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Memories of Kristallnacht


Memories of life in Germany before the war
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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I've actually seen Hitler, yes, once. At one point I, not knowing that he was actually our enemy, at the age of, I don't know, it must have been seven, eight, I once climbed a tree along the route where he was supposed to be passing by, you know. And then when he... and yes, and some bloke helped me to climb the tree and when the procession had passed by and they all dispersed, I couldn't get down again because the chap had disappeared. So I had a problem getting down from the tree. But that was my... it was funny, it was... my contact with that whole business was very fragmented and strange. I have strange, kind of, fragmented memories, like that episode of climbing that tree. And, another one, playing in the... there was a little park nearby in the Charlottenburg area of Berlin, and I played there. And once some children taunted me about being Jewish. Somehow they discovered all that. So I remember that. And, towards the end of, or the middle of '38, I had to be taken out of school. I wasn't allowed to attend a normal school anymore, and they had to, they found a private tutor for me, and for the last 10 months or so before we left, I had this private tutor. But as you can imagine, it all got more and more and more urgent that you should leave. Well once my father was in the camp, of course, it was very urgent. So eventually my mother was able to provide the necessary proof that we would leave, and he was released and we left.

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: Adolf Hitler

Duration: 1 minute, 44 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008