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Oral history interview with Ernest Fontheim

Oral History | RG Number: RG-50.030.0450
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Ernest Fontheim, born in 1927, discusses his childhood in Germany; Hitler's rise to power in 1933 and attending an orthodox Jewish school; his experiences with antisemitism before World War II; his difficulty understanding his parents' decision to not emigrate from Germany; anti-Jewish laws that were enforced after 1933; the first deportations that happened in 1938; his best friend's immigration to England on the Kindertransport in 1938; his memories of Kristallnacht; a German colleague warning his father about his possible arrest by the Gestapo; perceptions of Jews in Germany and foreign countries; the closing of all Jewish schools in 1939 and briefly attending The American School in Berlin; his graduation from high school and his joining a preparatory camp for immigration to Palestine; working at a labor camp on the outskirts of Berlin after the dissolution of the Hachshara; attending an ORT school in Berlin and avoiding forced labor with his parents; his family being forced to move out of their apartment and into a Jewish apartment house; the closing of the ORT school and being sent to do forced labor at a Siemens factory; the underground university that he formed with some former teachers and friends; the introduction of the Star of David badge in 1941 and ways he and his friends subverted that law; the deportation of his first girlfriend in 1942; his parents' and sister's arrest on Christmas Eve 1942; going into hiding in a co-worker's apartment and obtaining a forged identification card; hiding in a family friend's summer cottage on the outskirts of Berlin; his liberation by Soviet forces; going to the United States and getting married in New York; and living in Bethlehem, PA.

Interviewee
Ernest Fontheim
Interviewer
Randy M. Goldman
Date
1997 March 12  (interview)
Language
English
Genre/Form
Oral histories.
Extent
8 sound cassettes (74 min.).
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Record last modified: 2018-01-22 11:17:20
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn506757