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Oral history interview with Otto Orenstein

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.481.25 | RG Number: RG-50.062.0025

Otto Orenstein, born in Vienna, Austria on July 16, 1921, describes his parents and their ancestry; his education in Vienna; not experiencing any antisemitism when he was young; how his family observed some holidays but was not very religious; leaving Vienna on December 28, 1938 for Cologne, Germany; making it across the Belgian border; how some Belgian farmers smuggled them to Brussels, Belgium and gave them money for railroad tickets; arriving in Antwerp, Belgium, where a relative lived; getting a visa to the United States, and arriving in the U.S. in April 1940; how the rest of his immediate family arrived in the following few months; how in July 1927 there had been riots at the Ministry Building in Vienna; his memories of political events and backlashes in 1932, 1934, and 1938; being a member of the Austrian boy scouts and being kicked out for being Jewish; his memories of the Anschluss and seeing Himmler and Goering; conditions during the Nazi occupation; getting kicked out of the apartment where his family had lived for 30 years and going to live with his grandmother; how his uncle committed suicide; getting rounded up with other Jews on November 11, 1938 and taken to an SS barracks; seeing a Portuguese temple burning; how he was let go because he was only 17 years old; his journey to Antwerp and his difficulty crossing the border; going to a detention camp in Belgium September 1939 until his visa came in March 1940; how his parents left from Norway; going to Honolulu with his family in July 1940 and how his parents had brought artifacts from Norway and were featured on the front page of the Honolulu Advertiser on July 16, 1940; how when he first arrived in New York he stayed at Stephen Weiss’s house, which was a temporary shelter for refugees; how his family was interned on Sand Island, HI as enemy aliens; how his mother ended up being the leader of the women’s side of the camp; the things he brought with him (birth certificate, train ticket from Brussels to Antwerp, student card, and passport); how he has talked to his family about his experiences; not experiencing any antisemitism in Honolulu; and some of his memories from 1938. The interviewee also shows a picture of his birth certificate and his student card.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Orenstein, Otto
Weightman, Judy
interview:  1987 December 20
2 videocassette (U-Matic) : sound, color ; 3/4 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, acquired from the Hawaii Holocaust Project
Record last modified: 2022-07-28 20:09:45
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