From the time he was 4, Peter Daniels — then Peter Berlowitz — spent his days mostly staring out the window of a two-room flat in Berlin. It was 1940, and Jews were forbidden from hiring domestic help under the Nuremberg Laws.
“Where are the dollars?” two plainclothes Gestapo officers demanded as they appeared without warning on both sides of Sol Berger. Sol denied any knowledge, even though the daughter of a local currency dealer was hovering nearby at the train station in Tarnow, Poland, holding the dollars he desperately needed to immigrate to Palestine.
Many brave soldiers on all sides fought in World War II, but among the most courageous warriors were the unarmed civilians who defied the Nazis by stirring up resistance, hiding Jews and speaking up for freedom.
It took close to 70 years, but the books that the Gestapo confiscated from Dr. Caesar Hirsch have been restored to his descendants and donated to the UCLA library, thanks largely to the persistence of a German journalist.
In the living room of her Newport Beach home, Flory Van Beek reaches up to a shelf and takes down a plain-white book the size of an encyclopedia and engraved with a Star of David. "This was published by the Dutch government," she says. "It has the names of the almost 140,000 Dutch Jews who died during the war." Flory flips through the book, searching for her mother's name.