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CoastLine: Alfred Schnog On His Childhood In Nazi Germany And His Family's Harrowing Escape

German Federal Archive
Wikimedia Commons

Imagine growing up in a world during a time in which it’s prudent to hide the fact that you’re Jewish because you might be barred from common public spaces or forced to attend schools that keep you apart from non-Jewish Germans.  Your neighbors know of your heritage and stop speaking to you – afraid to associate with you anymore.  Then imagine Nazis seizing your family’s business, your parents plotting your escape, and before you reach friendlier soil, you watch through hotel curtains as Nazi soldiers and members of the SA – commonly known as Storm Troopers -- and Hitler youth -- loot and destroy Jewish-owned establishments. 

Alfred Schnog escaped from Nazi Germany the morning after Kristallnacht.  November 9, 1938 marks its 80th Anniversary – also known as the Night of Broken Glass.  He remembers that night and the morning after when his family boarded a train hoping to get across the border to Holland. 

On this edition of CoastLine, as we consider Holocaust Remembrance Day, which begins at sunset Wednesday evening, we meet Alfred Schnog and hear about his family’s escape from Nazi Germany, how they almost didn’t get past German border guards, and what it was like to arrive in the United States with no knowledge of the English language.


Alfred Schnog, eyewitness to Kristallnacht, escaped with his family from Germany to Holland before arriving in the United States in 1940

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR