Amid intensifying anti-Jewish measures and the 1938 Kristallnacht ("Night of Broken Glass") pogrom, Johanna's family decided to leave Germany. They obtained visas for Albania, crossed into Italy, and sailed in 1939. They remained in Albania under the Italian occupation and, after Italy surrendered in 1943, under German occupation. The family was liberated after a battle between the Germans and Albanian partisans in December 1944.
We left with the ten marks per person. We left with the little package that was packaged in Hamburg, and that's all we had with us. We arrived in Bologna the next day, and, uh, here we didn't know what we would be doing because the ten marks by now had been used up the one night in Munich, and, um, the Meyer family of five and the three Gerechters stood on the platform in Bologna and really didn't know where to turn. To our great surprise, um, there were Italian students who, um, were organized by the Jewish community of, uh, Italy, and apparently in many such centers of, uh, cities where trains would come from Germany, these students had made it their business to be there and, uh, receive German or other immigrants that were fleeing Germany. Well, I remember two students taking us in hand, taking us to a beautiful, beautiful hotel, and caring for us for an entire week until we were able to receive money from our relatives in America, and the same went for the Meyer family. Um, the money had to be, uh, dispatched, and I guess in those days telegram was already in existence, of course, but I don't know how quickly it went. But we were for an entire week taken care of by these students in Bologna who also took us around town, showed us Bologna, fed us, took us to restaurants, and just took care of us until we were able to, uh, pay for our passage for, first of all for...for our ticket, railroad ticket, from Bologna to Bari. In Bari we took a boat to Albania.