Tuesday, 5 July 2016
A journey to myself
As most of you know, my parents, Hans and Suzanne Flatauer were German Jewish refugees - my mother came from Berlin, my father from Hanover. They met at an international Jewish conference. This was in the early 1930's, when many predicted, correctly, that Hitler's rise to power would mean persecution in some form. Although those who'd read Mein Kampf could deduce what form this was going to take; many people felt equally that the German population would see through Hitler and his thuggish rhetoric, and vote his party out.
As restrictions on the lives of Jewish citizens began, including their right to education (my mother had to leave Berlin University) and attacks on individual Jews went unpunished, they decided it was time to leave. My mother's family, Lotte and Richard Mannheim came with her and settled in Hendon, north London. My father's parents Raphael and Alma, affluent, highly intellectual Orthodox Jews, but maybe not so worldly-wise, decided to stay. They subsequently perished in one of the camps - part of Hitler's deadly 'Final Solution'.
In their absence, my parents' German nationality was taken away, as happened to all who fled Nazi persecution. They never went back, and I was born in the UK, grew up here, suffering racial taunting from time to time - age 7, I remember asking my mother why a kid in my class had called me 'A dirty Jew' when I had a bath every night. I was though, to all intents and purposes, a British citizen. I had a British passport then in time, an EU one. And so my 'story' might have run its course - until two weeks ago, when this country voted to leave the EU.
My parents were stripped of their German citizenship. Now I have been stripped of my EU citizenship. As it currently stands, I and my descendants will soon no longer be able to work, live, or study freely abroad. Once again, other people have removed at a stroke my 'identity'. But this time, I refuse to submit quietly. This time, I am going to fight back.
To be continued ...