We had three rooms for the first, second, and third grades. It was segregated within the school and the most scary part of the day was for recess. Everybody had to leave the building around lunchtime for about half an hour. We generally tried to navigate between… the boys and girls were separated on one side and the other side of the yard. Basically, we tried to navigate in between where we had supervision and basically were not physically harmed but it was the most unpleasant part of the school day.
When you said you had three rooms for your grades, that was three rooms for the Jewish students in a larger public school?
That’s correct, in a large school. All facilities were already being closed elsewhere.
Closed to Jews?
Yes. We couldn’t use parks. Stores were boycotted. As I said hospital privileges were delayed—rather, were rescinded. My father’s brother lost his job and went from a government economist and found a job in Austria as an assistant manager of a department store. But everybody wanted to make a living and wanted to do the best he could.
For your father, losing hospital privileges and other changes essentially meant he could not practice medicine?
That’s correct. Germany had socialized medicine, which means that the government basically paid for all the patients. Therefore, they stopped doing that so that he was still treating some people who wanted…whom he knew but even at that point, after 1936, an SA Nazi guard stood in front of the office and asked anybody who was coming upstairs what he was doing and threatened them with loss of jobs and other punishments so that for all practical purposes he knew in 1936 that he couldn’t make a living.
And Frank you told me that at that time everywhere you looked there was fierce antisemitic propaganda being posted.
I forgot, I am sorry, also the main street corners had postings of Der Stürmer which means “a storm.” It’s hard to translate again. It’s basically, it means, call it “the coming storm” or whatever it’s called, which was entirely an antisemitic paper which showed caricatures, ugly caricatures, stories of harm being done to children, harm being done all by Jews against Germany. [It] just portrayed everybody as being extremely ugly and being people to stay away from. They were published on a weekly basis and were put kind of on stands. I don’t know if you have ever seen it. It’s behind glass so that if anybody was at a bus stop they could immediate…they had some good reading material in order to educate them.
Like we see advertisements at bus stations today, only it was horrible propaganda.
Frank Liebermann was born in 1929 to Dr. Hans and Lotte Liebermann in Gleiwitz, Germany, an industrial town near the borders of Poland and Czechoslovakia. He was an only child. Hans was a prominent surgeon in the city and the family lived a comfortable middle-class existence. The families of both of Frank’s parents had lived in the area for several generations.
By 1933 German public schools separated Jewish and non-Jewish students. When Frank started school in 1935 the Jewish students were allotted three small classrooms and dismissed five minutes early in order to rush home as antisemitic attacks by other students became frequent after school.
In 1936 anti-Jewish laws led to rapid changes in Gleiwitz. Denied hospital privileges and not allowed to accept insurance payments, Hans could no longer make a living. Playgrounds, swimming pools, and other venues were closed to Frank and other Jews.
Hans traveled to the United States in 1938 to explore the prospect of immigration. With the help of a cousin, he obtained an affidavit that enabled the Liebermanns to be placed on a waiting list for visas. He then returned to Lotte and Frank in Gleiwitz to wait for the visas they would need to immigrate to the United States.
The Liebermann family received their visas in June 1938. Hans immediately left for the United States to begin preparing for the Ohio State Medical Board examination, since it was less difficult for him to obtain a medical license there than in other states. After passing the state examination, he set up a medical practice in Dayton.
Frank and Lotte stayed behind to settle household affairs and then purchased tickets for a ship bound for the United States that departed Germany on October 13, 1938, less than a month before Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), a night of state-sponsored targeted violence against Jews.
Frank graduated from Western Reserve University (now Case Western Reserve University) in 1950 with a degree in chemistry. Today he works as a travel agent and volunteers at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.