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Oral history interview with Alfred Schnog

Oral History | Accession Number: 2001.34 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0142

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.

Alfred Schnog, born January 25, 1931, discusses his childhood in Cologne, Germany; growing up in a relatively secular Jewish family on Universität Straße; his relationship with his grandparents who lived in Deutz, a suburb of Cologne; seeing Nazi parades and looking on with interest but feeling unwelcome; being harassed by Nazi Youth on his way home from school with his twin brother, Norbert; seeing signs in businesses barring Jews and learning that few business owners enforced this policy; spending Passover in a Catholic hospital after being injured in a car wreck and being provided with kosher food by the nuns; watching his father throw pieces of a gun into the Rhine when guns were banned for Jews; his father’s metal trade business being taken over by non-Jews; hearing about concentration camps but believing they would primarily affect immigrants (particularly Poles) and seeing Polish children taken out of his classes by the Gestapo; his parents’ search for a way out of Germany and eventual escape to the Netherlands in the summer of 1938; his family’s return to Germany in November 1938 to retrieve belongings; witnessing Kristallnacht from an upper-floor window of the Dome Hotel; his family being taken to jail as they tried to return to the Netherlands after the German borders were sealed, but eventually being allowed to go; attending Jewish school in Amsterdam and learning Dutch; applying to move to the United States and first going by plane to England in Jan 1940, then by ship (the Britannic) from Liverpool to New York City in April 1940; attending school in the United States; speaking Dutch with his brother because they did not want to be associated with Germans; experiencing discrimination in school when his third grade teacher admonished him and his brother for wearing an American flag pin on a holiday when they were not born in America; having his Bar Mitzvah and attending Hebrew school at the synagogue in Regal Park; experiencing antisemitism as his family vacationed in the Adirondacks, finding many signs restricting Jews from staying at hotels; learning that his grandparents had been killed in a concentration camp; graduating from Forest Hill High School and then receiving a degree in engineering from Cornell; going to Korea in 1954 to serve two years in the U.S. Army; starting and running a company; learning that a pair of his father’s cufflinks were given to his father in recognition of his Bar Mitzvah by Claus von Stauffenberg, a German officer who later led an assassination attempt against Hitler; his reflections on the way those who did not experience the Holocaust and WWII view it; his children’s knowledge of his and his parents’ experiences and how it has affected them; and his thoughts on Israel.

Interviewee
Alfred Schnog
Interviewer
Gail Schwartz
Date
2001 March 10  (interview)
Language
English
Extent
4 sound cassettes (60 min.).
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Record last modified: 2018-05-09 09:30:03
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn508465