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My father, the shrewd businessman


My Orthodox grandmother
Uri Avnery Social activist
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 ואז פרצה מלחמת העולם הראשונה. אבי גוייס, כמובן. לאבי לא היה שום חשק למות למען הקיסר, אז הוא הצליח להתחמק מהחזית במשך כל ארבעת שנות המלחמה, בזאת שהוא היה בנקאי מומחה ומפקד הפלוגה השתמש בו בשביל לעשות כל מיני עסקים בנקאיים. אמא שלי הייתה בעיר. היא ילדה את אחותי הבכורה. ילדה את אחותי הבכירה לגמרי בהתחלת המלחמה, ואת אחותי השנייה לגמרי בסוף המלחמה. מכיוון שהיא הייתה אשה צעירה לבדה עם תינוקת, היה קשה, אז היא חזרה לעיירה שבה נולדנו, גם אני וגם אבי. (חזרה) אל הורי אבי. זה לא היה לגמרי מוצלח, מפני שהסבתא שלי הייתה אדוקה (דתית מאוד). לא יודע אם אדוקה ממש, אבל כשרה, לגמרי כשרה. בשביל אמא שלי זו הייתה בדיחה. אז הסבתא שלי תפסה את האמא שלי עושה דברים לא כשרים במטבח, זו הייתה שערורייה גדולה. כשנגמרה המלחמה אמא שלי חזרה להנובר. אמא שלי הייתה עירונית. היא רצתה לחיות בעיר גדולה עם המולה, והנובר הייתה העיר השנייה או השלישית בגודלה בגרמניה. עיר תעשייתית מאוד-מאוד שקטה, פטריקית, אצילה כזאת, בורגנית-אצילה. בקום, העיר שבה נולדתי, העיירה שבה נולדתי, עיירה של כמה אלפי נפשות, ציורית כזאת מהעיירות הגרמניות של ימי הביניים עם הבתים עם קורות העץ. והייתה שמה, כאמור, קהילה יהודית של מאה וכמה נפשות והיה להם בית כנסת ובית ספר.‏

Then the First World War broke out, my father was drafted, of course. My father had no desire to 'die for the Kaiser' so he managed to avoid the front lines for the entire four years of the war; because he was a banking expert his company commander made use of him for all kinds of banking transactions. My mother was in the city. She gave birth to my sister, her firstborn. She gave birth to my older sister right at the beginning of the war, and to my second sister right at the end of the war. Because she was a young woman alone with a baby it was hard, so she returned to the town where my father had been born and then where I was born. She returned to my father's parents. This did not go entirely smoothly because my grandmother was Orthodox. I don't know if she was really devout, but she kept kosher, completely kosher. For my mother it was a joke, so when my grandmother caught my mother doing things in the kitchen that were not kosher, it created a huge scandal. When the war ended, my mother returned to Hannover. My mother was a city girl. She wanted to live in a big city with hustle and bustle, and Hannover was the second or third largest city in Germany. A very quiet industrial city, aristocratic, quite noble, somewhat bourgeois. Beckum, the city where I was born, the town where I was born, a town of several thousand souls, was quite picturesque - one of those medieval German towns with houses that had wooden beams. As I said, there was a Jewish community of 100 or so people, and they had a synagogue and a school.

Uri Avnery (1923-2018) was an Israeli writer, journalist and founder of the Gush Shalom peace movement. As a teenager, he joined the Zionist paramilitary group, Irgun. Later, Avnery was elected to the Knesset from 1965 to 1974 and from 1979 to 1981. He was also the editor-in-chief of the weekly news magazine, 'HaOlam HaZeh' from 1950 until it closed in 1993. He famously crossed the lines during the Siege of Beirut to meet Yasser Arafat on 3 July 1982, the first time the Palestinian leader ever met with an Israeli. Avnery was the author of several books about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including '1948: A Soldier's Tale, the Bloody Road to Jerusalem' (2008); 'Israel's Vicious Circle' (2008); and 'My Friend, the Enemy' (1986).

Listeners: Anat Saragusti

Anat Saragusti is a film-maker, book editor and a freelance journalist and writer. She was a senior staff member at the weekly news magazine Ha'olam Hazeh, where she was prominent in covering major events in Israel. Uri Avnery was the publisher and chief editor of the Magazine, and Saragusti worked closely with him for over a decade. With the closing of Ha'olam Hazeh in 1993, Anat Saragusti joined the group that established TV Channel 2 News Company and was appointed as its reporter in Gaza. She later became the chief editor of the evening news bulletin. Concurrently, she studied law and gained a Master's degree from Tel Aviv University.

Tags: World War I, Hannover, Beckum

Duration: 3 minutes, 18 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017