Critical Thinking/Discussion Questions - Ernest Freudenthal

1. Ernest discusses the limited economic and academic opportunities available in Germany at the time. Removing wealth from the Reich was forbidden. Use the link below to research the restrictions on money and possessions. Did different countries have different restrictions?  Did the countries specify the restrictions in regard to particular emigrants?  Prepare a poster that might have hung at an emigration site that outlined the specific restrictions.

(n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2017, from​

2. Ernest talks about the cultural changes that took place and how legalizing antisemitism gradually became the “new normal” and was accepted by many. Discuss the role mass media and propaganda plays in shaping society. Give justification for your opinions.


3. “The Righteous Among the Nations” is a term that applied to non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews. Name some specific acts that qualifies someone as “righteous.” Did someone’s motivation impact their selection by the committee? Prepare a table/chart/bar graph that shows the countries of origin for the honorees. Select one person from the list at the link below, and give a biographical sketch of that person.

(n.d.). Retrieved April 29, 2017, from


4. In the following excerpt from Ernest’s transcript he explains, Heil Hitler translates into “Hail, Hitler” imitative of a greeting used by Roman citizens, “Hail, Caesar.” Shalom translates into “Peace.”  Do you agree or disagree with Ernest’s opinion that neither should be used as a standard greeting? Read his full explanation on his transcript below and provide justification for your argument.

Read the following excerpt from Ernest’s transcript:

Ernest G. Freudenthal: …For instance, one no longer said “good morning” or “good evening.”  One said, “Heil Hitler.”  And of course, that’s very difficult for a Jewish person to say, “Heil Hitler.”  And I remember that this was in the early days when the Jewish professors were still teaching.  And this Jewish professor, he’d have to get up and stand like this and say Heil Hitler and say, he would always say, Heil Hitler. And I mean there were just a lot of little things about that sort of thing.  Letters were no longer signed with a phrase “hochachtungvoll,” which just roughly means “very sincerely yours” or “yours very truly,” but they were signed “Mitdeutschemgruß, Heil Hitler,” which was “German greetings, Heil Hitler.”  I mean all language was changed, the whole culture.

Interviewer: So, they infiltrated--

Ernest G. Freudenthal: To this day, at the JCC, they answer the telephone, “Shalom.”  I don’t like that.  It’s just like saying, “Heil Hitler.”  I think they ought to use everyday language and—

Interviewer: So, it’s the same instinctive kind of greeting?

Ernest G. Freudenthal: That’s right. It’s sort of a brainwashing…