Klaus Langer: December 23, 1938

Klaus Langer was a German-Jewish boy who wrote about life under the Nazis in his diary starting in 1937. He was thirteen at the time. His observations provide us with an early look at the Holocaust from before the period of the war, the ghettos and the mass killings. His diary comes mainly from the time when the Nazis sought to drive Jews out of Germany through all manner of harsh treatment and discriminatory laws. As a result of these Nazi policies, many Jewish people were eager to get out, but making all of the necessary arrangements was not easy. In addition, as times became more desperate, families had to consider splitting up in order to find a way out for everyone.

Klaus was an ardent Zionist. His main desire was to go to the Yishuv (the Jewish community in Palestine) to help build a Jewish state. If necessary, he was willing to go elsewhere at first, but he had no doubt about his ultimate goal. For Jews after the Kristallnacht pogrom, avenues of entry into other places were quickly closing. Hopeful emigrants could not afford to be choosey. Klaus and his parents were forced by circumstances as well as preferences to consider going to different destinations. To increase their odds of success, they also had to try several plans at once, in the hope that one might work out. This, however, could cause problems as well.

On December 23rd, Klaus wrote a progress report into his diary. “I have to make some additional entries regarding my emigration. England no longer is a possibility for me. I was not accepted because I was registered in Holland. My acceptance at the Jawne school in Cologne is in question.” As the quote above indicates, Klaus was pursuing multiple and contradictory plans for his future. Unfortunately, the preliminary plans he had put in motion for Holland hindered his potential escape to England. Also, as a back-up plan in case he couldn’t leave Germany quickly, he also sought admission to a Jewish school in another city where he might be able to continue his education. In the end, it was a different plan altogether that enabled Klaus to leave Germany, but the details from this day’s diary entry show how difficult and frustrating the process really was.

Excerpts from Klaus Langer’s diary may be found in Salvaged pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder.

Click here to read more about the Jawne School in Cologne and the ultimate fate of the students and teachers. This site also had additional information.

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