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Danzig, my family’s ancestral home, no longer exists – except in our minds

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Published: 27 April 2021

Last updated: 4 March 2024

MICHAEL SEGALOV: After his death, I wanted to know more about his life, and the city that made him and very nearly killed him

EVERY CHANUKAH THROUGH my childhood, if I was visiting my grandparents’ Liverpool home, my Grandpa Oskar told me the exact same story. With a pickle on his side plate – my grandma serving up his favourite dinner of latkes, vusht (smoked sausage) and eggs – he’d recount the night during this very Jewish festival in 1937 that his family – our family – fled for their lives from the Nazis.

The preparations for their escape might have been secretly in motion for weeks, but the first he knew of the plan was as it was happening: he arrived home from school to be told he and his brother were going on a trip that very December night.

They’d be travelling with their mum; their father – my great-grandpa – would meet them on their journey. It was only later that he’d learn their destination was England, a new permanent home for our family, now refugees.

He was only eight years old back then; young Oskar knew nothing of the rise of the Reich and the imminent, deadly threat it posed to Jews across Europe. The Nazis had already been voted into power in Danzig’s parliament; a corn merchant by trade who travelled across Germany and beyond, Oskar’s father could see the atmosphere across the continent worsening. Once his clean-as-a-whistle Jewish business partner was arrested on trumped-up fraud charges, my great-grandpa knew they had no choice but to run.

FULL STORY The city my grandfather used to call home no longer exists – except in our minds (Guardian)

Photo: Michael Segalov (Piotr Malecki/The Observer)

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