Lotte Bloom - Her story of escaping Nazi Germany - Part 1
"Mike, I want to tell you. You don't know what you can take care of, when you're forced to."
I am writing about the above quotation from a video posted on Youtube of my friend's Aunt Lotte. The time marker for her words above is (44:11). When I read this time aloud, one numeral at a time, "4" "4" "1" "1," it hit me that it sounds like "For 411." Since my internet signature is susannalee411, I believe it is possible that, from the far reaches of the universe, across time and space, Lotte spoke this message for me, personally, and I need to do something for Lotte. Lotte recorded this video because she wants us never to forget what happened to her, what could happen to you. I feel challenged to do what I can to "take care of" Lotte's directive, by sharing this, her story, with you. The entire transcript is below.
In this video, Lotte recounts the saga of her life's most difficult journey, beginning from the moment when she, a Jewish teenager, first encountered "anti-Jew" activity in the new Nazis in her previously warm and friendly community in Germany. Lotte recalls a sudden hostility, which appeared literally overnight, against herself and her well-respected and much-loved family, from people in the community - friends, neighbors, classmates, and business associates - with whom she and her mother and father had been intimate friends only the day before it all started. It is absolutely shocking, how quickly a society can change, and this is an important video to watch, as Lotte is an eloquent yet natural speaker, telling what happened, from her vantage point as a teenager. She became separated from her parents, who eventually were deported to Poland and murdered. Yet Lotte managed to make it out of Germany and to America, and now, in her nineties, she is here to tell us her eyewitness account of exactly what happened. At (41:48), Lotte sums up with, "And that's my story"; this is at a point in her narrative when it seemed the nightmare was over, that day she met her husband in America and life became wonderful again.
Lotte had not seen it coming. The Holocaust appeared to take Lotte and her town by surprise. Yet, Lotte never fails to point out that, amid the tragedy of watching her family's beautiful and tranquil life destroyed, partially through the betrayal of people with whom they had once shared a mutual affection, there were also those people who sympathized with her family's plight and tried to help them. You can feel Lotte's compassion for her former friends and neighbors, whose sudden hostility toward Jews appeared to Lotte to be stimulated by their absolute fear that the same horror would happen to themselves and their loved ones immediately if they did not also participate in this persecution, or at least remain silently complicit in the shadow of its terrible face.
An oft-repeated line in Lotte's story, "And, I sometimes wonder, who was looking out for me?" (49:09). Lotte's is an incredible story of courage and perseverance in the face of adversity, and in her query is an attempt to find an answer, for herself, to her life-long question of why she survived and why she found, then, and continues to find, now, support from other people.
In her final moments of the video, Lotte shows her genuine concern for her interviewer, who had to listen to this difficult story of hers: "I gave you a headache" (50:32).
Never forget! Please, please watch Lotte's story, and share it with others you care about. And, please, care about everyone in the world. And remember, as Lotte says, "I'm still here!" (44:01).