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Oral history interview with Helga Franks

Oral History | Accession Number: 1989.346.19 | RG Number: RG-50.031.0019

Helga Frank, born on September 2, 1926 in Berlin, Germany, discusses growing up as an only child; her mother, who was a businesswoman; her father who had an apparel business and was a veteran of WWI; her earliest memories antisemitism; the 1933 boycotts; attending a public school; the emigration of her school mates; the arrest of their neighbors in 1938; the rise of antisemitism before Kristallnacht; hearing antisemitic chants and songs; her experiences during Kristallnacht; seeing two synagogues burning; fleeing to Paris, France; attending a French school; the German occupation of France; the arrest of her father as an “enemy alien”; her eerie experience in an emptied Champs-Élysées; the release of her father and his work on the black market; having to wear a star; her father’s death from a heart attack in January 1942; taking over her father’s black market business; being arrested along with her mother and taken to the Vélodrome d'hiver; the release of her mother and then her; her social work with Jewish refugees, POWs, and many in hiding; hiding in a Paris suburb with her mother during a large round up in March 1943; being sheltered by bohemian singer/actress who told neighbors Helga and Helga’s mother were “English Americans”; liberation; seeing the public punishment of women who had befriended Nazis; meeting her husband in December 1945; going to the US in April 1946 as a war bride; and how her experiences shaped her.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Franks, Helga
interview:  1991 August 06
1 videocassette (VHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:36
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