Thursday, November 15, 2018 at 11:41AM
Drew Wolfe

A Toy Monkey That Escaped Nazi Germany And Reunited A Family

"The monkey's fur is worn away. It's nearly a century old. A well-loved toy, it is barely 4 inches tall. It was packed away for long voyages, on an escape from Nazi Germany, to Sweden and America. And now, it's the key to a discovery that transformed my family."

"The monkey belonged to my father, Gert Berliner, who as a boy in Berlin in the 1930s rode his bicycle around the city. Clipped to the handlebars was the toy monkey."

"'I liked him," recalls my dad, who is now 94. "He was like a good luck piece.'"

"In pictures from his young days in Berlin, my father looks confident, a tad rebellious with a wry smile. But his life was about to be eviscerated. The Gestapo would steadily crush every aspect of Jewish life in the city."

"It exploded in a wave of violence — in November 1938 — on Kristallnacht, the 'Night of the Broken Glass.' Jewish shops, schools and homes were smashed and burned by German civilians and Nazi storm troopers. Thousands of innocent Jewish men were rounded up."


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