I was born in Leipzig, Germany, on May 31, 1939. I am a third-generation German.
My father was born in Poland and immigrated to Germany as a 13-year-old boy to serve as an apprentice cap maker.
After Hitler rose to power in 1933, things started to get bad. After the Nuremberg Laws were enacted, my father’s business was confiscated. Fortunately, my father had a brother living in the United States. He wrote his brother to send us visas. Unfortunately, the policy of the United States was that you needed to show you can financially support the individuals you were sponsoring. His brother could sponsor only one person. Our family consisted of my pregnant mother, my 9-year-old sister and my father. The visa sent was for my father, who was due to leave on November 10, 1938. The evening before was Kristallnacht. My father was arrested and thrown into Gestapo headquarters, as were most Jewish men, and the next destination was the labor camp at either Dachau or Buchenwald. My pregnant (with me) mother ran home and got my father’s visa and brought it to Gestapo Headquarters.
The commander looked at the visa, pulled out his pistol, and said to my mother, “Frau Abramowitz, Sagan sie mich das du bist keine Jude ” — Tell me, Mrs. Abramowitz, that you are not a Jew.” My mother thought for a moment how to answer. She then said, “Herr Commandant, aber isch bin eine Jude — Mr. commander, but I am a Jew. The commander then turned to a neighbor woman who was also trying to get her husband out. He asked her the same question. Her reply was, “I am not a Jew.” The commander raised his pistol and blew her brains out.
If my mother had denied her faith, she and I would not be here today. That was my first encounter with God saving me. On release, my father had a big decision to make. Do I leave my pregnant wife and daughter to fend for themselves, while I leave for America and can send for them in the future, or do I stay with my family and try to survive? Had he chosen to stay, none of us would have survived. This is the second encounter where God saved me.
For the next three years we lived on a starvation diet while the war was raging in Europe. We kept a low profile, and women and children were not really bothered. The Final Solution and the Death camps were not implemented until 1942. Our visas arrived in April 1941, and we left for America. Two months later, in June 1941, Germany attacked Russia and all people leaving Germany were halted. So this two-month window in which we left was miraculous. It was the last ship out of Germany. This was the third encounter in which my life was saved. Three instances in three years. Why was I saved when so many millions perished?
I have three sons and nine wonderful Jewish grandchildren. Who knows, maybe one will win a Nobel Prize or find a cure for cancer.
This is why I believe in God.