Frankfurt am Main 1936 to 1946


About this Site


It is not what they built. It is what they knocked down.
It is not the houses. It is the space between the houses.
It is not the streets that exist. It is the streets that no longer exist.
It is not your memories which haunt you.
It is not what you have written down.
It is what you have forgotten, what you must forget.
What you must go on forgetting all your life.

It is not what they say.
It is what they do not say. 

James Fenton, A German Requiem

I was born in 1936 in Germany and came to the United States with my mother in 1946. There on a hot August day in New York City on a West Side dock, I was reunited with my older sister and father, whom I had not seen since 1940. I returned to Germany in 1959, and after a long hiatus returned again several times in the 1990s, for personal and business reasons. This web site also signals a partial return in spirit, as for the first time, almost 60 years after I left, I'm trying to understand more deeply something about my time in Frankfurt (and a small town called Driedorf), a time that shaped who I became. It is a counter to the "evasiveness" of the narrator in James Fenton's Requiem.

The story told in this web site is a mix of history and of what I can remember, which, to my deepening frustration, isn't much. However, I hope, however modest, what I've offered here it will be a contribution to others trying to understand that terrible time that also shaped their lives.  And hewing to the principle to "Only Connect," I hope that this web site will serve as a start of dialogue with others - to share experiences, to add to what I have here, to suggest other sources, and not least to deal with mistakes in fact and judgment I've made. 

The story is inescapably serial one. However, as I often do, browsing randomly may bring its own rewards - or frustrations. Unsurprisingly, W.G. Sebald, explained to me what I am trying to do in "Reflections" published posthumously, in The New Yorker,   in explaining that created his powerfully evocative writings by "adhering to an exact historical perspective, in patiently engraving and linking together apparently disparate things in the manner of a still life.  I have kept asking myself what the invisible connections that determine our lives are, and how the threads run."

In several of the links, you'll find additional place to go to. Best, though, to at least start with BeginningsPlease get in touch. This web site will change, as I learn more, from you and from my continuing effort to understand my past.

Norman Metzger:

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