Oral History

Gary Bigus describes Berlin during the 1936 Olympics

Gary (Gerhard) was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1924. His father owned a men’s clothing store. As a child, Gary faced antisemitism from his peers. His family’s store was boycotted several times, and ultimately destroyed in 1938 during Kristallnacht. As the city prepared for tourists to arrive in Berlin for the 1936 Olympics, Gary noticed anti-Jewish signs vanish from storefronts. In 1939, Gary and his parents escaped Germany after securing passage to Shanghai, China. His father died of illness in Shanghai shortly before the war ended. Gary and his mother were the only remaining members on both sides of their family to survive the Holocaust. They immigrated first to Israel after the war, then settled in the United States.

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