I was 7 years old when Kristallnacht occurred. My family lived on the fourth floor of an apartment building and my grandmother lived on the third floor. I remember my aunt and uncle coming to our apartment as their home had been burned down. We all stood in the dark watching the big bonfire in the middle of the street. They were burning Torahs, talesim, (prayer shawls) and prayer books. People were standing around the bonfire singing and dancing, I was 7 years old. My father was safe that night as the custodian of the building told the officials that there were no Jews living in the building. I remember being very confused that night.
My uncle started making preparations to try to get the grandchildren out of the country. The first cousin to leave was my cousin Vera whose mother was born in Poland. They were deporting Jews back to Poland and they didn’t want Vera to go back to Poland.
He was able to manage to get my older sister Paula out of Germany in June 1939. It was the only time I saw my father openly cry. I went to England in July 1939. I wasn’t happy about getting on the train alone. My parents said I would be joining Paula on a nice vacation in England and that in a couple of weeks, they would be joining them. I believed my parents.
I was never made to feel poor; my grandmother was a seamstress and I went to England with hand made dresses. Our furniture was disappearing, I never questioned it, they either sold it or it was taken from them.
I boarded the train in Leipzig; the train was full of children. We went to Holland and then boarded a boat to England. I was taken with this man’s older daughter’s home, the Jacobson’s. I lived with them from July till August 1939. On September 1, 1939, I was evacuated to the country with the Jacobson children in anticipation of a German attack on London as World War II then started.
We stayed in the little town of Oakham, in the County of Rutland. We stayed with two single ladies who took us to church every Sunday. We went back to London in December as no bombing occurred then. The bombing started in June 1940. We were evacuated to the home of Lady Clementine Waring in Devon.
We lived in the servants’ quarters; we had tea with her ladyship once a week. The cook took me under her wings and was very kind to me.
In 1942 we were sent back to London, I later learned that the American navy came to that little town, 25 miles from Plymouth, to practice for invasion of Europe.
I went back to London to the Jacobson’s and then later to an Orthodox Jewish hostel. I was later reunited with my sister Paula. We stayed with a kind family, Mickey, and Florrie Hart. The house was bombed, luckily, we made it out of the rubble all right. The refugee committee helped get us a small room in London. I was 13 and went to school and my sister was 20 and went to work.
Then the German V-1 rockets started, I can relate to the Israelis nowadays when they get bombed. We would hear a drone with its loud motor. When the motor turned off, the bomb began to drop. It was pure dread. I became very nervous about sounds. I got out of London and was sent to a hostel in Cambridge. My sister joined me three weeks later with our cousin Zilla. Zilla was a 7-month-old baby when she left on the Kindertransport. I went to a trade school and learned shorthand and typing. My sister worked and earned money.
In July 1947, we left for America, my cousin Zilla, my sister Paula and me. Zilla was adopted by a family in New York; we came to Detroit where we had an uncle. We stayed with our aunt and uncle, after seven weeks, we moved out, my sister got a job in clothing store, I got a job as a counter girl at a cleaner.
I lost my grandmother, my parents, my aunts and uncles. Six of us grandchildren survived, the others perished.
I had to become an adult before I realized how brave my parents were. My parents didn’t know what would happen, they gave me to strangers. Can you imagine? My hero is my aunt. My uncle was sent to Sachsenhausen, she received a cardboard box with his ashes in it. She went to the Dutch border, gave up her 7-month-old baby and two other children to a stranger in order that they might live. Can you imagine?
I’m still looking to find out what exactly happened to my parents and my family.
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