GLASER: Okay, Fred, this is September 7, 1981 and I am speaking with Mr. Fred Katz in his library and Fred’s going to talk about his experiences, going as far back as he would like, in his own words, and we will be talking as general or as much in detail as he cares to. Fred lives in St. Louis County and you were born in what year, Fred?
GLASER: Fred was born in 1920. And where were you born?
KATZ: In Frankfurt.
GLASER: Frankfurt, Germany?
KATZ: Frankfurt, am Main.
GLASER: Now what I would like to do is, just initially Fred, ask you a few questions…sort of lead-in questions. Things that are very general in nature and then, as I mentioned before, you can become as general or as specific as you would like and just wander if you want to. Or if you want to tie into a specific experience as you talk, feel free to do that.
If you can, for the sake of the listener, if you are speaking about a specific situation that may have happened at a certain time…if you could punctuate that by maybe indicating as close to the actual experience relative to your age, or to maybe a certain year or month within the year if you can, from time to time. Just to tie in and to give a reference of time to the person that is listening.
Well with this, I would like to turn the mike over to Fred who will talk about, maybe, what his hometown…Fred, what was your town like as early back as you can remember…growing up in your village?
KATZ: Village? Frankfurt is a big city. Frankfurt was a city of a half million at that time. So, we are not talking about a village…we are talking about one of the larger metropolitan…
GLASER: You lived in the city?
KATZ: In the city, yes.
GLASER: I see, I see.
KATZ: We are talking about one of the larger metropolitan areas in Germany and one of the larger Jewish centers in Germany. Frankfurt always had a Jewish tradition going way, way back because one of the reasons is it used to be a free city and the Rothschilds came from Frankfurt – that was their origin. Frankfurt had approximately 30,000 Jews which was prior to the advent of the Hitler regime and that was a very large…when you consider that all of Germany had about one-half million Jews.
GLASER: Is that all Germany had?
KATZ: About 500,000-600,000 Jews, that’s it. One percent of the total population in Germany was Jewish.
GLASER: What kind of work were most Jews involved in, if that is a fair question, at that time?
KATZ: I would say probably in trade…owning businesses, either stores or other kind of businesses. There were a number of doctors, of course, a number of lawyers, but no blue collar workers – no blue collar workers or agricultural workers because again, going back through hundreds of years, that was prohibited to the Jews and they went into business.
GLASER: You mean to say the Jews, at that time, were well represented in government and in education at the universities and so forth?
KATZ: With the advent, of course, of the Weimar Republic after World War I, the Jews became much more prominent in educational circles; became more prominent in government. As a matter of fact, one of the ministers, the Minister of Economics, Walther Rathenau was a Jew. He was killed, assassinated, while he was in office. The whole life became much more assimilated.
GLASER: Was there any certain tradition that the Jews at that time…were they very assimilated, or did they have certain traditions, or did they live in certain specific areas?
KATZ: All I can tell you is about Frankfurt to some extent. We had to some extent similar to the same analogy as St. Louis, or the United States we have among the Jews who are affiliated…you have Reform and Orthodox. In Frankfurt, we had Liberal, Conservative and Orthodox. There was no Reform movement, as such, even though the Liberal was very close to a Conservative here. Except that we had a choir and we had an organ and things like that. But in our synagogue, the men sat downstairs and the women sat upstairs.
GLASER: How many people were there in your particular synagogue, would you say?
KATZ: I don’t know. It was a very large synagogue. There were two Liberal synagogues that were like together. One in the west end which was more modern and then ours which was still in the ghetto…in the old ghetto which use to be the Ghetto-Boernestrasse. As a matter of fact, our synagogue was right next to the family house of the Rothschilds. This whole area used to be the ghetto. It was very strange, the Jewish community, as such, consisted of people belonging to the Liberal synagogue and the Conservative synagogue. The Orthodox had their own…they were completely apart.
GLASER: With what you have said regarding the religious background of the Jewish community, the Jews did serve for Germany during the First World War.
KATZ: Oh definitely.
GLASER: How would you generalize about the feeling of the Jewish people? Were they maybe, first…German and second…Jewish…or how would you handle that?
KATZ: I think it was very individualistic. Probably to a large extent there were Germans of Jewish religion. To a large extent, like America – prior to the establishment of the State of Israel. Once the State of Israel came in, the American Jew had more ambivalence. They were more ambivalent about the two things.
GLASER: Really there is not a great deal of difference between the feeling of living in this country for most Jews today.
KATZ: That’s right. I am talking now about the Liberal elements. I do not know about the Orthodox at all.
GLASER: The population was pretty well spread throughout other than the specific area where Jews would tend to live?
KATZ: I don’t think so. We lived all over, I remember. And of course, apartments, you know, just like here. People didn’t live in houses. They lived in apartments, so I don’t recall specific Jewish areas. I recall specific economic…high economic areas, you know, with money.
GLASER: Then that wasn’t a problem. If a Jew had money, let’s say, and was recognized – they could live in a nice area just as well as not.
KATZ: As far as I know…I do not recall. Remember, I was very young. When Hitler came to power, I was 13. So what happened prior to that, if there was any overt antisemitism or even covert antisemitism, especially covert antisemitism, I was not that much privy to it.
GLASER: Was your family in business?
KATZ: My father had a number of cigar, tobacco stores which was more or less whittled down to one major store. Besides that, he also went on the road traveling like a factory rep for some cigar manufacturers and tobacco manufacturers.
GLASER: Had he been in the business for a long period of time?
KATZ: As long as I can remember, he was a big wholesaler. At one time, we had a lot of money for a very short time, from what I understand. He was a big cigarette wholesaler right after World War I. So…
GLASER: Was your grandfather, or…
KATZ: No. I knew none of my grandparents. My father…and I think this is very important – that is why I want to bring it out. We were stateless. I don’t know whether you have run across any stateless people in your interviews. Stateless people are people, and Europe was full of them, who did not have a nationality of any particular country. The most prominent stateless people were about a million and a half White Russians who had a so-called Nansen passport from the League of Nations at that time, which more or less was accepted by a number of other countries. However, if you were stateless otherwise, your passport was issued by the country that you were residing in as a stateless person, which meant that no other country would take you. Nobody wanted stateless people. Stateless people were superfluous because you couldn’t get rid of them.
My father was born in Lithuania. He was a Litvak. He came to Germany when he was 12 years old which was about 1893, something around there. And at that time Lithuania was under the Russian rule, so he was basically a Russian citizen. After World War I, he could have…number one…you could not become a German citizen. There was no way to become a German citizen. And he could have, when Lithuania became independent, he could have put his name in and became a Lithuanian citizen. Somebody advised him not to, so he became stateless. And as my father was stateless, my mother was stateless, his children were stateless. Even though my mother was born in Germany and was a German by birth, she became stateless. As soon as she married my father she became stateless. There have been books written for a long time about stateless people. They are even worse off than the…because they have nobody to go to bat for them.
GLASER: What were the limitations of being stateless? You could own a business? You could attend school?
KATZ: Yes you could. I don’t remember whether you could vote, or not. This I don’t know. But you could not travel anywhere else. You could not go into any other country.
GLASER: Even temporarily?
KATZ: No, you had to have a visa before that country would let you in, but the country wasn’t going to give you a visa…why should they give you a visa? There was a long time when everything was tranquil and peaceful and everything was fine, yes, they would give you a visa to travel for vacation or something, but as soon as things got into a turmoil, you needed a visa, as well as with a German passport you needed a visa, but you could not travel anywhere. You were not wanted because nobody could ever get rid of you.
GLASER: In your experience at grammar school, what was the school called? There was a word for it.
KATZ: Oh, oh, Grundschule.
GLASER: Because of the stateless nature, there was no problem?
KATZ: No, no problem…not as far as I know. I don’t know what my parents had to do. I don’t think there was any problem.
GLASER: From you, personally, you didn’t recognize any difference in the way you were treated compared to anybody else, as you went into grade school?
KATZ: No, no, nothing to do with it at all. My father did not serve in World War I because he was not a German. As a matter of fact, he was an enemy alien. He could not even be legally in the country because he was a Russian by birth. So he was in the country and it made things harder later on being stateless.
GLASER: Were you treated any differently amongst other Jews?
KATZ: No. As far as I know, they did not. Look, as a German Jew you never liked the Eastern Jews, so my father was an Eastern Jew. You know, I hate to say this and then put on tape once and forever irrevocably, but I think it’s been put on tape before plenty of times. We were not allowed to get together with my father’s relatives. I had cousins on my father’s side…I had aunts…and we saw them once a year. That’s all we were allowed to see them because after all, everybody who came from the East was called a Pollock, even though they were Litvaks, it didn’t make any difference.
GLASER: Would you say, Fred, that in growing up in your family, did you have brothers and sisters?
KATZ: I have one sister – she’s 11 years older than I.
GLASER: Would you say your lifestyle in growing up in Frankfurt was more or less typical? There was no particular incident or series of things that happened during your pre-teens that was any different from anyone else?
KATZ: No, I think it was different than here. You try to compare a teenager or a young person growing up in this environment.
GLASER: Or even compared to someone growing up in Frankfurt…the life was pretty much normal?
KATZ: No, I wouldn’t say that, because I joined the Youth Movement when I was nine years old…the German-Jewish Youth Movement.
GLASER: The German-Jewish Youth Movement?
KATZ: The Jewish Youth Movement was very, very strong among the youth…among the Jewish youth in Germany. I joined it when I was nine and they became a great factor in my life. They practically raised me. The influence of the Youth Movement was much greater influence of my parents’ house.
GLASER: What is the German-Jewish Youth Movement? I have never heard of that.
KATZ: All different organizations. The ones I belonged to originally was called “Kameraden” (Comrades) which they split in 1932 into three different groups. And we joined the one where our leader went into…11 and 12 years old. The one we joined was called “Werkleute” (Workers). These are the people that founded Kibbutz Hazoreah which is a very big kibbutz today in Israel. Martin Buberwas their spiritual mentor. And there was another group which became more German oriented, whereas, “Werkleute” became more Jewish oriented.
GLASER: This was funded by the State?
GLASER: It was sanctioned by the State?
KATZ: It was sanctioned because there was always Youth Movements in Europe, in Germany. The only thing you have here is Boy’s Scouts, but this is more than Boy’s Scouts. This included all the things in Boy’s Scouts but beyond that, we had so-called intellectual trainings with all kinds of camps.
GLASER: Was it military at all, or quasi-military, nothing like that?
KATZ: No, no. We had uniforms, yes.
GLASER: More spiritual in nature?
KATZ: Yeah, I would say. We had uniforms and maybe somebody was lucky enough to have a knife and we would march maybe, but we also…we use to go out every Sunday – generally way out in the woods and we were spiritual enough, at least our leader made us spiritual enough, that instead of taking a street car to the end of the city and walk then we walked to the end of the city and then started walking and gave the money to the Jewish soup kitchens.
GLASER: What did the non-Jews think of the Youth Movement? Anything in particular?
KATZ: No, they had their own. The churches had their own.
GLASER: Then there was no criticism of one or the other, or no jealousies or no ambivalence?
KATZ: Oh there might have been some beatings, maybe…Communists had their Youth Movement – the Hitler Youth and at times, maybe, they got together and beat each other up, but beyond that…
GLASER: Well it really sounds at this point and time, that life at this age – at your age – pre-teen was pretty normalized from an education point-of-view, spiritual, social…
KATZ: Yeah, generally speaking. I didn’t know anything about a Nazi party until I was about 11…about 12. I found out from my parents what it meant.
GLASER: How did that come about Fred? How did you first hear about it?
KATZ: It was very interesting. It was the day after election. Elections are always held on Sunday in Germany, like they still do. And that Monday morning in the newspaper, or something, it said the Nazi party gained a tremendous amount of votes which is translated into seats in the Reichstag – in the Parliament. So I asked them… “Is that good?” They said, “No, it isn’t good.” And they explained to me why it wasn’t. The only reason, they claimed, is the Nazis don’t like the Jews. The Nazis from time immemorial, always were anti-Jewish, but this was the main reason as far as they were concerned.
GLASER: Let me ask you another question. What was the first thing you ever saw from the Nazi party that told you that they didn’t like Jews? Did you ever notice anything?
KATZ: You mean personally, my observations?
GLASER: Were there any rallies, or anything like that?
KATZ: I don’t remember any rallies. I remember after they had taken power – after Hitler came to power on January 30, 1933 and on April first, was the boycott of all the businesses. In answer to the “so-called cruel propaganda” which was spread abroad by international Jewry against the German State, so there was a boycott of all Jewish stores, and we had a store. I came home from the synagogue…it was a week before my Bar Mitzvah.
GLASER: Was it effective, the boycott? Did it work?
KATZ: A lot of them closed their stores so I guess maybe it did. What they did – they had storm troopers in uniform and they would tell people when they walked in that this was a Jewish business. They didn’t try to stop them…nothing physical at that time. Now if I would have been living in a small town, I imagine I would have experienced a lot more in the beginning, antisemitism, than in the large city. You are much safer in a large city – you can meld in – even though they know you. One thing, and this is European and has nothing to do with Hitler, and is one thing I always have to point out when I speak to American audiences…Everybody in Germany had to register with the police. When you move from Olive Street to Grand Avenue, you go to the police station for Olive Street and fill out a form that you are moving to Grand Avenue. And you go to the police station for Grand Avenue and fill out that you moved in. And still today.
GLASER: For your protection – so to speak.
KATZ: Whatever, for whatever.
GLASER: I see, I see, I didn’t realize that.
KATZ: That’s right. They can lay their finger on you. You know, you’re not use to this. That’s why it’s very, very hard to understand the European psyche because basically, I think it is true in most of the other European countries.
GLASER: And they accept that?
KATZ: It’s been there for time immemorial. I’m sure it’s got some benefits connected with it. I don’t know what they are off-hand, but I’m sure they do.
GLASER: Going back to the boycott, Fred, if there was the first, maybe, tangible situation that you recall at that time…going all the way back and this was around April 1, 1933 – would you say from that point on, there could have been a series of things that happened that you recall?
KATZ: Basically you knew things were happening. Even if they did not happen to you personally. For instance, we had school years in Germany, start at Easter. Where here, it is from fall to fall. There it is Easter to Easter. I had finished my eighth year in school at Easter 1933. I’m sorry, Easter 1934. Now let me go back a little – I was in a school in 1933 when the Nazis came into power which was a gymnasium type of school, Oberrealschule. There was some Jews in there, but it was primarily non-Jewish. We decided, or my parents decided, that in the fall which was the split in the semester, that I should move over to a Jewish school, because the situation was getting bad.
GLASER: I see. At that time there was a assimilation in the public schools?
KATZ: I just recall, my first indication, I think it was very early, maybe before Hitler came to power, just about – I don’t remember – I had a very good friend, my father and his father were friends. He and I were friends and one day he came to school with a swastika on. And something came up and he called me a dirty Jew and I called him a French Christian – I don’t know – I was 13 years old. We started hitting each other, then we didn’t talk to each other. You know, things got to a point where they felt I should move over to a Jewish school. There was a Jewish school which had been in existence for God know how many years, with a complete curriculum. My sister, as a matter of fact, went to that school long before Hitler, or anything like that.
GLASER: Who would have normally gone to that school before? The more Orthodox?
KATZ: No, like I said, my sister went. No, I don’t know, but in ’33, a lot of them switched over. Then in ’34 we decided there was no use for me to continue school because, by that time, you couldn’t go to the university any more. By that time regulations had come out that no Jew – first of all, all the professors were fired already the year before, Jewish professors and that no Jew could go the university any more.
GLASER: How old were you at that time?
KATZ: 14. I went to work instead.
GLASER: You would normally have gone to high school at that point?
KATZ: No. You start high school at 10. It’s a little different system. The Oberrealschule, or gymnasium – you start at 10 and that particular school, it’s like a private school – you pay for it, but if your parents can afford it you go there, and most middle-class people sent their kids in to these type of schools. School is such that you do not choose your subjects…not like here.
GLASER: Now the fact that you decided, or your folks decided that you should not continue school at that point – why do you think your folks made that decision?
KATZ: Because the idea was, of course, for the boy in the families, somehow that have become professional. There was no way to go to the university. Regulations had come out that Jews were not allowed to go to the university anymore. So, it was felt it might be better and maybe you might have to leave the country one of these days. Because in ’34 you still felt that it wouldn’t last too long. You know, because other governments had not lasted. So the thought was that the best thing to do was send the boy to work as an apprentice in a business.
GLASER: Not necessarily your father’s business?
KATZ: No, no, definitely not. Anything – any job. Let me say it this way, just about anything that you went into…you had to serve an apprenticeship – a three year apprenticeship. Not only in manual, but also in office work. That was a cheap way to get labor and then you signed a contract – a teaching contract.
GLASER: Did that mean that once you trained in a certain job that you would automatically be accepted in the job, once you finished the orientation?
KATZ: Well, then you could go to another business after three years and say, “I got my period behind me…I know such and such.” And they held you to it. You couldn’t break contracts. I did break my contract, but you couldn’t generally break contracts.
GLASER: What kind of work did you go into at that time?
KATZ: It was a factory in the office of a bicycle and rubber sole factory. Gummiwerke Odenwald still have my contract. It was Jewish owned, Mr. Jacob Strauss. The renumeration is set by the State. You know the first year you get 20 some odd marks a month; the second year 30, or something like that. You are the “gofer,” you do everything.
GLASER: And you were about 14 or 15 at this time?
KATZ: I was 14 when I started.
GLASER: What did you find in the factory? Were there mostly Jewish kids working with you?
KATZ: No, no, this was in the office. Generally you only hire one, young one a year. That’s all. So there was another one there who was a miserable bastard, pardon me, a Jewish fellow, and he was the nephew of the boss, or one of the bosses.
GLASER: He could afford to be miserable…
KATZ: Yes, I think so. He was 16 you know. He lorded it over the 14 year olds. Then after another year, somebody else was hired and things like that. The funny thing…most of the young ones they hired, were Jewish boys. Even though in the organization, in the office itself, there were some non-Jews. And of course one man was a member of the party and he more or less ran the whole thing. He was a very, very nice gentleman.
GLASER: A member of “what party?”
KATZ: The Nazi party. By that time there was only one party.
GLASER: How did the other people treat him, or how did he begin to treat other people?
KATZ: No problem, because he was basically very nice. He was the office boss anyhow in the sales department where we worked in. He was not unfair or anything.
GLASER: Was there much relationship between the boys or the apprentices with this Mr. Strauss at that time?
KATZ: Oh no. Jacob Strauss was an old man. We were 14. He was probably in his 70’s…60’s…or 70’s. Maybe he was only in his 50’s. From what I understand, he was born in England and fled England at the time of World War I because he did not want to fight. So he could never go back to England, certainly Germany afterwards…and on the train, supposedly that his daughter left Frankfurt for England – he threw himself under that train. I don’t know whether that is completely true or not. Later on, about ’37 or so.
GLASER: How long did you work in the office?
KATZ: I was there for three years. See, I was a member, as I said, of the Youth Movement. As such, I became an ardent Zionist and notwithstanding, rumors we hear in this country, there was a very strong Zionist movement in Germany. I wanted to go to Palestine. In 1936 I went to Hakhsharah, that’s in preparation to go to Palestine and then in 1937 they wanted me to go to Munich to work out in the field in order to prepare myself to maybe go to Youth Aliyah. That meant breaking my contract by two months early, and Mr. Strauss said he was going to take me to jail – take me to court – and we got the Jewish community to talk to him.
GLASER: But the feeling of going to Israel at that time was strong enough for you to begin to prepare yourself for it.
KATZ: The feeling to go to Israel for me was so strong that I turned down a visa to come here. There were visas prepared for my cousin, who now lives in Chicago, and they wanted to prepare a visa for me in 1936. I said, “No, I will not go.” So then it was given to another cousin – affidavits – I’m sorry – affidavits to be sent over in order to get the visa. My parents put a lot of pressure on me… “What’s going to happen to us?” And I said, “I feel I have to go to Palestine.”
GLASER: You were willing to go without even the members of your family?
KATZ: Oh yes. At that time, my sister had gone already. She moved to Holland in 1934 and I felt that to go on a kibbutz – that’s what I wanted.
GLASER: You were how old? 16?
KATZ: Yes, 16.
GLASER: Would you say that was unusual for a youth of that age to break away from the family in Europe at that time? Or is one of that age already pretty mature?
KATZ: Well yes, I think first of all, they are more mature than here, number one. Number two; as I said, the Youth Movement to a large extent took over the raising of me. I spent a lot of time with them. My father worked constantly, my mother worked in the store, so I was very, very much on my own. I worked and had friends. All of my friends were part of the Youth Movement. It was my whole social contact.
GLASER: And they must have felt the same way too, perhaps, about going to Israel.
KATZ: Yes. And some of them did and some of them didn’t. I was supposed to go in 1937 on a Youth Aliyah and we were all ready and then the British White Paper came out and they stopped the immigration. And then I changed my mind a year afterwards and did not want to go to Palestine, but…
GLASER: By this time Fred, was Nazism becoming perhaps more visible?
KATZ: Well it became more visible much earlier. That’s what I wanted to point out before. In 1935 of course, the law of the Nuremberg Laws which prohibited any kind of intercourse – be it sexual or otherwise – between a male Jew and a female non-Jew, or a female Jew and a male non-Jew. Certain things happened. I use to walk to work – I had a bicycle – use to ride a bicycle to work, and then I was 15. There was a lady there I liked, an old lady. I guess she was about 25…26. She lived not too far from me and I use to pick her up in the morning. I use to push my bike and we would walk together in the morning. She worked in the same office. After the laws were passed, I was told by somebody at work, “You better stop it.” And she was told, “You better stop it. You better not be seen much together.”
GLASER: What was her attitude?
KATZ: She thought it was stupid, but she didn’t want to get in any trouble. Especially, she probably wanted to get married and she certainly didn’t want to have anything against her name. Signs appeared before German businesses on the stores with a swastika. And then signs started appearing “Jews are not wanted”…first in restaurants (the first ones were taverns). Jews wouldn’t have gone in anyhow, and then some restaurants. You became more or less an integrated society within yourself. We had a Jewish cultural center, just like a JCCA to some extent in Frankfurt and after a while, you were not allowed to go to the movies or the theater anymore or any of those things anymore. So we did our own because we had a tremendous amount of Jewish talent all across the country and they came in and gave performances and readings. We use to have them in the syngagoues. I remember Franz Werfel once coming to the synagogue and speaking to us.
GLASER: If you felt, Fred, that the community at that time felt that maybe this “temporary government” or group of people that will probably go away because of the fact that, maybe, in the past, others had come and gone – and now maybe it didn’t appear as if it was going to be short lived…what then?
KATZ: Oh people were trying to leave…people were trying to leave. In the beginning they let you out with your money – if you had money. But then, of course, that was put down. Also people signed up to go to America and the American quota was very small. I think it was 20. So people tried to get out. Together with the Austrian quota it was about 27,000 and it was never filled until 1939. This was the first year it was filled. Some of them tried to get out and felt it was more important. Others felt, “Oh, I’ll get out.” You see, because nobody in their right mind would ever imagine to even think of anything that did happen. Because it never happened before – so you don’t even think of it. You know, you hear people say today – Oh, I knew because he said, “We’ve got to get rid of the Jews.” Well, get rid of the Jews also means…get rid of them out of the country which is basically what they tried to do. Concentration camps were started in 1933 but not for Jews.
GLASER: Had you heard about them?
KATZ: Oh sure, sure, we heard about Kazetz (abbreviation for concentration camp).
GLASER: And they were used for what – like politicals?
KATZ: Politicals, originally. The first one that was started was Dachau. It was started for politicals because if they would have taken those people before court, they would have been laughed out of court, so they put them in protective custody. Oh there were Jews there, but politically. Then they enlarged it and put other people…other groups in there. They tried to get rid of Jews. They tried to get Jews to get out of the country. That’s what they wanted. When this didn’t go fast enough, they then went into terror activities. Now whenever they had things like is poetically referred to, as the Night of the Long Knives, maybe you read about it, the 30th of June 1934, when the SA leadership was killed, Roehm and so on, there were some Jews in there. Because they picked up everybody they could think of who might cause them some trouble and just be included in those things. Fine – this I can understand from a political point of view. The terror activities against the Jews, to a large extent I think and I might be wrong, but I think really started some time in ’38. All of a sudden they decided the Jews weren’t leaving fast enough, so what do we do? Somebody apparently came up with the idea – look we have a lot of people who have traffic violations, that have had tax…where they had to pay income tax, fines or something like that. These are all criminals – let’s throw them in a concentration camp. So they did this, including my father. He went in June 1938 to Buchenwald. Buchenwald was opened in 1936, I think, or 1937.
GLASER: What did he, your father, say before he left? Do you recall? Was there much conversation with him?
KATZ: No. We didn’t even know. I don’t remember when he was arrested. I am sure I was at work. No…wait a minute…’38, I’m sorry, I was back. I did some work in the Jewish community as a mechanic. They tried to make a mechanic out of me. The Jewish community had like a trade school where we could learn. I think that’s when it happened…I don’t know. And he was arrested and we did not know what had happened. We found out later on – I think we got a postcard from him or from somebody, or maybe we were officially notified – I don’t remember, but he was in Buchenwald. The reason for that was he had something against him on taxes one time, long before.
GLASER: And it happened that fast? Suddenly you came home and he was gone?
KATZ: That’s right – that’s right – he was gone.
GLASER: And he took nothing with him that you can recall?
KATZ: And my mother did all these things to try to get him out and I don’t remember what all she had to do to get him out. But he got out, I think, it was two – three months later. Or my sister got the Dutch government to issue entrance visas, transit visas for my parents, both my mother and my father and I think on the strength of that, he was released out of the concentration camp. The Dutch refused to give me a visa because they were afraid I was going to work. You know, there was a worldwide depression going on, and so he came out and told us about Buchenwald. Somehow, at that time, the internal affairs were run by the political prisoners.
GLASER: The internal affairs of the camp?
KATZ: Yes of the camp. You see, there was always a constant fight between the criminal elements and the political elements for control – for the inside control. If the political elements had inside control, most of the prisoners were basically better off.