In those first years of the Nazi regime, it was hard for me to grasp the import of politics writ large. However, I would soon come face to face with discrimination on a regular basis. Whereas I once enjoyed walking to the post office to pick up our mail, it soon became a repetitive nightmare. Mr. Link, the father of one of my classmates, was the postmaster and he came regularly dressed to work in a Nazi uniform. He began to refuse me the use of the office stepladder, which made it very difficult to reach the slot where the mail was. To make me work even harder, he pushed the mail as far back in the compartment as possible. One day he even chased me out of the building with his dog. I ran to the nearby home of a Jewish family, where I slowly regained my composure.
I complained about all this to my parents, “I’m not tall enough, it’s hard to get to, and he’s putting it all the way in the back.” My father said, “You have to figure out a way to deal with this.” He wasn’t going to relieve me of that responsibility.
My solution: Each time I went, I brought a little footstool.
At the time, I thought my father should make life easy for me, which he wasn’t doing, and I resented it. Instead, he saw that I had this obstacle, and I would have to find a way to address it. He wasn’t going to tell me how to do it. And he was’t going to accompany me, either.
Later, when I was separated from my parents, I finally understood what he had been trying to teach me then, and I had to agree with him, because it was many of these everyday struggles that later helped me to survive.