Search JTA's historical archive dating back to 1923

Seven-year Old Child Relates Tale of Nazi Brutality to Parents

July 4, 1934
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

A German-Jewish child of seven years delivered the most impressive anti-Hitler indictment of the eight witnesses who testified at yesterday’s two sessions of the American Inquiry Commission probe into conditions in Nazi Germany.

Sitting composedly on the witness stand with his hands folded across his breast, the little child, whose name was given as Franz Voss, his real name being concealed, answered in German questions put to him by Arthur Garfield Hays with a sincerity that several times drew the applause of an audience of 250.

Franz told how Jewish children in Germany were humiliated by having swastikas painted on their hands and pasted on their backs. Gentile school-children told the Jewish children, he said, that “Jews must perish.”

“There were three Jewish children in my class,” he told the Commission, “and the other forty-seven often beat us in the streets and did other things to them that I can’t remember.”

Hays questioned the boy:

“Why didn’t they hurt you in the street?”

“Because I walked with my father.”


Q. “Are you afraid of Hitler?”

A. “Hitler himself?” Franz’s eyes opened wide, “Sehr stark!”

Q. “Why didn’t your twelve year old sister come here to answer questions today, Franz?”

A. “Because she’s afraid of Hitler.”

While the inquiry was going on, “Kid” Alphonse G. Koelble, attorney for the Friends of New Germany, stood in the lobby distributing a mimeographed statement to reporters in which he branded the Commission as Jewish and communistic.

In the statement he attacked all the witnesses of the previous day, particularly Dr. Kurt Rosenfeld, whom he termed a “German Jew who is a striking example of the origin and depth of the feeling of the Germans against the Jews.”

Koelble expressed his own august opinion “that such boards tend to increase the tension between the Jews in this country and the German-Americans who have sources of their own as to the falsity of many of the allegations against Germany.”

An anonymous business man who returned from Germany two weeks ago testified that people looking like Jews are beaten up in Berlin streets, and that gates of many German towns bear signs reading: “Jews not permitted here.”

Dr. Kurt Hyman, exiled German-Jewish journalist, related accounts of women being forced to parade in the streets, carrying humiliating signs.

Walter Orloff, American Jewish medical student, recounted how he had been imprisoned and beaten up while in Germany, and was only released through the intervention of the American consulate.

Dr. Franz Hoellering, exiled newspaper editor, declared that “there are no more newspapers in Germany. What goes under the names of newspaper are sheets which carry only what Goebbels dictates. Goebbels is the only editor in Germany.

“Even Hitler’s speeches are censored for the press by Goebbels,” Dr. Hoellering said, “because Hitler sometimes says things that Goebbels does not want printed.”

The hearings closed yesterday without hearing all the witnesses, but Hays announced that the probe will be resumed in the near future.

A preliminary report was issued which scored the newly promulgated German People’s Courts as a travesty on justice. Little hope was expressed for Ernst Thaelmann, Communist leader, scheduled to be tried before this court.

“We are constrained to conclude from the documentary and personal testimony of authoritative witnesses,” the report stated, “that the forthcoming political trials are wholly without force of law and may be fairly condemned in advance.” The report concludes with a demand for the freeing of Thaelmann.

Among those brought before the Inquiry Commission yesterday was Martin Plettl, German labor leader, who has been here some months lecturing on conditions under the Nazi regime.

Plettl, exile from his homeland and one of the few to escape from concentration camp, told of the horrors of Hitler’s political prisons. These encampments, he said, are particularly bad for Jews.

“One of my colleagues in concentration camp,” said Plettl, “was an elderly Jew. He was frequently beaten by a twenty-year-old storm trooper.

“I remember one occasion when the storm trooper shook his fist under the Jew’s nose and declared, “You’re lucky that Hitler, rather than Goebbels and Goering, is in power.'”

Others who testified yesterday included Walter Orloff, former American Jewish student in a German medical school, who had been arrested by Nazis; Aneurin Bevan, labor member of the British Parliament; Kurt Rosenfeld, former Prussian Minister of Justice; Emil Lengyel, a Jewish journalist, and Paul Gobert, who escaped from a concentration camp.

Bevan declared: “Workmen are all against the Hitler regime.”

Lengyel said that Emil Ludwig and Elizabeth Bergner had been exiled from Germany because of their race rather than politics. He declared that sixty-five per cent of the exiles from Germany are Jews.

Recommended from JTA