Category Archives: All About My Father

All About My Father Project

Who Was Aunt Trudi?

If you read my dad’s post yesterday, you may have seen the picture he posted of his mother walking with her lover Ferdi and her sister, Aunt Trudi. I had never heard of Aunt Trudi before I started this project. The aunt I had head the most about was always Tante Paula, whom I knew my father had lived with for some time as a boy.

But Aunt Trudi was, apparently, my father’s “favorite” aunt, the one he designated as his “godmother” in order to fit in with his Catholic friends Continue reading

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Visits to my Father

My family was somewhat of an anomaly. I’ve already mentioned the fact that my parents didn’t get along, and that is putting it mildly. In Brussels my mother had fallen in love and was living with a man named Ferdi (once upon a time I knew his last name). He was a pleasant enough man, but I remember very little about him. I still have a photograph of him walking between my Aunt Trudi and my mother. Somewhat later, both he and my aunt were murdered by the Nazis, but that was still to come. In any case, my mother didn’t want my father to know anything about Ferdi, so that whenever I went off to visit my father my instructions from my mother Continue reading

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Kristallnacht

My father escaped Berlin on Kristallnacht — November 9, 1938. He was two years old and carried over the border into Belgium on foot by his mother. They stayed in Brussels for the next 11 years, before eventually emigrating to the United States in 1949.

In 1938, my grandmother was 28 years old. She and my grandfather had already divorced, or at least separated. (My father describes it as one of a string of failed relationships in her life. Who’s to say whether the events of her life made her a difficult person, or whether being a difficult person made her particularly well-suited to surviving in difficult circumstances?)

In any case, my grandfather, who was a taxi driver, was making a living smuggling Jews out of Germany, and despite my grandmother’s vitriol towards him, he, of course, found a way to get her — and their son — out of Berlin on the night that happened to be Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis famously ransacked, Continue reading

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