Oral History

Henry Gallant describes facing antisemitism as a child

Henry Gallant (Heinz Goldstein) was born to Jewish parents in Berlin, Germany, on October 30, 1928. He had many non-Jewish playmates as a child, but recalls losing friends after 1936. The Goldsteins were among the 937 St. Louis passengers attempting to escape to Cuba from Nazi Germany. After their ship was forced to return to Europe, the Goldsteins went to France. His father was taken to the Gurs concentration camp, but Henry and his mother managed to hide in France. Later, they made their way across the border to Switzerland and remained there through the end of the war. Afterward, Henry learned that his father had been murdered in Auschwitz. He immigrated to the United States in 1947. 


Gallant: I had had my birthday around that time in, in 1938. And prior to, to that date—on or around that date—my playmates were Gentile, were largely Gentile boys in my neighborhood, which was a street running off the Kurfürstendamm. It was a good middle-class neighborhood and we were a group of kids who played. And one of the kids… I, I had gotten a ballpoint pen, which I’m not sure if it was a Montblanc, or what type of pen, but it was a ballpoint pen, which at the time had the… it was called in Germany an Tintenkuli. That’s the word, the name they had for this new innovation, a ballpoint pen. Prior to that time, ballpoint pens were relatively unknown. It was something that just developed on or around that time and he took… one of the boys took that pen and wrote on my forehead not only a J, but the entire word: Jude. J-u-d-e. So…

Interviewer: And this was one of your friends?

Gallant: One of my playmates.

Interviewer: One of your playmates.

Gallant: Correct.

Interviewer: Was this shocking to you?

Gallant: I…my sentiment or my precise emotions or my feelings, if you will, I do not recollect. I have no recollection.


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