One Family’s Pre-War German Hagadah Still In Use Today

By Rick Landman on Email

Pre-War German Hagadah 1

After my 18 year old father was released from Dachau, he packed his family’s set of Passover “Hagadahs” and sent them to his father in New York City in 1939, and then used his Temporary Transit Visa to get to London.  He then joined his father in NYC in November 1939.   [The Hagadah tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt and the set included editions from the 1890’s to 1921.]  The illustrations above show Moses leading the Israelites across the Red Sea.  Notice how the background looks more like the Rhein and I never heard about a bridge being there before.  Talk about being ethnocentric.  This is another example of how much German Jews considered themselves Germans.

Pre-War German Hagadah 2

On the first night of Passover my 92 year old father read from his Hagadah at our family Seder.  He may be the only German Jew in the world still reading from his own childhood book.  On the second night of Passover at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah’s community Seder night I read a paragraph from my grandfather’s book in German to keep the continuity alive.   We have kept this tradition at CBST (my NYC Synagogue) for over a decade.

Pre-War German Hagadah 3

It is also interesting to note how the German language changed over the decades.  The illustration directly above shows the more “modern” 1921 German to the right. One English translation this paragraph is, ”For not only one enemy has risen up to destroy us, but in every generation do men rise up against us seek to destroy us; but the Holy One, delivers us from their hands.“

Rick Landman
Rick Landman, is a gay son of two refugee Holocaust Survivors who is now a dual German American citizen, and marched in a Jewish contingent in the Steuben German-American Parade for 5 years. As an Attorney Emeritus, Adjunct Professor at New York Law School, Urban Planner, Licensed NYC Tour Guide, and longtime resident of Lower Manhattan, he is available to give NYC Walking Tours and Speaking Engagements on German, Jewish, Holocaust-related or LGBT history, and has a Blog on his website at www.infotrue.com and can be contacted at infotrue@yahoo.com.