A Pessah miracle in Nazi Germany

We were frisked at the German border... When the Nazis found nothing, they let us cross to Liechtenstein.

By SUSI PUGATSCH-SOMMER
April 7, 2009 10:06
2 minute read.
A Pessah miracle in Nazi Germany

Susi Sommer 88 248. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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My family - my parents Binyamin and Friedl Sommer, myself (13) my sister Ella (10), my brother Alfred (7), and my grandmother, Rachel - lived in temporary quarters in Munich, after our home had been confiscated by the Nazi daily newspaper, Völkischer Beobachter in 1939. My father had been arrested and incarcerated in the Dachau Camp in 1938 for a short time. Once he was released, he realized that he and the family had to leave Germany as quickly as possible, but he could not find a way to get out. In November 1939, my father left home for a few days, and hid the forest near Munich, since he was informed that the Nazis would arrest all male Jews again and send them to a concentration camp. By chance, he met a man in the forest who identified himself only as an engineer. This man told him that he could arrange an entry permit into neutral Liechtenstein only if he had enough money to open a building materials factory and pay salaries to 100 workers, since unemployment was high in Liechtenstein. My father agreed immediately, since he had no other option to save our lives. Miraculously, we received visas for Liechtenstein in the beginning of April 1940, in the middle of World War II, our passes to relative safety. We had 14 days to leave Germany, and each person was allowed to take one suitcase and 10 reichmarks. We boarded the train in Munich three days before Pessah. We were frisked at the German border and after the Nazis didn't find anything forbidden, were allowed to cross the border to Liechtenstein on foot. We were completely exhausted when we arrived in Vaduz, Liechtenstein, and went to sleep in a simple hotel. We did not know if there were any Jewish families in Liechtenstein, and we had no idea how we would keep Pessah properly and buy matzot. Then our next miracle happened. The following morning, as we wandered around town, a young girl stopped us and asked if we were Jewish and if she could help us. Immediately, she introduced us to her parents and some other Jewish families. The Schönwalder family invited us into their home, to their Seder and we continued to have all our meals and prayers there during the week of Pessah. We continued to reside in Liechtenstein for 10 years. At this time, only 40 to 50 Jews lived there. I met with the Schönwalders' daughter, Edith, almost every day, and she is still a very good friend of mine. Today, we both live in Israel. I'll never forget the miracle that happened to us - my father's chance meeting with the engineer, an emigration visa in the midst of the war, and the wonderful families who helped us celebrate Pessah as religious Jews.

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