Holocaust Teacher Resource Center

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No Way Out Reader’s Theater Excerpts

At center is an old trunk with one suitcase next to it. There are 6 chairs around the old trunk, which serves as a coffee table in a living room. A large screen is USC.. At DSL is an old desk, desk lamp, radio and chair. A small box with letters is on the desk. DSL serves as America, DSR as Bolivia, DSC as Germany.

Stefan (Stefan sits at his desk, sorting through a box of very old letters)

March 20, 1948
From America
Dear Ms. Leuschner
…You can imagine how Ifeel writing this letter….I would like to write you about a lot of things but…(takes off glasses, listens to the radio)

Stefan (An old German song comes on the radio. Stefan hums along pensively and sorts aimlessly through the box of letters)

We Deutsches were an old line German Jewish family, with deep roots dating back to the 1700s…Grandfather founded a Seed and Grain business that I gladly carried on. We considered ourselves first Germans, and then Jews. I, like many Jews, served Germany proudly in the First World War…earning an hon Cross Award for service to my country…(German music continues in background, fades)

Slide #1 Map of Germany

Germany…60 million people but we Jews numbered only 550,000. We lived in Breslau, which, by 1933, was home to about 20,000 Jews in a population of 700,000 Germans. Breslau, not far from Poland and Czechoslovakia, was a beautiful city, rich in art, education and culture.

Slide #2 Deutsch Apartment

Our apartment building, on Friedrich Wilhelm Strasse, was our home and office, with extended family above and below us. Hard working, we also enjoyed elaborate celebrations together…we were known for the skits we presented complete with costumes and props…those were beautiful times.

Slide #3 Family Tree

Slide #4 Photographs of Deutsch children

(German children’s music)
Life was good…Frieda…the children…each one special, each one different from the others…(Frieda and the “children” enter. Frieda sits center in front of the trunk, Margot to her far left, then Gerda, Martin and Erwin)

Slide #5 Photographs of Deutsch children as adults

(Stefan walks to each one as he talks about them)
My Frieda, the love of my life…serious, quiet and shy…modest and hard working…she never asked much for herself. Margot loved being with the family…she was…caring…fun loving….the opera was her passion…when times got difficult she found a job as an x-ray technician…Gerda had a wonderful sense of humor….she was independent, optimistic, sophisticated, creative. Her work designing beautiful hats was a perfect fit for her. The most serious of them…Martin. Lovingly we called him a “little old man.” Cautious, pensive…sometimes a skeptic, orderly…He planned on joining the family business, but when times got bad, he took a job in a men’s clothing store instead. And then there was Erwin…daring and bold…active…outspoken…he wanted to work in his uncle’s engineering firm but found work in construction instead. Everyone said Erwin was the most like me…softhearted inside…tough outside…All of the children had dreams until…(Stefan walks slowly, 2 “Nazis” dressed in black with boots and an armband enter the theatre, preferably each on one side of the theatre; music changes to Nazi rally songs, then fades)

Slide #6 January 30, 1933

Hitler appointed chancellor of Germany

Once Hitler came to power everything changed quickly. Our business, like so many Jewish businesses, suffered because of hard economic times and because many Germans stopped doing business with Jews. We tried to keep going…

Slide #7 February/March 1933

  • All Germans lose right of freedom of speech, assembly, press and freedom from invasion of privacy
  • Enabling Act gives Hitler unlimited power

Right away, the Nazis started to dismantle the democracy. I had seen it coming. . .even went around the country after the 1932 election, talking to people about the threat of Hitler’s rise…asking people, Jews and non-Jews, to rise up against the Nazis.. .but people didn’t want to hear of a so called civil war…after all.. .they were Germans…

Slide #8 April/May, 1933

  • One-day boycott of Jewish stores
  • Jewish civil servants dismissed
  • German schools limit Jewish enrollment
  • Books are burned

(German nationalistic songs and the infamous Horst Wessel antisemitic song, if possible) April 1st! My birthday; a day none of us would ever forget!! Who could celebrate once we saw what the Nazis were doing? Many of my friends were arrested as political prisoners. . .and sent to Dachau Concentration Camp. One was taken away. . .his ashes sent to his wife a few weeks later. I went into hiding for a short time.. .while I was gone, a secretary of the Democratic Party was mistaken for me and arrested…I don’t know what happened to him.

Slide #9 September 1935

  • Nuremberg laws take away citizenship from Jews
  • Jews are “legally” defined and categorized
  • Jewish/non-Jewish marriages forbidden
  • Jews cannot fly the German flag

We never thought Hitler would last! Then with street actions and Brown Shirts everywhere, we waited for our neighbors, colleagues, friends to stand up for us…but…(shake head) Still, life went on. Our Margot married Kurt Prinz a fine man, compassionate, smart, serious. Within a year, they gave us our first grandchild, Miriam. In these difficult times she brought laughter and joy to us all. Gerda was especially taken with her…(Kurt enters from UL with two suitcases and stands next to Margot)