It All Began in Nuremberg is a translation of Rita Thalmann’s moving memoir, Tout Commença à Nuremberg, originally published in France in 2004. Thalmann’s memoir represents one of the last voices to witness personally the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust. The author, a scholar of significance in France, died on August 18, 2013.
Rita Thalmann was born in Nuremberg in 1926 and lived there until 1933, when anti-Semitic events made life intolerable. Her father abandoned his successful business and moved the family to Switzerland, where they were unwelcome, and then to France. After settling in Dijon, Rita attended public school until Jews were no longer allowed to pursue an education. At age fourteen, she took private lessons in English at the home of her teacher, Henriette Connes, who saved Rita from deportation and death by providing her with false identification papers and passing her to the Free Zone with a group of students going on a field trip. Although Rita and her brother managed to escape to Switzerland during the war, most of her family died in the Holocaust.
After the war, Rita Thalmann was determined to continue her education and participate in the struggle against anti-Semitism and discrimination of all types. She achieved the highest level of university teaching in France while publishing seven books. This memoir relates her personal experience of the historical events she spent most of her adult life researching.