IN 1932, IRENE SCHEFFLER, a vivacious, beautiful, young photographer, moved from the provincial town where shed been raised to the city of Nuremberg. Her father wanted someone to keep an eye on her as she attempted to make her way in the world, and his old friend and business colleague, Leo Katzenberger, an urbane German Jew, agreed to help. He found her an apartment in a building he owned that adjoined the offices where he worked each day.
A friendship developed between Irene and the sixty-year-old Leo. Other tenants in the apartment house started to gossip there was talk of signals at the window and kissing in the stairwell. Soon the neighborhood teemed with rumors. Harmless gossip turned into a death sentence when Nazi judges condemned Katzenberger for racial offenses, and on June 3, 1942, Katzenberger was beheaded. Irene was convicted of perjury and sentenced to two years of labor. After the war, she testified against Oswald Rothaug, the judge who ordered Katzenbergers execution, at the Nuremberg Trials. (In the 1961 film Judgement at Nuremberg, Judy Garland played the part of Irene and Burt Lancaster the Nazi judge.)
The Maiden and the Jew chronicles how, bit by bit and sometimes chunk by chunk, a government, with the full cooperation of many of its citizens, stripped away the most basic rights of others, all in the name of patriotism.show more