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Ettlinger was born in Karlsruhe in the Southwest corner of Germany in 1926. He was born into an affluent family who had history in Germany for over 500 years. He is the oldest of three boys; his two parents were Max Ettlinger and Susan Oppenheimer. He entered school in September 1931. There were big changes; on 30 January 1933, Adolf Hitler took over power in Germany and everyone who was not a pure German started to be persecuted for not being of Aryan race. It was easy for Hitler to blame a group of people who had little power since the Jews represented less than 1% of the German population. The Jews were always second class citizens even though his family owned an elegant women's fashion business on the main street of Karlsruhe. The shop was boycotted and closed in 1935. His family's stay in Germany was going to end. The most prevalent issue that affects everyone is jobs and income, and this was the reason they started to look into immigration to the United States. It was not that they wanted out; it was that no one wanted them in. There were depressions and countries did not want foreigners to take their jobs, and there was anti-Semitism.April 1938, they went again to an American consultant in the southern city of Stuttgart to look into immigration papers. They received a letter saying their application to immigrate had been accepted. They got the necessary tie in to a far distant relative who provided the written proof [Annotators Note: affidavit] that they would not go on welfare. If a Jewish family was able to get one member out, it was always a child. What great courage a mother had to allow her children to go away to another country when they could not follow them. Ettlinger has a number of relatives and friends who came over before their parents, or their parents never came.By July of 1938, they got their application approved and made plans to immigrate to the United States. At that time, they could come with household goods. [Annotators Note: Ettlinger points out cups in his home that were brought over from Germany]. Big furniture and money were not allowed to be brought over. Then Hitler annexed Austria [Annotators Note: Anschluss was in March 1938]. Ettlinger says there are countries today who try to act superior to others.
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