Elisabeth Kauffman: May 24, 1940

The Arnolds are gone. Vilma and I no longer have work. It was a short-term job. I continue in school and it is becoming increasingly desperate.

These words were written by Elisabeth Kaufmann, a 16 year-old Austrian-Jewish refugee in Paris, during the initial days of the German invasion. Her family had already fled from the Nazis once, and now they were at risk again.

As a foreigner in France, Elisabeth and her family experienced prejudice based on nationality. Jobs were especially hard to find. She had been lucky to obtain work with the Arnold family helping to care for their children.
As the German army advanced into France, the Arnolds decided to leave. They were willing to take Elisabeth with them to safety, but the government would not allow it. Now that France was at war with Germany, Austrians were considered “enemy aliens” and their ability to travel was restricted. Of course, because she was Jewish, she was also considered an enemy by the invading Germans. Elisabeth’s situation perfectly illustrated the no-win situation often faced by the victims of the Nazis during the Holocaust.

You can read more about Elisabeth and her diary here.

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