Holocaust survivors renew bond with homeland
Palm Beach Daily News
Daily News Staff Writer

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Johann and Jeanette Kaufman, the late parents of Max and Herb Kaufman. Johann, malnourished and sick from typhus, died at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp. Jeanette died in 1993.

They were two typical Viennese boys — inquisitive, fun-loving and full of energy.

When Max and Herb Kaufman visited their mother’s parents, Jeremiah and Anna Hammer, they would bound up the four flights of stairs to their apartment and zip down the banister. They would ring doorbells at neighboring apartments and run away.

The neighbors dubbed the bright-eyed, rambunctious duo the “Hammer brats.”

The two enjoyed the good life with their father, Johann, a bank employee, and their mother, Jeanette, in Austria’s capital city in the early 1930s.

But in 1938, when the boys were 13 and 11, their world turned upside down.

Anti-Semitism was taking hold in Austria, fanned by German dictator Adolf Hitler’s quest for regional and world domination. That year, laws discriminating against Jews were enacted in Germany, Austria and other Nazi-occupied areas. The vandalism and murderous riots of Krishtalnacht, on Nov. 8 and 9, signaled impending peril for Jews living in Europe.