Researching Nazi history of Bad-Salzuflen, he follows a parallel journey to my own, questioning the role of his father as an SS commander for the labour camps in which my mother may have been held. An unexpected story turn I must explore.
Outside the German resort town famous for its salt baths, slave labourers, probably French POW’s, dig a channel under Nazi guard.
Hitler himself and his close deputies Joseph Goebbels, Secretary of Propaganda and Wilhelm Frick, State secretary of the Department of Interior visited Bad Salzuflen in January 1933 during an election campaign for the regional parliament of the state of Lippe. The victory in this election on 15th of January 1933 was very important for the NSDAP- party to verify their political strength to the German public opinion. Successfully – two weeks later the party took over the rule in the German Reich in Berlin on 30th January 1933.
Local townspeople line the streets, celebrating Hitler’s victory in 1933, the terror had already started, peaking in November 1938, when the synagogues were destroyed. 28 Jews managed to flee, but the rest perished in the camps. By the time my mother arrived, she had already dropped her real first name “Rosa” and reverted to her second name, Agnei: named, perhaps prophetically, by her Russian grandmother for the patron saint of little girls.
The Rathaus, or city hall in Bad Salzuflen. While archivist Beuke says there is no record of a murder being committed in the chaotic days and weeks after after Germany’s official surrender, my mother tells a chilling story of her room-mate, Polina, being dragged out onto the street, and, hanged in front of this structure. “I still see her in my mind’s eye, ” she would say sixty years later. Do we believe the historian or the memory of an elderly woman haunted by yet another night of infamy?