Aaron Jastrow, Nazi machine, genocide, World War Two, Third Reich
In the film version of Hermann Wouk's War and Remembrance, the Polish Jewish professor Aaron Jastrow and his American Jewish niece Nathalie fall into the trap of the monstrous Nazi genocidal machine and are interned at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. Upon their arrival there, they are initially treated with brutality until Professor Jastrow reminds their Nazi captors, "We are under Swiss protection." Thereafter, they receive noticeably better treatment. Although Aaron Jastrow later perishes in a gas chamber at Auschwitz, Nathalie owes her own escape from the same camp and her eventual rescue by the Americans at Weimar, Germany in April, 1945 to the intervention of Swiss diplomacy. Just as Gibbons tells us that a mysterious veil hid the operations of the early Christian Church from the cruel pagan Romans, so did Swiss diplomatic papers mysteriously veil the escape of thousands of European Jews like Nathalie from the incessantly probing eyes of the Gestapo. Using a literary analogy more appropriate for this article's Germanic theme, the travel visas issued by Swiss embassies in the various countries occupied by Nazi Germany shielded Jews from arrest in much the same way that the slain dragon's magical blood in which Siegfried bathed made that legendary German knight's body invulnerable in Das Nibelungenlied. German Nazis doing their utmost to kill Jews, while their German Swiss brethren were doing their utmost to save them: all the pathos of the Second World War is symbolized by these diametrically opposed enterprises conducted by the same racial family.
Page, H. Dwight
"The Miraculous Island of Switzerland in the Midst of the Third Reich,"
Swiss American Historical Society Review: Vol. 35
, Article 3.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/sahs_review/vol35/iss1/3