In Dresden in eastern Germany Victor Klemperer had been forced out his job as a professor long before the war because he was Jewish. At great risk to his life he maintained a detailed diary of his life under Nazi rule – it would have been a death sentence had it been discovered by the Gestapo.
Random raids on Jewish homes were becoming ever more common at this time. His non-Jewish wife had been assaulted on the last raid, but on that occasion the Gestapo had arrested one of his neighbours – nothing more had been heard of him and it was presumed he had been sent to a concentration camp.
There remained many Jews still living in the community in Germany, although thousands had been deported on trains to ghettos in Poland, from where some had already been sent to the extermination camps. There were a wide range of official regulations governing the Jews still living in Germany. For all, like Klemperer, there was an ever present fear of arrest should they be breached – usually ending in a camp from which very few ever returned.
But the restrictions on Jewish life were all enveloping in their scope, they were both intrusive and petty. On 2nd June 1942 Klemperer made a record of them in his diary:
The choker is being pulled ever tighter; they are wearing us down with ever new tricks. All the things, great and small, that have accumulated in the last few years! And a pinprick is sometimes more agonizing than a blow with a club. I shall list the decrees once and for all;
1) To be home after eight or nine in the evening. Inspection!
2) Expelled from one’s own house.
3) Ban on radio, ban on telephone,
4) Ban on theaters, cinemas, concerts, museums.
5) Ban on subscribing to or purchasing periodicals.
6) Ban on using public transport: three phases:
a) buses banned, only front platform of tram permitted,
b) all use banned, except to work,
c) to work on foot, unless one lives 2 miles away or is sick (but it is a hard fight to get a doctor’s certificate).
Also ban on taxi-cabs, of course.
7) Ban on purchasing “goods in short supply”
8) Ban on purchasing cigars or any kind of smoking materials.
9) Ban on purchasing flowers.
10) Withdrawal of milk ration card.
11) Ban on going to the barber.
12) Any kind of tradesman can be called only after application to the Community.
13) Compulsory surrender of typewriters,
14) of furs and woolen blankets,
15) of bicycles – it is permissible to cycle to work (Sunday outings and visits by bicycle are forbidden),
16) of deck chairs,
17) of dogs, cats, birds.
18) Ban on leaving the city of Dresden,
19) on entering the railway station,
20) on setting foot on the Ministry embankment, in parks,
21) on using Burgerwiese [street] and the roads bordering the Great Garden (Parkstrasse, Lennéstrasse, and Karcherallee). This most recent restriction since only yesterday
Also, since the day before yesterday, a ban on entering the market halls.
22) Since September 19 [last year] the Jews star.
23) Ban on having reserves of foodstuffs at home. (Gestapo also takes away what has been bought on food coupons.)
24) Ban on use of lending libraries.
25) Because of the star all restaurants are closed to us. And in the restaurants one can still get something to eat, some “dish of the day,” if one has nothing at all left at home, Eva says the restaurants are packed. [Klemperer’s wife was not Jewish so she was able to visit the restaurants, although many of the other restrictions affected her]
26) No clothing card.
27) No fish card.
28) No special rations such as coffee, chocolate, fruit, condensed milk.
29) The special taxes.
30) The constantly contracting disposable allowance. Mine at first 600, then 320, now 185 marks.
31) Shopping restricted to one hour (three till four, Saturday twelve till one).
I think these 31 points are everything. But all together they are nothing as against the constant threat of house searches, of ill treatment, of prison, concentration camps, and violent death …