Anita Winter, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, gave a talk at the German Embassy in Bern, Switzerland on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi pogrom.
In 2014, Winter founded the Gamaraal Foundation which is dedicated to help Shoah survivors to live their final years in dignity.
She told the guests at the embassy about her grandparents’ and parents’ experience of 8/9 November 1938, the Night of the Broken Glass (Kristallnacht), when the Nazis set hundreds of synagogues and other Jewish institutions in flame: “On 8 November 1938, a Jewish boy witnessed Kristallnacht in Berlin, hidden alone in a wardrobe, and full of fear. His parents were already far away, and his aunt had already left the apartment.
"The next day, he walked through Berlin’s streets, saw all the destroyed Jewish stores and synagogues, and went to the Swiss Embassy. As his mother had been a Swiss citizen before marrying his father, the boy hoped to escape to Switzerland. But at the embassy, he was told, ‘We don’t want Jews.’
“Despite all this, he managed to flee to Switzerland eventually. This boy was my father. Had Hitler’s regime been successful, I wouldn’t stand before you tonight, 78 years later,” Winter said.
She then told the story of Rosa, who was arrested in the city of Nuremberg on 9 November 1938 despite the fact that she had two small children. “After being driven through Nuremberg, where she saw burning synagogues, she was brought to a police station where she was forced to undress and then had to sign a document by which property of her house was transferred to the Nazis. She signed the document immediately, because she wanted to return immediately to her two children, a girl and a baby boy, who had been left alone at home. […] This girl was my mother.”
In her speech, Winter highlighted the fact that her family’s story was part of herself, and also part of Germany’s history. “Both my parents were born in Germany. They were born in a cultured nation called Germany and fled from a dark Nazi Germany which tore, destroyed and exterminated their families. And despite all that, my family - my German family -, never eliminated the good, beautiful Germany from its memory,” Winter said.
She also recalled her grandfather, a survivor of the Majdanek death camp, who had told her that "You can lose anything in life, but you never lose your education."
Anita Winter in 2014 set up the charity Gamaraal to help more than 80 out of the 500 Holocaust survivors living in Switzerland make ends meet. The motto of her foundation is ‘Better late than never’. She told the guests at the German Embassy that she receives support including from children of former Nazis.
Winter concluded her speech by highlighting the need to educate future generations about the Holocaust. "We need to continue remembering together the unbelievable things that happened then." She also quoted a survivor who said to her recently: “Forgetting it is impossible. The earth is not deep enough to bury my memories.”
She ended: "I am a grandchild of Germany, too. It was a great honor for me to speak to you today, and it is also a reconciliation with the history of my own family,"