FROM THE CENTROPA ARCHIVE

Gertrude Kritzer

Photo title: Gertrude Blum
Photo taken in: Tel Aviv (1940)
Interviewee: Gertrude Kritzer
Time of Interview: 2003
Interviewer Tanja Eckstein

I had been to Vienna twice before the German invasion, but the memories of Vienna that I've kept are those from fall 1938: I witnessed this horror myself. Although I've lived in Vienna for almost fifty years now, I can still clearly see it in my mind's eye: I was walking home from the Schiffschul  with my dad. At Karmelitermarkt [a market-place] my Hebrew teacher - whose course I had attended twice before it was forbidden - sat on a chair that had been put on top of a table. This man was an epileptic and the men in uniform had picked him out on purpose. They cut off his beard with scissors and blood ran down his face, while they were taking pictures, probably for the Stürmer [anti-Semitic newspaper], and were yelling: ‘Make the ear like this, after all they don't have small ears!' They probably enlarged the ears [on the photo] and then he was presented as an ugly Jew in the Stürmer. Once you've seen something like that, you never forget it!

In fall 1938, all the Jewish stores were already closed. After the war I never wanted to live in the 2nd district. Later, I regretted it because today, when I am in the 2nd district on a Friday, or any other day for that matter, I see so many pious Jews and I like that. However, my memories of the 2nd district are dreadful. What I saw there at Karmelitermarkt was horrifying. You cannot even imagine!

When they came to our apartment to pick up my dad on 10th November 1938, after the Pogrom night, my mother gave them everything so they wouldn't take him away with them. 
‘Leave my husband here, leave my husband here, don't take him away,' my mom cried, but to no avail. I think my parents had quite a lot of securities. She gave those to them and they also pulled her wedding ring off her finger and took her earrings. Nonetheless, they took my dad with them and abused him. He returned ten days later. His previously black hair had turned as white as snow.