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July 03, 1981 - Image 13

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-07-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


`Growing Up in Europe' Under Nazi Rule


"Growing Up in Europe"
by Kay Sun (Vintage Press)
is the story of the author's
maturing years during
World War II. The word
"Europe" in the title is a
metaphor designating
Czechoslovakia because its
"civilization has come down
from the French, the
English, the Germans, the
Romans and the Greeks."
Born in a small town in
northern Bohemia in 1926,
Miss Sun at first attended
the local elementary and
then the secondary school
, where the grades had Latin
names, such as prima, sec-
unda and octava.
Suddenly, early in 1939,
the aurhor writes, Czechos-
lovakia was invaded by the
Nazis and became a Ger-
man protectorate ruled by a
Hitler-appointed protector.
One of the first acts of
the first protector, Baron
von Neurath, was the
closing of the 600-year-
old University of Prague
and sending its foremost
professors and outstand-
ing students to concen-
tration camps.
Then again, the author
continues, the Czech people
felt disappointed and dis-
couraged by President
Franklin Delano
Roosevelt's announcement
on the American radio on
Oct. 26, 1939 that "Boys of
American mothers should
not fight on battlefields of
Europe." This declaration
"reinforced the Nazis in
their belief that Americans
were giving tacit agreement
to their policies of persecu-
tion of the Jew and occupa-
ton of vast territories in
Miss Sun asserts that Hit-
ler's anti-Semitic speeches
and his repeated slogan, "If
we do not destroy them (the
Jews), they will destroy us,"
offended the moral sense of
many a listener. She con-
tends that he was not a good
speaker. His language was
uneducated and his sen-
tences were clumsily con-
structed. He did not use the
rational argument in his
speeches and his facts were
She recalls that her Ger-
man friend, Miss Schmidt,
would often repeat: "Hitler
was a sick man, a notorious
liar, and that such an ex-
treme hatred of Jews could
only originate in a sick
The author records that
immediately following their
occupation of Czechos-
lovakia, the Nazis selected
the Czech Jews for special
treatment. The Jews were
ordered to carry identifica-
tion cards indicating their
non-Aryan origin. They
were forbidden to enter
public places, such as
cinemas, hotels and post
offices. They were not
allowed to use public trans-
portation, and were forced
to wear yellow stars on the
left side of their jackets and
Moreover, the Jews were
compelled to give up their
valuable possessions, such
as pictures, jewelry, an-

tiques and fur coats. They
were assigned to work on
roads and factories. Finally,
they were sent to extemina-
tion camps.
In similar vein, Miss Sun
delineates the Nazi perse-
cutions of the Czechs. In
piercing detail she records
the harsh decrees and the
Draconian Nazi laws, all
aiming at abridging the
rights and freedoms of the
Most notorious was the
law of "Nacht and Nebel,"
the law of "Night and Fog."
This law permitted the Ges-
tapo to arrest and liquidate
without trial Czechs consid-
ered hostile to the German
regime. Thus thousands of
men and women vanished
forever "in the night and
In the autumn of 1941,
the notorious murderer,
Reinhard Heydrich, re-
placed Baron von Neurath
as protector of Czechos-
lovakia, and before long,
"10,000 Czechs were ar-
rested in the middle of the
night by the Gestapo" and
sent to concentration camps
where many perished.
Unexpectedly, on June
27, 1942, the author states,
the "whole country reported
that Heydrich, the perse-
cutor and exterminator of
the Jews and thousands of
Czechs, was assassinated.
Immediately, following
the assassination, 3,000
Czechs were rounded up in
Prague alone. "Most of them
were executed, and some
died under the tortures of

However, the worst was
yet to come. On order from
Hitler, Lidice, a small
farming village, was
selected to be the victim of
Nazi revenge. Accordingly,
on June 9 all women and
children were sent to con-
centration camps and "all
men from the age of 15 were
shot afterwards, all the
buildings were demolished,
having been looted first by
the soldiers."
Unforgettable is the
author's description of the
end of Nazi rule in Czechos-

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Selling Out Entire Stock Of Women's Clothing

In the author's home
town, the Germans, to reach
the highway on their way
back to Germany, first had
to cross the town square
where hundreds of people
were gathered to watch and
enjoy the departure of the
disgraced enemy.
The author describes this
as the "bon voyage": At the
moment when the proces-
sion was leaving the square

Funds Donated
for Joint Project

Israel has the best rehabili-
tation services in the world
for young children who are
blind or visually handi-
That glowing tribute was
made last week by Prof.
Natalie Barraga of the Uni-
versity of Texas, considered
one of the foremost interna-
tional authorities in the
field of vision-development.
Prof. Barraga attended
an international sym-
posium in Israel on "visu-
ally handicapped infants
and young children," the
first such gathering of its
kind on an international



and turning around the
corner, a strange sound
came from the assembled
crowd. It was loud, and it
passed like an echo from
one corner of the square to
the other. It sounded like a
snarling sound of some
enormous angry animal. It
was the sound of primeval
hate. I have never heard a
sound like that before .. .
,the sound terrified me."
"Growing Up in Europe"
is a significant addition to
the literature of the social
history of a people ruled by a
foreign oppressive power.

Not only the military in-
vaders had to flee the coun-
try following their govern-
ment's humiliating surren-
der to the Allied forces, but
also the German civilians
had to leave the land they
helped subjugate for six
long years.

Friday, July 3, 1981

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