Rothschild was born in 1922 in Bruchsal, Germany, the son of Conservative Jewish parents. Bruchsal is a small town, approximately 20 miles S. E. of Heidelberg or 70 miles Southeast of Frankfurt. Its population in 1933 was about 17,000 of which 501 or approximately 3 percent were Jewish. By 1939 the Jewish population had dwindled down to 162, approximately .09 percent.
Rothschild recalls relatively little anti-Semitism towards him prior to 1933. That, however, increased rapidly following the Nazis’ taking control of the government. In 1936 he was expelled from the high school he attended for being Jewish and forced to go to a less specialized school. The Jewish youth organizations he was affiliated with were under the surveillance of the Gestapo, the secret police. In one instance the intended speaker for a meeting, a rabbi from another part of Germany, didn’t show up for the meeting. The rabbi was killed on the way to the meeting by the Nazis, and subsequently his ashes were offered to the rabbi’s family for a price.
Photographs are shown on the tape of Rothschild’s family and of the former synagogue in Bruchsal. The synagogue was completely destroyed during the riots of Kristallnacht on November 10, 1938. After that it became obvious that life for Jews in Germany was becoming intolerable, Rothschild was able to leave and enter the United States due to the efforts of an uncle living there. His parents were able to follow later and were able to bring with them most of their belongings, including their car. At that time this could be done by paying imposed export or removal taxes on each item. Since all monetary assets were placed by the Nazis into a “locked” account from which only “official” withdrawals or payments could be made, paying these taxes provided a means of utilizing one’s assets. For emigration one was allowed to take out of Germany only 10 RM (German marks) per individual.
In 1953 Rothschild entered the U. S. Army, serving in the Army Air Corps. His overseas assignment was in the Pacific even though he had full command of the German language.
He has returned to Germany for visits, one time at the request of and hosted by the citizens of his former hometown of Bruchsal. His impressions are that Germans, in general, are in a state of denial of their deeds during the Holocaust and of the significance of their actions.
Date: January 23, 1996
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Format: Video recording
Length: 58 minutes