As a young boy I remember that in autumn my mother was always sad. I didn’t know why, but she was unhappy and talked more than usual about her parents and Konstanz. She would say, “it was in October” or “it was sukkos” – a joyous Jewish festival. But mom was sad. I was a little boy, I didn’t understand yet why she was sad, but a little boy knows when his mommy is sad.
I understand now. I know all about deportation, and Rivesaltes, and Gurs, and Drancy, and Auschwitz, and Dachau and Kristallnacht. My mother would share happy stories with me about being a little girl in Konstanz. She loved her mother and father and worshiped her older brother Leo. Leo loved to swim in the Rhine and visit the Rosgarten Museum. But the happy stories had an unhappy ending. My grandfather Bernhard was taken to Dachu after Kristallnacht and was never the same when he came back. He died in England during the war trying to bring his family there. My grandmother Manya was murdered in Auschwitz. I got to know my uncle Leo, who survived the war and came to the United States. He was funny, kind and talented. But he too was never the same after the things that happened to him in Konstanz and after.
My mother was 12 when the family was deported from their home of Konstanz to France. She lived her whole life afraid of being deported again. Even as an American citizen she was afraid of being taken from her home. The events of October 22, 1940 haunted every day of her life. We didn’t have nice furniture for a long time when I was young – mom never liked having more things than she could carry with her – just in case she was forced to leave her home again. As she got older, she would throw away many of her things. Possessions made her nervous. I would tell her (when she was in her 70’s and 80’s) not to worry, no one would deport her again. She would look at me and a tear would appear in her eye. She would say “Really. Do you think that’s why I do this, I’m still afraid of being deported?”. I would tell her “yes”, but not to worry, it wouldn’t happen again. That fact was impossible for her to believe. We had this conversation many, many times.
And now Konstanz remembers the deportation and I can think of only one thing to say – Danke. It means a lot that you are remembering. Having been in Konstanz for placing the Stolperstein for my family (with my mother) and again for the 80th anniversary remembrance of Kristallnacht (with my oldest son Adam), I’m sorry I can’t be in Konstanz to commemorate the deportation. I know the remembrance will be done with kindness, sincerity, and a desire to make Germany a better place. There is no forgiveness for what was done to my family and millions of others, and I will never forget it – my children will never forget what happened to their Bubbe in Germany and France. All anyone can do is remember and learn from the past, and it is very important to do that, and you are doing it. Thank you.
Michael Blue (son of Paula Blue nee Goldlust)