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Oral history interview with Nelly Grussgott

Oral History | Accession Number: 2011.177.4 | RG Number: RG-50.677.0004

Nelly Grussgott, born May 9, 1930 in Berlin, Germany, describes her Czech entrepreneur mother; her parents’ marriage through a matchmaker; growing up in a religious home; visiting her grandparents who were Czech and Hungarian; attending Jewish school; her mother’s once kind non-Jew customers turning to Nazism; seeing “Jews Forbidden” signs in parks and cinemas; enduring stone-throwing at her school; her hair dresser cutting her bald after learning Nelly was Jewish; the police stealing her bike; her mother and herself rooming with other families; rationing food; Kristallnacht; having to stop attending school; her father’s departure to the United States; Nazis entering apartments; seeing Jewish men marched out in their underwear; her father’s thwarted efforts to bring his wife and daughter to the US and his return to Belgium; going on a Kindertransport in 1940 with her mother to the US; the journey on the ship; feeling empathy for people left behind, knowing they would die; entering Ellis Island and being picked up by family she had not met previously; her surprise in learning she could have two bowls of soup instead of one; being known as “the refuge” in NYC school; learning English; being poverty-stricken but feeling free; her mother peddling goods to survive; crying every night, missing her father; the German invasion into Belgium and receiving her father’s letter of suffering awaiting a visa; her father being rounded up and sent to Marseille, where he was accused of being a spy; the Red Cross confirming in 1995 that her father was sent to Drancy internment camp then to a death camp (Lublin-Majdanek); extended family that perished in the Holocaust; Nelly’s confusion in her mother’s remarriage (mother lived to age 91); various documents including US government’s indifferent responses to Nelly’s and her mother’s pleas on behalf of her father; photographs including Nelly’s return to Germany as an adult; Nelly's regret that her father left the US because he missed his family; and her humility knowing others suffered more than her.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Grussgott, Ms. Nelly
interview:  2011 March 29
1 videocassette (DVCAM) : sound, color ; 1/4 in..
Credit Line
This testimony was recorded through a joint project of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:19:19
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