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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

CoastLine: Alfred Schnog on his childhood escape from Nazi Germany with his family

German Federal Archive
Wikimedia Commons

As a 7-year-old, Alfred Schnog watched through hotel room curtains as the Nazis gleefully destroyed Jewish-owned businesses.  His parents had encouraged their young boys to watch and told them to never forget what they were seeing.  He never did forget. And he told us the story 2018.  He passed away the very next year, in 2019, three days after the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht – that Night of Broken Glass.

Alfred Schnog was a child during a time in Germany when you hid the fact that you were Jewish. No one was talking about Nazi death camps – not yet anyway. But he and his family learned to keep the fact they were Jewish to themselves. They did not want to be barred from common public spaces or forced to attend schools that kept them apart from non-Jewish Germans.

Their neighbors knew and eventually they stopped speaking to the Schnog family, afraid to associate with them.

Once Nazis seized the family’s business, his parents began plotting their escape. But before they could reach friendlier soil, a young Alfred Schnog watched through hotel curtains as Nazi soldiers and members of the SA, commonly known as Storm Troopers, and Hitler youth, looted and destroyed Jewish-owned establishments. He had witnessed Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, and he would never forget it.

The family escaped from Nazi Germany the next morning, more than 8 decades ago. They boarded a train bound for the border with Holland.

This edition of CoastLine, in which he tells his story and in which we briefly meet his wife, Anita, was recorded in 2018. He tells of 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 passed away in 2019 – just three days after the 81st anniversary of Kristallnacht.

U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman John Nieves Camacho


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