My life in Germany before and after 1933

  • Oskar Scherzer from Vienna - when he was 20, he wrote about his life under the Nazis for a Harvard literary competition. Now, at the age of 80, we visited him again.

In 1940 Harvard University held a literary competition "for all who knew Germany well before and after Hitler." Through newspapers, leaflets and posters emigrants were called upon to describe their "lives in Germany before and after 1933." It was as if floodgates had been opened. At last, refugees from the Nazis could tell what they had endured, of how they had been ostracized from society and driven from their homeland. 250 manuscripts of up to 400 pages were entered. Today, Professor Detlef Garz and fellow academics at the University of Oldenburg are researching these entries.

We introduce four participants who took part in the competition and their manuscripts:
- Eva Wysbar, a dramatic producer in Berlin, wrote her report in Los Angeles,
- Dr. Albert Dreyfus, a physician in Fürth, sent his script from Jerusalem,
- Oskar Scherzer, a high school student in Vienna, typed his story in New York,
- Dr. Heinrich Kromayer, a former occupational teacher in Berlin, found out about the competition in New Jersey.

Like Sebastian Haffner who was in London at the same time just after the war began in 1939, they all closely examined Hitler’s regime and its supporters. Their writings expose all those lies that even today claim that it was impossible to know anything in 1940. We have traced the lives of these people and spoken with them or their children. How did they deal with the wrongs committed against them? How did they live out their lives?

Book on the issue:

Oscar Scherzer: Under Swastika and the French Flag, $ 14,50

Produced by


A film by

Sigrid Faltin



Running time

60 min.


  • Commissioning Editor: Paul Assall (SWR 2)

„We produce documentary films - it's real life that interests us.“
Sigrid Faltin, white pepper films


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