reinheim

How my great-uncle Siegfried saved his entire family by punching a Nazi

So, my family were assimilated German Jews living in southwest Germany in a little town called Reinheim. And my great-uncle Siegfriend was both physically huge and also kind of a hot-headed young punk. It’s the mid-30s, and someone on the street calls him a “dirty Jew” so, naturally, Siegfried beats the shit out of the guy.

That evening, a mob starts to gather, wanting to lynch Siegfried for laying hands on a non-Jewish kid. The police come by the house and say “we know he was provoked, we’re not arresting him, but we’d like to take him into protective custody for the night to let this blow over.” He goes.

That night, someone at the police station lets the mob into his cell. They beat him nearly to death. When the police dump him at the family home the next day he’s caked in blood and nearly dead. The story I’ve heard always includes the line “his shirt was so full of blood it stood up on its own.”

And, of course, the mob is still coming for them.

That was the wake-up call they needed to get out of the country, early. It saved their lives.