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Oral history interview with Margit Meissner

Oral History | Accession Number: 1992.A.0125.87 | RG Number: RG-50.233.0087

Margit Meissner, born in Innsbruck, Austria in 1922, discusses her childhood in Prague, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic); her mother’s wish to have her children baptized; her parents’ differing views about being Jewish and the difficulties it caused the family; how, before World War II began, her mother often invited impoverished refugees from Germany and Poland or Russia to their house for lunch; her father’s job as a banker; living in a large house with many servants and a governesses; her father’s death of natural causes before World War II; being sent in 1938 to the outskirts of Paris, France to live with a French family; being baptized in France as a Lutheran, but always identifying as a Jew; attending dress design school; how her mother eventually joined her in France; her mother’s arrest and deportation to Gurs; living in Paris when the Germans advanced; how, as an Austrian citizen, she was declared an enemy alien and was forbidden to leave Paris; defying this order and riding a bicycle to Étampes, north of Lyon; spending the night with fellow refugees at a school, which was bombed two hours after she left; obtaining a train ticket to Brittany to join friends; how her train was diverted to Bordeaux, near Gurs, and she was reunited with her mother; getting arrested as she walked with her mother over a mountain to get to Spain; how friends in Barcelona helped get them out of jail and into Portugal; becoming a dressmaker to refugees in Portugal; immigrating to the United States with her mother in April 1941; how she, her mother, and all three brothers survived the war; working two jobs in the U.S., dressmaking and assisting the U.S. Office of War Information; and being part of the Nuremberg war crimes trials.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Meissner, Margit
interview:  1992 June 03
1 sound cassette (90 min.).
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:21:06
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