This extract from Escape from Berlin was written by one of the few Jewish people to escape from Germany during the war into Switzerland. To protect those she had to leave behind Kaethe Cohn used the name Catherine Klein when she wrote her story. Her G.P. husband had managed to get to Britain in early 1939, and was on the point of getting the necessary papers for her to join him when the war started.
Trapped in Berlin, and as a Jew, she was directed to work in a Siemens factory, whilst what meagre civil rights German Jews had left were erased. Desperate, she managed, eventually, to travel on a false passport and as an ‘Italian’ citizen, on an Express train from Berlin to Basel. In her handbag were Luminal tablets to steady her nerves as the train approached the Swiss border.
Travelling clandestinely she eventually reached England in 1943 and was re-united with her husband. She died in 1981.
Basel Badischer Bahnhof is one of two main stations in the city, on a tiny piece of land that belongs to Germany, and is run by Deutsche Bahn. Passport control separates the platforms from the ticket hall. (Photos: Basel Bad. October, 2008. Pete Grafton).
Copies of Escape from Berlin are available from abebooks and amazon.
In the next Post: Escape from Mainz (YOU, YOU & YOU!, 1981) and Escape from Vienna, new extract from YOU, YOU & YOU! Restored version, due late Spring 2013.