Kurt Marburg

Kurt Marburg – Early years through Holocaust tragedy

Marburg.PhotoA.WEB“I started school in 1930.  At that time, it was still the Weimar Republic. There were no signs of any, let’s say, political or religious problems. I interfaced with a lot of non-Jewish people, didn’t make any difference. I didn’t feel any anti-Semitism at that time. But it changed shortly thereafter.

In 1933, when the Nazis took over and they became the major factor in the government—it was not the delegates of the people; it became the Nazi Party that actually dictated the policies of the government. The teachers, in order to maintain their position in the school system, had to belong to the Nazi Party. And if you belonged to the Nazi Party, you had to teach what the Party told you to teach, and they twisted the truth already then.  That started to affect me, and I—well, later on, during my years in the German public school system, I told that to my father, and he decided, “Well, I’m going to take you out of the public school system and I’m going to put you in a private school.”  That, of course, had to be paid for out of his own funds, but I didn’t want to subject myself to the lies and the innuendos that the teachers threw at the students, at the Jewish students.  That became evident already, in the early and middle thirties [1930s].”

Speaking of changes in the Public School System:

“The students, (didn’t change) not so much, no.  No. The kids, I guess, held on to their childish notions. No, it was the adults, and of course the adults imposed their views onto the children. I did feel some pressures when some non-Jewish children told me that they couldn’t play with me anymore because their father and mother said that they shouldn’t, and they just stayed away from me.  Yes, well, that was evident that the parents influenced the children already, of what the Nazis spoke about and their propaganda. Yes.”

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1938, Interior of Berlin synagogue after Kristallnacht

After changing to a private school:

“Well, the private school held to the actual, let’s say, curriculum that was taught. I felt no pressures, I felt no discrimination, and I felt comfortable and I felt relaxed. The teachers could still point out the difference of what we were taught in the other schools, and tried to correct the lies, tried to change our thinking of what was being told to us and, I would say, succeeded in that. I got, let’s say, the last two years actual, rational, truthful information and teachings. Yes. That was certainly a positive change.

It was (a religious school). They taught religion, but they taught the secular subjects. It was run by the greater Jewish community in Berlin. They paid the teachers. You must remember a difference in support of the school system and the religious organizations, I should point that out, and it still exists today. When you belong to a faith and when you declare your taxes in Germany, to the German I.R.S., you declare what denomination you are. Every person who belongs to a certain denomination pays a percentage of their income tax to that particular denomination. You’re being taxed on it. They don’t depend on donations or once-a-year financial support. It is a taxation system that the Catholic, the Protestant, the Jewish organizations get from your taxes that the I.R.S. turns over to that particular denomination. And that’s the way they support the schools, the temples, and all that. It’s not voluntary that you give; you pay a tax on it. It’s a different taxation system—it would never work in the United States—but they had it then, and that still exists today.”

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