August 21, 1939 - Klaus Langer


August 21, 1939


Essen, Germany

The Diary of Klaus Langer

Klaus Langer was a 15 year old German-Jewish boy living in the city of Essen. He had lived much of his young life under Nazi rule. His diary is a valuable record documenting the struggles of Jews in Germany before the war. In the early years after Hitler came to power, many Jews believed that they would be able to stay in Germany, but after the Kristallnacht pogrom in November 1938 that seemed increasingly unlikely. Klaus, like many other Jews, desperately sought a way to emigrate. He had been involved in a Zionist youth group for several years, so his main goal was to go to Palestine. Even though the German government was eager for Jews to leave, they did not make it an easy process. Klaus wrote frequently in his diary about the frustrations he experienced over the delays and postponements that hindered his departure.


On August 19, 1939, Klaus received news that his departure had been postponed again.  He was nervous, not only for himself, but also for his parents. They were counting on him to get to Palestine first, then to help secure permission for them to follow. Two days later, he met a friend who was having no better luck. He wrote, “My old friend Manfred came to visit yesterday. His mother had returned from Poland and they are about to dissolve their residence. His emigration efforts have met with no success. My parents are very angry that my aliyah was postponed, but I learned from a girl in Essen that the entire transport was delayed. It shows again the incompetence of the Aid to Jewish Youth and the Palestine Bureau when it comes to organizing. One has to get used to that and be patient.”

Even though Klaus had already encountered many roadblocks, he persevered. His patience finally paid off and he was able to leave Germany on September 2nd on the first leg of his journey toward a new home in Erez Israel. His parents had to stay behind, though. They were never able to line up all of the necessary forms and permissions needed for emigration. The window of opportunity closed for them and they eventually perished during the Holocaust.

Klaus Langer’s diary was included in a book entitled, Salvaged Pages: Young Writers’ Diaries of the Holocaust by Alexandra Zapruder. Read more about this collection

Learn more about the Jews of Essen.