In the second week of this academic year, grade 11 and 12 DHPS learners of the DIA branch had the unique opportunity to talk to a witness of the Second World War.
In her meeting with the learners, Ms Marianne Degginger spoke about her life, especially about her experiences in the years from 1939 to 1945. She was born in 1932 of a Jewish mother and is thus half-Jewish - a devastating situation during the National Socialism era, when Jews were persecuted and killed in concentration camps. Ms Degginger recalls that many of her relatives had suddenly stopped visiting, because, as she later learned, they either had fled or were taken to concentration camps. She also remembers that she was often excluded by non-Jewish children, since they were forbidden to play with her. Nevertheless, she remembers a happy childhood, playing in the yard and visiting her aunt. She owes these memories in above all to her very happily married parents, her father, who rode his bicycle to work every day and her mother, who took care of her at home. At some point, it was not safe enough in Berlin; they slept in the basement every night to protect themselves from the bombings, but eventually had to leave. They found refuge with a relative in the rural Eibenstock, but her father stayed in Berlin. When the family was reunited after the war, Marianne was 13 years old. Later she learned a trade and became a mother of two children. She is now 86 years old, her spirit is still young as are her stories, which have left a deep impression with the learners.
After the report about her life, which was also written down as a biography ("Marianne"), the learners had the opportunity to ask Ms Degginger questions, which she answered in detail and honestly; questions about guilt, forgiveness and oblivion. This was of course very interesting for the learners and an eye-opener for many when Ms Degginger's replied that learners of today are surely not to blame, but bear the responsibility to ensure that history does not repeat itself again.
“Speechless. Shocked. Touched. It was terrible for me to see how much these circumstances shook peoples’ lives. But I am all the more grateful that we can live in peace.” This is how DIA learner Carissa Esslinger described her feelings when she left the auditorium.
87 years back in history: Marianne Degginger took grade 11 and 12 learners of the DIA branch on a journey through time.
In 1932, Marianne Degginger was born as the first child of a German-Jewish family. Although she was very young during the Holocaust, she can still remember many details. A child always sees the beautiful and positive things in the world, but at the same time, children are very sensitive and attentive when it comes to the people around them. Ms Degginger, for example, can remember the scary nights in the basement during the bomb alert and the changed behaviour of her mother: In the course of time, her mother left the house less and less and her aunt did not visit any more. She also knew at that time that all people arrested by the uniformed, would never come back. From one day to the next, people disappeared from her circle of friends and some family members she suddenly never saw again.
Through other family members from her father's side, Marianne, her little brother and her mother had the opportunity to leave Berlin and hide in a small village in western Germany. Here they had to pretend to be Germans and had to deny their Jewish ancestry.
After the war, the family never talked about these events again. They were suppressed and kept secret.
Marianne Degginger and her family are among the few Jewish survivors who have remained in Germany and have the strength and courage - 87 years later - to take others on this personal and cruel journey of thought.