Alisa Tennenbaum

Alisa Tennenbaum was born Liselotte Scherzer in Vienna in 1929 and grew up in Vienna’s 20th district. Following the “Anschluss” in 1938 she had to leave school and her father was arrested and imprisoned in Dachau Concentration Camp. After his release, he was able to flee to Great Britain and Tennenbaum followed him on a Kindertransport in August 1939. She lived in a children’s hostel in Windermere before joining her father in Glasgow in 1945. Her mother stayed in Vienna and survived several camps. In 1949 the family emigrated to Israel. At the time of her interview, Tennenbaum lived in Beit Herut. 

Full interview

Part 1
Interview form:
Interview location:
Beit Herut, Israel
Interview language:
Arije de Haas
Interview duration:
LBI Jerusalem
Number of meetings:
Date of interview:
December 11, 2019
Alisa Tennenbaum
Birth name:
Liselotte Scherzer
Date of birth:
Place of birth:
Vienna, Austria
Route of escape
1939 Vienna, German Reich
1939 German Reich
1939 Hoek van Holland, The Netherlands
1939 London, Great Britain
1939 Newcastle, Great Britain
1939 Tynemouth, Great Britain
1940 Windermere, Great Britain
1945 Glasgow, Scotland
1949 Haifa, Israel
1949 Beit Yanai, Israel
Stages of life
Here is a chronological list of the places that feature in the life story of the interviewed person.
Vienna, Austria
Windermere, Great Britain
Glasgow, Scotland
Beit Yanai, Israel
Beit Herut, Israel
1945 to 1949
Habonim - Great Britain
to 1938
Compulsory schooling
Elementary school,
Vienna, Austria
1938 to 1939
Compulsory schooling
Jewish elementary school,
Vienna, Austria
from 1940
High school
Windermere, Great Britain

in chronological order

Beit Yanai
Beit Yanai
“Talks about” are particularly interesting sections of the interviews curated by the editors of Austrian Heritage Archive.
Memories of the “Anschluss” and being thrown out of school
Augarten park “Jews and dogs forbidden”
Memories of the November Pogrom (“Kristallnacht”)
Return of her father from Dachau Concentration Camp
With the Kindertransport to Great Britain
Being informed her mother had survived
New beginning and life in Israel

Teil 1

AH: So, we are here with Alisa Tennenbaum.

AT: My name is Alisa Tennenbaum. I was born in Vienna, and my name was Liselotte Scherzer, but I was never called Liselotte – only Lisl. But on my papers, it is Liselotte. I was the youngest of two sisters. My sister, Melitta, was seven years old when I was born. My father was born in Austria, the only son, my mother was born in Poland, and she had two sisters. In the First World War, 1914 to [19]17 [meint: 1918], my grandmother was already a widow, so she took the girls and they moved to Vienna. That is how my parents met. After my parents married, my grandmother and the girls went back to Poland, to their home. But we met them often in the summer holidays…or for the Jewish holidays, we used to go to Poland. So I knew my aunts and I knew my grandmother. Do I continue?

The word anti-Semitism, I did not hear as a child. But that people did not like Jews, I think, I got with my mother’s milk. We lived on the second floor of a four-story house. On the fourth floor, an elderly woman – not Jewish, with a little dog – lived, and my parents used to say, “Girls, when you meet the woman from the fourth floor with the dog, do not pet the dog, do not go near the woman! She does not like Jews, keep away from her!” And this was always repeated whenever we left the house. We were a Zionist and traditional family. We kept a kosher kitchen, my mother lit the candles on Friday evening. My mother was a member of WIZO, Women’s International Zionist Organization, and we had a JNF [Jewish National Fund] box at home. My mother used to go, once in two or three weeks, and say, “I am collecting money for Palestine.” We always knew that Palestine was the country for the Jewish people. When sister got to the age to join a youth club, she also joined a Zionist youth club. They had a meeting place.

11th to 12th March, 1938, at night, noise on the street, people running, people shouting, we hear things breaking, people crying…my sister and I ran to the window to see what is happening. My parents say, “Girls, go away from the window! We are Jews, this is not for us!” [Hustet.] And they closed…they put out all the lights. Only in one room, there was a light. 12th March, [19]38, we went down to the street to go to school – I was in the 3rd grade. The street was completely different: Every window, every door had the flag of Austria, but it was not exactly the flag of Austria. The flag of Austria was red, white empty, and red. And here, in the middle of white, was a cross, but not the cross that we knew from the roof of the church at the corner of the street. And every man who went on the street, had on his right arm the same sign. We started asking, “What sort of cross is this?” – “Ah, that is the swastika! That is the cross of the Nazis. Tonight, the Nazis moved into Austria.” Now, Austria said all these years that they were culprits…not culprits. They got the flags, the hung the flags up, the men, if they were not members of the Nazi party, they could not have had the sign on their arm. We went to the ordinary school, not to a Jewish school, and about two or three weeks after the Nazis moved into Austria, into Vienna, two boys in uniform of the Hitler Youth came into the school, spoke something to the teacher, and she got up and shouted: „Alle jüdischen Kinder, aufstehen!“ All Jewish children have to get up. We were six or seven children in school. The girls I knew, because we played together. I looked at the boy and said, “He is Jewish? I did not know he was Jewish.” And she looks at me and says, “Why are you standing?” I said, “I am Jewish!” – “You, Jewish? Raus! Out, all of you! And never come back again!” We sat at home…my sister came home from school, and we sat at home a week, two weeks, the mother started running around to see what can be done…we should go back to school. The Nazis also threw out all the Jewish teachers of the ordinary schools. They had to find a job. Not far from us, a bit further than the original school, there was a Jewish elementary school, and they made arrangements for more classes and more teachers. And after some time, we got notice that I can go there to school.




10th November, the night of 9th to 10th November, [19]38…in March, Hitler moved in. In November, 9th to 10th November, at night, we were in the Jewish school, the headmistress came into each class and said, “Children, we have to close the school. The Germans are burning all the synagogues. The town is burning! If there is a possibility that we will open up again…we will let your families know. Go home now, do not go to anybody of your family and friends, your parents will be worried.” We got out on the street, all the Jewish shop windows were broken into, people were walking on the street, helping themselves to whatever was in the shop windows. People were running, people were crying, Jews were running…I came home, my sister came home from school.

In Austria, there was a law, that on the 10th of each month, people that had a store, had to pay the income tax. My parents had a food wholesale store, my mother worked with my father. So my father went in the morning to pay the income tax, and my mother went to open the store. She saw what was happening on the street, the synagogues were burning…she closed and came home. We sat at home, my mother, my sister, and I…twelve o’clock, one o’clock, two o’clock, three o’clock, noise on the street, people crying, people running, my dad does not come home. November, it is dark early, five o’clock, six o’clock, there was a slight knock…we were sitting with one light on in one room…slight knock on the door. My mother opened the lookout on the door. On the steps there was light, there was a woman standing outside. My mother opened the door and she said, “I am not one of you, but I am with you. Not Jewish, but pro-Jewish.” She said, “I was at the income tax office today, and two Nazis were standing at door. And with each person that approached, they said, ‘Are you Jewish?’ The man in front of me said, ‘Yes, I am Jewish.’ They said, ‘Jew, go and pay what you owe, and then you are arrested by us!’ I walked over to him.” And she put her hand in her pocket, took out a piece of paper, and we saw my dad’s handwriting. She said, “I whispered to him, ‘Write down your name and address and the family, and I will go and tell them that you have been arrested.’ Excuse me that I come so late, but I waited for complete darkness, so the Nazis should not follow me – because it is a bit of a way from my place to yours – and ask me, ‘Where are you going?’, and find an address of Jewish people in my pocket. They would have arrested me, and would have arrested you.” We thanked her very much. My mother went to get her bag, to pay her something. – “No, I did not come to get anything. And it is healthier that I should not tell you my name.” We always talked about her…okay, put it over there…we always talked about her like the angel. We did not know her name. All the years, when we talked about that, and also when I tell it, I say it was an angel who came to tell us. We were sorry all these years that we did not know who she was, that we could not thank her. So we sat at home, noise on the street…now we knew that my father was arrested. About two weeks afterwards, we got a printed postcard, only, “My dears”, and, “Love, daddy”, in handwriting, and the stamp was from Dachau. My father was sent to Dachau, to the work camp, concentration camp.




Only, “My dear ones”, and, “Love, daddy”, was in handwriting, and he printed that he was in a camp and working. About every two weeks, the same postcard arrived. We were at home, no school yet. My sister continued to go to the Zionist meetings, but not in the club. The Nazis should not know they were meeting…and always in the children’s homes. One evening she comes home, and she says, “Mommy, I want to go to Palestine.” So my mother says, “How can you say now you want to go to Palestine? I am running around to see what I can do to release your dad. At a time like this I cannot leave your sister alone.” I was nine. – “I cannot leave your sister alone, I need you! We do not write to Dachau, my decision has to be, if I can send my older daughter or not.” Two days…she says, “How come that you want to go to Palestine now?” She says, “From a village in Palestine, 60 entry visa have been received, and most of my friends are going.” About two nights afterwards – I am sure my mother did not sleep a wink – she says: „Mein Kind, ich lasse dich fahren.“ – “My child, I will let you go.” She was informed what papers to prepare, and only a suitcase with clothes. The village was Kfar Vitkin, next door here. They had a committee and 60 families, the British were here, hardly any electricity in the houses, the toilet in the backyard…no flushing toilet. And 60 families said, they want to save children. My mother and I…daddy did not know, daddy was in Dachau…we could not write to him. My mother and I went to see her off. She always said that I wanted another kiss from her, all the years, and she always said, “But I had to go to the train.” My mother and I went home…my sister on the way to Palestine, my dad in Dachau, my mother and I at home.

In the meantime, the Jewish school had opened again, and I am in school. 27th January, [19]39, a Jewish neighbor that lived two floors up from us, came and spoke something to the teacher. I was in shock. I said, “Maybe something happened. What is she doing here?” She called me and said, “Your father has come home from Dachau. You can go home now, but tomorrow you are here as usually before eight.” I went home with the neighbor. At that time, the Germans did not kill the Jews as of yet. There were those who died from sickness, there were those who died from not getting enough food, but those who could, stayed alive. My father, thank God, was amongst those. And the Nazis said, “Those of you, who have somewhere to go to, we will give you three months to get out of Austria. If you are still here, you are back in Dachau.” My father had far relatives in Canada, and my mother sent them a telegram. I do not have to explain to you what a telegram is. In school, I have to explain. The kids…not here, not in Germany, they do not know what a telegram is. I say, “It is like a fax that you send from the post office, and you pay for every word.” [Lacht.] That is how I explain it to them. My mother sent a telegram that my dad needs help, and they of course wrote back, “Whatever he needs!” They were far-off cousins, twice, three times a year for the holidays, we used to correspond. And they wrote back a telegram, “Of course, whatever Max needs.” Max…here, he was Moshe. – “Whatever he needs, we will do for him.” My mother went with the telegram to the Nazis, they said, “Leave it here.” 27th January, [19]39, my father came home. I went back with the Jewish neighbor. On my sister’s bed, with the back to the door, a thin person was sitting, without a single hair. And I said, “Why did you say it is my dad?” My dad was not fat, but he was a healthy man, and he had lovely hair. He had lovely hair…and I said, “Why did you say my dad?” And with my footsteps, the person turned around, and I saw it was my dad. It was the first time I saw my daddy crying. He held the first letter of my sister in his hand. Only when he came home did he know that she was not in Vienna anymore. And he was reading her letter. And I saw it was my dad, but tears were running down his head. And a child of nine plus, to see the father crying, is not a very nice picture.




AH: For how long was he in Dachau?

AT: My father was at home, he came that day from Dachau. But, like I said, good people went to the parliament of England--

AH: --but for how long? How much time did he spent in Dachau?

AT: Ah! From 10th November, [19]38, to 27th January, [19]39…two and a half months, something like that. Then he was released, because from Canada they sent a telegram that he has somewhere to go to. In the meantime, good people in England, Jews and non-Jews, went to the government and said, “The Nazis are letting people out. Let them come to Britain.” And the parliament said, “If they have somewhere to go afterwards, otherwise we have to find jobs for them, and wages for them, and places to live. If they have a paper in their hand, that they can go to another place afterwards, of course, we will let them in.” Seeing that this was the condition from Germany, who had where to go, my father was on that list. And my father was let into England. My mother and I, we got the papers that he could come, and my mother and I went to see him off. My sister is in Palestine, my father is in England. Did I prepare the book? Wait a minute.




In the south of England, there was a military camp from the First World War, not in use, and they prepared a camp there to accept all those Jews…all those Jews they let in. There, they were living at the place, they got a little bit of pocket money, they were working on the place. The British did not have…places to find for them. They were living in the place. My dad was in England, we got mail from him. We got mail from my sister. About a month after the men were in England, they went to the committee and said, “We left family in Europe, how do we get them in?” – “Ah, your wife can come in, only if she has a place to work.” – “But we do not know anybody here. How can we find a place to work?” – “You have a day off. Go into the next town, the next village, knock on the doors, and see who needs a maid, who needs a governess for children.” Now, all these men were in their forties, fifties, a manager of a bank, a headmaster, a teacher, my father had a store, there was a help in most places at home, and here, they go and they ask for the wife to be a domestic. It was a rich area, very few found places for their wives. My father came to a very nice family, not Jewish, and the lady said, “You know what? To save a woman from the Nazis, I will give her a note that I need a domestic. My dad said, “I have a little girl of nine years old.” – “I am terribly sorry, but what are we going to do with domestic with a little girl.” The men went back to the camp and said to the management, “We did not get a job for our wives, because, thank God, we have children.”

There was a thing, now called the Kindertransport, which just started, and they gave each of the men the telephone…or they gave the address, they gave the telephone. My father sent it to my mother, and my mother got notice to prepare me a suitcase, only with clothes, and what papers to prepare, and on 22nd August, to bring me to the train, to the station in Vienna. My mother brought me to the station and went home alone. We were 600 children. I did not know anybody of the children, I did not know anybody of the people who were in charge of us. I was ten days before my tenth birthday.




We travelled all Austria, all Germany, all Holland, until Hoek van Holland…we boarded a boat, that brought us to England, put us in an amphitheater, 600 children with suitcases. I happened to sit in the back, all the children with our people who came with us, and across from us stood a group of grown-ups, a big group. Who were these people? The British announced, “We are accepting Jewish children from Europe. Whoever is willing to accept a child from three to fourteen has to put down 50 pounds sterling…to show that they can feed a child and send the child to study, and not at fourteen to tell them to go and work and bring home their wages.” I sat there looking. My dad asked me to come. “Where is my dad? Oh, there is a fat man standing there, maybe my dad is behind that man. No, it is not my dad.” Two men with lists, calling out the names. – “Arije, Alisa has come to pick you up.” People petted or embraced, or said, “Come on”, and took the suitcase. For 600 children, it takes time to make arrangements. It was evening, it was dark, two children we were left sitting. A blond little boy of maybe three and I. Nobody came to pick us up. We were sitting there…no handy telephone, I always tell the kids, at that time. The two men said, “We have to go in the next room where the telephone is, to find out what to do with you two, where to send you two.” One came back and said to the little boy, “Come”, and took him. The other one came and brought me a banana. – “You have to go to Newcastle.” I knew what Newcastle was? I would stand here on my head and clap with my feet. I had no idea what Newcastle was. He wrote something in English, which I could not read of course, brought me to the train, put me on the train and said, “Bye-bye, go to Newcastle!” Interesting, yes? What did I do? I cried. There was a young man sitting in the compartment. He started talking to me. I did not know English. And the train keeps going, it does not stop. And I knew what a train was. I used to go to the Danube…in the summer, we took rooms someplace. You go an hour on the train, you get off. The train was going and going, and it did not stop. And I wanted to ask him, “How does one get out of the train in England, if it does not stop?” And I said, “Stop?” [Deutet Zeichensprache an.] Of course, he did not understand what I meant. My mother was a very clever woman and she gave me a little dictionary, German-English, which I held in my hand. And he got up and he saw German-English. This young man went all along the train and started shouting, “Who knows German?” Two people came back, an elderly lady and a British priest…reverend, with a white collar and the black clothes. He said, “Why are you shouting German, German?” He said, “This little girl is crying the whole time. She only knows German.” The other one brought me a banana, he brought me chocolate, this young man. All the years, I am sorry, that I did not think enough to ask their names, so that I could have thanked them or sent them a Christmas card or something. It bothered me all these years. And always, when I come to the story, it annoys me, but I was nine and a half years old, almost ten. I did not think of that. And they said, “Why are you crying?” I said, “I only know German.” They spoke German with me, the priest and the lady. And I said, “What is Newcastle? And train does not stop. How does one get out of the train?”




And they said, “We got on in London, the next stop is Newcastle in about an hour, and the next stop is Edinburgh.” The priest said he was from Edinburgh, and the lady said she is also from Scotland, from Edinburgh. – “We will stay with you.” Who are you, what are you…I talked with them. We came to Newcastle, the priest took my suitcase, the lady took me by the hand. “Thank you very much”, I knew how to say to this man in the train. A taxi was waiting for me, with two people. One lady talking German, and one lady talking English, and the taxi driver. The lady in German said that she is one of the manageress’ of a children’s hostel. There are nineteen girls from Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia, I will be number twenty, and they have come to pick me up and bring me to the hostel. And the other lady was from the committee from Newcastle, who collects money and clothes for the children in the home. Underwear and shoes, we got new, but everything else was passed down from the big ones to the middle ones, from the middle ones to the little ones, or they collected in town. I went with them in the taxi, and we came to a street where there was not a single light, and only the sea. And the sea was dark and black, and I got a terrible fright. I said, “They are going to throw me into the sea.” I was shaking, but thank God, the street was very small. We came out again to a lighted area with shops, people on the street, even though it was evening. We continued to Tynemouth, which is…maybe half an hour, three quarters of an hour, maybe an hour from Newcastle. We came to Tynemouth, and all the girls were standing on the street, next to the house. – “She has arrived, she has arrived!” With eight little girls between the age of three and nine…can you imagine sending away a little girl of three to save her? Four girls my age…I was in England ten days when it was my 10th birthday. There was another one, eleven, the same week as me, and two girls of twelve, and there were eight girl of the age of thirteen, fourteen. We were twenty girls. The lady who picked me up was from Czechoslovakia, speaking German, and the main manageress of the home was from Vienna, Mrs. Ohrbach. She had a cooking school in Vienna, so we were never without food, even during the war, when there were rations. Each one of us…from carrots, we got a birthday cake. But no, I was in good hands. Twenty girls…a week…I was ten days in England, 3rd September, 1939, my 10th birthday. It was a Sunday, no school, we were in bed, all of a sudden, “Wuh wuh wuh”, sirens. I never heard a siren in my life. In Vienna, there was no siren. I got out of bed, I stood next to my bed, and I said, “Music for my birthday!” [Lacht.] And the girls said, “Are you stupid? That is not music, that is a siren.” And I said, “What is a siren? In Vienna, there was no siren.” The same minute, the matron shouted, “Girls, get up quickly and come down, there is a very important announcement on the radio.” It was the King’s speech, announcing that Britain had declared war on Germany. We went down, of course he spoke in English. The ladies translated what we did not understand. And now the lady said, “No word of German on the street! In the house, door closed, it is something else. Not in school, not on the street. We are now like enemies of Britain.”

AH: So, the other girls that you lived with, were they also from Germany?

AT: Who?

AH: The other girls?

AT: Yes, Germany, Austria and Czechoslovakia.

AH: Can you tell me a little more about the others?

AT: Yes, in a minute.

AH: Thank you.




AT: Okay? And no word outside of the house in German. In the house, it was okay. Like we were the enemies of Britain, they hear German on the street…people do not know…the children…the hostel. Now, the twenty girls…the eight little girls…we had three sisters. Families from Germany sent the three girls, they were three, five and seven. Two sisters, five and seven, from Germany, one little girl from Vienna and one little girl from Czechoslovakia, between the ages of three and nine. I was from Vienna, Elfie, who had her birthday the same week as me, was also from Austria, but from a different place, and the other two, Sophie and Ruth, were from Germany. The eight bigger ones were from Germany. [Deutet an, dass sie eine Pause machen will.]




In the street, in school, we never spoke German. I spoke very little, because I did not know English yet. My kids always say, “You know also not to speak.” [Lacht.] And…I did not hear anything yet from my dad. Sometime afterwards the sirens started. We lived right on the sea…very near from the sea. We felt the war. And about six weeks after the war started, maybe eight weeks…we were only women in the house, twenty girls, the two matrons, and an English woman used to come in to read us stories and start to teach us a little bit of English – an elderly lady, a very nice woman. I sit in my bedroom doing homework, and I hear footsteps, a man’s shoes. I said, “Oh, something is broken down in the house. Maybe they invited an electrician or something.” And the footsteps stopped, my dad is standing at the entrance of my room, in the uniform of a British soldier. Until he could not get his leave, he could not come. The joy was something out of the ordinary – you can imagine. I was the only one who had a dad, nobody had a mother, nobody had a father. And my father said to me, “I understand I am the only father. Write me down all the names, all the birthdays, and what you think each little girl would like for her birthday. When I come next time, I will bring gifts for those who had a birthday from today until next time.” I wrote down, “Lea likes to paint, bring her a crayon. Inge has curls, bring her a nice hairpin. The older girls, bring them a…bloc of paper, bring them a calendar, a notebook or something.” And my dad came each…about three times a year, he had a few days leave. He was over 40 when he joined the army, and the British did not sent in to fight into Europe people over 42. So he was a soldier in Britain. In Dunkirk, he was already on the beach, but they sent all those over 42 back to camp, so he was a soldier in Britain in the army, and about three times a year he came for a few days.

Now, a few years ago…I have been back in England a few times – not the last five years, since I am old, but before that. And I was always meeting up with some of my friends from the children’s hostel, who live in England. One who lives in London and I went to one who lives in the north, and she said, “I found my diary from the time we were in the hostel.” Three women, old women, lying on the floor, she in the middle with her diary, and we started remembering all the stories, what books we read, what films we saw. It came to one item that she wrote, “Lisl is not at all selfish. She is never alone with her dad. We are all twenty girls always together with her.” I cried when I saw that notice.






When was I alone with my dad? We were the only Jews in the village. And the headmistress called us, and said, “Girls, the first lesson each day is the New Testament. That is not yours, you are not coming in that class! You can do whatever you want in that first hour. At ten o’clock, we give milk to all the children. Whoever of you wants to volunteer and help with the milk, go and help with the milk. And when your father comes, let him come to me and tell me when he has leave. The first hour, he can take you, three quarters of an hour, wherever you want to go. You do not have to be here when your dad is here. Ten minutes before the bell rings, he should bring you back.” So we went to a coffee place. We went someplace and we put in a note, like people do at the Wailing Wall. After three, four months, we went to see what happened to the note. But my dad was a dad to all twenty girls – until today they remember him with respect and with love.

When we got to the age of fifteen…when the older girls got to the age of fifteen, they came from the committee in Newcastle and said, “Girls, we do not have money to send you to university. We do not know what is happening with your parents. Start thinking what you are going to do when you leave school.” During the war, sixteen was the compulsory age to go to school. One wanted to be a hairdresser, so they spoke with a hairdresser in the village. One wanted to be a nurse, so they went to the next town where there was a hospital. I do not know where I had the brains, but I wanted to be a dressmaker. There was a very nice lady, a dressmaker, in the village. Twice a week, after school, I went to the hostel to have lunch, and went to work with her. I even made the wedding dresses of my daughters. [Steht auf und geht aus dem Raum.]




Twice a week, after school, to the hostel for lunch and to the dressmaker. May, [19]45…2nd or 3rd May, I leave the hostel after lunch to go to the dressmaker. The boy who delivers telegrams in the village goes by me on his bicycle. And I look at my watch and say, “Interesting to know, who gets a telegram at this time of the day?” I come near the house of the dressmaker…I have to go over. I see my good friend Ruth standing next to the house of the dressmaker, and I shout across, “Ruth, the telegram was for me?” So she says, “Yes, but how did you know there was a telegram?” I said, “Well, the boy passed me on the street where we live, and you are standing here with your bike. That means you have to tell me something. Did something happen to my father in the army?” She says, “No.” – “My sister in Palestine?” She said, “No.” – “But nobody else has my address! I have never been in touch with my mother, because the war started a week after I was in England. Who is the telegram from?” – “I cannot tell you. You have to come home now.” I said, “And work?” – “I already told her you were not coming today.” I come to the hostel and all the girls are standing there, “You have a telegram! You have a telegram!” The ladies are waiting for me with a tranquilizer and a cup of water. The telegram…was from the Red Cross in Sweden, informing me my mother was alive. [Sucht das Telegramm in einer Mappe.] I am the only one with a father, and now I have a mother. Nineteen girls are standing outside the room, at the door, and I hear them say, “Why does she not come out? Why does she not tell us who the telegram is from?” I said to the matron, “How can I go out and tell them I have a mother? I am the only one with a father!” – “Go out and tell them!” – “Who is the telegram from?” I said, “My mother is alive.” – “Oh nice, maybe we will also hear.” [Schüttelt den Kopf. Sucht das Telegramm in einer Mappe.]




The telegram was addressed to my father. Each British soldier had to have a private address, so that his army number and his stature in the army should not be sent abroad. I was the only one that he knew, and I was the address. [Liest vor.] “Your wife saved. Arrived here. Red Cross transport from Germany. Her health good. Paul Fraenkel. Sweden.”




[Schließt die Mappe wieder.] My father, in Vienna, had a good friend by the name of Paul Fraenkel. In 1934 or [19]35, the family moved to Sweden. I see the name Paul Fraenkel…I knew I heard the name as a child, so I knew. I said, “What is he doing with my mother, after the war?” I immediately send the telegram to my father, to the army, and my sister in Palestine. My mother’s address, I did not have. My father then found out my mother’s address. [Hustet.] Then I got a letter from my mother. My father was still in the army. When he was discharged…the war ended in May…when he was discharged he got a job in Glasgow. He tried to bring her over from Sweden, but they said that there are mines…they only come with ships, not planes…there are mines in the sea, “and she is not so well yet. You have to wait to bring her.” January, [19]46…yes, January [19]46, he got notice that he can bring her into England. I left the hostel at the Hanukkah, Christmas time, joined my dad. He had a job in Glasgow, he rented two rooms. My dad went down to England to bring my mother. In January, I am sitting at the place where he rented the rooms, with the family of the apartment, with neighbors and friends, waiting for my mother. I was shivering with excitement. The fireplace is burning, it is warm in the room, but I am…my dad and my mother walk in. I was so excited, I could not get up. And my mother said: „Wo ist Lisl?“ – “Where is Lisl?” And my mother saw me when I was almost ten, and now I am sixteen and a half. A difference? – „Das ist Lisl?“ – “That is Lisl?” – I said, “Yes, das ist Lisl.”

I did not look for any work or studying for three months. I sat at home with my mother, holding hands, and hearing her story. There was no money in the bank, my father was a discharged soldier, my mother from the camps, I from the hostel. After three or four days holiday with us, my father went back to work. He was an agent, like I said, from a London firm. He went to Northern Ireland, he went to Scotland, and we lived in Glasgow. I sat with my mother, and she started telling me her story. She said that sometime after I left, there was a knock on the door, and my mother opened the door, and the woman from the top floor who does not like Jews, is standing outside. And she said, “I came to apologize. I did not act nicely to the Jews during all the years, but what they are doing to you now is not what I want.” This neighborhood worked out very well. The Jews got very little food. This woman sometimes brought her a tomato, or brought her a cucumber or something.




They kept saying, “All Jews, take a suitcase and come to the corner”, my mother was telling me, “We are going to look for you for another place.” My mother said, “I will wait, maybe something will change”, but she was already going with the yellow star. She says, “How many Jews are still on the street? I have to go.” She took her suitcase, went to the corner, she was sent to the ghetto Łódź, in Poland. Six women and men – strangers completely – in one room, each one going to some sort of work. Four died from illness, from overwork, there was one man left, and my mother. The man was sick in bed, he took off his wedding ring, and he said…my mother was Edith. – “Edith, go and sell my wedding ring on the black market in the ghetto here, so that you and I should have something to eat.” This man also died. My mother was the only one left alive. They again said, “We are taking you to another place.” My mother was taken to Auschwitz, stood naked, men, women, children, in front of [Josef] Mengele, the doctor who was a beast. He checked each one. My mother said, if there is something like this…to the fire. And she said, she had a scar from an operation from the appendix. – “God’s hand covered my scar, and Mengele did not see it, and sent me to forced labor!” She was sent to the Krupp [AG] ammunitions factory, working, standing…pieces, pieces…passing on from one to the next. [Klopfen an der Tür. Steht auf.] My daughter.




My mother had a…from an operation, she says, “God’s hand covered my scar, and Mengele did not see it, and sent me to forced labor!” She was sent to the Krupp works, where they make ammunition. She worked standing, each one does one part. They were all from Poland. My mother was born in Poland, but she lived all the years in Vienna, knew German. The woman Nazi who was in charge, did not know Polish. So she told my mother what to translate and to tell all the people who were working there. My mother said, “Apart from the work, I also translated.” One day, she said, while she was standing and working, she felt something being thrown between her breasts. She caught it and ran to the toilet – an apple, half an apple. She said, “How do I have half an apple? We get two slices of bread and maybe two potatoes during the day.” This German woman had a point of decency. – “This woman translates for me, I will give her something else.” An apple has a smell, has an odor. She was standing in the toilet, eating the apple, waiting for it to recede. – “How long can I not be at the work?” She thought there was no more smell of the apple, she went back to the working place. One of the Jewish women all of a sudden said, “Who has an apple? How come there is an apple here?” My mother thought that, if they would find out that she had something else to eat, they are dead. Thank God, the smell went away, and she continued.

From there, from the place of work, they were sent to Ravensbrück, the concentration camp. Ravensbrück was a camp, where the Nazis also put in German citizens who were anti-Nazi, with the Jews together. She was in Ravensbrück for some time, and at the end of April, some count Bernadotte from Sweden [Folke Bernadotte] said to the Germans, “Why are you keeping Germans in the camp? Is it not about time, after all these years, to release them?” And they said, “Maybe.” At the beginning of May, when it was already almost peace…“peace”…they sent a train to Ravensbrück and took out all the Germans, and put in some Jews.






And they were brought to Sweden, put in a hospital to check up the women that were…men, women. And sometime afterwards they came and said, “Where are you from and where is your family?” My mother said, “After so many years of war, you ask us where our family is. How should we know? No connection whatsoever.” – “But maybe you remember some relatives in America, or Australia or someplace?” And my mother said, “You brought us to Sweden? My husband had a friend in [19]34 or [19]35 who went to Sweden. His name was Paul Fraenkel.” So the Red Cross looked up the telephone books and they found three men with the name Paul Fraenkel. Two said, “No idea who you are talking about.” The third one said, “Yes, I have the address.” That is how I got the telegram. We started corresponding…my mother got out of the hospital, and she went to live, as a companion, part help for some elderly woman in Sweden, and we corresponded with her.

BT: In Malmö.




AT: The third one said, “Yes, I have the address”, because he was in touch with my dad. So then my mother said, “My husband had a friend in Vienna by the name of Paul Fraenkel who moved to Sweden. I do not know whether my husband is alive, I do not know whether he is alive. I do not know, if they are in touch, but his name is Paul Fraenkel.” Two had no idea what they were talking about, the third said, “Yes, I have the address”, so I got the telegram. So we started corresponding with my mother, my mother told me the whole story when she got to England, and my sister in Palestine was married with children. And we wanted to come here, but the British were still here. We only came here when the state was founded. My sister was married with two children, living in Beit Yanai, which is on the other side of the main road here, near the sea.

My parents and I came here, to my sister, in 1949, October [19]49. My father knew Hebrew from the prayers, but not the modern Hebrew. The school from Kfar Vitkin had two teachers, who opened up evening classes for the new immigrants. My parents and I went to study Hebrew, then my father got a job as a bookkeeper in Chadera, and they moved out from Beit Yanai. I knew how to sew, but I did not know how to cut. So I told my sister, “Find me a course, in German or in English.” My Hebrew was not good enough yet. She found me, in Tel Aviv, a course in German, and I, for a few weeks, went to Tel Aviv to study…to learn how to cut. I came back, my sister said, “There is a wedding next week. I have been invited. Come with me and you will see how they marry here.” I went with her, it was in Kfar Vitkin, and in the place…benches with people sitting. On the first bench, all the teachers. The teacher from the classes got up, and said, “Nice to see you! Where were you? Why did you leave studying?” I said, “I have to earn a living, I cannot just live with my sister.” – “What is your profession?” I said, “I am a dressmaker.” – “So why did you leave?” I said, “I did not know how to cut, and I had a course in cutting.” – “Have you finished the course?” I said, “Yes.” – “Where are you living?” I said, “With my sister in Beit Yanai.” – “May I invite you to the movies?” I said, “Of course.” He was a very nice man. After a year and a half, we married. My husband was fifth generation born in Jerusalem.




And when I tell the…I lecture in schools…when I tell them, the children say, “With a teacher? You could marry a teacher?” “Well”, I said, “he was seven years older than I. So you cannot, because you are kids, but I could marry a teacher.” And he was from Jerusalem, and he got a job in Kfar Vitkin in the elementary school, and he and another one taught the new immigrants. She is my older daughter, my younger daughter is three years younger and lives in Beersheba. You saw the pictures. And--

BT: --he was fifth generation in Jerusalem. His great-grandmother came in 1850 to Jerusalem. There was nothing.

AH: 1850?

BT: There were orthodox people, and Christians, and Arabs.




AT: My husband was in Kfar Vitkin, and I worked a little bit as a dressmaker at home. My husband had a heart attack, and he had to stop working. And then he felt better and went back to work, and he had another heart attack. In 1967 he passed away. She was almost fifteen and Batel was twelve. And I, at the beginning – I needed money – started to work as a dressmaker, but then I said, “What am I going to talk to the girls about? Some recipe some woman brought me, or that somebody forgot the milk in the fridge? I have to get out! I know German, I know English, I know Yiddish, I know Hebrew, I know a little bit of French, and somebody told me they needed a librarian. A librarian needs help.” There is a college not far from here. I was introduced, then I started working with him, and he was very happy, and he asked me, if I want to continue working with him, and I said, “Yes.” So he went to the management, and he came back. I said, “What happened?” He said, “The number of books here, only one librarian is allowed.” But in the meantime, in the school, they heard that somebody is looking for a job, and I started working as a librarian in the high school. I worked for 27 years, fourteen years I was the manageress of the library. She [meint: Tochter Bina] went to the same school. And I went out on pension, and now I volunteer. There is a very well-run daycare center of pensioners in our municipality. Every Tuesday for more than twenty years, they pick me up, and I renovate clothes of the people. Somebody donated me a new sewing machine, and I have another friend who works with me, who does the unpicking of the zippers or hems, and for more than twenty years, every Tuesday, I go and renovate clothes. I enjoy sewing. I also sew a bit at home and fix clothes for the family. And it is nice meeting people from other areas that I would otherwise never have met. They sit next to us, and tell us about what is going on in their families etc. So this keeps me busy. Every Thursday, we have lectures for pensioners, on a very high level…people from television, people from the university – very interesting subjects. And I thank God I have my girls, my sons-in-law, and my grandchildren, and my great-grandchildren. Bina has three children, two living in the village. One, at the moment, because of her husband’s work, they are in Germany. And they have twins of six, a boy and a girl. And my daughter in Beersheba also has three children with two grandchildren. And I do not travel much anymore and seeing that Bina lives three doors up, she does most of my shopping – or I go with her. And…we have to hope for peace. And things should not be worse here, and I should be well, and they should be well, of course. And…thank you!

BT: :?רגע, את רוצה לספר להם על הבת של פאול פרנקל  [Hebräisch: Just a moment, do you want to tell them about Paul Fraenkel's daughter?] [Zeigt ein Foto.]

AT: A few years ago…thanks for reminding me.

BT: It is a nice story.

AT: A few years ago…I do not remember…how did I get in touch with them?




I am always invited to talk in front of people, and I was invited to talk in Jerusalem. And I asked, “Does anybody here know about the Kindertransport?” Nobody picked up their hand, none of them were from the Kindertransport.






Do you know what the AACI is? Association of American and Canadian Immigrants…talked about the Kindertransport and invited me to talk. And I, in the interval, went on stage and said, “Anybody here from the Kindertransport?” – “No.”




And I said, “I got a telegram from a friend of my father, Paul Fraenkel.” There is a woman sitting in the audience, who said, “Paul Fraenkel? In Sweden? His daughter is my best friend.” Can you imagine?

BT: After 70 years!

AT: It was something! Living in England. I said, “Give me her address.” So since then, we are in touch, and they were here in Israel. [Hustet.] That is his wife. [BT zeigt ein Foto.] And they were here, and I invited them and the kids to a restaurant, and we went together. That evening, there was a woman in the audience, can you imagine? What a small world it is! And since then, occasionally – I have to phone them again –, we are in touch. My parents, like I said, moved to Chadera, Givat Olga. My dad got a job. We were very close, they were coming to me for holidays…and the children. And thank God, my children, my grandchildren knew grandparents, which very few had.

A few years ago, we got forms to fill in, from London. What happened to us after we left England? Where are we living, what are we doing? What happened to our families, if we know? We then got an answer back, that from the 10.000 children that, as we, came to England, 600 had maybe a mother, or a father, or parents – and I was the lucky one. I had parents, and I had a sister. My mother lived until 91 and a half, my dad lived until 100 and four months, in very good condition. He then had pneumonia, and he died. I was very lucky, and I am…like you coming to hear my story, I have been invited to many places. And…I just had a phone call. [Lacht.] I said in another hour and a half, she should phone me – not that I am throwing you out! [Alle lachen.] You can stay!

AH: Can you tell us about the experience of talking to classes and children?

AT: Yes, it is very interesting. After I finish talking, children walk over, and usually girls say, “May I give you a kiss? May I hug you?” The boys also hug, but the girls often say, “Can I give you a kiss?” And it is a very warming experience. I speak in front of grown-ups, and I speak in front of children, I speak in German, I speak in English, I speak in Hebrew. About 45 years ago, a group of Germans, non-Jews, from the town of Siegen…you know where Siegen is? Siegen…came to the municipality and said, “What our people did to your people cannot be forgiven or forgotten, but for the future, we stretch out our hands, and we want to make an exchange system between pupils, and maybe afterwards, grown-ups.” I worked, at the time, at the high school, and the high school is next door to the municipality. They came to me from the municipality, and they said to me, “Alisa, there is a group of Germans coming. You speak German, show them around the school, walk around with them, explain things to them.”




A couple of hours afterwards, one of the teachers that came with them said, “Where is your good German from?” I said, “I was born in Vienna.” – “What is your life story?” So two or three sentences I told him. They went back to Siegen, and they said, “There is a piece of history walking around there. We have to invite her.” I have been in Siegen eight times, and also in Vienna I have been three times. Bina comes with me, or Batel comes with me. My sister’s daughter lives up the street. She has also been with us. And now, since I walk with a stick for two years, I have not gone abroad. They pay--

BT: --this is in Siegen, and in Vienna. [Zeigt Fotos.]

AT: They pay for all of us, the hotel there or the private family where we stay, but I have not been for the last two years. They made a disc of my talk, and they also sent me the disc and said, if they need anything, they can always ask me on the computer. But I am in close touch with them, and there are two ladies in Siegen who always phone me, and they come here once a year. In Netanya, there is a hotel where volunteers from Germany work, also. And I am in close touch with the people. Interesting in meeting with children is, the questions they sometimes ask.




Any questions? Or would you like to see some documents?

AH: I would love to ask some more questions.

AT: With pleasure!

AH: Very good. So, perhaps, how do you see Holocaust education? What do you think will be important in the future?

AT: The future, when none of us are left anymore? It is very important what has been on discs, or the internet, and what children have learned, and maybe our children can continue. And this has to be taught, that never again – never again! – should it be practiced against any religion, what was done with us. Stretch out your hand for friendship, and not for hate.

AH: I would like to go further back, to the time in Vienna. How was the social life for your parents before 1930…or not 1930, let us say--

AT: --1935/36? Look, I was nine years old when Hitler came. My mother, like I said, was a member of WIZO. My parents had a wholesale food store that they both worked in together. My sister went to school, went to high school. We went to Poland when I was six years old, for the holidays, before I started the first grade. I met my aunts, my cousins, grandparents. I do not know much about social life with my parents, because I was nine years old. But I know my mother was a member of WIZO.




My sister was a member of the youth club.




We went to the synagogue on the holidays. Yes.

AH: And your neighborhood, do you remember?

AT: Our neighborhood, like I said, that woman with the dog hated Jews, until Hitler came, then she changed her attitude completely, and was then a good friend of my mother. And…I do not remember so much. So much has happened since then.

AH: Can you perhaps describe your home, the apartment?

AT: Yes, we had a small apartment: bedroom of my parents--

BT: --you went to the apartment. Tell him!

AT: Yes. The apartment with the bedroom of my parents, the bedroom of my sister and me, a kitchen, and another little sort of side room. And we went to visit, knocked on the door, and the woman opened the door, and she saw four or five people standing outside. I said, in German, “We are from Israel. I was born here. Can we maybe just look? I do not want anything, just to explain my children the apartment.” She was a bit shocked, opened the door. And I said, “This was our bedroom, this was my sister’s bedroom. There was no מיקרוגל[Hebrew: microwave] at the time. [Alle lachen.] And I thanked her, and we left. Do you remember?




BT: It stayed the same…same steps.

AT: No ventilator…we lived on the second floor, third floor, something like that…number fifteen. Traunfelsgasse 5, Nummer 15. In Vienna, 20. Bezirk. Vienna had 21 areas, in the meantime they added a few more from the area, now they have 26 [meint: 23]. We lived in the 20th. The 20th and the 2nd…the 2nd was mostly Jewish…many Jews, many synagogues. The 20th also, there were quite a lot of Jews. We lived in the 20th. We were not rich, but we had what we needed. My parents worked at the store. We did not have a maid in the house, my mother and my sister…yes, I can then show you all the pictures of the family on the wall here. My granddaughters did this for me.

AH: How did it feel to be in Germany, or in Austria?

AT: I came as a tourist. I was a tourist. I had not been in Germany before. Coming back to Vienna was very exciting. I was almost ten when I left. What I remembered, I remembered, and what I never saw, I never saw…all the other areas, only where my parents took me.




AH: Before you were sent with the Kindertransport, did your mother talk about it? Did you have any conversations with your mother that were interesting?

AT: When my father came to England, he asked for me. He also wanted to get my mother out, but like I said, no place of work for her. So when she took me to the station, we did not know the war would start in a few days. We did not know that we would be separated. We did not know that – thank God – we would meet again. And I said: “Mutti, ich hoffe dich bald zu sehen!” – “I hope to see you soon!” And I knew I was coming to a children’s hostel…my father wrote. And…




There was a park near us.

BT: We have been there. When the Nazis came to power, they put a sign, “No Jews and no dogs enter”. Now, it is the same place, but only dogs.

AT: When we were thrown out of school and we stayed at home--

BT: --[unklar]--

AT: --when we stayed at home, when we were thrown out of school and did not go any place, maybe two or three weeks later, my sister said, “Let us get out of the house to breath some fresh air.” We took another little Jewish boy that lived in the apartment, and we went to the Augarten, which is a big park near where we lived. We enjoyed the lawn and the flowers and the good air. All of sudden, we saw many people standing at the main entrance. We went to look, “What are they looking at?” There were two Nazis there, hanging up a huge poster. – “The entrance to Jews and dogs is forbidden.” We turned around slowly, we did not want to run – they should not know we were Jews –, until we got to the other exit, then we started running. We saw a bench, we said, “Oh, good, we will be able to rest.” No, on the bench was printed, “No sitting down for Jews.” We went home, and we were home again, until the Jewish school was open and we could go.




AH: Do you remember your parents talking about Hitler and about the Nazis at that time?

AT: No. Maybe they did it after I was in bed. [Lacht.]






When you arrived in Israel--

AT: --yes, in October [19]49--

AH: --and your parents--

AT: --with my parents to my sister. My brother-in-law picked us up from Haifa.

AH: Can you talk about the adjustment period of your parents and of yourself?

AT: Well, my mother adjusted quickly in the kitchen, with her grandchildren. My father and I…my sister had an orchard grove. We worked for a bit in the orchard grove. My father loved vegetables, he always made a vegetable garden. And then, like I said, we went to study Hebrew. My father got a job in Chadera. Do you know Tnuva [Food Industries Agricultural Co-Op in Israel Ltd.]? Tnuva is the big dairy in Israel, who sells cheese…cheese, milk etc. My father got a job as a bookkeeper in Chadera, and they moved there. And, like I said, I married my teacher, and came to live here.

AH: How was it for them to learn the language?

AT: Learn the language? Difficult!

BT: My grandfather talked only Hebrew with us. סבה למד טוב[Hebrew: Grandfather learned well.] He was perfect, but he read in Hebrew also. For my grandmother it was more difficult. That is why I understand German. I do not talk.

AT: In Hebrew, the writing is very difficult, because there are letters that sound the same, but they are different letters. So it is difficult, sometimes even today, and I am here for so many years. I still have to think whether it is a Tet or a Tav, or a Chet or a Kaf. [Lacht.] How are you with Hebrew?

AH: It is not easy. I am working on it.

AT: Yes. Do you want another drink?

AH: Everything is okay, thank you.

AT: Okay, good.

AH: Do you remember them talking about, for example, the Independence War and about Israel?

AT: In Vienna or here?

AH: You were in England at that time.

AT: In England. We were of course very happy when we heard that there was a State of Israel. I was a member…do you know what Habonim is? Habonim is a Zionist youth organization. And when I came to Glasgow, I left the hostel, I immediately joined, and every week we had a meeting. A Zionist youth club. And they have a reunion in London, I was there a few years ago. And I also got an invitation. I wrote back, “I am not coming anymore.” [Lacht.] Enough.

AH: Did you have contact with your sister at that time?

AT: Yes.

AH: How was that?

AT: My sister, the whole time, we had contact, even when I was at the children’s home. Yes, air letters or ordinary letters…we did not have…not by phone, she did not have a phone. The hostel had a phone, but I was a child, I did not…yes.

AH: Was there a particular point where you and your family decided to come to Israel, or a reason?

AT: Yes. We always wanted to come, but when--

AH: --then why come so late?

AT: The British were here, so we could not get an entry permit, but the minute the state was founded, we said we are coming. My sister made arrangements in Israel, we made arrangements over there, and we came in October [19]49. My sister had a boy of five and a boy of three months. It was lovely. My mother…seventh heaven. But like I said before, I was one of the very lucky ones. From the 10,000 children that came to England, 600 had family…or a mother or a father or parents.






AH: How did you experience the Arab-Israeli conflict?

AT: We wish for peace, and my prayer is that the Arab neighbors would understand that, if there would be peace, it would be much better for them. They have to recognize us, we are here to stay. We are not going to fold up, and they would have a much better life, if they would recognize us. Tourists, and working together…it depends on them. We are stretching out our hand. Sometimes we are not so very nice…the government…but we hope for peace, for both sides, for their good and for our good.

AH: How do you see yourself today?

AT: How I see myself today? I wish I was younger. [Lacht.] I do not know…she [meint: Tochter Bina] is not listening…I do not know what I would do without her. Batel is further away. We talk twice a day. In the morning, I talk to her before she goes to work, or she phones me, and in the evening after she comes home from work. For Pesach, I usually go to them, for Passover, for the whole week. That is a chance to be with them. She studied to be a teacher, and she worked as a teacher for a few years. And then she changed over to be a librarian. So we have much in common, because I was a librarian for 27 years. She tells me some book that she bought, and I say, “Oh, you put it in that number”, and, “Oh, you still remember?” I said, “Yes!” So we have much in common. And like I said, we talk twice a day. She occasionally comes here, I go to them, the kids come here. We are in very close touch. Her husband was seven when they came from the States. With her husband’s mother, we were pregnant together, at the same time. She and her husband went to the same kindergarten. [Lacht.] She is a few months older than he is.

BT: This is the picture from the hostel [meint: Hostel in Großbritannien.].

AT: Yes, I have more pictures.

AH: Do you feel Israeli now?

AT: Of course!

AH: When did that start? Was it from the beginning?

AT: When I felt I was Israeli?

AH: Did that come?

AT: I think always. [Lacht.] I think when I met my husband, and that he was interested in me and that he was born here. I came to his family. The first time we went to Jerusalem, there was somebody near here, who married a girl from Jerusalem. They invited him, and they invited me. We went together on the bus, and I made arrangements to stay with some neighbors of my sister’s, who she knew…my sister in Beit Yanai had friends in Jerusalem. But when we came to Jerusalem, he said, “Come, have something to drink at my mother’s, and then I take you there.” I sat in the room, he went and talked to his mother. All of a sudden, his mother came and said, “I want you to come and stay here.” So I realized that he was interested in me, more than just friendly. He was from a very religious family, and his mother would not have invited me, if there was nothing. So he went to get my suitcase from the other family, I stayed with them, and soon afterwards we decided to get married. It was too short.




He never knew his grandchildren. She was fifteen, Batel was twelve. It was not easy. I had to stand on my own two feet and get a job and start working. Thank God, I managed. More questions? Good.

AH: Your religious identity, did that…how did that develop over the years?

AT: My religious identity? Well, in Vienna, we had a kosher kitchen, we changed dishes for Pesach, my father prayed morning and evening. I do not remember…I think we travelled on Shabbat. I do not remember, but I think we travelled on Shabbat. And I always knew that we were Jewish. Then of course, when Hitler threw us out of school, we sat at home, and--

BT: --your sister had a bat mitzvah.

AT: My sister had a bat mitzvah, and I remember, in the synagogue, she was on the stage. And, yes…she was twelve at the time.

BT: That's a sign they were not very orthodox.

AT: What do you say?

BT: שזה סימן שלא הייתם אורתודוקסים, [Hebrew: This is a sign that you (all) were not orthodox.]

AT: No, not orthodox, but Jewish definitely, well-minded.

AH: And after? Did it change? In Vienna, you went to synagogue, you might have driven, might not--

BT: --that is the spirit of our family, here now. Also in my house, we have a kosher kitchen. I light a fire on Shabbat, I warm the food, very tolerant--

AT: --what I feel that I want for my soul, for my identity, that I am Jewish, kosher kitchen…I fast on Yom Kippur all the years, I light candles. I travel on Shabbat, because…my mother-in-law did not. [Lacht.]

AH: And in England?

AT: Also, my parents and I…the hostel also had a kosher kitchen. Yes, and the ladies were not religious, but some of the people from the committee were. And seeing we lived in England, they kept milk and meat separate, and so we knew they kept the Jewish trend. There was no synagogue near us.

AH: So was it a Jewish home, so to say? The home where you were, was it a Jewish institution?

AT: Jewish, definitely. The committee were all Jewish, the ladies were Jewish, yes. We were the only Jews in the village, in the surrounding area. Like I said, the headmistress knew we were Jewish, she told us not to come into the first lesson, which is the New Testament.




AH: And did they talk about what was happening in Germany?

AT: Yes, but there was no television at that time. But we listened to the news, so we did not know exactly what was happening, but whatever was on the news, we knew…in touch.

AH: Do you have specific memories about that?

AT: No. We were children…twenty girls, together from…the youngest was three, the oldest was fourteen, living together for six years.






AH: Did your parents always talk to you from the beginning about their experience? Your father and his experience from Dachau?

AT: Yes. My father talked…they were working hard in Dachau, and--

AH: --what did he do?

AT: I do not remember. They were working hard. Then they called out names, who is going to be released. And there was somebody who had a name like his, and so they said, “No, he.” Yes.

AH: So your parents were not open like this…to share was always--

AT: --yes--

BT: --my grandmother less. מוטי הייתה הרבה פחות [Hebrew: Mutti was much less (open)] With my grandmother, it was much less. I was ten, eleven, something like this--

AT: --Ghetto Łódź and Auschwitz--

BT: --and she had…her thumb was very big and with a scar. So once I asked her, “From what does this come?” – “You are small”, she said, “when you are big.” Then once she told me all the stories.

AH: So what did she tell you?

BT: What they ate, how the atmosphere was…what my mother is now telling you…that she ran from place to place, and about the apple.




AT: Are you recording what she is saying? Good, okay.

AH: Yes. And your father, did he…your mother talked less about it, and your father more?

BT: For him, it was a short time, then he went to England. For her, it was like almost six years.




AH: Is there something that you would like to say to sum up, to end with?

AT: First of all, I thank people that are still interested in us who stayed alive. The story has to be continued to be told. I thank you that you came, and I hope that whatever you can bring further to other people, will be appreciated, and you should think of the good side in people and should remember that what happened, should never happen again. I does not matter what religion, what kind, people have to stretch out their hand to the others. Okay? Thank you!

AH: Thank you very much!

[Ende des Interviews.]