Based on Siegfried Kra’s own childhood, Twilight in Danzig is an important addition to pre-Holocaust literature and a unique chronicle of European Jewish culture that reads like a thriller. Young Jonas Kruger’s parents. are scions of Danzig society, his father a coal merchant, his mother a lovely socialite. But the rise of Hitler in 1933 forces them to examine their identity and make difficult moral choices: Jonas’ governess secretly enrolls him in the Nazi Youth; Mr. Kruger buys open tickets on the Queen Mary, but keeps his family in Danzig, hoping the madness will blow over. But soon the anti-Jewish laws will reach Danzig and the Krugers will face the most difficult decision of their lives: whether to try to reform and resist from within, or to flee penniless to a country that doesn’t want them, leaving their larger family to an unspeakable fate.
Article on Kra describing as a boy being most certainly patted on the head by Hitler, and the shame of Hitler youth, as his charge took him, under the guise of being boy scouts, being beaten up by brownshirts, and the fear of them and the gestapo they fled from.
From a reading of Twilight in Danzig at the Woodbridge Town Library, CT:
Connecticut Medicine Magazine Review
Links to (print) Twilight in Danzig, Dancer in the Garden and Nine Lives
SIEGFRIED KRA emigrated, with his family, from Danzig, Germany to New York in 1939. He attended CCNY, then went to medical school in France and Switzerland before completing his training at Yale. In his practice as a cardiologist, he has treated tens of thousands of patients. Kra has published over a dozen books, both fiction and non-fiction. In addition to medicine and writing, his passions include opera, growing orchids, and tennis, which he still plays weekly at age eighty-six. He also still teaches as an Associate Professor of Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine and Quininipac University Netter School of Medicine. Kra has been an advocate for people, without prejudice for religion, gender, age, race, religion or politics for his entire medical life. He has been interviewed by CNN, ABC & CBS. For eights years, Kra was on NPR every Thursday from 1982 to 1994, He was on The Regis Show, Religious shows like Club 500, The Smithsonian in Washington and more, as well as a guest speaker at libraries in NY.
Dancer in the Garden, Second Edition of The Collected Stories from a Doctor’s Notebook, June 15, 2020
The First Edition of Twilight in Danzig, was non-fiction and titled Twilight in Danzig: A Privileged Jewish Childhood During the Third Reich, Canal House, 2015
- The Collected Stories from a Doctor’s Notebook, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2014
- How to Keep Your Husband Alive: An Empowerment Tool for Women Who Care About Their Man’s Health, Lebhar-Friedman, 2001
- Physical Diagnosis: A Concise Textbook, Elsevier Science Ltd, 1987
- What Every Woman Must Know About Heart Disease: A No-nonsense Approach to Diagnosing, Treating, and Preventing the #1 Killer of Women, Grand Central Publishing, 1997
- Coronary Bypass Surgery: Who Needs It, W W Norton & Co Inc, 1987
- Aging Myths: Reversible Causes of Mind and Memory Loss, McGraw-Hill, 1986
- The Good Heart Diet Cook Book, Ellen Stern, Jonathan Michaels & Siegfried J. Kra, Ticknor and Fields, 1982
- Examine Your Doctor: A patient’s guide to avoiding medical mishaps, Houghton Mifflin Co International Inc., 1984
- Is Surgery Necessary? Macmillan, 1981
- The Three-Legged Stallion: And Other Tales, W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1980
- Basic Correlative Echocardiography Technique and Interpretation, Medical Examination Publishing Company; 2nd edition, 1977
Book and cover design by Lauren Grosskopf
Reviews for Twilight in Danzig –
“[From]…a life of remarkable privilege, [to] barely escaping from the Gestapo as the Nazis invade Danzig in 1939…His German governess entered him in the Hitler youth and by an accidental act of fate, he met Hitler personally, who, thinking him a good Aryan, patted him on the head. A photo of the meeting was printed in the local paper, [unfortunately] giving Siegfried and his family status with the Nazis but not with the Jewish community….The clouds of anti-Semitism were rapidly dimming the lives of the Kra family. The prelude to the Holocaust had begun. It is difficult for us today to understand the horrible events leading to the Holocaust, and the Holocaust itself. That is why narratives like Twilight in Danzig are so important, providing personal insight into these devastating and tragic events.” –Editor Emeritus Michael M. Deren, MD
RICK ZITTER – May 25, 2018
Kra’s extraordinary book Twilight in Danzig, is a stunning portrait of a city under siege at the birth of the Nazi regime in 1932 and 1933. I enjoyed it so much….I was struck by many patterns that emerged–and often we forget that day to day life for Jews in Germany became worse as the years went on; indeed, if Jews had not emigrated by 1934, they were stuck and sent off to concentration camps. – Rick Zitter
Rated 5 out of 5
GARY A. WILSON – May 25, 2018
“Twilight in Danzig is based on a true story, told through the childlike, naive, but mature eyes of a young boy whose family, because of their wealth and friendship with the nobility of Danzig, is buffered against the rising power of Hitler. I was immediately drawn into this fascinating story. You want to shout out to his proud and misled father ‘Leave Danzig now while your son and wife are still alive.’ Jonas is horribly tricked by his governess to join the youth supporters of Hitler because it is much more fun than the Jewish youth group his parents think he is still attending. He discovers, with shame, just how wrong he is. He severs his ties to Hitler and his governess, but because of his age, cannot do much to correct his wrongful involvement.
The story of this family is unique due to the great wealth they had and lost. It adds another dimension to the personal hardships and loss suffered by many at the hands of the Third Reich. No Jew was safe during this period. They finally attempt to leave Danzig and their privileged life. It is a very personal story and one that recounts the hopelessness of coping in a world controlled by a treacherous leader. I highly recommend this book. If you don’t read it you are missing a treasure.” – Gary A. Wilson, Ph.D.
IRWIN M. BRAVERMAN MD, YALE MEDICAL SCHOOL – March 26, 2019:
On behalf of the group I want to thank you for presenting your remarkable life story today. Everyone was fascinated and it generated a lively discussion which is what we hope each presentation will do.
EDITOR EMERITUS MICHAEL M. DEREN, MD, CONNECTICUT MEDICINE MAGAZINE – May 16, 2019:
Siegfried Kra is an accomplished author who has written over a dozen books, mostly on medical topics. A cardiologist in the New Haven area, he has written an engrossing autobiographical sketch, Twilight in Danzig, about his early childhood in 1932, starting as a life of remarkable privilege, and then barely escaping from the Gestapo as the Nazis invade Danzig in 1939.
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939. It rested on the Baltic Sea, between Germany and Poland, and consisted of the city itself and nearly 200 towns and villages in the surrounding area. Created in 1919 under the Treaty of Versailles, it consisted mainly of German and Polish citizens, with a minority of Jewish residents. Today it is known as Gdansk and is part of Poland.
Dr. Kra’s father owned a very prosperous coal business, which enabled the family to mingle with German aristocracy and the wealthiest of Danzig society. Siegfried knew only the very best of what life had to offer.
His German governess entered him in the Hitler youth and by an accidental act of fate, he met Hitler personally, who, thinking him a good Aryan, patted him on the head. A photo of the meeting was printed in the local paper, giving Siegfried and his family status with the Nazis but not with the Jewish community.
The life in high society was not to last. The clouds of anti-Semitism were rapidly dimming the lives of the Kra family. The prelude to the Holocaust had begun. It is difficult for us today to understand the horrible events leading to the Holocaust, and the Holocaust itself. That is why narratives like Twilight in Danzig are so important, providing personal insight into these devastating and tragic events.