A Simple Matter of God and Country

"For the majority of Germans, it had always
been a simple matter of God and country...
Jews believed in the wrong God,
and they lived in the wrong country."

In January 1933, when Adolph Hitler was first appointed chancellor of Germany, a half million Jewish citizens lived and worked in that country - most with roots extending back centuries.

Despite ever worsening persecution and brutality by the Nazis, many Jews remained in their beloved "Fatherland" - convinced their friends and neighbors would eventually come to their senses. Germany was home. They knew it couldn't go on forever.

Elisabeth Bing Sondheimer was such a German Jew.

Her family had lived there for over 450 years. Her grandfather Berthold was one of the founding fathers of that nation's Industrial Revolution - the historic driving force behind the international commercial success of the diesel engine. Her father and her husband had both fought bravely for their homeland during World War I.

"We were Germans first, and Jewish second..."

Along with many others, she and her family misjudged both the intentions and the capabilities of the Nazis. They remained in Germany until late 1938, barely escaping with their lives.

This is a uniquely personal story of a nation turning on its own - of cruel betrayal based on ancient religious bigotry. It's a tale of misplaced patriotism, of abandonment and sometimes-painful sacrifices, and of the duties and responsibilities of citizenship in a modern society.