Wednesday, May 6, 2009

"he stopped being a German to the French and became a Jew to the Germans"

Lisa Goldman shares a story she stumbled upon, which highlights the significance of nationality:
Levy was born in 1883, in Berlin, to a wealthy family that owned a textile factory. An early and committed Zionist, he arrived in Palestine in 1912, where he established his architecture firm in Jaffa in 1920. But he never really managed to assimilate. In the wake of professional disagreements and a lack of work, he returned in 1927 to Berlin, where he joined a large architecture firm. With the 1932 rise to power of the Nazis he emigrated to Paris, continuing to work in his profession and to be active in Zionist activities. When the German army invaded in 1940, he was rounded up by the French authorities and imprisoned in a camp for enemy aliens - as a German citizen, regardless of the fact that he was a Jew. Levy submitted a request for a visa to the United States, but was turned down. After the Nazis conquered France, he stopped being a German to the French and became a Jew to the Germans, who took the keys to the prison camp from the French authorities and deported the Jewish inmates to the death camps. Levy died in Auschwitz in 1942.

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