German Reichsmarks

 My grandfather was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930, three years before Hitler came to power. By the time the war ended, he was 15. He and his family never fled from Germany, as they thought things weren’t going to get worse than they already were, plus he wasn’t Jewish. As the war began to swing in the favor of the allies, the bombing raids began. They hid in basements and subways to escape from the bombings. The first Berlin air raid came in 1944. As the Soviets drew closer to Berlin, everyone who was able to hold a gun was ordered to fight or be executed. At 15 years old my grandfather was given a rifle and a panzerfaust (anti tank rocket). He did not fight. He threw away all weapons and hid from both the Germans and Russians. He was able to escape Berlin shortly after Hitler’s suicide. He ran off towards the west in order to be liberated by the Americans. He eventually ran into the Americans and was able to avoid the communist split that would end up happening in Europe and Germany after the war ended. This enabled my grandfather to immigrate to America in 1946. He took only his reichsmarks. We never knew why he actually took these. We believe he took them to have a physical reminder of what happens when good men do nothing to stop bad men from rising to power. 

Place(s): Germany, Berlin, New York, Long Island
Year: 1946

– Nicholas

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant