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Why my father decided to leave Germany

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Nazi takeover begins
Uri Avnery Social activist
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And the Nazis from 1929 – since the crisis onwards – the Nazis began taking over the streets. Hanover, the city I grew up in, was not a Nazi city; it was a conservative city. In general the northern Germans were disdainful mostly of the Austrians, but also of the southern Germans, the Bavarians. Bismarck, who was the greatest German statesman, once said that a Bavarian was halfway between an Austrian and a human being!  So the northern Germans became infected with Nazism quite late. In Berlin too, it took the Nazis quite a while before they became established there. Hanover was such a quiet city, aristocratic, quite noble, and the Nazis were not so prominent and did not run wild as they did in certain other places. There was no street fighting as there was in Munich and also in Berlin, but it happened. I remember once I really upset my parents. I was walking along the main street with them, and there was a storm trooper, a fat bourgeois, coming towards us.  I lagged somewhat behind my parents and said 'Heil Hitler' and he replied 'Heil Hitler'!  My parents were furious.

The country was changing, the streets were changing.  I was a boy of eight or nine, so I mostly saw and mostly remember the visual things a child sees: parades in the streets, everyone marching. They all marched, the left-wingers, the right-wingers, the Nazis. Each of them had established a kind of private army in uniform. Once, near my father's office, I saw a parade of Nazis wearing the storm troopers uniform. An endless parade, huge! Then I realized that I had seen the same man with a characteristic moustache, for the fifth time. They were just walking around and around the block! 

והנאצים מ-29’, מהמשבר הגדול והלאה, הנאצים התחילו להשתלט על הרחוב. הנובר, העיר שגדלתי בה, לא הייתה עיר נאצית, הייתה עיר שמרנית. בכלל גרמנים צפוניים יש להם בוז, בעיקר לאוסטרים אבל גם לגרמנים הדרומיים, הבאוואריים וכאלה. ביסמארק, שהוא היה גדול המדינאים הגרמניים, אמר פעם שהבאווארים הם שילוב של אוסטרים ובני-אדם. אז הצפון-גרמנים בדרך כלל נדבקו בנאציזם די מאוחר. גם בברלין, הנאצים לקח להם זמן עד שהם התבססו שם. הנובר הייתה עיר כזאת שקטה, פטריקטית, אצילית כזאת, והנאצים לא כל כך בלטו וגם לא כל כך השתוללו כמו במקומות מסויימים אחרים. לא היו קרבות רחוב, כמו שהיו במינכן או אחר-כך גם בברלין, אבל הם היו. אני זוכר פעם אני נורא הרגזתי את ההורים שלי. אני הלכתי איתם ברחוב הראשי, בא לקראתנו כזה איש פלוגות הסער, בורגני כזה שמן, אז אני כאילו פיגרתי אחרי הוריי ואמרתי "הייל היטלר" והוא אמר "הייל היטלר!” וההורים שלי כעסו נורא. הארץ השתנתה, הרחוב השתנה. הייתי ילד בן שמונה-תשע. אז אני ראיתי בעיקר, זוכר בעיקר את הדברים החזותיים שילד רואה: תהלוכות רחוב, כולם צעדו. כולם צעדו, השמאלנים, הימניים, הנאצים. כל אחד הקים כאמור מין צבא פרטי במדים. ופעם שליד המשרד של אבי, ראיתי תהלוכה נאצית עם מדים של פלוגות הסער. לא נגמרה. ענקית! ואז אני שמתי לב שאדם מסויים עם שפם מסויים אני רואה אותו בפעם החמישית. הם פשוט הלכו מסביב לבלוק.‏

Born in 1923, Uri Avnery is 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 is 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: Hannover, Bismarck, Heil Hitler, Nazis, Nazi salute, parades, private army, Berlin

Duration: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: October 2015

Date story went live: 10 March 2017