Oral History

Kurt Klein describes some of the difficulties involved in emigrating from Germany

As Nazi anti-Jewish policy intensified, Kurt's family decided to leave Germany. Kurt left for the United States in 1937, but his parents were unable to leave before the outbreak of World War II. Kurt's parents were eventually deported to Auschwitz, in German-occupied Poland. In 1942, Kurt joined the United States Army and was trained in military intelligence. In Europe, he interrogated prisoners of war. In May 1945, he took part in the surrender of a village in Czechoslovakia and returned the next day to assist over 100 Jewish women who had been abandoned there during a death march. Kurt's future wife, Gerda, was one of the women in this group.


It was becoming more and more evident that, um, that Jews, uh, should leave if anybody at all would have them, and not very many countries would have them. It, it wasn't quite that easy, but especially young people, uh, it was suggested for young people to, to leave because there was obviously no future for them in, in Germany. And, so, uh, we too, uh, came to that conclusion, that I--and since we had some relatives in the States that, that seemed to be the natural place to go. Um, the, I was fortunate and now in retrospect I know that that, uh, must have saved my life. My sister, who was older than I, was then in nurses' training, uh, in Germany, but, uh, she also decided, of course, that it was time to leave and, uh, someone vouched for her on this end and, and so she came here a year ahead of me and had she not been here, I, I would not have gotten out, because she was able to go after people and, and, and ask them for, for the necessary papers that one needed in those days, an affidavit of support. And so she, she did that for me and, so that by 1937 I was able to, to leave also and come to Buffalo where at the time my sister lived and, uh, and so did, uh, various other relatives, among them an uncle and an aunt and their daughter in whose house I, I then stayed the first few years, uh, when I came to Buffalo.


  • US Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection
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