Berlin (Germany), London
Naftalie was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1923. Naftalie remembers being bewildered by how much anti-Semitism his family experienced. His father had been decorated for his service in World War I as a heroic soldier for Germany. Naftalie was therefore shocked when the windows of his father’s grocery store were smashed. After his father’s death in 1933, Naftalie recalls how hatred for the Jews intensified, manifesting itself strongly in the Gestapo and the Hitler Jugend. Naftalie remembers his attempts to protect himself and one of his sisters from a violent attack of the Hitler Jugend. In 1938 the Gestapo searched the Naftalie’s house, found his uncle, and arrested him.
Realizing much more than his sisters or his mother that Germany was becoming increasingly dangerous for Jews, he fled to Great Britain with the assistance of Chamberlin’s Kindertransport. Naftalie attempted to get his mother out of Germany until October 1939. He later learned that she had been deported to Riga in 1941. He also discovered that one of his sisters had been deported to Litzmannstadt in 1943 after someone informed the Germans that she had gone into hiding in Belgium.
Naftalie spent the war years living in London through the Blitz, first attending school and later training to be a tailor. He eventually became a part of the Jewish Brigade in England and then a member of the British army. He fought with the Brigade in Italy, Austria, Holland, and Belgium. His duties also included working in a German POW camp as a translator. After liberation he helped Jews cross the Austrian border into Italy. They traveled to Bari and then on to Palestine. Naftalie returned to England in 1946 and came to the United States in 1948.
He is the only member of his family to have survived the Holocaust.
Date: January 21, 1987
Interviewer: Esther Weine
Length: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Format: Video recording