Conrad, Rabbi Ernest J

Conrad, Rabbi Ernest J.

Berlin (Germany)

Conrad was born in 1921 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of a middle-class Orthodox Jewish couple. When Conrad was eight and a half years old, his father died, and his mother raised him with the help of their extended family. In 1935, at the age of fourteen, he entered a Jewish orphanage. His mother had lost her job with the city of Berlin and became the matron of a Jewish home for the aged, which required her to reside at the facility. Since a home for the aged was not considered the proper environment for a teenager, his family decided the orphanage would further foster his educational and religious upbringing.

Conrad’s personal history provides an overview of the attitudes and experiences of the assimilated German Jews and of growing up in Germany before and during Hitler’s reign. Conrad discusses religious education in Germany before 1933; the rationale for the lack of anti-Nazi activities by the German clergy, both Protestant and Catholic; the attempt by the SS during Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938) to gas the children and explode the orphanage in which he lived; the fate of his mother and other family members; and his emigration from Germany to the United States in April 1939.

In the United States, Conrad became an ordained rabbi in 1947.

Interview Information:
Date: November 16, 1992
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 1 hour, 55 minutes
Format: Video recording