Transcripts of Interviews With Fred, Hanny, Clara
(Fritz, Hani, Klara) and links to the audio interviews.


Clara Holzer Interview

Transcripts of Interviews With Fred, Hanny, Clara:

Clara’s Story

   I am the only survivor from my immediate family.

    When my parents were married they settled in Traunstein, a small town close to the border with Austria, about 30 to 50 miles from Salzberg.  My father, Willi, started a business with his brother, Louie Holzer. The business was in cattle and horse dealing and in real estate.

    There were two families that shared one house. Upstairs was Louie’s family which had three girls, Tilly, the oldest, Hansi and Ilsa.  In our family there were six off-spring.  The oldest was Benno, then Leopold, Hedwig, Alfred, myself Clara, and Max.

We lived downstairs in that building which was quite a large building and we rented three apartments in it. There was an office on the bottom floor, and there was a big yard where we had a stable for the cattle, one for the horses that were traded, and a third stable for the horses that we used with the carriages.

    The two brothers, Louie and Willi Holzer married two Einstein sisters, Berta, Louie’s wife, and Fanny, my mother, Willi’s wife.  Louie was the first of the brothers to marry and he introduced Willi to my mother.

    My grandfather, Moses L. Einstein came from a very orthodox family and he was very orthodox himself.  He went every day in the morning to the synagogue. When he heard that the Holzers planned to settle in Traunstein where they would be the only Jewish families in a population of 10,000, he wouldn’t give his okay to the marriage. He was afraid that they would be non-kosher and he was totally against that.  

So my father had to get a permit from the rabbi to be allowed to slaughter the chickens, geese, lamb and things like that in the Jewish tradition. Later when Hitler came to power Jews were no longer allowed to live kosher openly, the Nazis claimed that the Jewish way of slaughtering animals was “cruelty”!  So we had to do the kosher butchering in secret.

    Willi and Louie Holzer came from Baden, from a little town by the name of Stein am Kocher.  There were three boys and one girl in their family. The oldest brother was Bertoldt.  He settled in Rosenheim and he had one boy and two girls. One of Bertoldt’s daughters married a man by the name of Fleischacker and they lived together in Munich.  

The daughter’s name was Meta. Meta and her husband disappeared we never discovered what happened to them.  Also Bertoldt’s son Willi disappeared and we never learned where he was.  The youngest daughter, Matilda, went to South America, but I have never heard from her either.  Ida, Willi and Louie’s sister, my aunt, married a man named Wiener and they lived in Nuremberg.  I believe she died before Hitler came to power.


    Traunstein was a town of 10 to 12,000 inhabitants at the time I was growing up there.  It was located in the foothills of the Alps. It was a very pretty town with forests around it — well you know that is why I like Portland so much, it is similar–only the Alps are higher and there are more peaks there, very beautiful surroundings with snow covered mountains in the winter. 

In the summer you can swim in the lakes and go hiking.  The city itself is on a stein, a stone, it is elevated.  Around it on three sides flows the river Traun.  So it was very scenic. There were little mountain villages scattered throughout that area.

     We had a thriving business because the farmers from that area came to us when they needed cattle.  My brothers and my uncle went to Belgium and bought horses to trade, the heavy kind for farm work.  

All this was on a big scale. Managers or inspectors from the big estates in Prussia, northern Germany, would come to us often and would buy big oxen for working and wagons full of cattle and transport them north.

     We bought and sold farms.  I believe that Louie and Willi were into this kind of business even before they moved to Traunstein which was around the turn of the century.  In the last century I think that this trade was more or less a common one for Jewish people because at that time it was very seldom that they got a permit for other things.

     We all had a very happy childhood and we were all well cared for.  We never felt any hunger even during the war.  We had the cows and the chickens.  Every week we went to Munich and brought milk and chicken to the Neuburgers. Munich at that time was about a two hour train ride from Traunstein.

    As kids Nanny (Hanny?) was very often with me. Nanny and me were more friends than cousins.

     The Einsteins were a very close knit family. The Einstein girls were much tighter than the Holzer side, or the Neuburger side.  The girls kept close together.

     We didn’t have any public school other than a public elementary school. Girls were not allowed to enter the public high school at that time. So we had to go to a private school in order to go to high school. The private school in Traunstein was in a convent.  The sisters were the teachers and they were very good teachers.

The convent was located up on a hill.  I had to climb 250 steps every day to get up there.  It overlooked the chain of the Alps, a very beautiful sight.  So I loved to go up there.  I was a good student, always happy go lucky and getting into mischief . . .   

My cousins Tilly, Hansi, and Ilsa, and my sister Heddy and I, all of us entered that school.

     Let me tell you how great those sisters were:  We went to school from 8 in the morning until 6 at night, so of course we had to eat some meals there.  When Tilly started there her mother went to the school to talk to the Mother Superior and told her that we were Jews and that our religious law forbid us to eat pork.

From that time on, until I left 8 years later, when they had pork, ham, or whatever, we got served different food.  I never noticed any anti-semitism at that school.

I always had friends.  I brought home more friends than my mother could handle.

     After I finished school my mother wanted me to go to a bigger city, to be involved in a larger Jewish community.  I didn’t want to go to another school because I was fed up with school and I wanted more freedom.

      My sister went to what they call a haus haltungs schule, what you call a home economics class here — they taught them how to cook, to prepare them to be a wife or god-knows-what.  That school was in Frankfurt.  

My mother wanted me to enroll in that school when my time came up after 3 years of high school.  But I said no, I didn’t want that, I wanted freedom instead.

    There was a Jewish paper around that had ads for something like what they call exchange students here.  But the exchanges were not just of students but of people from the big cities up north who wanted to see and experience in a convenient way the life and scenery of the Alps.  

My mother answered one of these ads and I became an “exchange”.  I went to Cologne and a girl from Cologne went to Traunstein.  She loved it there. This happened when I was 17 or 18 years old.

     I went to Cologne.  We had relatives from Laupheim living there, the Vogels. Simon Vogel’s grandmother and my grandfather were brother and sister, so I guess we are second cousins.  The Vogels invited me over every week and they looked out for me.  We became great friends.  The Vogels introduced me to cultural life in Cologne. That is really when I got an appreciation for good music, I got hooked on it.

     The girl who had gone to Traunstein wanted to go back to her home, but I wasn’t ready to leave Cologne so I found another place to live with the help of the Vogels.  Altogether I stayed in Cologne about 3/4 of a year.

     After that, I went home but I did not stay long.  I went to Darmstadt (near Frankfurt, ed.)  I didn’t want to stay in Traunstein any more.  In Darmstadt I was a companion or whatever you call it, to a doctor who had a couple of kids who needed someone to be with them.  I stayed in Darmstadt for about 1/2 a year.

     When I went home my father said he needed me.  At that time we had two office girls and one got married and the other all of a sudden died.  I got home just at that time and my father said to me, “you’re going to work in the office”.  I did not want to do this but it was the German thing, you did what your parents told you to do.

     So I kept the office.  I had had some bookkeeping in school, in high school, and I knew a little typing.  Whatever I did, I did fast.  I enjoyed working for our own business.  My father would say to me, “I don’t know why I had two office girls all these years. . . “


    Then came the Hitler times.  The boycott started in.  In the spring and fall the cattle would be driven to a certain place where all the farmers gathered.  But our family was no longer allowed to go there. That change began in 1933 when Hitler came to power.

     A boycott prohibited gentiles from buying from Jewish people.  If they bought and were found out then they were punished, or they got a black mark and if they got many black marks, well, you know what happens to you.  So we left all our cattle and horses at home.  And you know where the market took place?  In our own yard.  We had a big yard.  On the one side was the building where we lived and on the other side were the stables and the haylofts and the places where the carriages and later the cars and motor bicycles were kept.  

So the farmers came to us.  They said to us, “we have always trusted you, you have always helped us and we are going to stick with you”.  And in a way that was a mistake.  It gave us a false sense of security and kept us from seeing the real dangers. That went on for years.

   I remember one time when the conversation came up about leaving Germany. My father said, “Why should I leave?  I’m born in Germany, my father was in the war and we paid our taxes dutifully and never made trouble for anyone”.  We had a very good name in that town.  When they said it was from Holzer it was respected.  My father and my brothers said, “Why should we go?”  And that was the mistake.  We were nearsighted.

    Then came the annexation of Austria. The Nazis saw what they could get away with in Austria.  After that things went much faster. The people of Austria were more anti-Semitic than the Germans were.  So the Nazis thought, what we can achieve in Austria we will do now also in Germany against the Jews. They did their best to make life as uncomfortable for us as can be.

     My youngest brother, Max, was a happy-go-lucky fellow like I always was — we had a lot in common.  We always got into mischief, just for the laughter from one another.  My mother used to say, “I would laugh too if those two fools weren’t mine!”  We were happy people.  We had no worries, no financial worries.  

We lived from one day to the next, we had our daily food, our love, everything. . .  In 1937 the Nazi’s accused Max of rape and put him in prison.

    That happened after my mother died.  She died in 1936.  I was so glad that my mother died before all that, and what came later – it’s the hardest for a child to see a mother go into a cattle car, to be driven off to be killed . . .

     Let me go back a bit.  I didn’t mention Leopold.  He was a brother who died young of rheumatic fever.  He got rheumatic fever when he was 14.  He was a terrific businessman, he was the best with the horses.  Hansi’s father, Louie, had the horse dealings and we had more the cattle dealing, but Leopold took over the horses.  

He knew the animals, which you have to before you are going to put your money in them because there is a lot of money involved.  He loved to read. When he got rheumatic fever at 14 the remedies that were used at that time were very poor.  He lived another 8 years in agony.  His heart was so damaged that he got every sickness you could think of.  He died in 1927 at the age of 22.

     Max was put in prison in 1938.  He was accused of the worst thing a Jew could do, raping a gentile girl.  Of course this had never taken place.  We got the best lawyer we could get, a Jew from Nuremburg.  He was a veteran of World War 1 and that is why he was allowed to practice law.  

He said to us when he came back from the trial which was held in Traunstein that making his arguments was just like throwing a rubber ball against the wall, it made no impression.  

So Max was condemned to a prison term, I forget the length. They sent him to a prison near Nuremburg.

     Traunstein is a small town and we were the only Jews there.  And they put newspaper headlines in big letters about the trial. (Some time later the court papers from the trial all vanished. They did not want this to come to light. Otherwise later, after the war, we could have sued the state with the proof.           I  could have done a lot when I went back for the first time after the war to Traunstein, but I was too overwhelmed by it all.  It all came back to me, I couldn’t handle it, it was impossible).

     When Max was in prison we tried to do everything.  We wrote to London.  We wrote to America. We tried to get somebody in a government to vouch for him so we could get him out, but we were not able to.

     Life as I had known it in Traunstein was changing.  I had always loved to swim in the lake, Chiemsee, near Traunstein.  I loved the feeling of freedom. I never liked the swimming pool.  We had what we called a schwimm schule, like the Y you have here, but I loved the freedom of going out as far as one can and the waves on the lake and the air and everything.  So I went quite frequently.  

Once I was out there, this was after the beginning of the Hitler times, and I was out by the cabins they had by the lake. The owner of the cabins knew me very well, he said he was glad to see me again and he gave me the key to the cabin and I went out to the beach area to sun bathe before I went into the water.  

I was alone.  I was sitting there when all of a sudden the owner came over to me and he said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but one of the big SS people is here and he noted you and he said he doesn’t want any Jews in the establishment here”.  And he whispered that he couldn’t tell me how sorry he was.  I told him not to worry, that the lake is big enough, that I could go somewhere else.  

So I packed all my clothes in a bundle and went a few hundred yards along the lake to where the beach was a little rockier.  I said, well, take the good with the bad.  I still have the lake, they can’t take that away from me. . .


     I had always maintained contact with the Vogels. They had moved in the meantime from Cologne to Paris.  I wrote to the about the situation.  They wrote me back, “please come over here, maybe we can do something about the problem”.  When we wrote letters at that time we had to be cautious because everything was being checked.  

I wrote back to them telling them that it was very easy to ask me to come but I doubted that I would be able to get a passport.  You see, my family all had had passports at one time because they traveled for business to Austria, Belgium and so on.  

But later all their requests for passports were denied.  I don’t remember anymore the excuse that was used to deny them passports.

    Simon wrote me back insisting that I try to get a passport.  Well, me, happy-go-lucky, I said, there’s no harm in trying.  So I went to the passport office in Traunstein.  There was a guy there who was a replacement for the person who was usually there.

The usual guy was a big SS man from way back, a rabid Nazi. But the fellow who was in his place was a guy who I used to go skiing with.  We had been in the same Turnverein, sporting club, together.  I had belonged to the Turnverein since I was 6 years old. 

I did gymnastics, I was in track meets — I once won a prize for running.  So this guy who I knew asked me what I wanted.  I told him that I wanted a passport because I wanted to go to Paris for the World’s Fair which was going on then.  

He then asked, “do you have your picture with you?”  I couldn’t believe my ears!  I said no, that I had come to find out what the procedures were.  He told me to go to a photographer and get a picture and bring it back the next day to get my passport.  

He took the information. The next day he gave me a five year passport without a “J” in it — all passports for Jews were at that time stamped with a “J”.

     That was my escape. Otherwise I wouldn’t be alive today.  That was the turning point for me.  I wrote to the Vogels in Paris and told them that I was coming.

    Let me go back a minute.  I was in Munich before all that happened. I knew eventually we would have to go, it couldn’t go on, like what had happened to Max.  I said we had to look forward to getting out.

     As a young girl I always wanted to go into the sewing business, into designing clothes.  I always had a love for that.  I went to Munich and I went to a sewing school. 

I was there three months and I stayed with Fred’s mother, Anna.  Hanny was gone already.  Fred was on his business trips.  So their mother was very happy that I stayed with her.  I replaced Hanny, and she was happy to have company.

     Anna Neuburger was a very good woman, a very good-hearted person. In fact she was too good for her own good. I was there at that time when Fred left Germany.  I was the one who took him to the Bonhoff, the railroad station. 

He asked me to stay in Munich as long as I could with his mother so that she would not feel so lonely.

      Later, then, I went back to Traunstein and then from there I went to Paris. That was around the time of the world exhibition in Paris.  I told the Vogels what was going on with us in Germany and they assured me that they would do what they could.  But you know how we felt at that time?  Absolutely powerless.

     After a two week stay in Paris I went back to Traunstein. I remember that our business was still thriving. Then I went back to Paris for a second time, but I have forgotten for what occasion.  In 1939 I traveled to Paris for the third and,

what turned out to be, the final time. The Vogels wanted me to come to Yontef, the Jewish holidays.  When I left Traunstein that last time my father had tears in his eyes. He must have had a feeling. He said to me to please come back again.

     When I arrived in Paris, at that first dinner, I found an affidavit on my plate.  We didn’t have any close relatives in the United States, at least that we knew of, but the Vogels had business connections there.  So he got some contact, a rich guy, I think from Cincinnati, to provide me with an affidavit.

    During my fourth week in Paris the Crystal Night occurred in Germany. That was when they rounded up all the Jews and put them in concentration camps and burned down all of the synagogues.

     On the Crystal Night in Traunstein the first thing the Nazis did was to bombard our house.  I only heard about what happened later from Hansi, she was there. She  had gone from Salzberg to spend a couple of weeks in Traunstein with her husband and her daughter, Rita — the one who lives in Bakersfield now–who was around 14 at that time.

     The first thing they asked (after the Nazis broke into the house) was, where is the girl who went to Paris?  They wanted me very badly. They had been shooting into the house. They interrogated Rita for a long time.  My brother Benno, the oldest one, he jumped out the back and took refuge at a house three houses up which was a bakery. They took him in there and hid him.

      My family had to leave the next day or several days later, leave everything there and go to Munich.  The Nazis wanted Traunstein judenfrie, free of Jews.  

It must have been terrible. They found an apartment that was very close to where the Neuburgers lived.  When I was with Hanny in Munich about 7 years ago she showed me where they had lived.


     After the Crystal Night there was no question of going back to Germany.  The

trouble was that the quota was such that I couldn’t go from Paris to the United States.  Fred and Hanny were there already, but I couldn’t go because of the quota.  The Vogels did everything so that I could stay in Paris as long as possible.  Everyone it seemed like was against you.

     The only place where they let Jewish women in was England.  They needed them as domestics.  The English people didn’t want to play the domestics anymore.  There was no other choice but to go to England as a domestic.

     A Jewish aid organization, HIAS had an office in London and in all the big cities to help the Jews who wanted to come out and to help them to get work. Through them I got a job.  While I was in Paris, Hansi and Paul passed through on their way to Colombia from Salzberg.  

So Hansi and Paul bought me the ticket to go from Paris to Manchester which they brought me from my family in Traunstein, it was a ticket which my family had bought for me.  Hansi also brought me a trunk full of clothes.  I had gone to Paris only expecting to be there for a couple of weeks and I had very little with me.

      I  left Paris and went to England by myself. The people who sponsored me gave me a job there.  I had a roof over my head.  I lived with a couple with two children.  One child was two years old and the other was about six or seven.  I was a domestic, what you call a maid.

     I was glad to be out of Germany.  I was only worried about my family.  While in England I tried to get the papers for my sister Heddy.  I went to the HIAS house and through them I got something so that Heddy could come to Manchester.

They arranged a job for her and everything.  The papers were sent to her.  That was shortly before our holidays again.  That was in 1939 the year the war started.

    Heddy wrote back, so foolishly, that she absolutely could not leave the boys and papa alone over the holidays.  She was so caring.        I was crawling up the wall.

I said, why doesn’t she come?  I did everything I could to help her get out.  But she was too human.  And now I understand it.  Maybe I couldn’t have done it either — you would have called yourself selfish maybe . . . At the time that I was trying to get Heddy out she was living in Munich.

     Everyone in my family by that time had affidavits to go to the United States but the quota would not let them enter.  See, that was Roosevelt.  They always say what a good man he was.  He wasn’t that good.  Maybe he helped a lot of people most probably here in the United States when the work was down, but he did nothing for us.


    I was there in England and I worked as a domestic. The people were very nice. I ate with them at their table. I wasn’t really treated by them as a maid. They knew my heritage and they knew what had happened and they had compassion.

The little boy before I arrived must have been told that a new maid was coming. I’ll never forget, he was two years old, he looked up at me and he said, “mommy that doesn’t look like a maid, she looks like a lady”.

     I was a domestic for a couple of years.  Then the war started.  England needed all the help it could get from women for their factories.  So wherever there were women workers, clerical workers, in stores, or whatever, they were recruited for factory work.  At first we Jews were only allowed to be domestic help.  But when the war broke out we were allowed to choose other jobs.

     I was doing some knitting and sewing. I had one friend, she took a liking to me.  I would shorten dresses for her and do other work for her.  She said to me, Clara, you are so capable, you should go and work in a store and do alterations.  I said that I would be glad to get out of domestic work.  She said that since I sewed so well that it would be a good experience for me.

     This friend bought her clothes in a place in Manchester, like an I Magnins. She was  a very good customer of theirs and she told them about me.  They told her that I could come in and get an interview for a job. The following week I went there and they tried me out.  The boss told me that it was just a tryout, “I don’t say no and I don’t say yes”.  After a week they told me I could stay.  I worked there for about 5 years.

     So I worked as a seamstress.  After one year they gave me one apprentice and after two years they gave me two apprentices.  

     Everything in England was rationed during the war.  Sometimes in the middle of the night you had to get up and go to a shelter.  I always said, to heck with it, I’m not going to go to the shelter.  Whatever happens to me happens.  

But for the sake of the little boy who I was caring for at the time I went because he was calmer when I went with him.

     Everyone was very nervous. You know, the people in the United States, except for the people who were at the front, don’t know what it means for there to be a war.  When you are in the middle of the bombing and you hear that voom as the bomb comes down and explodes, then you really feel the danger of it.

    In 1941 or 1942 I got the message that I could pick up my U.S. visa.  The American consulate was outside of London.  It had been moved outside because of the bombing.  I went to London and stayed there overnight.  In the middle of the night we had to go into the shelter.  The people sang in the shelter to forget their troubles.

    The next day I took a train to Epsom which is a suburb of London to the U.S. consulate.  I got my ticket for passage. Then, just three days before I should have traveled I got a note saying that the war on the ocean was in high gear so there was no passenger transportation available.  So what could I do?  I unpacked and stayed.

     It wasn’t until 1947 that I was able to make my final arrangements to leave England.

     It was quite an experience when I went to get that ticket that time in 1941 or so.  The air raids were going on.  There were planes overhead, and a thunderstorm.  All the hotels were filled with refugees from London.  I didn’t know where to turn.  I went into all the lobbies of all the hotels. 

I went into one which was a poorer class hotel and there were people sitting in there and they asked me what I wanted and I told them, standing there with my suitcase, that I needed a room.  One guy got up and said, you won’t find a room here, but I am happy to give you a room in my home.

      I always had luck in a way.  There were always close calls but I always had a guiding hand by me.  I stayed — accepted his offer. He was terrific.  In the morning he had the coffee and everything on the table and he left me a note on the door which said, “I wish you good luck. 

It was my pleasure to help you out”. English people are marvelous. You especially appreciate it when you are alone and helpless.  Later I got my ticket and my visa and came to the United States.


    I arrived in the United States in the spring of 1947.  The war ended in 1945 but I decided to stay in England two more years.  I stayed with my cousin Fred and his family when I first arrived in New York.

      Hansi at that time lived in Portland.  She had gotten me the second affidavit I needed after the first one which I got from the Vogels had expired.

     Hansi’s daughter Rita had come to the United States by herself when she was 16 years old from Colombia.  I think that Hanny took her under her wing a bit. Rita was always a very ambitious girl.  She went to night school to become a nurse.  She worked in the day and went to school at night.  

Hansi and Paul had lived in Bogota, Colombia before they came to the U.S. Paul had a brother there who made it big right away in rubber.

     I stayed from May to October, 1947, in New York.  During that time I worked in a store.  Then I left for Oregon.  Everybody asked me what I was going to do in Oregon — that was the “wild west” at that time for many people who didn’t even know exactly where Oregon was.  

I moved to Oregon because Hansi was there and she told me what a pretty country it was.  That is what I was looking for.

    So I went to Portland and I stayed with Hansi and Paul for a time, until they left for Alaska.  Then I took my own apartment.  After only three days in Portland I got a job.  I stayed with that firm until they sold out, and then I stayed on with the new firm until I retired.  I was a fitter, I fitted the people and did the sewing and alterations and so forth.

    Of the Holzer family, Hansi and I are the only ones to have immigrated. Hansi’s sister, Ilsa, is still in Wolfratshausen, Munich.  She is married to a gentile. Hansi’s oldest sister, Tillie, was deported.  Hansi’s father, Louie, committed suicide.  

He jumped out of a window, I think in Therienstadt, at least that is what I was told, that he couldn’t take it anymore.  One cousin of my father was there too and he came back.  He later lived in New York.  He died when he was over 90 and he told us the story.

     Heddy was sent to Auschwitz where she died of typhus.  Some people who survived the camps and knew her, some people Nanny knew, told us this.

     When my family got deported I got a letter from the Red Cross which said that they were supposed to be sent to Riga.  But they never reached Riga, they were gassed before they got there — the boys, Fred (Alfred) and Benno were.  

Only my father got to Therienstadt.  I think that Anna Neuburger and Hansi’s father Louie were there too.  My father might have survived except that foolishly enough he thought that somehow he would get together with his boys.  And he asked to be deported from Therienstadt.  

He didn’t realize that to be deported out of Therienstadt meant to go to the gas chambers. That is where he ended up.  (This is not what happened).

     Before all this happened the two brothers had separated. This is something I forgot to mention earlier.  There was a business in Munich and one in Traunstein. After the kids grew up Willi and Louie didn’t get along so well anymore.  So Willi took over in Traunstein and we stayed there.  

And Louie took up the business in Munich, so they had an apartment in Munich and Ilsa was staying there until she got married.


    Right after the war I worked on getting the property of the family back.  I hired a manager.  He wrote to me and said he lived in Traunstein and was Jewish so I trusted him.  But he was the biggest crook.  He put everything in his pocket.  

The property was bought for just a fraction of what it was worth.

     Simone Vogel was always trying to help me out.  He called up and he said, “you better go to Germany, what that guy is doing, I just can’t figure it out”.  So as soon as I became a citizen I went.  I think it was in 1953.  

I was the first one from the whole family to go there, except for Simone who went there on business.  It was a tough thing to go there all by myself, to see a place where I had such a happy childhood.

     I met people there, people I had known from before. They came up to greet me as though all was well, all forgotten.  These were people who knew us and who turned on us, or let what happened to us, happen. 

I didn’t greet them.          I didn’t think all could be forgotten.  I never will.

April 16, 1984 Long Beach, Ca.

Johanna Strauss’s (nee Neuburger) interview

Hanny’s Story

     Moses Leopold Einstein, my grandfather, was a very religious man. He was very well known in his town of Laupheim from what I can remember. The Jews were very well respected there.  Laemmle the film man came from there and a lot of wealthy Jews lived there.  There was the Steiner family for example, which dealt in hops.

     I was born in 1909, so it was 1917 or 1918 when I visited Laupheim and it impressed me very much.  On Friday night all the Jews went to temple.  It was just a small place.  I couldn’t compare it to any place here.  The congregation was like a big family and everybody went to the synagogue.  I myself was not religious.  My grandfather was very religious but not as orthodox as some.  Of course that was 70 years ago, quite a different time from today, horse and buggy days.  

In those days it was a big thing to take a trip from Munich to Laupheim, but when I went back to Germany to visit in later years it was just an hour excursion between them.

     Moses L. Einstein lived to be 81 which is a pretty good age for those times.  I don’t remember what year he died.

     From 1918 on times were hard.  I remember the rationing, standing in line for eggs.  My father had some land which he rented out to farmers who planted potatoes and other things on it.  Every week me and my brother Fred would go there by bicycle to get some milk, eggs, and bread.  My cousin Clara’s parents had cattle and horses and they dealt a lot with the farmers and were thus never in need of food.  

So when they came to visit us in Munich they brought food with them.  Times were not good.  If people would have been satisfied things would not have happened the way they did.

     They whole thing started in Munich.  I remember in 1933 walking with my mother near the Burgerbraukeller and seeing the big red flags with the swastikas in there and I was terrified.  I knew what was coming.  

I was always the one that wanted to get out of there.  My brother still had a fairly good trade and he, along with others, didn’t take the whole thing as seriously at first.

     I wrote to America, to Morton — a cousin from my father’s side — but his family couldn’t give affidavits because they weren’t in such good circumstances.  In Traunstein is where the Holzers lived, and they were in good shape because they had a good business. They all figured that we were German Jews, we were born in Germany, nothing could happen to us.

That was the outlook of a lot of people.

     My father was in the army in World War I, but he was too old for combat.  He was stationed in Dachau which in those days was a munitions factory and he was a guard there.  I remember that my mother took me and Fred very often to Dachau.  

I remember the garden they had there.  That was very ironic.

     After my father got out of the service times were bad.  My father’s business was bad.  He dealt in real estate.  He owned an apartment house and land which he rented out.  My father was more or less retired and we lived from the property that he had.

     My father was born in Munich, not far from where I was born — maybe two or three blocks away.  It was on Herrnstrasse where he was born.  Fred and I were born on Liebherrstrasse. The house we were born in is still standing.

     Our lives were normal between the two world wars. Times were not good, but then we thought that that is just how life is.  My father didn’t do well after the war while before the war he had done very well.

     I know for sure that there was land that belonged to our family that was taken from us. They took land from us, for instance, to build a big airport in an area where there was very little fog.  That happened around 1936-38.  Later my father wrote the government asking for money for that land for which he had never been paid.  That was when I was already in the U.S.  For writing that letter asking Hitler for money, they arrested him for high treason, and executed him.

     Later, we couldn’t claim anything because we had no papers, no proof about that land.  But I know that in another suburb of Munich, near the railroad station my father always said that he had very valuable land.  He was what you could call a silent partner with another German.  My grandfather and that man’s father were partners. They had had an understanding, but none of that was written down. Those people probably became Nazis too.

     My father was a big landowner. The farm, where I said before we used to get milk, that land now is completely incorporated into the city of Munich. It hurts me because it’s all land we never saw any money or anything for.


     I didn’t have much problem when I was in school — not any more than you could expect anywhere.  There were six of us Jews in a class of maybe 30 in a private school.  It was after one of the holidays when we came back that they started up — “It was so nice when you Jews weren’t here”.  We had a big fight about that, one of the ones that said that was a good friend of mine.  

I remember that later on they apologized for what they had said.  There were anti-Semitic outbreaks, but nothing major. That was around 1928-29.

     We lived on Liebherrstrasse and Hitler lived on Thierschstrasse.  I saw him walking in his trench coat with his dog when he was nothing.  Later, when we lived on the Trogerstrasse, he lived on Prinzregentenstrasse.  By that time he was already the Chancellor.  

One time I saw three big open Mercedes coming, and I watched them, and they all had on trench coats just like Hitler.  And when he came out there was so much commotion that you couldn’t tell which car he got into.  I saw him sometimes very close up.

     When I was still home it started.  Certain people were taken away at night.  It was a frightening experience.  I had a nervous breakdown because I could feel the whole thing coming and I didn’t have an affidavit. 

I wanted to go.  I couldn’t walk in a straight line anymore and I didn’t know what it was, but I was having a nervous breakdown.

     Slowly but surely things started to happen.  If you went out with a friend and the friend wasn’t Jewish, you were worried.  If you went to the suburbs of Munich some place in his car and wanted to go in a restaurant you had to avoid places that had signs reading “No Jews Allowed”.  You saw that all over.

I traveled to Stuttgart to the American Consulate and no one harmed me.  I had no personal experience with being attacked directly.

     Last year when Hansi was here — she is the one who lives in Wenatchee — she left Germany after Fred and I did — we stayed up late into the night talking about those days.  She told us things that Fred and I didn’t know.  She told us about a night in Traunstein.

     The Holzers, who were the only Jews in Traunstein, were well liked, and they thought I was crazy to come to America because they thought nothing would happen.  When I left I said to them, why don’t one of you come along on a visitors visa and see how it is.  

And they said no.  And then one night, after the Anchluss in Austria Hansi was in Traunstein.  Hansi grew up in Traunstein but she went to Salzburg where she got married before the Nazis took over Austria.  So Hansi had lived in Austria and after the Anchluss they decided that they had to leave.  

So they were in Traunstein visiting one night.  The SS came that night and shot into the house and arrested everyone.  Hansi’s daughter who was 14 at that time was with them. And there was also another family from Freilasing with two children, maybe 8 or 9 years old. When the Nazis broke in one of Clara’s brothers, whose name is Benno Holzer, he got away by climbing over the roof.  

The SS asked for him but no one knew where he was. The SS got hold of Hansi’s daughter Margaret and questioned her all night.  It must have been terrible. From that night on that girl was a different person.

     Later, Hansi and Margaret went to Bogota.  But Rita (Margaret) didn’t like it there and she wanted to come to the United States.  They sent her here and we helped her get a position in a household.  Later she married a Catholic and she converted to Catholicism.

     After that night in Traunstein the SS let them go from jail, but the family had to leave Traunstein, and they never went back.  They went to live in Munich.  The Nazis were herding the Jews more and more into the cities.

     Clara Holzer was in Paris the night the SS came to her families’ home in Traunstein.  She never went back to Germany.  A few years ago I was in Germany and went to Traunstein. People told me about the youngest brother of the Holzer family, Max, who was arrested and tried for supposedly having relations with a non-Jewish German girl. 

At the trial this girl, who was retarded, testified against him.  Max’s best friend also spoke against him, it was he who denounced him.  Max was sent to prison.  That all came out in the newspapers at the time. Fred read about it in a paper while he was traveling in Czechoslovakia.  

And Fred sent me that article and I was frightened to death.  I was, by this time, in the U.S. and I thought that if they found out that he sent an article like that to the U.S. they would arrest him also.  I can’t describe the fear that I felt at that time.

     Max was sent to prison, to what would be in the U.S. a penitentiary.  After that we never could find a trace of him.  He must have been sent to the concentration camp. 

When I was in Germany a few years ago I spoke with a lawyer who handles Clara’s affairs there and he told me that he had gone to the courthouse in Traunstein and looked up the different cases looking for Max Holzer’s case.  

Supposing Max Holzer’s case was #450, well the lawyer found #449 and #451, but #450 wasn’t there.  There was no proof left behind.

     As to whether the Jews in Germany could have resisted what happened, I don’t believe they could have. You couldn’t do anything, there was no way.  There was an uprising in Poland, according to what I read now in the papers, but they were all slaughtered. You didn’t have a chance.  Not a chance.

     I graduated from school by 1924 or 25. After I graduated I worked for a while as a cashier in a department store.  It was hard to find work.  Later I was waiting to immigrate.  That was from 1933 on.

     I was too young to really remember Eisner (Kurt Eisner of the German Social Democratic Party).   I was impressed very much by all of that — I remember the revolution vaguely — but I don’t really remember very much about it.  

I remember much more about 1933 when Hitler came to power.  They put up a flag and everybody who passed by it had to salute it.  As a Jew I didn’t want to salute the flag so I remember making a big detour to avoid that street, the Dienerstrasse.  

Still, I had a friend who worked in the building where that flag was, who was a librarian there and she had been there a long time.  In some places they needed the Jews.

     Under Eisner the government was democratic.  German Jews were very high and mighty at that time.  I remember when Jews from Poland would come to Germany and German Jews looked down on them.  

In Poland there was always anti-Semitism and the ghettos.  That was burned into me. Now when I read about Poland and read about Walesa and all that, I couldn’t care less that the Poles don’t have it good now because they were against the Jews there all the time, as far back as I can remember.  

Poland was always an anti-Semitic country, but Germany was not.

     My father felt very German. My father, my grandfather, and great grandfather, as far as I know, came from the vicinity of Bavaria, not far from Munich. That goes back to the 1700s. So we were more German than a lot of Germans there.


     I was lucky.  I found a good doctor when I was in Germany.  I really had a nervous breakdown around the years 1935-36.  And I remember in 1937 that I had to go to Stuttgart, and I thought, how am I going to make it there?

 I could hardly walk in a straight line.  But there was this doctor.  I don’t remember his name any longer, but he helped me.  He wrote down on a piece of paper, “I am perfectly quiet”.  

Whenever I felt especially nervous I looked at that paper and it helped.  I was under hypnosis.  I saw what was coming and I was afraid for everyone.

     Other people didn’t see it, or didn’t want to see what was coming.  They were “Germans”. Like Clara’s cousin from the other Holzer family, the oldest daughter, Hansi’s sister.  She perished.  

She was taken away and we never heard from her again.  Her husband was a veteran of the First World War, he even had the Iron Cross, but it didn’t mean a thing.  He was held in Dachau for a while.  So was my father who was arrested along with other Jewish men and held for a while before they released them.

     I was ready to leave Germany in 1933.  I didn’t know where to go.  You needed an affidavit.  The relatives that we had here were not in good circumstances.  

My only salvation was that I could write English.  My father’s brother, Morton’s father, was dead already. Morton, who lived in Chicago spoke no German and his mother spoke no German either. Luckily my father had kept in correspondence with them over the years.  

My father wrote letters in German and his sister-in-law had so many family ties with Germans that she was able to get them translated.  Morton was a little older than Fred and me.  

So I kept on corresponding in English as best as I could and told him that I wanted to come.  Morton’s family had nothing. I saw that when I got here.  

He tried to get help from the relatives.  Finally an affidavit came and I got notified by the American consulate that the affidavit wasn’t sufficient. I kept on writing and I was lucky, I finally got the affidavit that I needed. The minute that I got the affidavit I went to the U.S. consulate in Stuttgart and I got the visa.  That was in 1937.  It had taken four years.

     I remember that my brother drove me from Munich to Hamburg and it was on the evening of Yom Kippur when I went on the boat. I felt terrible to leave people behind.  When I came here I saw that Morton’s family was not well off, but they were very nice.

The big tragedy for them was that I couldn’t play bridge!  They were all into playing bridge, so the first thing they taught me was how to play bridge.

    I wanted to make money.  I couldn’t believe how it was here.  It was so different from how it was in Germany.  My aunt played bridge to one or two o’clock in the morning.  In the morning we were dead tired.

 If we were lucky my aunt would have a couple of lamb chops which she’d put on in the afternoon.  And then later Morton would dry the dishes.  My brother was still in Germany then and he would write and ask what he would have to do when he came over.  I wrote him in English, “you’ll find out”.  

I remember one time I wrote him and told him that he would have to learn how to dry the dishes.  Well, you know in Germany men didn’t do that kind of work.  So then he wrote me back and said he didn’t know what that meant, “dry the dishes”.  And I answered, never mind, you’ll find out when you come.

     It was lousy times when I came here in 1937.  You couldn’t find a job for beans.  Morton was a tie salesman when I came here.  I went with him on business.  Three or four days I ran around in Chicago with him and I was pretty tired of running around and my head hurt from always trying to speak English.

 And I thought, how am I going to let Morton know that I had had enough?  So I said, “Morton, stop”.  And Morton said, “stop, why?”. I said, “Because my stomach is unhappy!”  And he almost drove up on the sidewalk when I said that, but I had to express myself somehow, no?

     In Chicago I did any job I could find.  Morton’s family was very high in their estimation. They thought working in a household wasn’t acceptable for me.  I got a job from the Council of Jewish Women in a factory working at night.  

Then, one night, at one o’clock I heard someone call out my name.  It was Morton.  He got me and said, “as long as I have something to eat, you will have something to eat and you don’t need a job like this”.

     I didn’t want to do anything at that time to cause any break because I wanted to get the affidavit for my brother.  So I mainly worked on that.  A lot of people who knew me put money in Morton’s account.  People did this just because they knew me.  

I couldn’t really have a job because I was busy getting all the things together for the affidavit.  I remember on one night, it was 12 o’clock, and we drove downtown in Chicago to the main post office that was open at night to mail the affidavit.  

My father must have informed Fred who was in northern Germany when the affidavit arrived.  Fred was writing to Chicago at that time that his business in Germany was good.  And in Chicago business wasn’t so good so people said what the hell does he want to do here when he writes that he has a good business.  

So I went and tore his letters up and told them he was very anxious to come.

     After the affidavit was sent out I felt much freer.  I took a position as a companion in a household.  I had a nice room on the south side of Chicago.  I stayed there 14 weeks.  There I made $14 a week.

 This family had a big children’s store and an elegant apartment.  Instead of giving me the $14 he put it in the bank.  They were Russian Jews. They told me they would give me what I needed and put the $14 for me in the bank.

     Morton’s family is the reason why I am still alive and Fred is still alive.  I came to Chicago in September and left there about a year later in August. I wanted to be in New York when my brother arrived.


       I spoke some English, but people still told me to go to night school.  At the night school there was Ludwig and his brother Sidney and his sister Sophie. They were all sitting together. And I got friendly with Sophie, but I didn’t know that Ludwig was her brother.  

When I met them their mother had died just a few months before. They were the only German family outside my own relatives, that I knew at that time.  Ludwig had brought his sister over here in 1935.  Then he went back to Germany and got his mother.  

When they left, they left their apartment there just as it was, and walked out.  Ludwig had money in the United States already.  There were Jews that had transferred their money out of Germany.  That was a part of Germany that I didn’t know about at that time. 

Ludwig had been a businessman in Germany before he came over to the U.S. and he paid someone to smuggle money out for him.  

     Ludwig worked for Hart, Schaffter, and Marx for a while in Chicago.  Then Ludwig moved to New York and he wrote me and later and I joined him there.  I wanted to be there also because Fred was going to arrive there.  I knew with the way the work situation was in Chicago that Fred would be better off in New York.

      Ludwig was very much a socialist.  He died when he was 67.  He had retired at 62.  At that time he said, “that’s enough for me”.  He thought that money didn’t mean that much.  As I mentioned my father lost everything, what is the sense of having so much?  

I remember reading a very good article from Forbes magazine, Gary (my son-in-law) has the article.  In it it said, “Better to live rich than die rich”.  My friend in Denver, she used to say how she laughed about Ludwig’s ideas, but now everything that he said is coming true — that’s what she said — she still often thinks about how right he was with all his sayings and predictions about politics.  

Ludwig always got very much involved in everything.  He took politics too seriously, he got high blood pressure.  When he was in the hospital we didn’t give him any paper to read.  He didn’t believe that communism was so bad.  

He didn’t think that one person had to be so tremendously rich and the next person has nothing.  He didn’t think Russia was so bad.  Of course what they are doing now, with the persecution of the Jews and other things he certainly wouldn’t stand for that.  

But he never saw that communism meant going after a certain race.  It doesn’t mean that, does it?

     Ludwig knew that the older Kennedy would have sold all the Jews down the river, he didn’t care about them.  Roosevelt knew what was going on.  Who turned away that ship off Miami full of refugees, turned it back with 900 Jews aboard it?  

In the 1950’s when that thing happened in Hungary they let the Hungarians in without a quota, while the Jews had to wait for their number. That was one of the things that got Ludwig thinking the way he did.

Interview conducted in Long Beach, December 13, 1983.

Fred Interview

Fred’s Story


  I wish that I would have had a chance to sit and talk with my father and my grandfather in more depth because then I would know more what to say. Very little was written down with respect to family history and all that I know is what my father told me and what I learned indirectly from other places, including some from my grandparents.

  We know that where the Neuburger name is concerned, that this family came from small towns in Bavaria, and from one town in particular called Mönchsdeggingen, where no Jews lived after 1933 anymore. This is a small town.

There were only a few Jews there, and, as far as I know, my grandfather was active in dealing in hide and felt. Jews at that time were limited in their occupations. They only could deal as merchants or with money. Most people in those small towns did business with the people who lived on farms.

  Later on my grandfather, whose name was Max Neuburger, moved his family to Munich where my father was born in 1871. It was a large family. My father had three brothers, all of whom moved to America in the 1890’s. All eventually settled in Chicago.

As far as I know, the eldest brother, Markus, had first settled in Denver, Colorado. Many Jews in those days after arriving in New York moved on to other areas, especially where mining took place. The main mining areas in those days were in Colorado and Idaho.

   One other brother, Heinrich, who also lived in Chicago, had no family. The third brother, who was Hugo, had one son whose name was Morton. Morton was the one who gave the affidavit for my sister Hanny and for myself.

He did this even though he had no money and had to borrow it. The children of Markus, on the other hand, some of whom were wealthy, did not do anything to help.

Fortunately this one son Morton, who died just seven years ago, had a warm feeling for what the Jews in Germany had to suffer, and this made it possible for us to come over before it was too late.


   Speaking of Morton’s family, he has two daughters, one in Los Angeles, and one in Peoria, Illinois, and one son now living in New York. For that one reason, what their father did for us, we should keep in touch with them.


   Coming back to the history of the Neuburger side from Germany: My grandfather’s wife was born with the name Levinger. She came from a small town called Huerben, a suburb of Krumbach in Schwaben, Bavaria. Jews in those days often did not meet before marriage.

Usually they had somebody as a go-between. They all lived in small villages and this way their marriages in many cases were arranged, and this is what happened in my grandfather’s case.

  After their marriage my grandmother, Jette Levinger and Max Neuburger lived in Mönchsdeggingen, a small town in the northern part of Schwaben near a place called Nördlingen.

In those days almost all the Jews, and this goes back to the beginning of the 19th century, lived in small towns. Only later, at the end of the 19th century, did they move to the larger towns like Munich, Augsburg or Nuremberg, the principal towns in Bavaria.

Centuries ago, there were Jews living in Munich, but they had been wiped out by persecutions.

  My mother’s maiden name was Einstein. She came from a small town near Ulm on the Donau. Her father was born in Laupheim as was his father. My mother’s grandfather came from a small town in Schwaben named Fellheim.

The first Jews who settled in Laupheim came only in the 18th century.

  In those days Jews could not settle where they wanted to. They had to have the permission of the ruler of the particular part of the country they were in. These were called Kurfursten, and they were the arbiters of life and death, and they controlled the destiny of the people who lived in their part of the country.

Later on, when all segments of the country were united under a king, the Kurfursten still decreed under what conditions Jews could live. Only the first born was allowed to marry. The others had to move to different towns to marry.

I have documents from the history of the Jews in Laupheim and it is all written down in detail about how the Jews could live there.


   As to the history of this particular small town, at the end of the 19th century it had a maximum Jewish population of 8-900 people. In the beginning they had a handful of people who all had to live in one house they called the Judenhaus.

There they established a place of worship in the attic. My great grandfather who came from Fellheim, was, according to documents, in that town what was called in German the Judenvorsteher.

In other words, he was in charge of the few Jews who lived in that particular town.  His name was Leopold Einstein. He officiated at all the activities of Jews in their religious life.

The whole life of a Jewish community in those days in the small towns was centered on religious practices.


   My grandfather in Laupheim was dealing in cattle in the country, and he worked very hard at this job. Nevertheless, he went every morning to the synagogue. He observed the religious practices so that he would not work on Sabbath, and his house was strictly kosher.

I know the house they lived in because I was often on vacation in Laupheim. The house was very small even though they had a family of four daughters and one son. What kept all these people going was their religious practice.

If they hadn’t believed strongly as Jews, they could never have survived. Only when they were allowed to move to the big towns did they become more liberal in their religious practices; they were more emancipated, they didn’t stick to the religious tradition as their parents and grandparents did; they did not practice in the strict orthodox sense and the Jewish religion spread out more in the liberal and reform forms as we see it today in this country.


   My grandmother from my mother’s side came from a small town in Schwaben named Ichenhausen where there was for many years back a sizeable Jewish community. Her name was Hannchen Mai.

The reason that I know this is because I still have at home the marriage contract of those days between my grandfather and my grandmother, between Moses Einstein and Hannchen Mai. The contract was made by their parents. In as much as Hannchen Mai did not have a father it was signed by her mother and by his father, Leopold Einstein.

As was the custom in those days, it was written down exactly how much each one brought into the marriage.


   Moses Einstein, my grandfather, had the intention once to emigrate to North America. Many Jews in those days emigrated for one reason, they wanted to get out of being drafted into the German army.

They had to have a permit to leave the country. Obviously for some reason he didn’t leave the country. Two years later he was married.

  Moses Einstein had four daughters and one son. The one son was Ludwig. I remember him from when I was still a child. He died rather young. Of the four daughters, my mother was the youngest. Two of the daughters married two brothers whose name was Holzer.

My cousin, Clara Holzer, is the daughter of one of them. She is the only survivor of her family. The others were all killed by the Nazis.


   The other daughter who married a Holzer was Bertha. She had three daughters. One of them, Hansi, who is now living near Portland. Another, Ilse, is living in Munich.

Ilse only survived because her husband was a Catholic and he refused to divorce her as he was called upon to do by the Gestapo when Hitler came to power. For that reason he was not inducted into the active German army but was treated like a prisoner by the SS and used by the German army to build fortifications in France.

He was only released long after the war ended. Ilse and her husband live at present in a suburb of Munich called Wolfratshausen.


   The third daughter’s married name was Tillie Spatz. Her husband had died, and she lived in Munich with her son. Both of them were deported as far as we know to Riga and were killed there. This was one of the first deportations from Munich.


   Another deportation around that same time was of the Holzer family. Willi Holzer, whose wife had died years before, and one son Benno Holzer, and another son Alfred with his wife, and a daughter Hedwig, all were deported and did not survive.

As far as we know Hedwig Holzer was sent to Auschwitz and died there of typhus. We got this information from a survivor.


   My mother was deported first to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia and then to an unknown destination in Poland where she perished. My father, Benno Neuburger was accused of making a written remark about Hitler. He was arrested in Munich by the SS and finally deported to Berlin.

He was tried in the so-called Volksgerichtshof and executed in Berlin. He had requested to be buried in the large Jewish cemetery called Weisensee, but we could never find out where he was because obviously his last wish was not granted. He was killed in 1942.


   We know all of this because he was allowed to write one letter to my cousin Ilse Schuster, and he wrote about this in his last letter before his execution in Berlin. He also sent the watch he had. This is still in our possession.

My mother I know about because she was allowed to write one card from the so-called collection center in Munich where she was before being deported. They were all sent by cattle cars to the next destination, which was for her at that time, Theresienstadt.


   The history of those Jews who lived in the small towns in Bavaria is almost completely ended because the few survivors are mostly older people who in due time will write the final chapter of the Jews in that part of Bavaria.


  I was born in Munich in 1908. World War I broke out in 1914. I can say that the Jews in Germany were as patriotic as anybody else. 12,000 Jews died on the battlefield for Germany. My father didn’t have to go actively into the German army and fight on the front because of his age. He was, ironically, guarding a munitions factory in Dachau site of the future concentration camp.

My mother and I visited him there once during the war. I remember this very clearly.


   When the war ended my father who had retired before the war broke out figuring that he could live on the money that he had accumulated, lost everything.

This was in part because we had pledged a lot of money on war bonds and on account of Germany losing the war they were worthless. All the other investments on stocks and other things suffered under the terrific inflation that came after the war. All became worthless.

  When Hitler opened his first mass meetings in Munich, I remember very clearly how they were advertised on the kiosks, the advertising columns on the city streets in Munich — in big red banners inviting people in the name of

Adolph Hitler, a man who at that time was complete unknown, to mass meetings simultaneously in the ten biggest beer halls in Munich.

The top of the banners mentioned that Jews were not allowed, and they appealed to anti-Semites to come — hammering home the theme that the Jews were the enemies of the Germans.


   This theme was also proclaimed in Hitler’s new published newspaper the Völkischer Beobachter (People’s Observer) which was located only a block from where I lived. Hitler himself lived only two blocks from me.

I passed his house every day and I often saw him at his house on my way to the gymnasium in Munich.


   I went to the Wilheims Gymnasium, a preparatory school for the university. This gymnasium was famous for being perhaps the most nationalistic in all of Germany.

The students in the upper grades came to school already by 1920 wearing swastikas as members of the Nazi Party.

   The first mass meeting of the Nazis took place in Munich already by 1919. In 1919 there was the Rate Republic, and after this Hitler started. In 1919 he had his first meeting in a small beer stube, also about a couple of blocks from where I lived, and where they really started the Nazi Party.

And from then on it went very fast. I know all the places where they had their headquarters in Munich. The first followers were those people who had nothing to lose. They were not successful in their businesses, and they followed those who were pointing to other people, blaming the situation that they were in on the minority, which in those days was the Jews. The Jews were defenseless, as was true throughout history.


   There was a vacuum that was created after the Kaiser abdicated in 1918 and the Weimar Republic was established. There was a very strong element of the German people that was very nationalistic; officers coming back from the war, longing for a situation where the old German Reich like that under Bismarck could be re-established under the banner of the red, white, and black.

They never recognized the new Weimar Republic under the socialist constitution. It was a fertile ground for all nationalistic elements to obstruct the building of a new Germany. So even in this gymnasium that I attended, much of the faculty, professors and part of the students promulgated the old German Reich and not the Weimar Republic.


   Every year, in January, on the birthday of the old German Reich under Bismarck, the whole Gymnasium was assembled under the old flag and speeches were given indoctrinating the students with loyalty to the old Reich.

When the other side of the political spectrum, the more radical element, the communists, who wanted to have something to say in the Weimer Republic lead by a fraction called Spartacus, established for a short time what was called the Rate Republic in Munich under Eisner and Toller, nationalistic elements marched on Munich and executed all of the leaders of this movement. They had lasted only a couple of weeks.

A political vacuum had been created because the Weimar Republic wasn’t strong enough to make it on its own, and this left an opening for the Rate Republic which was then itself ended.


   The nationalistic elements were divided between Deutsch Nationale and the Stahlhelm, a confederation of soldiers who came back from the war. Stahlhelm is the name of the steel helmet worn in the war by the soldiers.

They promulgated the more nationalistic tendency in German politics. But it was all part of the whole picture in Germany that worked against the Weimar Republic, and that of course lead later on to the rise of Hitler.

   This was greatly influenced by the economic conditions in Germany after the war. People had lost their money and their businesses, and Hitler was pointing out how he could make things better — that the loss of the war was not the fault of the German army, but of so-called treachery behind their backs, and that certain people, among them Jews, were responsible for Germany’s defeat and the resulting situation.

Many people who did not really think about it went along.


   They say that Hitler was a hypnotic speaker. I listened personally at one of his meetings, later on, in one of my travels in Germany. He could hypnotize people by the way he spoke.

He didn’t talk very rationally, but he could talk to people and tell them what they wanted to hear in a manner that was convincing.


  I grew up in Munich in a gentile community. I was a member of a big sport club, 1860 was the name of the club. I was a member of the athletic team and the handball team. As one of several Jews among the thousands of their members, I was regarded as one of them–until 1933.

Then, under the motto of the so-called gleichshaltung, which meant you could only associate with your own nationality or race, the Jews were forced to leave the club. We were excluded from anything that was considered German as we were considered as not belonging to the German race.

Any Jew who was a member of an organization that was not 100% Jewish had to leave it, and the only way you could belong to anything was if it was all Jewish. This is why we started the Jewish sport club in Munich. It was there that I got in contact with people that I never knew before, and we became friends.

I followed the fate of some of those people, some of them I know, like me, were able to emigrate, and some of them could not get out. . .


   In general, the German people were not anti-Semitic before Hitler. But after he came to power many of them sensed an opportunity for advancement and basically adopted Hitler’s philosophy and turned against the Jews.

I had personal experience in that respect with people that I knew at that time who changed the color of their shirt almost overnight and became ardent Nazis. As long as Hitler was successful in fulfilling his promises to the German people, they followed him.

Many directly and indirectly became his followers and were cheering him on. It was disregarded by many of them what he did to the Jews. We were a small minority and were expendable, even though our roots in Germany dated back many hundreds of years.

All of a sudden this didn’t count any more. This should be a lesson. We should never feel safe in a society that tolerates racial discrimination.


   When I traveled for the company and visited sporting goods stores, all of whom had to belong to the Nazi Party, speaking as I did the Bavarian dialect, with no so-called Jewish features, I was accepted by people who didn’t know that I was Jewish.

I had all kinds of experiences in that respect about their feelings about Jews and how tolerated we were only to the extent that they didn’t know we were of the Jewish race as they said.


   Even some of the people that I worked with saw the opportunity to grab what the Jews lost and turned directly or indirectly against us.

I know of many circumstances where people who I knew personally very well underwent a change of heart and followed the new doctrine.


   I still remember the day Hitler came to power in 1933. After that there was no way out. And yet, we were always hopeful. I only talk in this way about the German Jews since all this movement and all this propaganda naturally only affected German Jews — Hitler had no influence at that time outside the borders of Germany on events which would later prove to be so disastrous for Europe.

But for us German Jews, at least until 1933 there was still a hope that even if he should come to power that it would not be as serious as it was being proclaimed.


   What indirectly helped Hitler of course, was the way that the Germans were disenchanted with their economic conditions and how the Versailles Treaty made it impossible for Germany to recover.

They felt that an injustice had been done to them, and those elements in Germany who felt that they could correct the situation, they saw in Hitler their salvation, and they followed him.


   In 1933 the elements that were still against Hitler and had the power to negate him the access to power, like Hindenburg, gave in, and Hitler was elected. From that moment on then, the history of the world was turned around.

And then, the other world powers which had it in their means to stop him, didn’t.


   In 1925 I left the gymnasium. Because of the economic conditions my parents were in I could not go on to study at the university, so I had to start doing something to make a living.

I entered commercial life with a company in Munich, first as an apprentice, and in the second year, even as an apprentice, they decided to send me on the road.


   From 1926 on I was travelling by car, first through the southern part of Germany and then later on, gradually, to the northern part of Germany, the middle part, and all over.

That is how I got more acquainted with the political situation — through the personal experience I had with those people.


   Many people that I met openly declared themselves in favor of Hitler. Others were strongly against him. All of them knew that some change had to take place.

I talked to people who were very active in the Social Democratic Party and to people who were active in the Communist Party. Many of those people later became associated with the Nazi Party because they thought it would better their own existence. What happened to the Jews was of minor concern to them, or irrelevant.

That shows that what subsequently took place, the destruction of German Jewry, was not opposed by any sizeable segment, openly at least, of the German people.


   In other countries where the German army entered, the opposition to their program was not sufficiently strong to obstruct the plans Hitler had in regard to Jews.


   So in 1933 a new chapter began in the life of the Jews in Germany. Some Jews were, of course, very anxious to leave. Some left very soon. There were less restrictions in those days, and they managed to get some money out.

But many others felt they would stay and see what would happen over the next few years. As things approached 1938 where the German propaganda machine in regard to Jewish policy became very obvious, many tried desperately to get away.


   I lived under Hitler from 1933 to 1938 under trying circumstances. I had to be very careful traveling as I did all over Germany, being in contact as I was with my customers who were almost all Nazis.

Many of them knew that I was Jewish and I never knew, with all the propaganda being propagated against the Jews, if one or the other would for some reason denounce me as they did with other people who then disappeared in the concentration camps.

   When I finally did have the good luck to leave Germany, and had to leave my parents and so many other people behind, it was with a heavy heart.

We didn’t know if we would ever see each other again.

Some of the young people who I grew up with in Munich left even before Hitler came to power for what was at that time Palestine.

But very few people had the foresight to leave Germany in those days because they just couldn’t believe that things would get so critical. Also, conditions in the world were economically not that good such that someone could expect to make a living in a strange country.

   As it turned out later almost everyone was willing to go under any circumstances because the most important thing is not economic survival but physical survival.

   We got, finally, a visa for my sister Hanny to leave. I brought her personally with a car to Hamburg. I went with her to the boat. Even as she left, not knowing, living under the danger that we lived under in Germany, still somehow I was optimistic.

No matter how trying your circumstances you try to think of the best, even in the face of great uncertainty.

   I was still travelling in 1938. I knew that sooner or later I would be called to

the consulate in Stuttgart, the American Consulate, for the examination that you have to have before you were able to get a visa for the United States.

When I finally got word from my parents I was in Breslau which is the main town in Silesia. The news had come from the American consulate that I could take my physical examination in order to get the visa, and I decided that same day to return even though I was on a business trip far from Munich.

I travelled all night to Munich, and I arrived in the morning and made all the preparations for my emigration. As soon as I got my visa I would have the possibility to leave, and I wanted to leave as soon as possible.


   At that time the restrictions on Jewish emigration were very tight. We had to declare everything we would take along, all our clothes — money we could not take — and we had to pay the German government the equivalent money value of what we took along.

The emigration permit was issued on the basis of having paid this money. So I left Germany practically without anything.

  This friend of mine who lived in San Francisco, Mittleburger, who died a year ago, who has a brother in New York who I saw there in June, they both came over at about the same time.

I was very close especially with the brother in New York. We were together in the Jewish sport club, and we were together just prior to our emigration.


   I went with Frank Mittleburger when we went to get our luggage inspected prior to leaving Germany. We had a moving company pick up a wooden box in which I had a carpet and a small piece of furniture that my parents had given me to take along and which I could not get into my suitcase.

I had rolled a couple of movie cameras into that carpet. I had a few gold coins which I had rolled into a stocking. The man who was employed by this company that picked up the box with the furniture assured me that there would be no inspection.

We were asked to show up as a formality to sign some documents at the moving company. This friend of mine also had some piece of furniture to ship. When we came into that moving company, to our surprise there was a Nazi inspector who ordered us to open up the boxes! If they had found any of the gold pieces or the cameras I would have been put in a concentration camp. They didn’t.


   I found out later that the man from the moving company, even though he was Jewish, was a collaborator with the Nazis.


   We were lucky. We were in a state of shock that this inspection had taken place. We still talk about that experience we had together — just the last time I saw Mittleburger in New York we talked about this.


   The two Mittleburger brothers were at the small wedding that we had in the Rabbi’s study when Kate and I got married in March, 1941.

  Frank Mittleburger was an engineer. He studied engineering in a prestigious school in Germany and had a recommendation from a Nobel prize winner, a professor Willstaetter and he got a scholarship to MIT in Boston.

He became a successful engineer. He just sold his company that he had established in New Jersey. His brother, Ernest, who was in San Francisco, was in the wine business and subsequently established the wine museum.

Ernest has a son and a daughter. His wife still lives in San Francisco.


  I left Germany at the end of July, 1938. I had a railroad ticket to Paris. I stayed a few days in Paris and then boarded an English ship in Cherbourg that was part of the Cunard line. Prior to this, a friend of mine from Munich who was half Jewish — his father was Jewish but not his mother — was allowed to leave Germany and accompany me to Paris. His name was Kohn.

I paid him to accompany me to Paris because some of the luggage I didn’t declare, and he could take some things along. Thus it was easier for me to get some more clothes out.


   I spent a few days with Kohn in Paris. He spoke French. I had even paid him before to bring some luggage to Paris, and to leave it with a relative of mine, Simon Vogel (who subsequently also came to the United States).

Simon was a cousin of my mother who came from Laupheim. He lived in Paris at that time and was the head of a chemical concern which had its main office in Paris. (Simon Vogel attended my daughter Linda’s wedding in Long Beach and died several years after the wedding).

   At that time, as I have said, I was lucky to get out on that ship. I was able to pay for a first class ticket with the money that I had. If you travel first class, even if you have no money at all nobody knows.

You paid the ticket and you are with people who have all the money in the world, like rich Americans travelling across the Atlantic. In those days there was only steamship travel. It was a journey of about 8 or 10 days. I still have the passenger list at home.


   Only when you leave a country like this — even though it was with a heavy heart because I had to leave my parents, and even though the economic conditions in the United States in 1938 were anything but good — can you understand how glad I was to get away?


   I arrived in the U.S. in the beginning of August, 1938. My sister Hanny and her future husband Ludwig were on the dock in New York when I arrived. One week later my sister got married in New York.

She had moved from Chicago where she had first lived after coming from Germany one year earlier, in 1937. Hanny and Ludwig got married in New York which is why I stayed in New York.


  I was willing to do anything. My knowledge of the English language was not so good because I was never forced to speak English like you are when you live in a country. The conditions for finding a good job were not good.

I got a job in a place in downtown New York where they employed many of those men who had come over from Europe on account of Hitler. I stayed there for almost two years, sometimes working for as many 60 or 70 hours a week, 6 days a week.


  The life of the Jews in Germany was made gradually so unbearable that those who were not lucky enough to emigrate had really no life at all.

We tried everything to get my parents out of Munich. We even bought them a visa to enter Cuba because their entrance number at the American consulate in Stuttgart was so high that they had no chance of being called in under the quota before the war broke out.

   We paid all the money we had at that time to buy the visa, but the money was kept and never returned. My parents had no means to go anyplace. They were deported and killed.

The last contact we had with them was in 1941. We tried to get the visa to get them out after the war broke out, but the conditions were so bad. I still have all the letters up to the last.


   They always kept their hope that they could get over to this country, but due to the very narrow minded restrictions of the various countries which had the opportunity and the means to absorb them, at least on a temporary basis until they could go to the U.S. — I can mention for example Canada and Australia –they could not escape the fate that awaited them.


   One ship that was known all over the world, its name was the St. Louis, sailed to the Caribbean, but it was not allowed to land there nor in the U.S., and it subsequently had to return to Europe. Most of the people on that ship perished afterward.

This was a German ship which was carrying refugees. After it was refused permission to land in Cuba it approached the coast of Florida. When it was not allowed to dock there it had to turn back for Europe. That was in the year 1940.  A lot of people could have been saved in those days.


   I was lucky enough to have left in 1938, before the so-called Crystal Night in November, 1938. On that night most of the Jewish males were put in concentration camps, including my father who was put into Dachau and later released.


   When this situation came up with my parents, that they probably could leave on a Cuba visa, I had just gotten married. We took all of our money, $840, a lot of money then, and we spent it on a Cuban visa.

That money was never paid back by the Cuban government even though they couldn’t leave Germany by then. But I would never forgive myself to this day if I hadn’t done this, because at least I know that I did my best to bring them out.


   I met Markus’ wife Sarah. She was still alive when I came to this country. (Markus was an uncle who had come over in the late 1800’s from Germany).

I met Sarah in Chicago and I also met some of her children. None of them are alive today. They tried to help afterwards when I was here, and we were trying to get my parents over here. I have a letter that this cousin of mine, Markus’ daughter, sent to the Jewish congressman from Illinois, his name was Sabath.

She asked if he could do something in regard to procuring an early entry visa to the United States, but the immigration stuck strictly to their quota and the number that they had.

Sabath wrote back and sent me a letter from the American consulate in Stuttgart where they said that they would do the best they could as soon as the number came up. There was never any change in the quota.


   As I mentioned before, my mother had two sisters who were married to two Holzer brothers. They lived in Traunstein. There was a third sister, the oldest one who never married, and her name was Mina Einstein.

She was the one who took care of my mother’s father until he died. She lived in her parents’ house in Laupheim, and I knew her very well because, as I said, I used to spend some vacations in Laupheim.


   The tragic fate that befell Mina Einstein was only known to me after the war ended. The few Jews who were left in Laupheim, most of whom were older people, were brought into one house that they called the Judenhaus. Shortly before their deportation to the death camps they were moved into an old railroad car that was left in a gravel pit outside of Laupheim.

They had to spend their last days and hours there before they were put into the freight cars and transported to the death camps. That was the end of a Jewish community that dated back to the beginning of the 18th century when the first Jews came to Laupheim and lived in the attic and with the permit of the local ruler established a flourishing community.

   The synagogue there was burned down in 1938, on the Crystal Night. The Jewish cemetery still remains being taken care of by two men, one who lives in the United States, and one who lives in Switzerland by the name of Steiner.


   The mayor of the town got a hold of my address from a man named Bergman who comes from Laupheim and who now lives in Westchester County. And Bergman is the one who got me the background and the family tree of my grandfather dating back to Fellheim in Schwaben.

He made it his business to research all the Jews and their backgrounds and what happened to them in Laupheim.


   Every New Year I get a note from the mayor of Laupheim in the name of the city of Laupheim.


   I have the whole history of the Jews in Laupheim, in detail. Schwaben and Wurttemberg are close geographically and many of the Jews, like Albert Einstein, who was born in Ulm on the Donau, came originally from a place called Buchau.

There were also many Jews living there from way back and somehow some of those Einsteins were related, how I don’t know. I was told by Simon Vogel about this. Originally Simon was training to be a rabbi and he switched over.

He was a very learned man and obviously he got his information from some source and he told this to me . . . Some other relatives who emigrated we have lost contact with. But any close relatives no longer live except those I have already mentioned, from my side of the family. From (my wife) Kate’s side, of course that is another story.


   I might mention that there was a cousin of my father whose name was Willi Levinger who was a lawyer in Munich. He moved to New York and later died there. He never married. His brother Siegfried Levinger, was a doctor, a throat, ears, and nose specialist in Munich who later moved to Palestine to join his son who had moved there before 1933.

Siegfried had a daughter who suffered from a mental disorder. Siegfried died in Palestine.


  When I first got here, in the first few weeks, I tried everything to get work. I went to the employment office in New York, I paid them a few dollars and they asked me if I wanted to become a baker. I said that I would do anything, so they sent me to an old Jewish bakery in Brooklyn.

They wanted me to stay there. Upstairs they had a room, dirty, filthy. I spent only one night there and that was enough. The way they treated me, and what they wanted to pay me — after the second day I said no, I won’t stay here.

That was the end of my plans to become a baker here in the United States. They finished it. Fate. If they would have been nicer and treated me better maybe I would have become a baker. I didn’t care what I was going to do as long as I could make a living.


   Then I entered Kleins on Union Square in New York. I worked in Kleins for almost two years.


   Hanny met Ludwig in Chicago. Ludwig was born in a small town near Frankfurt. He managed to get out earlier, at a time when you could still get money out. He had one brother and one sister. His brother subsequently moved with his family up to Canada.

He died up there. Ludwig’s sister lost her husband — she had married about the same time as I arrived in New York. She later remarried in New York and still lives there.

   Ludwig made his living back then selling linen and tailor supplies. He took them around in a suitcase. He didn’t have a car, so he went by subway to different places. In New York tailoring is very big. A tailor has a wall shop. Most of them were Europeans. They had been tailors by profession from way back before they came to this country.

In New York they did tailoring, and at the same time they did pressing and dry cleaning in their shops. So Ludwig was calling on these people and he asked me, why don’t you do this? I was sick and tired of Kleins, you know picking up dresses and that, and I knew this was no future for me. So I went out a couple of days with supplies in my suitcase and visited those tailors.


   At one of the tailor shops they said that no one was coming around selling the signs that they needed for the windows to advertise what they were doing, cleaning and dry cleaning and tailoring, and so on. Because of the steam, the paper board signs deteriorated fast, and they needed replacements.

So I figured I’d like to see what was going on, so I went to the company that was making the signs and I found out that you could make over 100% by selling them.

But you couldn’t carry them around, you needed a car. So I bought an old car, an old Ford, a model T or something, it cost $200 or so. I put the signs in there and drove around. It was pretty easy, but I worked hard.

   Not long after I met Kate and we decided to get married. We had met in December, and we already had the wedding in March.

   Later Ludwig got signs, a car, and did the same thing that I was doing.


   I had a friend who I met in Kleins. He lived in Astoria. He was also from Germany. He had a nephew who lived in Chicago, and this nephew bought supplies for beauty shops, brushes, aprons, and so on.

And he told this friend of mine, why don’t you buy this and go around to the beauty shops? So he got this stuff, and he went with me because he didn’t have a car. He went to the beauty shops, and I went to the tailor shops.

We went over to New Jersey and other places. Later I put beauty supplies also in my car and I traveled to New England and went to the beauty shops and to the tailor shops and sold this merchandise.


   I knew I was going to be drafted after I got married. The war had broken out, first in Europe, then in the Pacific. It was just a matter of time. I couldn’t make plans. When I was actually called up I sold the car and Ludwig took over the sign business.


   When I came back from the war I knew I wouldn’t go back into the sign business. I took up beauty supplies again with this friend. We sold hair ornaments, until I decided to move to California.


  I was inducted into the service. First there was the physical at Grand Central Station which was the main induction center at that time. After passing the physical I was assigned.

For some reason, I don’t know why, they said I was to go to the Navy CBs. They sent me there even though I was an alien and I know that the Navy throughout its history never took people who were not citizens.

But I was called over to the CBs and I was told to report the next week to the Penn station to be sent to boot camp.


   At that time the CB boot camp was at Camp Perry Virginia. But the train went south to the regular navy base at Newport. I went through boot camp there. I found out that the training had been carried out with people who were on so-called limited assignment because they had some kind of defect that did not qualify them for full shipboard duty.

To serve on a ship you had to be in perfect health. They were later used as replacements for people serving in different naval depots.


   When my assignment came through I was called in to the Naval supply depot in Norfolk, Virginia. That assignment was canceled the next day. I was called up before naval intelligence and questioned about all my ancestors.

They found out that there was a group of six or eight of us who were not citizens, and they found out that they could not use us in the navy for sensitive assignments. So they decided to send us where we should have gone in the first place, the navy construction battalion, the CBs.


   We were sent to Camp Perry, Virginia. When we got there they didn’t know what to do with us, so they sent us through boot camp for the second time. After a short time at Camp Perry, the whole group was sent out to the west coast, the whole battalion with our small group of Germans. We were sent to Camp Shoemaker.

(Dublin, California) A short time afterward a call came through for replacements for the Gilbert Islands. They needed a CB battalion and they selected all of us who were not citizens. They brought us over to the embarkation point at Treasure Island.

We were supposed to go the day after our arrival on the big American troop ship, the former liner America which had been converted to a troop ship. But one of the fellows with us said, “I’m not going overseas, I want to be a citizen first”.

He went to the chaplain who was in charge of the whole port area and told the chaplain what had happened, that we had only gotten as far as we had because we were not citizens. And the chaplain could appreciate that we wanted to be citizens first. So right away they had to call for replacements for our battalion.

We were put on KP duty until all the papers were cleared to make us citizens.


   We made history. We were sworn in at the courthouse in San Francisco. There were photographers there from the navy because it had never happened before in their history that non-citizens were sworn in while serving in the navy.


   Then we went back to the old battalion, which was sent down to Port Huaneme, at the CB base near Oxnard. Since our commander there had pull with the CB high command, instead of moving right away to Hawaii for further training we stayed there one year on all different assignments until we moved out into the Pacific by way of Hawaii.

That was in the beginning of 1945.


   We went to the Leaky Islands which was the staging area for the invasion of Okinawa. Okinawa was already being attacked by the marines and the infantry and ship bombardment before we arrived.

The real assignment for our battalion was on le Shima. The day before we arrived there Ernie Pile was killed (April 18). One of our landing party was killed. It was too dangerous.

For another week we went back and forth trying to land there, but it was too hot. We saw right in front of us the Japanese were all dug in there in the mountain at the center of the island.


   Finally we were able to land on Ie Shima, and we dug in on the beach still under bombardment by kamikaze planes. The island was not secured yet. There were still snipers around and we had to have guards all around the perimeter. And then the big flood came. They were warned. The big rains came at the beginning of May.

The whole camp ended up completely under water. We lost everything. We had to move to higher ground, closer to the mountain which was secured now. We stayed there until the war was over, in October. In November we went back to the States. But in those few months there was a lot of experience.


   In the beginning, the fellows did not believe in bomb shelters. They said, what do we need a shelter for? But I knew how dangerous it was. Then one day, a replacement to our medical staff came through.

While the commander was showing him around the island, during the daytime, a Japanese plane came over and all the guns opened up. This young medical replacement was hit with shrapnel, and they had to amputate his foot. When the word got out about what had happened the guys got wise to it.


   I had built myself a bomb shelter. The fellows around the foxhole said, “we don’t want a bomb shelter, because we don’t need it”. I said to hell with it, I’ll build it myself.

I built one with sandbags. The next time a kamikaze came over and the guns opened up and I wanted to get in the shelter, well it was all full — all those fellows that said we didn’t need a shelter were in there!


   The kamikaze had all the ships around the island real jittery. One day a plane came over the area and they shot it down. It was one of our planes.


   Most of the time these suicide planes came low over the island on their runs. They came from Japan. We were on the northernmost island before Japan, north of Okinawa. One night I was unloading high octane gasoline for the airplanes. The attack alarm rang.

A boat came around putting up a smoke screen — one bullet at the ship we were unloading would have been enough to set it off.


   The first day I landed on the island, I remember that I was on a mission to unload supplies. I was unloading our supply ship. We came under attack, and I dived under the first truck I came to and it turned out that it was loaded with dynamite.


   Most of the natives were killed in the bombardment. The houses where the natives lived were almost all destroyed in the bombardment. Those natives that were left were taken off to Okinawa. These natives lived together with their cattle in the same huts.

I remember the flies on the island were so thick that when you ate your food it got covered with flies, completely covered. Then planes came over spraying the island for the mosquitos. After a time the flies were eliminated because the spraying was so heavy.

  Every night the sky was lit up with the fires from the battle in Okinawa. This was the island where the peace mission later came to from Japan.


   The news of the atom bomb came in September while I was still on le Shima. Then, shortly after the surrender came. The peace mission on their way to McArthur in the Philippines stopped on this island.

They transferred from one of their planes to an American plane. The airfield that they landed on had been built for the fighter planes which accompanied the bombers, the B 29s from Saipan. The B 29s flew over our island and were joined by the fighter planes on their run to Japan. They came over wave upon wave.

There were so many that in my opinion there was no need to drop the atom bomb. This is my firm opinion. The bombing runs went on every day. The Japanese cities at that time were all wooden structures which went up in flames.

I think dropping the bomb over Japan was a terrible mistake.

   When we heard the news of the surrender, naturally everyone was glad it was over.

Interview conducted in San Francisco, September, 1983

Oral History interview Fred, Clara, and Hanny

Oral History interviews:

Oral History interview with Fred Neuburger

Oral History interview with Clara Holzer

Oral History interview with Hanny Strauss

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