Markerefte, a café with singing and dancing. I arranged with my mother to meet us there at 9:30 p.m. I thought my parents should meet her because she was a very nice woman, even if she was six years older than I was. Sonia asked who we were to meet. When I told her it was my parents, she was already pointing them out. At first, she felt awkward, but that soon evaporated. We all went to the Dance Palace. It was very crowded, but we entertained ourselves with conversation and stories. Although we had fun, we decided never to go there again because we didn't like the crowd. Afterwards, we took the bus to BeloBoden. I brought Sonia home and left her with a kiss on the hand. We hope to see each other again on Thursday. My mother told me today that Sonia was very nice, and that she does not look so old. Today I stayed in bed until 10 a.m. Rosenberg, the tailor, delivered the tuxedo, I paid him ninety-three marks for his work. The jacket still needed some alterations. Yesterday my parents gave me fifteen marks pocket money and forty marks for the Kapengastrasse. Now I go to eat mittok--the main meal, eaten during the day in Europe.
Berlin, Thursday 6 p.m., January 17, 1933.
On Sunday afternoon, I walked during the day and went to the café at night. I went to get my palm read. I let the reader read the palm of my right hand. He was only about half accurate. He said, for instance, that I don't say, "Yes," unless I am convinced it is right to agree on some matter. He also said that I am not lucky in gambling. (Both items seem correct to me.) He also said that I will take a big trip in the beginning of the year, and I will be successful. He said I will have a financial loss, and then I will have financial success. He also said that in 1932 I had a friendship with a lady, that we separated, and have given up on that friendship. He also said that now I was going with a lady from whom I will also separate because someone will come in the middle. (He must have known my parents.) The way he sees it, it is not from my side that someone comes between us, but from the lady's side. He did not see marriage for me within the next three years. My lucky days are Monday and Friday; my lucky numbers are three and seven. I paid the gentleman one mark.
I met my parents and we went to the café where I danced a little. We went home together by 12:30 a.m. Yesterday I went to the Young Businessman's Club, joined, and paid one-and-a-half marks for my membership fee. I engaged in one hour of English conversation at the club because they converse in English only. It was pretty nice; I enjoyed it; and I started as a beginner with the English language. English cost me 2.7 marks. Instruction cost ten marks for six months, which was quite reasonable. I think I am doing the right thing in trying to improve my English. It is a pleasure to be able to follow a conversation in English.
The palm reader also told me that I would live to about seventy-three. I don't believe that any person can predict the future, but some things from the past he told me were correct. We cannot know the future. All we can do is hope and see what happens.
Berlin, Tuesday 10:30 p.m., January 17, 1933.
This evening I received my tuxedo jacket after dinner. I escorted my parents to the movie theatre where I got them tickets at reduced rates with my student pass from the textile school where I learn about the mills, production, and composition of clothing. I went home and wrote a letter to Sonia Klein, in which I told her I was looking forward to Thursday, at 9 p.m., After I mailed the letter, I went to sleep.
Berlin, Friday 9:00 p.m., January 20, 1933.
On Wednesday evening I had my English lessons. In order not to lag behind in class, I started at the beginner's level.
Thursday night, Sonia and I went café-hopping, Café Berlin, Café Wilhelm's, Palace Amchok, and others. Afterwards, we went to Delphine's with table telephones. We checked our coats, had drinks and coffee, and it all came to five marks. We enjoyed dancing together. We left at 1 a.m. We walked slowly to her home, stretching the minutes as long as we could, until they turned into hours. I kissed her hand. Sonia promised to call to meet me again next Sunday.
My parents both separately went away, and Sonia is sleeping in the next room. Good night, empty house.
Berlin, Saturday 9:30 p.m., January 21, 1933.
Today I gave my mother a Feodora Bonboniere, which I purchased for two marks. I received my fifteen marks pocket money. This evening my mother asked me if I expected to go out tomorrow with Sonia. I responded that I had not called her yet. But in truth I was really displeased because Sonia had not called as we had agreed she would do. Actually, I don't want any steady girlfriend yet and Sonia is also too old for me. But that didn't change the fact that I was lonely for her. Shortly thereafter, the phone rang. Sonia and I arranged to meet tomorrow at 3:30 p.m. at Norendorf Platz, the big traffic circle near where she lives. She promised to bring her camera along. Elation came quickly and shooed away the memory of her date with her business associate. I reminded myself that I was not looking for a virgin. If I were looking for one, I probably would not find her. I would also not run to get married to a virgin. I am actually very pleased that if I ever want to have intercourse, I could visit a lady of the evening.
Berlin, Monday 8:00 a.m., January 23, 1933.
Yesterday, before noon I was with my sister and our new girl in the house. We took out a row boat. Later my parents told me that if I go out that night past midnight, I should not bother to come home. At 3:30 p.m. I met Sonia, as arranged. I walked around a bit because Sonia arrived late at 4 p.m. She apologized for being a little late. We went to the Tiergarten, the zoo. This was a very nice area in Berlin, with coffee houses, beautiful large parks, and museums. We walked around that area to 6 p.m. We were enjoying the view, the parks, and the garden. We also took some pictures with Sonia's camera. We went to Kurfürstendamm until 7:30 p.m. Then we dined at Rubenstein's kosher restaurant. The meal was excellent and was well worth the three-and-a-half marks cost. At Café Berlin, we listened to Michael Chagall and Adolf Ginsberg and enjoyed them; we also danced. It cost three marks for drinks and coat checking. I brought Sonia home. and promised to write and invite her out. I kissed her hand. I was home by 12:25 a.m.,
I awoke today at 7:30a.m. and went to open my father's store.
This morning, my dear mother cursed me and hollered and yelled about the time I had come home the night before. My mother cursed Sonia and slandered her name for running around with me for eight hours.
Berlin, Wednesday 8:10 p.m., January 25, 1933.
Yesterday, I bought two tickets for the Großes Schauspielhaus (Great Theatre of the Performing Arts) for my parents. The woman at the box office gave me the wrong change. I did not notice that until I came home. I did not want to return to ask her for the change.
Last night my parents took me to the movie theatre, where we saw Love in the First Tone, with Leo Pari and Karl Jakone. The film was passable. This morning I opened the business for my father. It was very busy today. Today, I went to the box office and got four tickets to Winterfest, a ball, for February 11. I hope to go with Sonia and my parents. The four tickets are for two different tables in the marble ballroom. This evening I went to my English course at the Young Businessman's Club.
Berlin, Saturday 10:15 p.m., January 28, 1933.
On Thursday I wrote a letter to Sonia Klein saying that I expected to meet her on Sunday at about 8 p.m. on Norendorf Platz. On Thursday evening, my parents took me to visit Café
Kochenkaiser. Yesterday I made a premium from a customer: I got one mark. A premium means I sold an old item (over a year on the racks) at a reduced rate. Last night my parents took me to the movie with George Alexander and Ganta Lieber, When Love Was In Fashion. It was very nice. Today I got fifteen marks pocket money.
Berlin, Monday 9:30 p.m., January 30, 1933.
I walked with my mother and sister. In the afternoon, my family was sleeping, and I listened to the radio. After dinner, I escorted my parents into the Great Theatre of Arts. There, I changed my coupons into tickets for my parents. I was very glad to get them very good seats. I took the bus to Palacestrasse at 8:15 p.m. Sonia had been waiting a few moments for me, but she forgave me for being a few minutes late. I did not want to go too far away because I had promised my parents not to come home very late. So we went to a café on Norendorf Platz. We dined on the second floor, where the guests were mostly goyim [non-Jews]. The music was fair, and we danced a little bit. Sonia was very nice, even if I couldn't dance too well because I was wearing high boots. I brought Sonia a piece of chocolate that my mother had bought. Sonia said she would help me pay when I remarked that I was broke and didn't have enough money to pay for what we had ordered. Actually, I was only kidding; the whole meal only cost three marks. I told Sonia that I bought tickets for the Winterfest from the German Book Society in the zoo. Sonia told me that next Sunday she would be spending the day with two business associates on Beiberplatz. I gave Sonia a cheap, old, mechanical, adjustable pencil. She gave me in exchange, a pen. At 11:30 I brought Sonia home. We said goodbye.
At 12:10 a.m., I arrived home. Anna, our housekeeper, told me that the police had telephoned that the alarm bells in the business were ringing. My parents, at that moment, came home from the theatre. I went without them to the store. Some policemen helped me search the store. I shut the bells and the alarm and thanked the policemen. I got home by 1:30 a.m. and went straight to bed.
Berlin, January 30, 1933.
Yesterday afternoon the doctor diagnosed my father with the grippe. He was not to leave his bed, but he did anyway. The doctor gave me a clean bill of health. He told me to rest up to guard against catching my father's illness. He gave me some tablets to strengthen my nerves, which were on end. I wondered if my parents bribed the doctor to tell me not to go to sleep too late. Today I spent with the salesmen in the store by myself. Tonight I called Sonia Klein. She invited me to a concert on Sunday. She also mentioned that she wanted to get the film taken when we went out developed. I promised I would try to get that done this week.
The business is doing badly. We are still negotiating with my father's creditors. And now my father's attorney went to court to try to get a negotiated settlement gtp, the judge.
Yesterday there were many troubles and pogroms in the streets. Today was the day that Adolf Hitler officially became the Reich Chancellor of Germany. All I can say is that I hope that the end will be good for the people of the world, but I don't think it will be.
Berlin, Tuesday, January 31, 1933.
Today I brought two shirts at the Teitz Department Store. It had been one of the largest department stores until all the help marched out when Hitler came to power. One of the two shirts will go well with my tuxedo, and the other one is just a nice shirt. I bought myself seven butterfly collars for 11.35 marks.
Tonight my parents went to the movies. I tended to business at the property on Kapengasstrasse.
In Berlin, there are many cases of influenza. Today I didn't feel well myself. I gargled to avoid coming down with illness myself. I know my father needs my help in the store, and even if he hollers and yells at me, I want to be there to help him.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:45 p.m., February 1, 1933.
Tonight after locking up the store, I went to the English class at the club. I paid my dues of five marks. At 10 p.m., I heard the new Reich Chancellor, Adolf Hitler, on the radio. He was calling the people together, urging them to riot and kill more Jews for him. This speech was transmitted to New York; I listened to it in my room in Berlin.
Berlin, Thursday 9:30 p.m., February 2, 1933.
My parents are at the theatre. I am sending a postcard to Sonia Klein, asking her to call me tomorrow night. My sister is being put to sleep by our house girl. For eighty pfennige I am going to the movie theatre. I am going to see, FP9 Does Not Answer.
Berlin, Sunday 3:45 p.m., February 5, 1933.
Thursday's film with Hans Albers was great. Albers played a man in distress. He escaped and helped someone else. In the end, he was duped, abused, and unappreciated. Friday, my mother went to the movies, and my father went to the café. Yesterday, my mother bought a cloth bag for me to keep my new tuxedo collars in. Yesterday, I got fifteen marks pocket money.
Saturday night I called Sonia Klein at 9 p.m. We met on Norendorf Platz. It rained. It was muckish weather. Sonia carried her umbrella. We went into the Delphi Palace and danced. Sonia mentioned that she earns 175 marks monthly, as well as 60 marks in commissions. She had a piece of property that she sold; now she has no property at all. Her father, Dr. Iganou, was an architect. Last night cost three marks. Shortly after 1:45 a.m., we left the dance palace. Sonia was home by 2 a.m. I kissed her hand. We agreed to meet again next Saturday to go to the ball. She promised to call me once before then. I arrived home after 3 a.m.
Today I awoke at 10 a.m. and took a shower to refresh myself. I worked concerning the property until noon. I read the classifieds looking for a renter for Kapengasstrasse. We want to find an apartment for ourselves because we gave our landlord notice for early March. Tonight Sonia is with business associates.
(Looking back, I realize that I was not serious at that time about getting married. I was not making any plans.) My mother advised me not make any commitments to a woman at this time and certainly not with Sonia Klein, who has nothing. Sonia is only here now for company, said my mother. Otherwise, I would not allow her to go out with other men from work. I let things like that slide, considering I only see her once a week. In those circumstances, she cannot demand much from me. When a man wants to marry a rich woman with a sizable dowry, he may find it difficult to meet all her demands. Alternatively, if a man meets an intelligent, albeit not wealthy, woman who does nicely in life, that constitutes a better foundation for a healthy, normal marriage. But if a girl, besides being nice and intelligent, has a little dowry, that cannot hurt either. All in all, everything must fit together in the big picture.
Berlin, Tuesday 9:30 p.m., February 7, 1933.
Sunday evening my father went to the café, and my mother was home with me.
Today before noon, I had many chores to take care of: I collected rent at Kapengasstrasse; I went to the tax department to pay taxes; and, in the afternoon, after work, I went apartment-hunting with my mother. We found nothing of interest.
This evening I have letters to write and business to attend to concerning Kapengasstrasse.
Berlin, Friday, February 10, 1933.
Yesterday evening after closing my father's business, I did writing work until 10 p.m.; then, I went to bed. Today I had many errands to run in connection with trying to get my father's settlement with his creditors.
This whole week I had strong symptoms of the grippe, but every day I got up. I hope to be feeling well to get the tickets for the Winterfest tomorrow. I am very angry that Sonia Klein did not call me this week, but maybe she'll call tomorrow night.
After eating dinner, I listened to the speech Hitler gave over the radio. It was very hard for me to understand. He was born in Austria, and his German is not very good. It's crazy that even in his bad German, he's ruining Germany economically and politically. He wins over the people by telling them the Jews are their tragedy. He can't promise them fortunes and stability, but he can offer them parades, marches, and pogroms. I am afraid the end will be bad for Germany and the whole world.
Berlin, Sunday morning. February 12, 1933.
Yesterday morning I called Sonia Klein and promised to pick her up by 9:15 p.m. My father got us the tickets for the Winterfest. Yesterday afternoon I gave our apprentice six marks to get us tickets for the Winterfest. I bought saroti karine for eighty pfennige for Sonia Klein. I changed into my tuxedo by 7 p.m. At 9 p.m.,I left with my parents. I left Norendorf Platz to pick up Sonia Klein. Sonia was wearing a beautifully-fitted dress, tailor-made. We went together to the zoo by train. The coat check was one mark, twenty pfennige. We bought the ladies' cologne, 4711. For the men, there was a calendar from the German Book Society. Our table was reserved. We danced around in the different ballrooms; there were so many ballrooms and so many orchestras. We made sure that my parents were well seated, although they sat separately from us. Everything was going well. Among the many stars present we saw Gita Alper, Hilda Hilderbrand, Lacy Miller, and Tom Shula. We spoke to some of these stars; some of them even gave us autographs. There were other famous people like Max Ehrlich and Paul Heidman. I was very impressed.
After dancing and noting the exhibits, I went to dance with my mother. My mother asked if I was ashamed of my parents; she wanted to know what Sonia said about her. She was upset that I hadn't come to dance with her sooner. She refused to dance with me. She wasn't partial to the song they were playing. I must ask her to dance at another time.
I went back to my table; Sonia didn't complain that I hadn't asked her to dance sooner. She told me that during the day she was asked to go to the theatre with a business associate, but she broke the date because she thought I'd be upset. We went to the tambola[a game like bingo], and Sonia won a bottle of 4711. After that, I danced with my mother. I invited her to sit at our table and officially introduced her to Sonia. They talked for a while before my mother asked us back to her table to meet my father. My parents had won many items., including a camera., which they gave to me as a present. I danced with my mother again so she wouldn't be angry with me. I asked my father to dance with Sonia. He declined saying the dance was too hard for him. My mother then said that he wanted to dance with Sonia, so we waited until a song came on that pleased him. He danced one dance with Sonia. Sonia was very nice and even complemented my father on his dancing.
At 6 a.m., we left my parents and took the subway to Sonia's house. Sonia promised to show me the pictures she had taken on January 22. I kissed Sonia on the hand good-bye. As I returned on the train, I ran into my parents, so we returned home together. My father enjoyed the ball. I was very happy, knowing my father was very hard to please. Usually, my parents complained and fought among themselves. My father did complain that I brought "my girl" over to his table. Actually, it was my mother who had suggested we go to my father's table, but as always I got blamed. He didn't like the fact that I had found such a poor girl. He wanted me to find a rich girl as that would help him get established in business. My father felt I could be picky because he had a few dollars. Just because his schooling was non-existent, he didn't feel he should be further deprived by having his son make a poor choice of a wife. I am not a prophet, but I will say in advance, that Sonia Klein is not worth having a discussion with my father that could lead to an argument. I do feel that when I am ready to fall in love and marry, I would not marry for money because money wouldn't make it right if it was not otherwise right. With Sonia, I feel we will end it shortly because she is a number of years older. Furthermore, I am too young to get serious and I am not established enough to marry and take care of a wife properly. Also, Sonia Klein has too many other "associates" that are readily accessible to take her out. But, I still want to date her awhile; she is a nice person, without chutzpah. She is always a wonderful around me, and I don't think she would be loose with other young men. She is a little older, and she already has her own experiences and her way of life behind her.
Today, I slept till 10 a.m. and then I had breakfast. At 1 p.m., I got up for the midday meal; then, I went back to bed for a while. My parents slept past lunchtime. Today I read in the Berlin Afternoon Daily that a firm, Sheil, which owns one-price men's clothing chains, is looking for young salespersons. I thought of applying, but my father said they are looking for low wage sales help, and I wouldn't learn much there. I must try to go to a large pawn shop to get a job. There, I could learn a lot and then open a business myself and become self-sufficient. Maybe my father is right; I am sure that he means well, but it is not easy to find the type of job he suggests. In the meantime, I must continue along the way I am.
Berlin, Tuesday 9:30 p.m., February 14, 1933.
On Sunday evening, I worked at home and then I went to the movies with my mother to see The Blue From The Sky. it was a nice and amusing picture; I particularly liked the hit song. We also saw a second film, a love story in a French setting, July 14. The films ended late, and we didn't get home till half past midnight. My father was at a coffee house.
Yesterday I worked and went to sleep early.
Today, I had many chores to take care of and much running around to do regarding my father and his creditors. I hardly believe that the settlement will come through because my father has so many bad creditors who want to give him trouble. Today my mother gave my forty marks for managing our property at Kapengastrasse for the month of February. Now I will take care of some writing work and go to sleep. Mother is now in the movie theatre, trying to forget about the aggravation that my father had with the creditors.
Berlin, Wednesday 10 p.m., February 15, 1933.
Today was another bad day with the creditors. I took my typewriter to the store to work until 9 p.m.; I had to type several forms. Sonia Klein called tonight at around 6 p.m. She told me that she expected to be near my home at around 8 p.m., but I couldn't see her because of all the paperwork I had to do. I even missed my English course today, but I did promise to call Sonia before Saturday to make plans. Today we rented a new apartment for us to move into on April 1, 1933. It is at Grafstrasse 90--on the third floor, five rooms with a bath. I hope we'll have better luck and less aggravation there. I hope we have mazel and brocha (good luck and peace).
Berlin, Thursday 9:30 p.m., February 16, 1933.
After closing the shop and finishing supper, Mr. Flagel, the tenant in the hardware store who saved me during the eviction of my other tenant, said he could no longer afford the rent. My parents agreed to reduce the rent by twenty-five marks so he could continue to live there.
Berlin, Friday 10:10 p.m., February 17, 1933.
Today at 3 in the afternoon I went home to prepare the statement for the property on Kapgrafenstrasse. In the late afternoon, I listened to the radio before dinner. After dinner, my parents went to the movies; my sister went to sleep; and I finished my work. I called Sonia and made plans to meet her at Norendorf Platz to see a movie on Sunday.
Berlin, Saturday 9:00 p.m., February 18, 1933.
When I bought two tickets for the movies on Sunday, my father said this should be the last time I take Sonia Klein to the movies. He said it was enough to just take her out for coffee.
My mother and father had a fight about the photo of Fraulein Schnuck from Nordeney. My mother suspects that my father had an affair with her. I am inclined to agree. My father had hidden the photo for a long time. When my mother finally discovered it, there were a lot of questions that were left unanswered.
Berlin, Sunday 3:30 p.m., February 19, 1933.
My father came home last night at about 2 a.m., and my mother mentioned that. After breakfast, my mother, sister, I, and the house girl went for a walk. I pulled my sister on a sled. I took pictures of the day with my new camera. The pictures may or may not come out as I'm not such a good photographer. My father took a walk alone. Father did not join us for lunch either. Afterwards, mother took Sonia to the movies to see a children's film. I stayed home and took care of the business correspondence .
Berlin, Monday 10:00 p.m., February 20, 1933.
Last night after dinner I went to Norendorf Platz. Sonia was waiting, as we had prearranged. We went to the theatre; it cost only one mark. We both enjoyed the operetta, The Divorced Lady. At 11:30 p.m., the show ended, and we went to a café for iced chocolate. We danced, dined, and enjoyed each other's company. When I took Sonia home, we talked a bit at her house, but she did not allow herself to be kissed. So I took her hand, and we said good-bye. I promised to call during the following week. I intend to call her to explain that it doesn't make sense to continue going out with her. I will see her one more time to say, "Adieu." I caught the last train home that night and was home by 1:45 a.m. My mother came towards me and demanded to know where I had been, complaining that I had been out too late with "that girl." She may have been right, but I only go out once a week and, when I do, I want to forget all my worries and be like a different person.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:55 p.m., February 22, 1933.
Yesterday I called Sonia. We set a date for Saturday at 9 p.m. at Norendorf Platz.
We took my father to Dr. Hans Feltman. He warned my father that he must stop smoking so much or he would risk cancer of the mouth and cheeks. The doctor told me that I looked fatigued and must go to sleep earlier. I suspected that my parents told him to say that. We all went to the movies to see The Fight for the Blondes about white slavery. It was an important film to see.
Tonight after work I went to English class. My father is out. Mother and Sonia are asleep.
Berlin, Thursday 9:00 p.m., February 23, 1933.
After dinner I finished my writing work.
Berlin, Friday 10:00 p.m., February 24, 1933.
Today, there was a lot more work to settle between my father and his creditors. It is hard to believe it will ever really get settled. Tonight, I went to the movies with my parents; it cost me sixty pfennige. Because we saw two long, double features, we weren't back until late.
Berlin, Sunday 12:00 p.m., February 26, 1933.
Yesterday, I earned two premiums in my father's store. In other words, I sold two items that were there for over a year, so I earned an extra mark each. I came home, changed my clothes, and headed out to Norendorf Platz. I was late, but Sonia was there. We went to Café Berlin, and that was where I told Sonia this would be the last time I would see her. She was still very nice to me and treated me the way she always had. She even mentioned that she would still send me the pictures that she was developing, if they came out good. We danced together nicely, only I never could dance the waltz. I dropped Sonia off at 1:45 a.m. She promised again to send me the pictures, and I promised to call her sometime and keep in touch. I arrived home by 2:45 a.m.
Thinking back to yesterday, Sonia was so nice I could love her for it today. But she is too old for me, and there are too many other girls to meet and take out. She never even once let me kiss her. I hardly believe that she was untouched by all others.
Today, I woke at 10 a.m. and went with my parents to look over the new apartment we would be renting. Afterwards, my father went to Café Kenya where he had been yesterday evening. Earlier in the day, I had called a woman about renting our apartment on Kergenastrasse. We were running an ad in the paper, and I had a tentative appointment to meet her at 4:30 p.m.
Berlin, Monday 10:00 p.m., February 29, 1933.
I showed the empty apartment to a prospective tenant, who agreed to rent it. My parents took me to Café Wilhelm's Holland near the zoo in the Tiergarten area. There was a cabaret on the main floor and dancing on the second floor. I had been there once before dancing. Most of the women were unattractive. My parents complained that our seats were poor. The evening cost me nothing, yet I preferred the evening before with Sonia even though it was more expensive. We went home that night, and I was in bed by 1:30 a.m.
Today my father has a case in court about the court order to negotiate a settlement between him and his creditors. The case was adjourned giving us additional time for private negotiations between my father, his creditors, and the attorneys. I hope for a settlement.
Today I sent a little package with printed matters to Sonia Klein with the following contents: my address and best regards, a ticket from when Sonia weighed herself on Saturday, and a news clipping about a show we saw, The Show Called the Sardine Fishers. The show was poorly received by the public and had little redeeming value. It was the show she went to see with her associates.
After the business closed, I closed a lease with the new tenant.
My father went to a coffee house; I escorted my mother to the movies; and my sister was asleep. I will go to sleep as soon as I complete one more business letter.
Berlin, Tuesday 10:25 p.m., February 28, 1933.
Yesterday there was a big fire in the Reichstag, the German equivalent of the American Congress. There was heavy damage. A new law was passed today against those who try to incite civil war. Swastikas are popping up all over--large ones. One must expect great troubles and riots in these harsh economic times in Germany. Yesterday and this afternoon I was at the building at Karpengastrasse, but it was impossible to get the apartments rented.
Today I dropped my eyeglasses and broke the frame. Now I am using my emergency glasses. I am retiring to bed. Good night.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:20 p.m., March 1, 1933.
This evening after business closed, I went to my English course. I had dinner before class at home. I will bathe now before going to bed.
Berlin, Friday 8:25 p.m., March 3, 1933.
Yesterday evening my parents went out after dinner to Bundes Colorful Theatre. I had changed and went to the zoo. The orchestra was very nice. I had a few dances. A lady who interested me was not there. I had nice company at the table where I sat and the conversation was pleasant. I did not want to stay too late or come home too late. I wanted to be home around midnight, but things can happen that change our plans. At midnight, I saw that I had a nosebleed. I went to the bathroom, but did not clear up my nosebleed until 12:50 a.m. I sat for a few minutes and did not catch the trolley car until 2:00 a.m. I arrived home by 2:05 a.m.
This morning I went to Doctor Feldman. I had a patient coupon from my health insurance. Feldman referred me to Doctor Cohen, an ear, nose and throat specialist. He treated my nasal problem with an instrument and medication.
Yesterday I made a premium in the store (one mark extra). I spent one mark and ninety-six pfennig yesterday. The repair of my glasses cost two marks and twenty-six pfennig. Due to my loss of blood yesterday, today I felt very fatigued. My father is out. I am going to sleep early.
Berlin, Friday 9:20 p.m., March 3, 1933.
I escorted my mother to the nearby movie theatre. Now I am going to sleep.
Berlin, Saturday 2:00 p.m., March 4, 1933.
This afternoon there was much business aggravation. My mother and father were fighting, and they hit each other. I tried to make peace between the two of them, got in the middle, and got hit, too. My mother hit me, then she ran home and went to bed without dinner.
Tonight a Nazi parade went through all of Berlin. After my evening meal, I listened to the radio as Goebbels and Hitler spoke. The situation is very bitter towards the Jews in Germany. It will probably only get worse.
On to financial matters. Today I made two premiums and had fifteen marks pocket money, for a total of seventeen. After Hitler's speech, I feel very bad, hot and cold as with fever. I have a headache.
Berlin, Sunday 4:10 p.m., March 5, 1933.
This morning I felt bad. My throat was swollen and my jaw and side ached on account of my wisdom teeth. At 11 a.m., after breakfast, I went out. Nazis are out in uniform throughout the streets. Some of them only wear swastikas on their sleeves. The police survey them without interference.
Today is the elections for the new Reichstag and Landestag. Earlier in the big traffic circle I saw two Nazis and their victim carried away on a stretcher; maybe he was injured, maybe he was dead. I considered how dangerous it was even to walk along the streets, as I was doing. I thought to myself that I was lucky to be walking away, as I saw another victim being carried. I took the trolley to the park. I was very glad that I had a chance to pass some blind people playing music in the Tiergarten. I was fortunate to be able to contribute some change to them.
I went to Kampferplatz for the grand opening of a new café of music and dance. My visit and coat check cost forty-five pfennig. At 1:30 p.m., I took a Brandenberger Tour autobus home. I had a late lunch and lay down to rest. I did some written work for the property after taking my sister for a walk.
Berlin, Sunday 10:40 p.m., March 5, 1933.
After dinner I listened to the radio and I heard the partial results of the voting being announced. Hitler's Nazi party had made fantastic gains; although the total results were not known, the Nazi Party continues to get stronger and bigger.
Berlin, Monday 10:25 p.m., March 6, 1933.
Today I made one premium. My mother is sick in bed after being pushed and hit by my father on Saturday. I closed the business and did my writing work.
Berlin, Tuesday 10:10 p.m., March 7, 1933.
This evening I called Sonia Klein. Her store supervisor asked me to wait while Sonia tended to a customer. I hung up after three minutes. After dinner, I had a long conversation with my parents about the American banking crisis and the dollar value because among my savings I have some American dollars. I fear and anticipate that the financial decline of the American dollar will continue. A few months ago, I told my mother that in America something would happen. I wondered if I should change my few dollars back into German money. I feared and anticipated that the dollar would decline further. Now the dollar is at four marks and sixteen pfennige. For many years the dollar remained at four marks and twenty pfennige.
The pain from my wisdom teeth continues to ache.
Berlin, Wednesday 9:35 p.m., March 8, 1933.
After closing shop today, I went to my English course. After class ended, I ate dinner and escorted my mother to the local theatre. After some written work, I went to bed. Good night.
Berlin, Thursday 10:50 p.m., March 9, 1933.
People on the streets are talking about the Jewish blood spilled during the last few days. Today there were several attacks against some of the department stores. Herman Teitz closed his big department store at 5 p.m. this afternoon on account of the violence. He will not open again until he receives police protection. After closing our store and dining, my father went out. My mother and I walked through the neighborhood.
Berlin, Friday 10:15 p.m., March 10, 1933.
Propaganda speeches air on the radio for the right-wing parties since elections are coming. It is clear that a vote against the Nazis will lead to retaliation. Pogroms and arrests are rampant. Today my mother went to the bank to sell my three hundred and twenty-five dollars; I took a loss of twenty-five marks on the poor rate of exchange. I hope that the loss of twenty-five marks will be the last loss. This evening I went to dinner with my mother. I am shaving my mother's neck. My parents went to bed. I will go to bed, too.
Berlin, Sunday 11:15 p.m., March 12, 1933.
Yesterday I received fifteen marks pocket money. Hitler spoke last night along with his propaganda leader, Goebbels. My parents took me to the movies to see The Marathon Speed Runner. It was passable. I went to bed around midnight.
This morning a man responded to our ad to rent an apartment. Afterwards, I caught the bus to Café Mocha. There was a concert there. I spent forty pfennige. The streets were filled with Nazis; I was afraid to walk among them. On the ride home, I saw my father returning from Café Koenig. In the afternoon he had been in Café Dublin. I went home after doing some written work. I walked with my mother and listened to the radio after dinner.
Berlin, Monday, March 13, 1933.
There have been small aggravations at business even though my palm reader had told me that Mondays were my lucky days. Today my father received a settlement from court on the bankruptcy case. He will have to pay his creditors 40 percent of his debts. This evening after locking up the store, I made a rental to a Mr. Shultz. Other tenants paid their rent. Tomorrow I hope to make the new lease. My parents took me to Café Kuchenkaiser. I am going to bed. (Today, after closing the business, I called Sonia Klein, but she had already left work. Her associate at the shoe store will tell her that I called tomorrow.)
Berlin, Tuesday 11:45 p.m., March 14, 1933.
After closing the store, I prepared the new lease that Mr. Shultz later signed. After dinner, my sister went to bed, and my parents went out. I prepared other lease contracts in my room for a closing tomorrow for people I had showed the apartment to today. I must post some checks and finish some business letters. My parents told me that the palm reader had predicted the completion of my father's court proceeding and the execution of contracts on the apartments. I am going to bed now.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:15 p.m., March 15, 1933.
The new tenants signed their leases and paid their rent. Today I showed more apartments and closed another contract lease. I am still checking references. I went to my English class. Today I paid one-and-a-half marks for my club and five marks for my English class. Today I met Heinz, whom I had known from past courses in textiles. He was one of the few Jewish students in the textile high school. He had been in Paris acting. After dinner, I am going to bed.
Berlin, Friday 7:45 p.m., March 17, 1933.
After closing the business and eating, I listened to the radio. At nine, I shaved and changed, then caught the autobus. I went to the palm reader. He said, as he had on January 15th, that I would make a long journey. It cost me one mark. Afterwards, I went upstairs to dance with some women. They did not interest me. I spent one mark ten pfennige on coat check and entertainment. I met a blonde shiksa. We left at midnight and went to a small hotel. One room was one-and-a-half marks. We sat together on the couch, undressed. She wanted a gift. I told her that if she wanted a present in advance, not to bother getting undressed or lying down because I didn't do that. She gave in. We had a number together, twice. When I told her that I would get her a present, we did it again. At 1 a.m., we got dressed. I gave her the five marks I had with me. She told me that some men give her five, seven or even eight marks. She did spend an hour with me. She was pretty good and I had a nice time. Then, she left. I went to bed at 1:50 a.m.
After breakfast, I opened the business.
photo: Hermann and Sonia's father, Zysia Pressman (with hat), and two of his employees at Zysia's clothing store and factory in Berlin, Germany, 1931.
Berlin, Friday 9:30 p.m., March 17, 1933.
Today my mother bought me a lightweight summer pair of pajamas for six marks as a present. After dinner, I had to do some written work. My parents went out. I am going to bed.
Berlin, Saturday 11:00 p.m., March 18, 1933.
Today I received fifteen marks pocket money. After dinner I read the newspaper and discussed the bad news in the paper with my parents. I also told them about the bad customers in the business.
Berlin, Sunday 10:40 p.m., March 19, 1933.
This morning I awoke at 9 a. m., bathed, and ate breakfast. We went to the new apartment that we rented and brought over the few items we could carry. We took one bale of material goods from the business that my father could cut and work with. My father went to Café Kernick. My mother, sister, and I walked in the area of Café Tiergarten until midday. Then, I had work to do.
I took my parents to Café Dobrin that night; there was a nice concert there. At 9 p.m., I ate dinner, and then went to bed. Good night.
Berlin, Monday 9:45 p.m., March 20, 1933.
Today I went to the publishing house and got a book my father paid for that teaches you to make signs and placards for display windows. It cost three marks and twenty pfennige, and he gave it to me as a present. I have very little time these days because I am also occupied with my English course. I don't want to neglect that course because it will come in handy when I get out of this country, G-d willing. I have a lot of writing work tonight for the clothing store and #26 Kapengastrasse, where we have forty tenants. I was doing the bookkeeping to prepare for the taxes for 1932. My parents were listening to the radio.
Berlin, Thursday 9:15 p.m., March 23, 1933.
Yesterday I made one-and-a-half marks in premium and went to my English course. At 9 p.m., I ate dinner and packed my valise. My parents had already packed earlier. With my mother at the movies and my father at the café, I did my bookkeeping. In the time I had left, I finished packing and went to bed by 1 a.m.
I awoke at 7 a.m. and at 7:30 the moving van arrived with the moving men. Our new apartment was Grafenstrasse #90, on the third floor. I monitored the move from 7:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. Then, I went to work with my father until 6 p.m., after which I went home to unpack. I am nearly finished unpacking. In between we managed to eat. (The conditions here in Germany are getting worse daily--no, they are getting worse by the minute. In the street there are troublemakers and anti-Semites. You must let them do what they want without fighting or talking back. Hitler will not make any exceptions in his new laws that unleash anti-Semitism. Neighbors advise me to leave Germany for a neighboring country, but we don't know if the anti-Semitism will spread to neighboring countries. But our neighbors say, "At least, get out of Germany now because you don't know what will happen to you."
I told my parents that I knew a little English and was considering going to London. Besides the advice of strangers, my own mind tells me to consider getting out of Germany while I still can. If I am unlucky and hit hard times in another country, I know I'll have to start from the bottom and work my way up. If nothing works out elsewhere, I can always come back to Germany, and, at least, I will have seen something of the world.
My English has improved markedly lately. It helped that I learned some English in high school as well as in business school. I will miss the song, When Jewish Blood Drips from the Knife, Everything Goes Twice as Good. They ought to play this song when they carve Hitler up and serve him to wild dogs. This is the music playing on all the streets and highways, from all different sources.
My parents do not want to part with the few marks it will cost to send me out of the country. I am willing to spend my own money to leave.
Berlin, Saturday 10:45 p.m., March 25, 1933.
Today I received fifteen marks pocket money. After dinner I went for a walk with my parents.
Berlin, Sunday 12:00 a.m., March 26, 1933.
This morning I bathed and ate breakfast. After I shaved, I tried to make a carton stand and hurt my finger while hammering. My mother was worried that I would disturb the quiet Sunday period enforced in Germany. I went to pick the jacket up from the tailor, Mr. Rosenberg, who had made alterations. He was not home when I called. I went to the pharmacy about my finger; the bandages cost me ninety-five pfennige. In the afternoon, I began to read about painting placards while my family napped. Then, I repaired an old broken flashlight. I made an extension for it to plug in near my bed. Now I use this as my lamp at night. This evening after dinner my parents wanted to take me to the theatre. My father sent me to get tickets. My foot got caught in the door of the bus. I hurt my shin and my shoe was ruined. I was still able to get two tickets for my parents and a free coupon for myself. We saw White and Purple. The theatre was largely empty.
Berlin, Monday 10:30 p.m., March 27, 1933.
The store was busy today. Customers were either there for exchanges or browsing, and sales were slow. After dinner, I wrote some letters. Now my father is yelling at me because my customers did not buy.
Berlin, Tuesday 11:30 p.m., March 28, 1933.
This evening my parents took me to the movies. Now, I am going to bed.
Berlin, Wednesday 11:00 p.m., March 29, 1933.
Today, I made a mark premium. After closing the store, I was in my English course from seven until nine. After dinner, at around 10 p.m., I listened to the radio announcing a strike against Jewish-owned businesses: lawyers, doctors, etc. The stores were marked with swastikas, and Nazis with cameras guarded the doors. Any customers who went into the stores were either beaten then or later. The Nazis claimed that Jews ruined the reputation of Germany and other neighboring countries. They claimed that they would get even. Many Jews went to the consulate of other countries to try to get protection. In the beginning, the Nazis were more lenient to Jews from other countries. On Saturday at 10 a.m., April 1st, the strikes were due to start. Furthermore, we heard of different local laws in German provinces and towns that were more bitter and severe daily. My father is away, and my mother is asleep. Before I go to sleep, I hope to G-d for protection from such atrocities. I know it is getting worse, but I cannot give up hope. Good night.
Berlin, Thursday 10:50 p.m., March 30, 1933.
Today I earned two marks in premiums. After dinner, while building a shelf for maps and other information, I accidentally hit a nail into my finger.
Now I am listening to the news on the radio. On Saturday, there will be a boycott against Jewish businesses and professionals. They are urging Germans not to employ Jews. Signs and placards will urge Germans not to do business with Jews. Special parades and demonstrations are being organized against the Jews.
My parents are not home.
Berlin, Friday 10:15 p.m., March 31, 1933.
Today I earned two marks in premiums again. Tomorrow the boycott is starting. Yesterday and today our business was busy preparing for the boycott. The newspapers are filled with stories of the anticipated boycott. The news flooded the airwaves, too. All over the country Jewish lawyers, judges, doctors, and businessmen of all sorts were told not to return to work. They were demoted or stripped of their jobs entirely. These edicts are not only enforced by law; they are enforced by the will of the people, even without the edicts that have been passed. I read the newspapers and listened to the radio and these reports were repeated over and over. My parents are listening to Goebbels on the radio.
Berlin, Sunday 11:10 p.m., April 2, 1933.
Early yesterday, we opened the business. During the previous night, all Jewish businesses, stores, department stores, pharmacies, and doctors' and lawyers' homes were painted and marked as Jewish. The painting said, "Juden," emblazoned with swastikas. By morning, the paint still hadn't dried. Nazis observed the activity at each store. At 10 a.m., we locked up our business. Many other businesses--even the Teitz Department Stores--also locked up. That afternoon my parents took my sister to the Tiergarten zoo. I relaxed, shaved, and after dinner we went to the local theatre. We saw a musical review, Berlin Will Be Berlin. My father paid three marks for the three of us, as we had "first customer" coupons. At 11:30 p.m., I went to bed.
This morning my father was in Café Dobrin. Today after lunch I was busy with the monthly closing statements from Kapengastrasse. Yesterday I called the shoe store to speak to Sonia Klein. They informed me that she was not working that day due to the boycott.
Berlin, Monday 10:35 a.m., April 3, 1933.
Saturday afternoon and yesterday morning I was at home. I did not do any work because I was not feeling well. I received fifteen marks pocket money. I prepared some contract leases for the new tenants to whom my father had rented apartments.
Berlin, Monday 10:35 a.m., April 3, 1933.
On Saturday and yesterday I was busy at home because I wasn't feeling well. I received my fifteen marks pocket money. I prepared new employee contracts for the newly-hired salesmen, as Mr. Cohen had recently resigned. Isidore Cohen and Mr. Rowal are the new employees. I warned my father that I had heard bad reports and rumors about Mr. Rowal.
Berlin, Monday 11:55 p.m., April 3, 1933.
Until 9 p.m. I was busy with business correspondence. Then, my mother and I went to the movies and saw People Living in a Hotel, starring Greta Garbo. The movie cost one mark and sixty pfennige. The film was nice; I enjoyed it.
My father was too tired and did not join us. My parents went to bed.
Berlin, Tuesday 10:40 p.m., April 4, 1933.
Tomorrow they said the boycott against Jewish businesses is to be temporarily discontinued because neighboring countries threatened repercussions. I was reading the midday newspapers daily, Tempo, and the English speaking paper, The New York Herald. In the Herald, I read the English description of the boycott; the slant was entirely different from our domestic papers.
Berlin, Wednesday 11:15 p.m., April 5, 1933.
Shortly before 7 p.m. I called the Shoehaus Liza in search of Sonia Klein. The branch manager notified me that Sonia no longer works at their store. She had been fired. After closing the business, I was at my English course until 9 p.m.; and I was home for dinner at 9:30. My mother was in bed with a bad leg. My father went to a coffee house; he is still not home. I listened after 10 p.m. to the radio News of the Day. I tried to pick up long distance broadcasts from London. Then I listened to some light music from London. Even if I only understand a few of the English words, I enjoyed the program very much. This program draws me to the English-speaking world with a yearning to leave Germany. I intend to visit England because here it is very bad. If I become established in England, I can always come back and visit my parents if they do not want to leave here. In the meantime, I will have mastered English. I will also learn about the English culture. I am writing Sonia Klein a short letter and ask her for the photos she had taken.
Berlin, Thursday 10:40 p.m., April 6, 1933.
This morning I mailed the letter I had written to Sonia Klein. For two marks and fifty pfennige I bought myself cologne and aftershave cream. After closing the store and eating, my parents and I listened to Goebbels' and Hitler's speeches. They discussed the correspondence about the boycott from other countries, but gave a false impression of it. Today I had the opportunity to speak English in our business.
Berlin, Friday 12:05 a.m., April 7, 1933.
Today I had a lot to do in the store as we were quite busy. So, I was unable to visit the doctor. After dinner, my parents took me to a movie theatre. We saw two comedies with catchy music, Lily of Paris, and Never a Day Without You.
Berlin, Saturday 9:45 p.m., April 8, 1933.
Today I telephoned the doctor to make an appointment for that evening, but was unable to keep it because of business. I hope I can go on Monday because I don't want to delay this too long. I gave a salesmen two marks of my money to give to a customer as a loan. The customer later paid me but did not repay the loan, and I had forgotten about it. The salesman, Isidore Cohen, promised to reimburse me. I made one premium today and received my fifteen marks allowance.
After dinner, Sonia Klein called me. She had been unemployed for eight days. She has been temporarily suspended, but not yet fired. She said that of the pictures she had taken, only one had turned out reasonably well. I made a date with her to pick that picture up the next day at 3:30 p.m. at Norendorf Platz.
Berlin, Sunday 2:35 p.m., April 9, 1933.
This morning until noon I handled correspondence. Today I took a light, summer top coat to the tailor; the alterations will be ready in a few days. My winter coat was already too heavy for the weather we were having. I had lunch with my mother and sister. My father was at the café.
Berlin, Sunday 10:15 p.m., April 9, 1933.
As I was leaving to meet Sonia, my father was returning. I arrived early and walked around until Sonia arrived. We went to the Tiergarten Zoo; then to Café Berlin, where we had hot chocolate with whipped cream and pastries. It cost two marks and twenty pfennige. Sonia gave me a copy of the picture she had taken; it was a poor picture. That picture is #92 in my album. Sonia promised me a better picture of herself. She told me that her boss and his family had left Germany. We made no commitments for future rendezvous. I said I might call at one time or another. Sonia and I danced at the Café Berlin, At 7 p.m. we took a two-hour walk. I brought her home and kissed her on the hand good-bye. She left me with a group photo that I promised to return to her when she sent me a replacement
Berlin, Monday 9:30 p.m., April 10, 1933.
Today I made one mark premium in the store. After 7 p.m., I went to the doctor. Today Pesach [Passover] begins. This evening we will have the first seder.
Berlin, Tuesday 11:50 p.m., April 11, 1933.
After closing the store and after dinner, I went to the movies with my mother. Hans Brauserbeter and Toni Von Eich starred in, What Do Men Know? The film was about a girl in love. I enjoyed watching it because it was realistic. As we were leaving for the movie theatre, my father said he was too tired to join us. When we got home, he was no longer there.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:55 p.m., April 12, 1933.
After closing the business, I went to my English course and later had dinner with my parents. We listened to the news on the radio, which was not good.
Berlin, Friday 12:25 p.m., April 14, 1933.
Today is Good Friday. Yesterday afternoon I bought myself a new diary because there are only three pages left in this one. I paid two marks and thirty-five pfennige for it. I took the autobus to the coffee house for dancing and music. I arrived only to discover that dancing is prohibited on Good Friday. So, I listened to the music. There was only one unaccompanied girl in the coffee house. I bought myself a newspaper and offered to share it with her. I ordered a decaf for one mark. It was lonesome and boring, so I invited the unaccompanied girl to a cabaret. There, I spent three marks and sixty pfennige on food and seventy pfennige for cigarettes for the girl. The coat check was expensive (sixty pfennige). Her name was Natasha Kohlhaus, and she lived on Jonestrasse #5 near the airport. She was twenty-two and a private secretary at a department store. I told her Helmut Meyer was my name and that I lived at #8 Beckstrasse. We went to the subway and caught the wrong train. Then, we caught the right train to Herman Platz. We set a date to meet later today at 2 p.m. at Herman Platz. I went to bed at 1:45 a.m. She was a slim girl, pretty, and not too strongly shiksa. She is around my size. She made a nice impression on me.
Today I arose at 7 a.m., By 8 a. m., I was dressed and did my paperwork for our property and taxes.
Berlin, Friday 9:15 p.m., April 14, 1933.
After going out today, I made a big mistake. I had to prepare lunch for my sister, but by the time I had made my own lunch, it was already 2 p.m., the time I was due to meet Natasha. It was 2:10 p.m. when I arrived at Herman Platz. Natasha was not there. I waited until 2:30 p.m., but she did not show up. I think she probably gave me a phony address. I went to Jonestrasse #5, and the address was correct. Her mother said she had left shortly after 1 p.m. to meet me. I gave her mother my phone number and asked her to tell Natasha to call me. She was an attractive girl, and I was upset that I had missed her. Slowly, I came home. My parents took my sister and me to Café Dobrin. At 8 p.m., we came home for dinner. I had a few minutes to write notices to collect rent. My mother went to bed, and my father went to Café Kenne.
Berlin, Monday 11:50 a.m., April 17, 1933.
Today it is Easter Monday. On Saturday evening, I left the business on my bicycle to go to the travel bureau to get my father a ticket to travel to Poland. I was knocked down in a traffic circle by a battery-operated taxi. These taxis have difficulty braking; fortunately, they also are unable to drive at great speeds. I was dragged along the street by the taxi. My knee was bruised and bloody. My pants were ripped, as was my elbow. I thanked G-d that I did not suffer further injury. The bicycle was bent out of shape. German bystanders yelled, "Kill that Jew! Who wants him to live?" A policeman came over, reported on the event, and offered to take me to a hospital. I said I wasn't that bad off and took myself to a local emergency room. The doctor cleaned me up. I went home and changed before going, finally, to the travel bureau. When I arrived later at work, the police had already reported the accident to my father. He advised me to go home as my mother was worried. I went home to calm my mother down. She was shaking and crying hysterically. Then, we went back to the business.
On Saturday, I got twenty-one marks pocket money. I bought myself brown oxford shoes and matching stockings for seventeen marks. My father packed his suitcase for Poland, and we took him to the train by midnight. He promised to send us a telegram that he was all right as soon as he arrived.
I had lunch with my mother after working that morning. We waited patiently for word from my father. We called the post office several times to see if a telegram had arrived. At 3 p.m., my friend, Martin, came to pick me up. My mother and sister went to the Wintergarten show. I went to Café Mocha with Martin. (Some people keep diaries with serious thoughts about their lives. Mine is more a cash and financial statement, but I like to keep it and write in it.)
In Europe, Easter Sunday and Monday is a two-day holiday. On Sunday, I thanked G-d that I had survived the accident and to asked Him to look after my father in Poland). I kept in touch with the post office later that evening as my mother and I went to Restaurant Rubenstein with my young sister. My mother and I were both worried about my father. My mother treated us to dinner. The whole day only cost me two marks. Martin went to his girlfriend's house, and my family went home. We called the post office. There was no news. Desperate, I made a person-to-person phone call to Mendelson, my mother's sister. Within half an hour, I had made a connection and reversed the charges. Their family was poor and owned no telephone, so we sent a courier from the post office. My cousin, Sabina, told my mother that my father had arrived there safely and forgot to send us a telegram. We were both relieved. Sabina told us that a telegram had been sent in the afternoon.
Today, my mother gave me three yards of material as a present. My tailor, S. Rosenberg, is making a suit from the material for me. Today, I called Sonia Klein and we planned a rendezvous.
Berlin, Tuesday 9:30 p.m., April 18, 1933.
Yesterday my mother and I went to Norendorf Platz, where I met Sonia Klein. She was twenty minutes late. We took my mother and sister to the Tiergarten. Then, we took a long train ride to Schlosslargen, the castle of an old German prince. The palace was one-and-a-half hours away. Sonia gave me three nice photos of herself for me to keep. At 8:30 p.m., we arrived back to the Tiergarten, and I called my mother to let her know what a nice time we had had. Mother urged us to go to dinner together. We weighed ourselves, I weighed 146 pounds, and Sonia weighed 126 pounds. At 11:25 p.m., I took Sonia home. We said good-bye with my usual kiss on her hand.
Today, I was only busy some of the time. I am pasting Sonia's pictures in my album, #92 a, b, and c.
Berlin, Wednesday 10:30 p.m., April 19, 1933.
After dinner I did my writing work. My father is expected home today. The last train arrives around 11 p.m.
Berlin, Thursday 10:10 p.m., April 20, 1933.
Today the police came to our house with a search warrant to check our house. My mother was very nervous, and I tried to calm her. She thanked me for my strength; she, on the other hand, said she wanted to kill herself. I do not know what the search was for. I would like to get out of this country as soon as possible. I would especially like to go to London because I speak English. Germany is growing more dangerous, but my parents do not want to hear of my leaving.
Berlin, Saturday 3:00 p.m., April 22, 1933.
Yesterday my parents went to the dentist, and I was alone in the store with the salesman. A large man entered our store; he was either drunk or pretended to be drunk. His name was Heine. He was one of the men involved in the hold-up of my father a short time ago. He said he wanted money to buy a beer and he refused to leave empty-handed. The salesman tried to keep things peaceable by suggesting I give Heine money. Then, Heine went to Albert Fagen's basement men's store below us and stole a leather jacket. He ran off with the leather jacket, and then he returned to our store demanding a leather jacket. He threatened to beat me to death unless I complied. I locked myself in our private office. He threatened to jump through the plate glass. When I unlocked the office, he punched my chin. Calling the police was not an option; the last time we had had an incident, the police told me Jews were not entitled to police protection. Heine wanted to go to the back room and beat me. As he went to the back room, I ran outside. Some of his buddies were out there. It was like going from the frying pan into the fire.
I took a taxi and reported the incident to a policeman. I begged him to send the police to my father's store.
I went home and telephoned the business. By that time, my parents were back in the store. Heine was also there, and he was still carrying on. The police came and left. My parents bribed Heine to leave with a summer coat. After I returned to the business, Heine went back to Albert Fagen's to steal a summer coat. My father was forced to buy back the summer coat he had given Heine from Heine for twelve marks. Fagen then bought it back from my father and was grateful to have it returned to his stock.
That night, my parents took me to the theater. At midnight, I went to bed.
Today I went into the business after breakfast. I went to the police station, where I was given a visa for eight marks that entitled me to travel out of the country. For two additional marks, they added a testimonial to my conduct.
After receiving the documents from the police, I went to the Belgian consul for a temporary visa for a four-week visit.
But leaving for permanent residence in Belgium was a more difficult matter. I went to the British Consulate, but it was closing. There was one woman there. She was very nice; she asked me a few questions and told me to return on Monday when I could get more information from a supervisor at the consulate. She also mentioned that if I wanted to visit a particular school in England, it would be easy to arrange a visit to England to look at the school. I went back to the police about the matter with Kravicki and the inspection of the house where we had been living.
Berlin, Sunday 11:00 p.m., April 23, 1933.
While I was at the barber yesterday afternoon Sonia Klein telephoned. I returned her call and planned a date for 8:30 that evening. I heard that Heine was arrested. After dinner, Mr. Weimeyer visited us. He was to be the new manager for my parents' property at Kapengastrasse. After he left, I went to meet Sonia. We went to the zoo, and we danced past midnight. We parted with the usual kiss on the hand.
Today I slept late and walked with my mother. In the afternoon my parents took me to Café Dobrin. After dinner, I read the English newspaper and sent an application to an English firm responding to an ad I had read in the Daily Herald. Saturday evening, I received ten marks pocket money. Today I got forty marks for being the agent for Kapengastrasse for the month of April.
Berlin, Monday 11:45 p.m., April 24, 1933.
Today I went with Mr. Weimeier and compiled information for his new job as property manager. Shortly after 8 p.m., I went to my English course. Today I paid one-and-a-half marks membership dues.
Berlin, Tuesday 11:45 p.m., April 25, 1933.
Today I went to the tailor Rosenberg to try on the jacket of the suit he is making me. I bought myself a belt and two pairs of stockings for one-and-a-half marks. My father is at Café Koenig. I listened to the daily news on the radio.
Berlin, Wednesday 12:30 p.m., April 26, 1933.
Today I was in the Chamber of Commerce for papers to file for the liquidation of our business. I went to the movies with my mother and saw I Want to Learn to Love You and The Flower from Hawaii. I paid one mark and sixty pfennige for both movies. The taxi driver who ran over me had written today. I responded that my suit had been torn and my bicycle broken.
Berlin, Thursday 10:40 p.m., April 27, 1933.
Today I went to tailor Rosenberg with my mother to try on the suit. I did writing work after dinner. My parents went to bed. Today I bought myself fine, thin leather gloves.
Berlin, Friday 12:00. April 28, 1933.
Today I received an answer from England. The ad in the paper had been a misrepresentation because the answer came from an English institute at 29 Oxford Street, London W1. In addition, a package was delivered. After dinner, my parents took me to the movies to see and So He Kissed Me, a comedy with George Alexander.
Berlin. Saturday 3:45 p.m., April 29, 1933.
This morning I went to Gertz and Miller and ordered placards and signs to advertise our liquidation sale. I went to tailor Rosenberg and learned that he was detained at the police station under what what the police called "protective custody." It hurts me to see such things happening. I went to the Belgian consulate. The staffer told me to apply for a visa, but added that it would take four weeks for a response. It was becoming harder to travel, he said. I begged him to help me get a visa for a four-week visit to my cousin, David Mendelson, in Antwerp, Belgium, who lived in Deurne, 10 Eicholi 128. If I can get that visa (I have already taken the passport pictures.), I will leave Germany.
I returned to the Belgian consulate with my visa and paid eleven marks and eighty pfennige. If I can get my papers together, I will leave today or tomorrow. I am losing time. My parents say I have at least another week to leave Germany. I went to the travel bureau to get information on the express trains for today and tomorrow.
Berlin, Sunday 9:10 p.m., April 30, 1933.
Yesterday evening I went to the building on Kapengastrasse to complete the details of my paperwork. I went to my father's business by 5 p.m. We were busy until closing time. Yesterday I received fifteen marks pocket money. I wanted to go out last night because I thought today would be my last day in this country. But after dinner I went into Moke Efte to the palm reader. For one mark he read my palm and told me, among other things, the following: "You have a few friends. You have one girlfriend. He named Sonia Klein. Sonia is not really bad, he said, but she intends to end your friendship." He was right. He told me I would meet another woman, but that I would have to wait. He said I would not get married in the next four or five years. A big, dark blonde woman, a good housekeeper, an able businesswoman, well-figured, and healthy would be my wife. He said I would sometimes be unfaithful to her. [That turned out to be untrue; it has never happened in my marriage]. He said I would live to seventy-three or -four. He said I would have many good things happen to me, but that I would have to wait for them. "Lately," he told me, "You have been in a bad mood; you don't know where you want to go or what you want to do. You want to go to London and become established. (He was right.) You are not yet ready to reach your goals; you have a lot of work ahead of you.
"First, you will go to a place where you do not want to be and you will not stay there. In about three years, maybe you will be in a house in London, and then your goal will be reached." (He has me wondering how he can suggest such things.)
He told me that I would have a lot of money and no financial worries. He said that my parents would also have money.
Then I went out for a mixed drink and danced. I made no connections with ladies. I took the bus at 2 a.m., but did not go home. I still wanted to meet someone. I found a lady of the evening and paid three marks in advance for some relief. I went to bed by three.
Late the next afternoon I walked with my mother and sister.
Berlin, Monday 9:25 p.m., May 1, 1933.
Today is National Workman's Day. The palm reader also told me yesterday that I would have a financial loss before the end of the year. This morning after breakfast, my parents took my sister and me to the Tiergarten. My mother packed a small valise with sandwiches, noodles, cheese, and salami. I said it would not be proper to eat in that section of the park. We went anyway. We walked around until noon. Then, my mother began unpacking her valise. Sonia was not hungry. My parents became nervous and aggravated. My father did not want to eat either. My parents began to argue, and my mother asked for carfare to go home. I put my mother and her valise in a taxi. I went to Rubenstein for lunch. There, I met an acquaintance from my English course, Werner Nachan. He was there with his parents. We had a nice conversation and then went together to the zoo. We walked until the evening. I went home to find my parents arguing. I ate dinner. We listened to the daily news report on the radio. They reported on the fireworks at the airport in celebration of the Day for the National Workers. I sent a picture from the zoo to Sonia Klein. (On Thursday or Friday, I had written a letter to Seligman in Holland, where I had been for four months when I was five years old. I asked if he would request a visa for me to visit.) My parents went to sleep.
Berlin, Tuesday 12:00 noon, May 2, 1933.
Today we officially began our going-out-of-business sale. We had decorators trim the windows and paint the signs. An official from the Chamber of Commerce was also present. Our accountant will be coming four times a month rather than twice, as he had been, because I will no longer be there to do the preliminary accounting. That night my mother and I saw the fil, Today It Is Going To Hell.
Berlin, Wednesday 11:05 p.m., May 3, 1933.
Today I went to tailor Rosenberg, but he was still being held in "protective custody." The vest and trousers were ready, but the jacket only had white stitches holding things together. I paid Rosenberg's assistant forty marks for the work already completed. I brought the jacket to another tailor to have the work completed. After dinner my family was busy with money matters. I hope to be able to write by next week that I left Germany with money sewn into my trousers and toothpaste containers, wherever it can be discreetly stored.
Berlin, Thursday 10:30 p.m., May 4, 1933.
Today my mother gave me fifteen marks pocket money because I did not have my money handy. Today I paid six marks for arches for my feet. I have many errands to run before I leave. Today I called Dr. Haftstein, the attorney, in connection with my exit visa. This morning before noon I went to the Belgian Consulate; they changed my visa to permit me to leave this Saturday rather than last week as I had originally intended. After closing business, I worked until 8:30 p.m. Then, I went with Mr. Kleziner from the Building Owners Society to complete the paperwork. My work is now updated.
Berlin, Friday 11:00 p.m., May 5, 1933.
Today I prepared everything in my father's business and prepared the checks for our creditors. The store was busier because of the sale. Today I bought hair tonic and toothpaste. Tonight I will be with my parents.
This afternoon Sonia Klein had telephoned me. I told her I planned to travel tomorrow. She told me that she was once again fired from a new job. I told her I would send her a postcard next week. She thanked me very much for the card I had sent her last Monday, She sent regards to my parents. This evening I wrote one business letter for my father. I hope to get a letter soon from Seligman in Holland.
- Introduction by Sonia
- Berlin, Germany, between July 21, 1932, and May 6, 1933
- Antwerp, Belgium, between May 6, 1933, and April 20, 1934
- Bronx, New York, between April 20, 1934, and November 29, 1935
- Eulogy by Hermann’s Granddaughter, Debra (Debbie) Gold Linick