"I am alive! It is a miracle from G'd"
START Origin Home Discrimination Emigration SS St Louis Camp Odyssey New Life
Mina
Markus
Jakob and Frieda
Oskar
Salo
Leon
Jakob, Frieda and Oskar in Munich, 1938. Radio signal from the Munich Police Headquarters regarding the "group transport" of Jews to Neu-Bentschen, 28.10.1938. St. Margrethen station - the Swiss border - on the trainline Munich to Zürich. Swiss border station St. Margrethen with a flood of refugees, 1945. "Halt! Swiss Territory." Sign at the Swiss border.
Deportation order of 27.10.1938 for Jews of Polish nationality. Deportation order of 27.10.1938 for Jews of Polish nationality.
Deportation order of 27.10.1938 for Jews of Polish nationality.
Early in 1939 Markus Blechner was forced to give up his business.
Postcard from 26.8.1939 from Salo Blechner, Bahnhofshotel St. Margrethen to Jakob Blechner, Zürich.
Postcard from 26.8.1939 from Salo Blechner, Bahnhofshotel St. Margrethen to Jakob Blechner, Zürich.

Immigrants? Foreigners? Munich citizens?

Like the majority of the Eastern European Jews, the Blechners are no different from the other residents of Isarvorstadt. Mordechai and Mina speak not only German, but also Yiddish and understand Polish. German is the mother tongue for their sons. All the family hold Polish citizenship after the founding of the Polish state in 1918.

With the rise of anti-Semitism and xenophobia in the years prior to 1933 in Germany, all Jews in Munich and especially those who are not German are increasingly discriminated against and marginalised. The persecution reaches a new provisional climax at the end of October 1938 with the deportation of Polish Jews, including the Blechners to the German-Polish border. Jakob, Frieda and the parents are able to return to Munich at the beginning of November. However Salo is interned in no-man's land between Germany and Poland.

Mina, Markus and Salo Blechner try to leave via Switzerland. On the 27th August 1939 they arrive at the Swiss border town, St. Margarethen. The Swiss border guards take away their passports telling them to wait until the following day. Despite valid travel documents they are denied entry and forced to go back to Munich.

Only a few days after their return to their empty apartment in Munich the arrest of Polish Jews for their "own protection" is decreed. The Gestapo detain Markus Blechner on the 9th September 1939 in Munich and take him later to Buchenwald. Salo Blechner is able to avoid arrest and flees a few days later to Berlin, where he is arrested shortly after arrival.