Elmer, Peter, AHC 1789

Videos
https://vimeo.com/197892505
https://vimeo.com/197896756
Allgemeines
Schlagwörter ALT: 
United States Army
Columbia University
Southern Poverty Law Center
Madison / University of Wisconsin
Textilbranche ; Unternehmer
Textilbranche ; Verkauf
Österreich ; Antisemitismus; nach 1945
Österreich ; Besatzungszeit
USA ; Bürgerrechtsbewegung
Schlagworte: 
United States Army
Columbia University
Madison / University of Wisconsin
Textile industry; entrepreneur
Textile industry; Sales
Austria ; Anti-Semitism; after 1945
Austria ; Occupation
USA ; Civil Rights Movement
Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
Schlagwörter für Suche: 
United States Army Columbia University Madison / University of Wisconsin Textilbranche ; Unternehmer Textilbranche ; Verkauf Österreich ; Antisemitismus; nach 1945 Österreich ; Besatzungszeit USA ; Bürgerrechtsbewegung Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) US Army U.S. Army Österreich ; Antisemitismus; Zweite Republik Besetztes Nachkriegsösterreich Unites States of America ; Civil Rights Movement USA ; Civil Rights Movement
relevante Bundesländer: 
Wien
Wiener Bezirke : 
13. Bezirk
Person
Geburt: 
Geburtsort (Land, Stadt/Ort): 
Österreich
Wien
Geburtsadresse: 
Gloriettegasse 45, 1130
Geburtsdatum: 
1923
Geburtsjahr: 
1923
Geburtsorte: 
Geburtsland: 
Flucht-/Emigrationszeitpunkt: 
nach dem ‚Anschluss‘
Vorname: 
Peter
weitere Vornamen: 
Georg
Nachname: 
Elmer
Geburtsname: 
Epstein
allenamen: 
Peter Elmer Georg Epstein
allenamen anzeige: 
Peter Elmer alternative Schreibweisen: zweiter Vorname: Georg Weitere Nachnamen: Geburtsname: Epstein Jüdischer Name:
Geschlecht: 
männlich
Herkunft Mutter: 
Österreich-Ungarn
Herkunft Vater: 
Österreich-Ungarn
Biografie: 
Peter Elmer wurde 1923 als Peter Epstein in Wien geboren und wuchs im 13. Wiener Gemeindebezirk auf, wo er die Volksschule besuchte. Ende 1937 wurde er nach England in ein Internat geschickt und blieb dort bis zur Emigration seiner Familie Ende 1938. Diese flüchtete über die Schweiz und London in die USA, wo sie im Januar 1939 in New York ankam. Elmer besuchte hier eine Privatschule sowie kurzzeitig die University of Wisconsin, bevor er seinen Militärdienst bei der U.S. Army in Europa absolvierte. Später war er in der Textilbranche in New York City tätig, wo er auch heute noch lebt.
Interview
InterviewerIn: 
Sebastian Markt
Sitzungsanzahl: 
1
Art des Interviews: 
Audio
Dauer des Interviews: 
01:37:28
Sprache(n) des Interviews: 
Englisch
Datum des Interviews: 
2001
Transkribiert von: 
Adina Seeger
Ort des Interviews: 
Ort des Interviews (Land,Bundesstaat, Stadt/Ort): 
USANew YorkNew York City
Bestand: 
LBI New York
Bearbeitung des Interviews/Schnitt: 
Tom Juncker
Beruf
Beruf/Beschäftigung: 
Anmerkung Beruf: 
War in einer Textilfirma tätig, die er später leitete.
Beruf (Pflichtfeld): 
Berufsort (Land, Stadt/Ort): 
Berufsbereich (Pflichtfeld): 
Lebensstationen
Organisationen: 
Anmerkung: 
Diente in der 10th Mountain Division, mit der er nach eineinhalb Jahren Ausbildung in Camp Hale (Colorado) nach Italien kam. Nach Ende des Kriegs war er in Salzburg und Wien im medizinischen Bereich der US-Besatzung tätig.
Organisation: 
United States Army - USA
Organisation: 
Southern Poverty Law Center - USA
Ausbildung: 
Ausbildungstyp: 
Pflichtschule
Abschluss Ausbildung: 
abgeschlossen
Ausbildungsstätte: 
Elementary school Hietzinger Platz, 1130 - Österreich, -Wien
Ausbildungstyp: 
Pflichtschule
Anmerkung Ausbildungsstätte: 
War dort in einem Internat.
Ausbildungsstätte: 
Boarding school - Großbritannien, -Herne Bay
zur Zeit des ‚Anschlusses‘ besucht: 
ja
von: 
1937
bis: 
1938
Ausbildungstyp: 
höhere Schule
Abschluss Ausbildung: 
abgeschlossen
Anmerkung Ausbildungsstätte: 
Privatschule, die Elmer dreieinhalb Jahre lang besuchte.
Ausbildungsstätte: 
Walden School Central Park West at 88th Street - USA, -New York City
Ausbildungstyp: 
Hochschule
Anmerkung Ausbildungsstätte: 
War dort vor dem Einzug ins Militär für ein knappes Jahr und hat Maschinenbau studiert.
Ausbildungsstätte: 
University of Wisconsin - USA, -Madison
Ausbildungstyp: 
Hochschule
Abschluss Ausbildung: 
abgeschlossen
Anmerkung Ausbildungsstätte: 
Hat dort nach seiner Rückkehr in die USA mit einer GI bill Wirtschaft und "labour relations" studiert.
Ausbildungsstätte: 
Columbia University - USA, -New York City
relevante Lebensstationen: 
Art der Lebensstation: 
Ausbildungsort
Kindheitsort
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
Österreich
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
Wien
computed city: 
computed land: 
Österreich
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (14.550072 47.516231)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
Österreich
Art der Lebensstation: 
Ausbildungsort
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
Großbritannien
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
Herne Bay
computed city: 
computed land: 
England
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-1.1743197 52.3555177)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
England
Art der Lebensstation: 
Emigrationsort
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
USA
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
New York City
computed city: 
computed land: 
USA
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-95.712891 37.09024)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
USA
Art der Lebensstation: 
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
USA
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
La Jolla
computed city: 
computed land: 
USA
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-95.712891 37.09024)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
USA
Art der Lebensstation: 
Ausbildungsort
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
USA
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
New York City
computed city: 
computed land: 
USA
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-95.712891 37.09024)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
USA
Art der Lebensstation: 
Ausbildungsort
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
USA
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
Madison
computed city: 
computed land: 
USA
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-95.712891 37.09024)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
USA
Art der Lebensstation: 
Militärdienst
Wohnort
Bezeichnung der Lebensstation: 
Camp Hale
Anmerkung: 
Ausbildung in der 10th Mountain Division absolviert.
Land (Lebensstation): 
USA
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
Red Cliff (Colorado)
computed city: 
computed land: 
USA
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-95.712891 37.09024)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
USA
Art der Lebensstation: 
Militärdienst
Wohnort
Anmerkung: 
Militärdienst
Land (Lebensstation): 
Italien
computed city: 
computed land: 
Italien
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (12.56738 41.87194)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
Italien
Art der Lebensstation: 
Militärdienst
Wohnort
Anmerkung: 
Militärdienst
Land (Lebensstation): 
Österreich
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
Salzburg
computed city: 
computed land: 
Österreich
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (14.550072 47.516231)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
Österreich
Art der Lebensstation: 
Militärdienst
Wohnort
Anmerkung: 
Militärdienst
Land (Lebensstation): 
Österreich
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
Wien
computed city: 
computed land: 
Österreich
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (14.550072 47.516231)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
Österreich
Art der Lebensstation: 
Arbeitsort
Ausbildungsort
Wohnort
Land (Lebensstation): 
USA
Stadt/Ort (Lebensstation): 
New York City
computed city: 
computed land: 
USA
Geocoding Land Lebensstation: 
POINT (-95.712891 37.09024)
Emigrationsort (nur Länderbezeichnung): 
USA
Emigrationsroute
Flucht-/Emigrationsroute: 
Anmerkung: 
Ende des Jahres
Land: 
Großbritannien
Stadt/Ort: 
Herne Bay
Flucht/Emigrationsjahr: 
1937
Anmerkung: 
Dort die Familie getroffen.
ohne Zeitangabe: 
o. J.
Land: 
Schweiz
Stadt/Ort: 
Wolfgang (Davos)
Anmerkung: 
Von hier aus mit dem Schiff Richtung USA.
ohne Zeitangabe: 
o. J.
Land: 
Großbritannien
Stadt/Ort: 
London
Land: 
USA
Stadt/Ort: 
New York City
Flucht/Emigrationsjahr: 
1939
Flucht-/Emigrationsdatum: 
26. Jänner 1939
Transkripte
Transkript als PDF hochladen: 
Transkript Text: 

Teil 1

 

 

Spricht über
Zusammenfassung Spricht Über für Suche: 
In einem Internat in England
Flucht in die USA
Militärdienst in der US Army
Antisemitismus in Österreich nach 1945
Begegnung mit sowjetischen Soldaten im besetzten Österreich
Karrierebeginn in der Textilbranche
Identität
Aspekte der amerikanischen Zeitgeschichte
Persönliche Botschaft
Transkript spricht über: 
Transkript Textausschnitt

SM: Was that difficult for you to go to another country, leave your family and your friends?

 

PE: Yes, very much so. I…initially, before the Anschluss, I remember being very homesick and writing that I did not like it there. First of all, because [the] English, at that time particularly, were not that favorably inclined towards foreigners. And I was a foreigner, and my English was very poor, if any. And I was really an outcast in a way. I then tried to get together with a few other German or Austrian boys, but that did not make for any popularity with the rest of the English. The only time that it improved is when they found out, that I was a very good tennis player and a very good soccer player, and they could use me on one of their little teams. But I was also quite spoiled in my upbringing. My family was at that time very well-off, we had a very nice house with a big garden in Hietzing, I had sort of a nanny and so I remember when I was brought to England and there you had to get dressed in a school blazer and sometimes you had to wear a tie, I had no idea of putting on a tie. And I found that it was always very cold and the basins, which we had for washing, sometimes froze over and I would write home to them about it. And at that time they said it is good for you to learn all these things and they probably were, but it was…not necessarily a happy time for me.

 

 

1/00:16:05

 

 

SM: Did the fact that you are Jewish play any role at that point in England with the English kids or the Austrian or German kids?

 

PE: No. I do not think it was…as far as English were concerned, you were just a foreigner and they did not like that. I also remember the first day I was there, we were at an assembly and somebody spoke and I could not understand what the person was saying and so I looked up and around trying to figure out what was going on. Well, it turned out a little later that there was a chaplain who was saying their morning prayers. And five minutes later I had somebody put the hand on my shoulder. And it was somebody who was called a prefect, he was a student but in an upper echelon. And he said: “You are one of the new foreigners?” I said: “Yes.” And then he said: “Did you know what is going on here?” I said: “No, that is why I looked around.” He says: “Well, this is terrible because you must understand they were saying prayers.” I said: “I did not realize what is going on.” He said: “Well, you come to my office.” And I got caned the first time. Means you pull your pants down and you really got caned as a punishment for what I was doing. And because I never had a caning before, I could not sit down, it was very difficult to go to classes, because it was very painful, so I was the laughing stock of a lot of other kids who were either used to getting caned or whatever…you put a book down there instead. But I got used to it and I got used to a certain amount of discipline, but certainly I was not particularly happy during the first few months that I was there.

Vimeocode: 
238096708
Ausschnitt Startzeit: 
13m49s
Ausschnitt Stopzeit: 
18m08s
auf der Startseite: 
auf der Startseite einblenden
spricht - Über: 
In einem Internat in England
Transkript Textausschnitt

SM: And then you all together went to the United States?

 

PE: We went…I remember the day because it happened to be my mother’s birthday. It was in January, we arrived on January 26th, 1939. We had no idea where we would go to settle or anything of that kind. My mother, who, as I told you before, had been a potter and artist and in this very well-known Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna – see, I still remember a few German words – she had one time…this goes back into 1936, she met a lady from the United States, who, I believe, was also interested in pottery. And they took up quite a friendship while she stayed there and when the lady left she gave my mother a card and she said – at that time, nobody thought of coming to the States yet – and she said: “If you ever come to the States, you must call me up.” My mother had that card and when we got to New York in 1939, she said: “Well, we do not know, where we are going to settle, let’s call, we have no idea what…” We called this lady and the lady says: “You are not staying in New York, are you?” – “We have no idea, we have some friends who are here and some far away relatives, well we do not know.” My stepfather had been an accountant in Vienna, did not speak any English at all, so it was not likely that he would get a job that quickly. And she said: “You know what you must do? Do me a big favor: I have a house on the beach in La Jolla.” We did not know where La Jolla was. We said: “Where is La Jolla?” She said: “Well, it is on the beach in California. I have a beach house there and I live in Texas, I never use it in the summertime. And you could housesit for me and you would do me a big favor.” And my mother, I guess, had some more conversations, and then the lady said: “You probably do not have too much money; I can also tell you that there is now a train that goes…connected with the San Francisco fair which is very reasonable. You take it and as long as you stop at the fair you get a very reasonable rate and you get to see almost the whole country.”

 

So we fled…we went by train the southern route one way and after we finished in La Jolla back the other way. And we had a wonderful time in La Jolla, not very realistic, because none of us really knew what was going to happen. The only one that made any real attempts about trying to find…some way of making a living was my mother. As I said, she was an artist, and she started finding seaweed in the ocean. And she became fascinated with that and started collecting seaweed, bring them home and dry them in paper and found out that they keep their colors very beautifully. And she ended up…the seaweed stank, something awful, the whole house was full of a seaweed smell, but my mother was very determined and she ended up when we came back to New York to do a business…when she made…applied the seaweeds to lampshades. And these lampshades became quite a good business. So that at one time, a year or two later, Mrs. [Eleanor] Roosevelt came in and bought one of the lampshades for the White House. And it was at the White House for quite a long time. And my mother managed to employ three or four other refugees to help in making the lampshades. I, in the meantime – my mother got a scholarship into a private school – and I had a very difficult adjustment: When I was in England, the school was very strict, very conventional; you stood up when you were asked any questions, everybody was only…by their last names, you were caned if you did not do your homework properly. When I went to school for the first time here in New York, this was a very progressive school where it was the extreme difference: Your teacher called you by your first name, the teacher was like a buddy to you and it was very loose and very free and it took me a while to adjust to this new freedom because I am not being used to it.

Vimeocode: 
238097642
Ausschnitt Startzeit: 
25m29s
Ausschnitt Stopzeit: 
31m02s
auf der Startseite: 
auf der Startseite einblenden
spricht - Über: 
Flucht in die USA
Transkript Textausschnitt

PE: […] My grandfather, as I mentioned earlier, has been really the one that had the greatest influence in my life…and he decided when I did not know what I wanted to do, that I should study to become an engineer. I had no qualifications for being an engineer at all. I remember having to take mechanical drawing, that was one of the requirements that you had and I failed it twice. And it was terrible, I could never…before the year was up, I was drafted into the American army. And…I spent four, five months in what is normally basic training and then I volunteered for the ski mountain troops, which was an organization that was just being formed with a lot of…particularly Austrian, German, Swiss, Norwegian skiers because one of the requirements was that you had to be a very good skier to get in there or if you are not a very good skier, you had to be a very good mountain climber and they would then teach you how to ski. So I spent a year and a half in a place called Camp Hale in Colorado, high up at ten thousand feet where we were trained to fight a war, trained to fight on skies, if it should become necessary, learn how to mountain climb. And the idea was to be prepared particularly in case the outfit was going to have to fight against Austrian or German mountain troops who were well trained. We did not have any ski or mountain troops in the United States. And the 10th Mountain Division was the only outfit and we were all volunteers, not volunteers for the army, but volunteers to go into that outfit.

 

At the end of our training we were sent to Italy to fight against particularly German or Austrian mountain troops in an area, which was really called a mountain range, which was called the Apennines, which a lot of American forces had tried to cross, and the Germans and Austrians held it with tremendous casualties for American troops. And we came in as sort of the elite who was supposed to be able to do something and we did. After a long time we were able to climb a 3.000 foot cliff where the Germans and Austrians had huge fortifications into the valley, but had no fortifications in their cliff because nobody could climb it. And we managed to bring up over a 1.000 men in the middle of the night – and I was part of that – to…after basic preparations…and we completely surprised the German…and Austrians to the point that we found some of them sleeping. And this was the beginning of the end of that particular…the Germans ended up after a long fight to have to retreat and there was their biggest line of defence. It was pretty bloody, we went out with about 16.000 men, we lost about…about 3.000 men were killed, not just in that one action but also during the combat in Po valley and so on. And about…I would say we had 4.000 or 5.000 wounded, so there were a lot of outfits. I still go once in a while to one of these reunions. It is now 50 years ago or something. I am not actively involved in the Army at this point.

Vimeocode: 
238098517
Ausschnitt Startzeit: 
32m23s
Ausschnitt Stopzeit: 
37m18s
auf der Startseite: 
auf der Startseite einblenden
spricht - Über: 
Militärdienst in der US Army
Transkript Textausschnitt

SM: Was it…did you consider moving back to Vienna after the war?

 

PE: No. I…my feelings were not very positive towards Austria in general. I felt…I know there are always exceptions; there are good people everywhere. That I get, but I felt there was such anti-Semitism that continued after the war and I believe it is still there. And I remember – which was just a small incidence – at one time my uncle, the one that had been in Dachau, got out…we were on vacation together in Switzerland and we found […]. So we were standing in line at a…is it a funicular? Drahtseilbahn, is that correct? And with a lot of Germans and Austrians and my uncle looks very Jewish, was very bald already. And he was standing right in front of us and a very blonde, German or Austrian woman came by and knocked him down. Not just pushed him around, looked at him and said to him in German…something to the effect, “I do not know how they missed gassing you”, which was not very pleasant to speak of, particularly. I mean it was…and I only took…after the war I only came back there once because my wife wanted to show our children where we came from, she also was born in Vienna, born in the same hospital I was born in.

Vimeocode: 
238098935
Ausschnitt Startzeit: 
54m06s
Ausschnitt Stopzeit: 
56m29s
auf der Startseite: 
auf der Startseite einblenden
spricht - Über: 
Antisemitismus in Österreich nach 1945
Transkript Textausschnitt

PE: [...] But in…I really had a particular interesting experience in Vienna when I was there during the army days. I give you, if it is not too long, a little example of something that is really amusing in a way: We had four power conferences there, as you know, Russian, German [meint: Amerikaner, Anm. d. Red.], French and English and we would meet once a month to have conferences and the medical team would meet once a month. And, at one time, a Russian colonel came to our office – by that time I recognized already – and we did not have that much contact with them. And as to speak to my Colonel Miles, he spoke to me. And I introduced myself and he says: “Look, I am sorry” – [he] spoke fluent English, perfect English. I said: “Colonel Miles is not available, would you like to tell me what the subject matter is?” – “No, I would care not to tell you that. I only want to speak to Colonel Miles.” – “So I will see if I can make an appointment. Call us back tomorrow morning.” I gave him my card, he called back, I said: “Colonel Miles will see you tomorrow afternoon – under the condition that Mister Elmer was going to be there” – I was Sergeant Elmer – “will be with you at the same time”. Reluctantly he said yes. The reason for all this was: this was the time, 1945, when the American army got penicillin for the first time, which was not available to anybody else. It was basically only supplies enough for GIs who had a problem. So, this colonel came and he had a problem: he had contact with an ill disease and he pleaded…we started talking to him a lot of times, he…we learned a lot about his background: he was an engineer who lived near St. Petersburg. And I got to know him fairly well. And when the colonel decided to make an exception and give him the penicillin, the Russian colonel gave him a card and said: “If you ever have any kind of problem in any way with Russians, call us.” And we ignored that. A week later, I was bringing home a civilian, there was…at that time curfew, you had to be…the civilians in Vienna had to be out of the street at ten o’clock at night. So I had an open jeep and I drove that girl home. And as I was driving in the middle of one of the few places where they had traffic lights, Ringstraße, they…I had a whole bunch of Russians, GIs, jumping onto the open jeep. Not meaning to hurt anybody, but they had their guns and they were firing up in the air, just very happy, obviously drunk. And I could tell that this was not a good time for the girl to be there. I told her to get out, she better…it is better. So I started driving and they started screaming at me: “Kvartirakvartira!” They lived in a district, which was across the Danube, and I knew exactly where. And as we were driving they started offering me big cans, like gasoline cans, said: “Vodka, Vodka!” And I…you had to…so I started drinking it and it burned my…I do not know, if it was gasoline or it was…it burned me so much that on the next curve I spit it out and they would not have known it. Anyhow, we got to the station where they had guards and we had to stop and they were arguing with their guards, they would like to be driven with the jeep. While they were arguing, I decided: I am not going to wait for them. I jumped into the jeep and took off. I do not know, who fired at me, but they fired onto the wheels of the jeep and the jeep crashed into an apartment house, completely demolished. I was in shock, but nothing really happened to me.

 

 

1/01:01:02

 

 

Next morning I went over to the Colonel and I said: “I am here without a jeep.” He said: “What happened?” I described it to him, I said: “Let us see what happens.” Called up this colonel, got back to him in about ten minutes, explained that we had an almost new jeep and what did happen. He says: “It may take a couple of days, I will get back to you.” Within two days we had a new American jeep, delivered to us by the Russians. So you see, all kinds of things can happen. And I tried to keep in contact with him but he would talk about everything, about his family, but he would not talk politics or communism or anything like that. He absolutely would not talk about that. So that was…a bit limited as to what we could talk about.

Vimeocode: 
238099877
Ausschnitt Startzeit: 
56m29s
Ausschnitt Stopzeit: 
61m54s
auf der Startseite: 
auf der Startseite einblenden
spricht - Über: 
Begegnung mit sowjetischen Soldaten im besetzten Österreich
Transkript Textausschnitt

SM: What did you study?

 

PE: I studied economics. Economics and I also studied labour relations. So at that time word came around among far away relatives and friends that I was looking for a job and somebody who by the way I am going to see – she is going to celebrate her 90th birthday this coming Sunday and I am invited to a cruise around Manhattan, which is going to be for her – she was also from Vienna, she left about the same time we did. And they had a very small business in selling sweaters. I had no experience in that at all, I had no experience in selling. She offered me a job, very little money, but I did have a job and the theory was she would take me around to different mills in Brooklyn and New Jersey to try to teach you how to make a product, how to make a sweater. And I learned – though I do not think I learned it that well…it is nothing which I really loved doing. And after a while I told her that…I appreciated she gave me a start but I would really like to be involved in sales. So she said: “Good, you know, you sit around here and you listen to what we try to do.” And I did and I decided I did not like the way they were selling. But that is alright, I did not know any better.

 

 

2/00:06:20

 

 

So at that time I decided I have to go out on my own and they said: “Listen, any business”…I told them I was making so little money, I said: “If I start bringing business in, any business I bring in I want commission on that.” I wanted to be a regular salesman. And I did…so they said: “Where do you going to go? Do you have any leads? Can we help you in any way?” – “No”, I said, “I know, where I am going.” So they said: “Where are you going? You said, you are going to Macy’s?“ I said: “Yes, I am going to Macy’s.” He says: “Well, do you know anybody at Macy’s?“ – “No, I do not.” He says: “We do not really know whether Macy’s is a good idea.” I said: “Look!” – I mean I just had five or six sweaters, seven sweaters and I was very lucky. I found out where the buyer was for this particular group and I managed to go when there was an appointment time, not for me but for other people. When it came my turn, I remember this was like today, her name was Miss Blank and she…I said to her: “I am new in this business and I have a lot to learn, but, here, some of the sweaters.” And she liked my approach, she liked the idea and that I did not know everything. And for some reasons she took a liking to me. And so she said to me: “This particular sweater is not bad, but this is what you have to do, these are changes you have to make, if you make them and you come up with a reasonable price I will buy some.” So she made a lot of…changes and I was very appreciated. And she said: “When you are ready with those changes, you call me and I make an appointment to see you.”

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238100523
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Karrierebeginn in der Textilbranche
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SM: When did you start feeling an American? How did that develop?

 

PE: I really think I started feeling an American when I was…long before…when I went to high school. First of all I was…because this was such a free, progressive school, I was very much accepted in every way. And it was a school that was not only multi-ethnic – Jewish, not-Jewish, also we had two or three Afro-Americans in our class. So it was very much of a new experience for me. But really on the whole a good experience. And I felt very much American at that time even though I was not an American citizen yet. Very much so, it did not take that long.

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238100724
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Identität
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SM: How did you feel about issues in American history like the McCarthy-era or the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights Movement?

 

PE: I was terribly upset during the McCarthy-era, very upset. And it was…one of the worst times. But after the McCarthy-era I would say I had a lot of ambivalent feelings about the Vietnam War. I do not think – if I had been young enough which is was not, so I was not drafted – that I would have volunteered to go in the army to fight in Vietnam, whereas I certainly felt very strong and very comfortable in fighting against Nazism. It was quite different.

 

SM: The…Civil Rights Movement and the race riots?

 

PE: Civil Rights…I was very actively involved, for that matter. I am still quite active in a couple of organizations like the Southern Poverty Organization, the one that fights the Klan and is also…exposes a lot of anti-Semitism. And I have contributed whatever I could in financial support in trying to…I have gone to lectures when they had…Southern Poverty’s come here to the YMHA [Young Men's Hebrew Association] which they…just did not so long ago. Unfortunately he is a man who has always…has to be on guard because there is so much hatred going around. We had to go…we had to be searched before we could go into that lecture. They had one of these…whatever they are called. But I have always been very supportive of the Civil Rights Movement, for that matter also in my school days.

 

SM: How was the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima discussed in the army?

 

PE: I was…let me see, I am just trying to think…I was already either in Salzburg or Vienna at that time, at the end of the war, I mean, when the war in Europe was over already and the war…my outfit was scheduled to go to Japan and before…I got sick and that was just when the war ended and I was also part of the intelligence service so they started teaching us Japanese, which was a very difficult language and I am not good at languages anyhow, but it was…I had very ambivalent emotions because obviously it ended the war a lot earlier but I think the opening…the whole atomic bomb is a terrible thing though. Probably – we will never know – there is some research that shows that…if we had not developed it, it could very well be that the Germans would have. They were also trying to develop; they were just not as far as the fastest were. But it is still…you know it has to hang over us at all times because it is…like mass destruction on a world wide scale. And I do not know how this will ever end. It is not a happy situation.

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238101563
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Aspekte der amerikanischen Zeitgeschichte
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SM: Is there any kind of message that you would like to leave for young Austrians?

 

PE: Well, the only thing I can say is…I think…I have met quite a few young Austrians in the last few years because I have also met people who were involved in Servas which is an organization that – I do not know whether you are familiar with the name, Servas – they bring a lot of young people, also for a year or so, over here and they stay with different people. You know I do not think the young Austrians, as such, have any deep-seated anti-Semitism but I am sure in some cases it is things which they absorb from their parents who may very well still have very…parents or grandparents still have a great deal of anti-Semitic feelings. I do not want to…I do not want to do a wholesale condemnation of all of Austria because that is really not the point. I hope that they live in peace and they will be part of the European Union and I am certainly not begrudging them if they do well economically. I think it is very healthy for any young Austrians who get a chance to leave the country – I do not mean permanently – but to leave the country and get exposure to something like an American system or to some other country and get to learn about different cultures. And I think that can only help them to be a better person by themselves.

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238101998
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Persönliche Botschaft
weitere Materialen
Materialien: 
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Kurzbeschreibung: 
Elmer mit seiner Mutter Anna, Wien 1926.
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Kurzbeschreibung: 
Elmer mit seiner Schwester Trudy, Wien 1930.
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Kurzbeschreibung: 
Elmer, New York 1942.
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Kurzbeschreibung: 
Elmer als Soldat der U.S. Army, New York 1945.
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Kurzbeschreibung: 
Elmer und seine Frau, New York ca. 2007.
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Bezugsperson: 
Jeremias, Trudy, AHC 86
Konnexbeschreibung: 
Trudy Jeremias (Schwester)
Pädagogik Anmerkungen: 
Evtl. interessante Themen für die Pädagogik: Flucht Elmers (da er schon 1937 aus Österreich wegging); sein Militärdienst, unter anderem auch in Österreich zur Besatzungszeit
Empfehlung für Pädagogik: 
ja
Glossarvorschläge: 
Camp Hale, 10th Mountain Division, Office of Strategic Services