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I never knew my husband Danny’s father Naftali,  sadly he died while Danny was still in college.   But Naftali was one of nine siblings and I had the good fortune to know many of my husband’s  aunts and uncles.   (See  Tracing Our Roots,   College Girl –  for Aunt Hannah,  and  Minyan – for Uncle Sol.)

Naftali and his siblings were born in Poland,  and later the family moved to Stuttgart, Germany.  But by the 1930s they saw Hitler’s handwriting on the wall and one by one all nine emigrated to Switzerland,  Palestine,  South America,  and some eventually to the States.   Their parents were to join their son who had settled in Lausanne,  but they hesitated too long.  Caught up in the Nazi horror they met their deaths in Auschwitz.

Now we cherish this photo of Danny’s bearded Orthodox grandfather,  his grandmother,  his father Naftali,  all Danny’s uncles and aunts,  and the wife and young daughter of the eldest uncle.

The family was photographed when they were still together in Germany.   Naftali stands on the far left,  his profile to the camera.

And on the far right above the head of one of Naftali’s brothers,  see the swastika on the column.

Dana Susan Lehrman

Profile photo of Dana Susan Lehrman Dana Susan Lehrman
This retired librarian loves big city bustle and cozy country weekends, friends and family, good books and theatre, movies and jazz, travel, tennis, Yankee baseball, and writing about life as she sees it on her blog World Thru Brown Eyes!

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Tags: Family, Germany, Auschwitz, Holocaust
Characterizations: , moving, well written


  1. Betsy Pfau says:

    This is a wonderful family portrait, Dana and it really lays out a whole family history with the links to the Holocaust, family migration, who made it out, who didn’t. And the menacing swastika looming over the rear of the photograph. Stunning.

  2. Laurie Levy says:

    What an amazing family photo, Dana. So frightening to see that swastika in the background. On my father’s side, his father’s family scattered all over the world. My grandfather as the youngest never knew the branches of his family that took root in Israel, London, or South Africa.

  3. John Shutkin says:

    I can only add my own amazement to this photo, Dana. Just incredibly powerful, in happy and very, very sad ways.

    I am so glad that you have it. And yet what a terrifying omen that swatika in it was.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

  4. Dave Ventre says:

    The swastika is a bit spooky.

    Excellent that the family recognized what was approaching early enough to escape. Almost prescient. I think a lot of people simply could not believe how horribly wrong things could go in a “civilized” country.

  5. Marian says:

    Wow, this photo says everything about that horrible time, Dana, and you are so fortunate to be able to have it as a memory and a tribute to those who were lost.

  6. Suzy says:

    As everyone else has said, what a powerful photo this is! Thank you for sharing it with us.

  7. Khati Hendry says:

    Thanks for sharing that wonderful, poignant photo, with such a story to go with it. Good to know so many did escape, and horrifying all those who didn’t. When I moved to Canada in 2004 (with the Patriot Act and giant Stars and Stripes everywhere), I remembered the stories of people escaping over the Pyrenees—not that it was the same. But you are welcome here, just saying.

  8. So much to see and ponder in this layered photo, Dana! And that swastika, looming over the head of the jauntily clad young man in the fedora. A beautiful and terrible story of those who fled to survive and those who didn’t. I often wonder how we would respond now to the fog of history as it unfolded. Would we stay or would we go? When would we go and how?

    William Shirer’s Berlin Diary struck me hard. In it, Shirer was careful not to inform his entries with what came later. The result was that the reader could feel Shirer’s doubt and confusion as to what would come next, up until his final retreat after the Sept ’39 invasion of Poland. Your group photo seems full of forboding. What terrible times!

    • Foreboding indeed Charles.

      I’ve read a bit about the Holocaust and know of Shirer’s books of course altho haven’t read, nor have I had the stomach to read a book on our shelves, the title alone that haunts – Hitler’s Willing Executioners.

  9. Susan Bennet says:

    Thank you for sharing this photo of your husband’s brave family, Dana. Growing up I knew refugees from Cuba, and many of my elementary classmates were Jewish. At that time in the U.S., of course, one’s eyes were expected to be on the future, not the past. Thus as children at least we had no idea of the Holocaust. Society’s great forgetting — of the war and its victimes–was the order of the day. I cannot imagine the strength it took for this family to leave everything they knew. This photo is so evocative. Have you considered digitizing it and offering said image to a suitable museum collection?

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