Analysis Of Gerda Weissmann Klein 's Personal Account Of Her Experiences

Analysis Of Gerda Weissmann Klein 's Personal Account Of Her Experiences

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Gerda Weissmann Klein’s personal account of her experiences during Germany’s invasion of Poland and of the Holocaust illustrated some of the struggles of young Jewish women at the time in their endeavors to survive. Weissmann Klein’s recount of her experiences began on September 3, 1939, at her home in the town of Bielitz, Poland, just after Nazi troops began to arrive and immediately enforce their policies on Polish Jews. On that night, which had only been the beginning for her and her family, Jews within Nazi Germany had already felt the effects of Adolf Hitler’s nationalist ideals for almost five years. From 1933 until 1939, when Weissmann Klein’s experiences began, “anti-Semitism was a recurring theme in Nazism and resulted in a wave of legislative acts against the Jews” (Spielvogel, 867), prohibiting the Jewish community of everything from finding work to being in out in public. Weissmann Klein’s experience of the Holocaust was influenced by many contributing factors including anti-Semitism, which had already been exhibited in Germany for years prior, in addition to her gender, the recent history of the time, and even economics.
Not detailed in Weissmann Klein’s memoir were the earliest implementation of the Nazi laws and regulations, which eventually led to the development of the Holocaust and her experiences up until the effects had been felt by her family. In 1933, A series of laws that began to be implemented after a two-day boycott of Jewish business in Germany, excluded anyone of non-Aryan descent “from the legal profession, civil service, judgeships, the medical profession, teaching positions, cultural and entertainment enterprises and the press” (Spielvogel, 832). After the death of Hindenburg in 1934, the situati...


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...ly in her experiences she was advised by her father to wear her skiing shoes to which she says “Those shoes played a vital part in saving my life. They were study and strong, and when three years later they were taken off my frozen feet they were good still….” (Weissmann Klein 86).
Many of Gerda Weissmann Klein’s experiences during the Holocaust were common for Jewish families; yet, her survival was not, as most perished, unable to survive the torments of Nazi policy and Jewish extermination. Many contributing factors, including prior German laws regarding Jewish communities, prominent racism and discrimination, segregation experienced in many forms, as well a small amount of preparation, shaped her arduous journey over many years. With regards to her survival Weissmann Klein remarks that it is“…both an exalted privilege and a painful burden” (Weissmann Klein, 247).

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