Death and Love in the Holocaust
The Story of Sonja and Kurt Messerschmidt
“As things got worse and worse, my mother suggested that we all turn on the gas and kill ourselves, that we go together. But my father wouldn’t hear of it. He said, “I have to see the end of this, how we’ll all be at the end.”
Of course, we know how it ended. And they were taken that one day, and I never saw them again. I left my apartment and moved in with Kurt and Heinz, because I was just so afraid that if I stayed in my apartment alone that they would come for me.” – Sonja Messerschmidt
That was just the beginning of two journeys through the Holocaust, surviving: persecution in Berlin, deportation to Theresienstadt and Auschwitz-Birkenau, slave labor, death marches, liberation, reunion, and emigration to the United States – finally, in 1951, to settle in Portland, Maine. Kurt and Sonja Messerschmidt saw the death of Jews every day for two years. But they never stopped creating their own lives.
“Death and Love in the Holocaust” is now available for purchase at the HHRC. The $18.00 price will benefit the work of the HHRC.
Steve Hochstadt teaches history at Illinois College and writes a weekly opinion column in the Jacksonville (IL) Journal-Courier.
His most recent book also uses edited interviews to tell the larger story of the 16,000 central European Jews who escaped the Nazis and went to Shanghai: Exodus to Shanghai: Stories of Escape from the Third Reich.
He taught at Bates College for 27 years, served on the Board of Directors of the HHRC from 1993 to 2005, and was Vice President, 1996 – 1999.