III. Life In Germany
Getting Ready to Leave Germany for Australia
“Nobody Can Give You What I Can Promise To You!”
As I have talked with my brother about our departure from Germany after three months, on our way to Australia, I was reminded of the saying, “Nobody can give you what I can promise to you.” Promises are easy, giving is not.
This phrase comes from a Jewish person from Ostrava who had become a Communist
before the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1939. The day after the invasion he left his wife in Ostrava, and fled to Russia. When he crossed the border he was happy, and showed them his Communist ID papers. He told them he was ready to help win the war. The Communist officials thanked him very much, and put him on a train to go further east, to a concentration camp. The promise of freedom was far bigger than the giving of it!
Every morning he told the camp commandant there had been a serious error, that he was on their side, and should not be in the concentration camp. As a Czech, he was an ally. Perhaps he did not realize that as a Jew he was an enemy, As far as the Russians were concerned, freedom was not the same for everyone. The commandant told him to get back to work, and the authorities would “work” on the “error.”
Then, after the war, in Ostrava, he worked for my father in the textile factory that had belonged to the Germans. He finally ended up in Jerusalem, selling children’s clothing, using a better version of the rule had had learned in Russia, in the far East: “Nobody can give you what I can promise you,” meaning his goods were the best of all.
A Stopover in West Germany
Our Old Jailor Became Our New Refuge
On our way to Australia we spent about 3 months in Germany in 1969, arriving first by airplane from Prague on Lufthansa Airlines. When Rose, Hana, and I arrived by plane from Prague to Frankfurt we asked people at the airport how to find the train station and get to Munich by train. The directed us to the rail yard, and we arrived in Munich the next morning. Peter met us at Munich when we arrived.
For the short time in Germany I had a small series of engineering jobs. I learned of them through various technical work solicitation ads and Industry newsletters. During that three months in Germany I had two or three jobs. One of them was working for a gentleman who had an engineering background, but also had been an SS officer. I needed the job, so I accepted, and I shook his hand. As I did, I remembered that my own father would not have shook a man’s hand who was previously an SS officer.This said that he had been stationed in Paris for the Nazi occupation there, and he had not been in the Czech lands, or at Terezin or Auschwitz. He said he had good relations with the French and that he still had contact with them after the war.
One of the projects I remember was building a large dome and it had a lot of mathematical calculations to support all the concrete. I used to slide, which was all we had before computers were invented! Fortunately, one of the projects that I worked on was exactly the same as the exercise we did at the University in Prague, learning how to do this type of engineering calculations.
Another thing I remember from the time in Germany was weekend trips over throughout Europe, with Peter sometimes, by car. Peter also was a very fast driver and often got speeding tickets. He later he assigned those speeding tickets to his brother (me!) who had left the country for Australia. When returning to German to visit, they had a record of these speeding tickets, but I did not get in trouble.
Before even getting to Germany we always knew that we wanted to go to America. We tried to go directly there, but found that there was a long waiting list and it was very expensive. Through another friend we found out that Australia would gladly welcome us. Then we learned that Australia said they would pay for everything, and help us pay for the tickets. With one little girl (Hana) and a pregnant wife (Rose) we made the very long and crowded flight, stopping in Singapore and Karachi on the way. All of the flights and travel arrangements were at no cost to us, because of Australia wanted us to immigrate there. This was because we had promised to a two year commitment to work for the Australians in order to have them pay for all of our travel there. Our biggest priority was that Rose did not want to have her second baby girl be born in Germany, so getting out quickly was important