• acceptance and rejection – Germany 1935

    1935 began – and ended - strangely for Herbert Sulzbach.

    On Friday 22 February he received his 'Cross of Honour' and accompanying certificate.

    This medal was awarded to front line soldiers of the German army during the First World War (including those who had been killed, and their widows). It is sometimes called the 'Hindenburg Cross' after the President of Germany who – with his Chancellor, Adolf Hitler – instituted it on 13 July 1934. It was intended as a way of reinforcing pride amongst the veterans, even though they had not been victorious. The enormous number of people (about eight million) applying for the honour resulted in a bureaucratic bottleneck that caused months of delay, which is why Sulzbach received his medal seven months after its institution.

    There were no doubt celebrations in the Sulzbach household that weekend. Herbert was very proud of his war-time record, and admired Hindenburg as a war hero. He was glad to be decorated 'in the name of the Führer (Hindenburg) and the Reich Chancellor'. It would only be a few months before Sulzbach's own diaries of 1914 - 1918 would be published by Bernard and Graefe in Berlin.

    Then on Tuesday 26 February Sulzbach's international driving licence was renewed, which seems extraordinary given the increasing restrictions placed on Jewish people at that time. Herbert, his wife and sister-in-law lost no time in setting off on holiday by car. Within a fortnight they were on the road towards Italy and Sicily – for a trip that lasted nearly seven weeks.

    They returned towards the end of April, and were astonished at the anti-Semitism they experienced on their return journey. 'Jews not wanted' signs hung from lamposts in every village that they drove through as they approached their home in Berlin.

    Less than six months later, in September 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews in Germany of their citizenship. Herbert Sulzbach – like 100,000 other Jewish former soldiers in the German army during the First World War - became merely a 'subject' of the country for which he had fought so patriotically.

    There were to be no more luxury holidays touring Europe for many, many years.

    (picture: Herbert Sulzbach's International Driving Licence 26 Feb 1935)

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