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Inge Deutschkron

Film | Accession Number: 1996.166 | RG Number: RG-60.5044 | Film ID: 3420, 3421, 3422, 3423, 3424, 3425, 3426, 3427, 3428, 3429, 3430, 3431

Inge Deutschkron, a German Jew who appears only briefly in Lanzmann's completed film, witnessed the increasing persecution and violence in Berlin, including the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws and Kristallnacht. Her father escaped to England but she and her mother remained behind and went into hiding in 1943. Lanzmann interviews her in a coffee house in Berlin in which she remembers seeing a "Jews Not Wanted" sign during the Nazi years.

FILM ID 3420 -- Camera Rolls #1-3 -- 01:00:08 to 01:33:06
CR 1 Inge Deutschkron sits in a café speaking with Lanzmann. She expresses feeling strange, since in the past Jews had been prohibited from the coffeehouse. Gradually, establishments put up signs barring Jewish patronage, and there was a danger of entering and being recognized. The signs that barred Jewish customers were sometimes posted by proprietors voluntarily but mostly under duress. 01:04:32 Deutschkron says that although the process was gradual, it was no less shocking for German Jews, who had believed they were Germans. It was, however, a step in rebuilding the country after the chaos of Weimar. Friends of her father that believed the Nazi party was necessary to reassert order in Germany and that antisemitism would eventually quell. Since Jewish establishments had not yet been extinguished, Jewish public life merely migrated towards them in the hope that the vitriol would pass. Jews rearranged their lives under the pretense that life would return to normal. 01:07:57 She describes her father, a committed Socialist and former deputy school headmaster in Germany, who was forced out of his position. Branded as an enemy of the state, he had to survive on a meager pension and slim prospects for future employment. Jewish parents sent their children to Jewish schools. Her father eventually found work at a Zionist school. Inge went to a regular German high school.

01:11:25 CR2 Inge describes the transition from primary to secondary school. Before high school, she was not sure what the implications of being Jewish were. She saw herself as more Socialist than Jewish, and would often assist her parents in political endeavors, such as folding leaflets. But Inge had trouble with her Jewish religion class in high school, because she had no formal instruction in the Jewish tradition. She talks about a friend who was a member of the Nazi Girls Association. She would say "Heil Hitler" upon parting to which Inge would respond "Auf Weidersehen". 01:14:53 Inge moved to a new school with many Jews. The school was named after the original Jewish headmaster, but in 1935, the school began discriminating against Jewish children. So, she was sent to an exclusively Jewish school. The family moved with non-Jewish friends to a completely new district. At that time, it was not yet taboo for Jews and non-Jews to have public friendships. Her family was denounced and the Gestapo raided their home. They found nothing. She describes an inn which would display Nazi materials, among them, an image of the Berlin police president (a Jew) depicted in a compromising position with an Aryan woman.

01:22:28 CR3 Deutschkron says the laws enacted in September 1935 (finally) disrupted the lives of normal Jewish people. Romantic relationships and friendships were forbidden, which, Inge says, was the source of many jokes to lighten spirits. She claims that the 1933 laws did drive some to leave, due to being unable to practice their professions. But many believed that the discrimination would eventually pass. Lanzmann asks Inge to define the difference between the Jewish experience in large cities like Berlin and smaller towns. The plight of Jews in small towns was "dreadful," since it was much more difficult to hide from public attention where everyone knew you. Her father did not think to emigrate because he believed the climate would pass, and even refused a teaching job in Australia. Inge says things only got worse after the enactment of the Nuremberg laws. Business at Jewish shops decreased.

FILM ID 3421 -- Camera Rolls #4-6 -- 02:00:07 to 02:33:23
CR 4 In the café, Inge relays jokes inspired by the discriminatory laws. People with Jewish names encountered problems with the authorities. Some with Jewish ancestors were allowed to change their names to avoid the stigma that came with them. 02:04:34 Inge describes career-change institutions that would allow Jews that wished to emigrate to become better candidates for employment abroad. There were courses for shoe-making, chocolate-making, agricultural work, and so on. Her father, a very impractical man, opted to train with a local Jewish shoe-maker in Berlin. 02:07:14 Her uncle trained as a chocolatier. Her family wanted to move to Palestine and become farmers despite having little knowledge of what such an endeavor would entail. Inge's uncle did move there, but returned to Berlin shortly after, complaining about the climate, people, and working environment. Lanzmann describes full-page newspaper ads for such emigration programs, mostly advertised by non-Jews. She describes the emerging profession of "Specialist for Immigration".

02:11:23 CR5 People did not offer fair prices for Deutschkrons' possessions and the family had little negotiation power. She describes the trauma of selling one's worldly goods and the general prosperity of many Germans. It was difficult to publicly express anti-Hitler sentiment and the divide between Jews and non-Jews grew. 02:14:48 Inge describes the "Year of the Marking" (1938) when laws were passed compelling German Jews to carry id cards with fingerprints, the letter "J", and a photo with their left ear in full view, since the Nazis maintained that such a feature could be used to spot someone of Jewish heritage. She talks about riding on the train looking at the people around her to decipher differences in the shape of ears. New parents had to select from a list of approved names. 02:21:50 Lanzmann says that Switzerland insisted on the branding of passports.

02:22:31 CR6 Inge says that Switzerland was not sympathetic to Austrian Jews wishing to escape the Nazis. Some were detained at the border and sent to concentration camps. Rich German Jews were required to disclose the extent of their wealth to the German government (the Deutschkrons had relatively little money and property). Park benches were marked for Jews-only. Inge says attracting such attention would have been unbearable for her. 02:25:50 The events that led to Kristallnacht were extremely convenient for the Nazis, who had been waiting for an opportunity to strike at the Jews. She describes Grynszpan's shooting of a German diplomat in Paris, and the resulting expulsion of Polish Jews from Germany. Inge experienced this when she found Polish classmates absent from school. A few hours after von Rath's death, the Deutschkrons received a distressed phonecall from a family friend claiming that the Nazis had taken her husband into custody. Several more calls came detailing the arrest of wealthy and intellectual Jews. 02:29:55 Inge relates the fear that their telephone lines had been tapped. They awoke the next morning to news that synagogues were burning and Jewish businesses had been plundered. Her mother wished to see for herself, so the family went into the street. They not only saw chaos but the willful ignorance of the non-Jewish population. Her family passed a barber shop, and the proprietor yelled "Get out of Germany, you Jews!" Inge's mother responded, "You dirty swine!" despite her father's fear. Inge's father opted to go to work that morning, and the Gestapo called their home an hour after he left.

FILM ID 3422 -- Camera Rolls #7-8 - 03:00:07 to 03:22:28
CR 7 Still in the coffeehouse, Deutschkron speaks of the Gestapo arriving at her home. Her mother pretended to be ignorant of Kristallnacht events and answered their questions calmly. She said her husband went to work. They entered the home and one sat in her father's chair while the other guarded the door. They said he should report to the police station immediately. She raced to the phone, dialed her husband and, concerned that the line had been bugged, uttered the single word "disappear". Inge's mother then started cleaning up the apartment and decided to go shopping in order to maintain a semblance of normality. 03:03:26 They noticed looting in the streets. Her mother hoped that her father sought help from friends. Eventually, however, he arrived at the apartment, and maintained that, since the German police had specifically asked for him, there was no real way for him to effectively disappear. She sought advice from Social Democratic friends who urged him to go into hiding. 03:05:43 Inge talks about their two weeks in hiding. They returned home once it was clear that "the action" was over. Their neighbor informed them that the Gestapo indeed called in their absence, but since milk bottles were collecting at the doorstep, there was nobody home. 03:07:36 Men who had been unable to hide ended up in concentration camps, some of whom found a way to emigrate to England. The events finally convinced her father to emigrate. Inge recalls lines of people waiting outside of the American consulate in Berlin. Now, if one wished to leave, they were forced to leave their wealth behind.

03:11:15 CR8 Inge describes barriers to emigration. The Nazi government required a colossal exit fee. Equally problematic was finding a country willing to take you in. She says her father would not go to Syria because of the rumor of the "Aleppo Boil". The last resort was Shanghai, but the thought of moving to such a strange land was unappealing. 03:15:16 The Deutschkrons turned to relatives in England, who agreed to take in a single family member. Since Inge's father was in the most immediate danger, he left on April 19, 1939. The family vacated their flat in Berlin. Inge and her mother expected to follow on to Britain. 03:19:47 Inge and her mother moved into a furnished room. They considered becoming housemaids in Britain. Inge's mother received a letter from a professor in Glasgow who was willing to hire her as a cook and Inge as a maid. They began the long, paperwork process.

FILM ID 3423 -- Camera Rolls #7A -- Coupes 2 Trains Grunewald -- 08:00:08 to 08:07:15
CR 7A Mute coupes of an outdoor train station. Inge stands at a ticket booth. Glimpses of travelers' feet. The camera stabilizes and focuses on Inge sitting on a platform bench. The station sign reads "Berlin-Grunewald"; the time is 1:40 pm. As the train arrives, Inge motions to the filmmakers. She stands, sits back down, laughing. Aboard the train, Inge sits by the window watching the scenery. The train pulls into another station and leaves. Inge looks out the window. The scenery is green and lush, with roads here and there. The train passes through a moderately sized village, slows and stops. Inge stands, shoulders her bag, and moves towards the exit. Inge stands on the platform. The camera focuses on a departing train. The station sign reads "Lehrter Bahnhof".

FILM ID 3424 -- Camera Rolls #8A,8B,3A,6A -- Coupes 1 Salon de The -- 07:00:07 to 07:11:28
Mute shots of Lanzmann on camera speaking to Inge Deutschkron. He nods as she responds. They sit in a Berlin café. It is raining; cars and pedestrians with umbrellas pass by. The camera pulls back, presenting a view of both in conversation. Inge gestures with her hands as she speaks, and Lanzmann nods in acknowledgement. Lanzmann lights a cigarette. He takes notes as she speaks. CUs. 07:05:39 Cut to exterior of the street signs at the intersection of Kurfurstendamm and Joachimstaler Strasse. The camera pans across the street showing rain-slicked pavement, passers-by with umbrellas, and slow-moving cars, before eventually settling on the café in which Deutschkron and Lanzmann converse. The camera zooms in from outside. 07:10:48 Cut to the interior of the coffee shop. CU of Inge Deutschkron speaking with Lanzmann. CU of Deutschkron's hand, toying with a teapot on the table.

FILM ID 3425 -- Camera Rolls #9-11 -- 04:00:07 to 04:33:27
CR9 A train pulls into the station and stops. People disembark and passengers board. The camera pans to Inge Deutschkron and Lanzmann sitting at a platform bench, speaking with one another. German Jews were not permitted to own radios or electronics, but Inge and her mother kept theirs. There was a curfew in place. She addresses the first few days of the war. Inge's ration cards were marked with the letter "J". 04:03:16 Lanzmann notes that there was kind of an iron curtain separating Germany from the world. Inge concurs, and continues to list the aspects of life that were cut off: hairdressers, laundry services, so on. She tried to visit these places, believing that if one were to adhere to all of the discriminatory laws, they would lose their sanity. 04:04:31 She says around 200,000 Jews remained in Berlin. She speaks of emigration. German Jews were no longer permitted to live in homes owned by non-Jews. Inge recalls at one point residing with nine other German Jews in a five bedroom flat, with one bathroom and one kitchen. Jews were forced to perform hard labor in "labor exchanges". She speaks of a supervisor who once worked in a Jewish textile factory and had not prospered, so sought revenge against the Jews he was now overseeing. Communication by telephone was not possible for Jews, but she says, it was unnecessary since they were living close to each other. This was not quite ghettoization. Public transport was only available to Jews commuting to work. Jews had not been "marked" yet but there was a danger one might be recognized, so very few broke the rules. But, Inge claims she would often defy the laws: attend cinema, walk in parks, and break curfew. Rumors easily spread, and fear was rife.

04:11:18 CR10 A train pulls into the station as Inge, off camera, describes the desolate mood during the outbreak of war. The Jews were hopeful that the conflict would mean the end of Hitler, but they were also suddenly aware that the Nazis could do anything they wanted. Community leaders were gone and morale was low. 04:14:18 Although Inge was not religious, she describes her father's gradual return to Judaism. She felt cut off from the world. Her mother couldn't reach her father and letters were undeliverable. Lanzmann asks if she had any inclination that she would spend the entirety of the war in Berlin (she says no). The Jewish community had believed the war would be over quickly, that Hitler would be defeated within a matter of months. Inge and her mother still had non-Jewish German friends, but contact was minimal. The Jews were forced to work only the jobs that Germans did not want. With victories, people began to rally around the German war effort. Inge speaks of bomb attacks in Berlin, and describes bomber planes overhead. Jews were forced to sit in a separate area of the air raid shelters.

04:22:14 CR11 Inge talks about being forced to sit in air raid shelters for a long time because of rumors that Jews would give signals to the enemy. Inge worked in textiles, making silk for parachutes. Her mother worked the night shift at a radio battery factory. Their labor exchange was run by a staunch antisemite. Along with the Gypsies, their positions were assigned, they were paid less than the Germans, and had to pay an additional 15% tax on their wages. Inge would stand for ten hours, changing spindles on machinery. German employees would not speak to her. Her commute was 1.5 hours, and as a Jew, she had to stand during the journey. There were also no chairs in the Jewish break room. She was given a Star of David to wear on her work overalls that she would remove outside of work. 04:29:36 In order to avoid work, Inge wore high heels to the factory and was eventually afflicted with an injured knee. When she went to the factory doctor, he asked inappropriate sexual questions and performed a pelvic exam. Jews were viewed as little more than slaves. The star was mandatory in September 1941. The Jewish Community was tasked with distribution and there was a fee. Jews were instructed that the patch be sewn firmly above the heart. They were ordered to wear them indoors and out; their homes were similarly labeled.

FILM ID 3426 -- Camera Rolls #13,15,17 -- 05:00:08 to 05:28:26
CR13 Inge heard about the deportations of Jews beginning in October 1939, but in little detail, since there was no real contact between disparate Jewish communities. Inge's family lived in a block of flats marked with the Jewish star, but non-Jews also lived there. When a friend visited, he rang the bell but would stand at the door of non-Jewish neighbors. 05:04:53 Inge was palpably concerned for her own safety due to the new Star law. She had before flirted with a young man on her daily train commute, but when he first saw her with the star, he looked at her with sympathetic eyes and she never saw him again. When she boarded the train later that day, a man repeatedly offered his seat to her. She had to show him the star before he stopped. The wearing of the star brought "sad sympathy" to interactions between Jews and non-Jews. 05:07:59 Inge talks of being stared at or sneered at. She says that she would sometimes remove her star in order to visit shops, since they were so hungry.

05:09:30 CR15 In September 1941, an elderly woman in their building received a letter from the Jewish community regarding her possessions. One member of the Jewish Community visited the workshop where Inge worked in October 1941. She learned that recipients of the letters were to be deported. That evening (without warning from Inge who thought this was a rumor) the woman was suddenly deported and taken with others to a synagogue. 05:17:57 Some who tried to bring food to the synagogue were turned away by Jewish officials and told that those inside were being looked after. They were deported one day later. That same day, the Gestapo confiscated the woman's belongings from her room.

05:19:08 CR17 Now they knew that a letter meant deportation. Lanzmann interjects, pointing out that the Nazis were trying to rid Berlin of Jews entirely. Inge says that there was no secrecy surrounding the deportations. Removals were performed by functionaries from the Jewish Community. Jews whose jobs were not essential to the war effort and the unemployed were selected for removal. Lanzmann asks if there were any fees, and Inge says no, the Jews had nothing. 05:25:31 Inge claims that the Jews did not truly believe deportation was a death sentence. They were in denial and believed people were sent to work camps. She thought they would eventually be called for deportation, and she received a letter. But, her mother refused to let her leave alone. Inge was not so much horrified by deportation, but by separation from her mother. They viewed the situation as a race - if they managed to avoid deportation for long enough, English victory would save them.

FILM ID 3427 -- Camera Rolls #16A,12,12A,16CF,17A,14A,20A,18A,19A -- Coupes 2 Trains de Grunewald --09:00:07 to 09:07:34
Mute shots of the Berlin-Grunewald train station platform. A train leaves the station. 09:00:36 With sound, a train pulls into the station and passengers disembark. Quick view of Inge on a bench, followed by no picture. 09:02:04 Mute shots of the empty platform. A train passes in the background. A train pulls into the station. 09:02:51 With sound, a couple holds hands as they prepare to board. The train stops. Passengers disembark, and others board, luggage in hand. The train pulls out of the station. 09:04:00 No sound as a train departs. 09:04:17 Another view of a train departing. 09:04:26 A man sits on the station bench. Brief glimpse of sound engineer with equipment at right. With sound, a train enters the station, stops, and the man waves and boards the train. The camera pans, to show briefly Inge Deutschkron sitting on a station bench. 09:05:40 With sound, another train leaving the station. Sound engineer. Mute shots of a train with Friedrichstrasse" sign pulling in. The platform announcer steps into frame. 09:06:27 "Berlin-Grunewald" station sign. 09:06:40 Mute shots of people on the train platform. A train pulls into the station. CUs of train windows as it passes. 09:07:31 "BOB 28" slate with Lanzmann (his face is cut out of the frame) behind.

FILM ID 3428 -- Camera Rolls #18-21
CR18 Inge describes feeling stunned and alone. She speaks about the complicity of the Jewish Community in the deportations and the irony that those who should have been supporting them were facilitating their fate. Lanzmann asks whether she believes they participated in order to save themselves. She describes her disdain, but concedes that, since she was never put in the situation of the Jewish Community, she should not judge them. Older Jews began to marry rather than face deportation alone. The suicide rate rose. She refused to believe the rumor propagated by the BBC in 1942 that claimed gassing and mass murder was taking place. Many of the factories in Berlin objected to deportation because they lost workers, and Jewish employees worked hardest since their lives depended on it. People disappeared, but they kept believing they would survive. Inge's mother tried to learn more from a friend, a non-Jewish female owner of a laundromat, but the woman would not divulge anything. Many German Jews evaded the Nazis.

CR19 Inge says the Vienna Gestapo was called upon to swiftly solve the Jewish problem in Berlin, and started driving to Jewish residences with vans, taking people without warning. Meanwhile, the Deutschkrons discussed how to avoid deportation.Their non-Jewish friends advised evading the authorities. They opted to go "U-Boat" or underground. One morning, the Gestapo called their house to clear the room of a recent deportee. The officer questioned her mother about why she was home and threatened deportation. She protested that she had a daughter and that they should go together. On January 15, 1943, they took their belongings and left the house. They returned to collect a forgotten watch. Inge describes feeling her anxieties diminish living in secret, and no longer wearing the Star. She felt free from fear. The deportations continued. Inge received a call from a friend at the Jewish Community warning her to stay inside on February 27.

CR20 Inge received a call from her friend at the Jewish Community warning her to stay inside on February 27. Police raided the streets of Berlin clearing the city of Jews. Lanzmann interjects that there were "officially" no Jews alive in Berlin after this. Inge agrees, aside from Jews in mixed marriages who were considered non-Jewish. She watched people being torn from their homes. They could not believe what was happening. Berlin's Jews were herded together into dance halls and camps before being deported. Inge claims she had never felt so alone. She felt guilty to be one of the last Jews living underground in Berlin. [sound cut off]

FILM ID 3429 -- Camera Rolls #23A,7B,24 -- Coupes 3 Lions de Goebbels -- 11:00:07 to 11:08:27
CR 23A Mute shots of a bronze lion statue (Lions de Goebbels), camera pans to the base, where a large "W" is engraved. The lion is a copy of a statue called the Flensburg Lion. A young boy leans against the base. Coca-Cola stand behind the statue. Two men and one woman stand around a table conversing. Cut back to the lion statue in profile, back lit by the sky. Pan to reveal landscape beyond the park. Quick shot of a bus. The lion, shown from various angles. 11:02:06 CR 24 Lanzmann talks a man who seems to run a stall in a market near the Wannsee House, where the infamous conference took place in January 1942. The man tells Lanzmann that the lion was moved to the location by Hitler in 1938. The man indicates the Wannsee House (not visible) and says that it has been proposed as a memorial to the Jews but other people want to keep the playground for the children that is currently on the site. Lanzmann asks whether everyone knows this history but the man says he thinks not. Lanzmann says he tried to enter the house but was not allowed. Lanzmann asks him what he knows about the conference and corrects him when he describes it as persecution rather than destruction of the Jews. They talk about the area, how it has changed, how expensive the area has become. He asks Lanzmann what he is doing with the film equipment and offers to rent him a boat if he needs it. The Wannsee House was not established as a memorial until 1992.

FILM ID 3430 -- Camera Rolls #25,30A,30B -- Coupes 2 Chutes, Trains -- 10:00:08 to 10:02:01
CR 25 Train station platform (with sound). A train slows to a halt. People disembark and passengers board. 10:01:09 CR30A Inge Deutschkron sitting on a station bench (quick). 10:01:26 CR30B Mute shots of a slow moving train and station surroundings - several tracks form in the BG with parked cars in the FG.

FILM ID 3431 -- Camera Roll #30A -- Coupes 4 Grunewald -- 12:00:08 to 12:08:13
Mute scenes of an empty station platform at Berlin-Grunewald. Inge Deutschkron sits at a nearby bench looking through her purse. She stops, and waits. The camera zooms in on her, then out. Inge in conversation (silent) with Lanzmann in the same location. A train passes behind them. The camera zooms in on Lanzmann. He repeatedly nods as Deutschkron speaks. The camera zooms out showing both speakers. Slowly, zoom in on Lanzmann again.

Event:  Late Spring or Early Summer 1979
Production:  1985
Berlin, Germany
Wannsee, Germany
Created by Claude Lanzmann during the filming of "Shoah," used by permission of USHMM and Yad Vashem
Record last modified: 2021-06-03 12:51:19
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