Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
The lives of my mother and her family were changed forever one day in March 1938. On that day, the Nazis appropriated my great-grandfather’s business. As he (Sigmund Lichtenthal) explained in a letter written years later,
“The firm, Lital, came to a natural end when Austria was occupied by the Nazis in March 1938, since I am Jewish and, as such, subject to the Germans’ exceptional legislation for Jews. No sooner had the Anschluss been closed than three “gentlemen” appeared in my office, bearing a letter from the district leadership of the NDAP, stating that Lital had been taken over by the party in the interest of its 60 employees and would in the future be led by the party.”
Two months later, my grandfather, Paul Lichtenthal, was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp. From Dachau, he was sent to Buchenwald, where he remained until his release was secured in May 1939.
|Letters written by my grandfather while in Dachau and Buchenwald.|
Our family was luckier than many. Although my grandfather lost his livelihood and his good health, the lives of his immediate family were spared and they were able to forge a new life in the United States. One of the most important projects on my to-do list is to write the story of my great-grandfather’s business and his life-long effort to obtain reparations for the wrongs inflicted upon him and millions of other Jews.
For today, “We Remember.”