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Oral history interview with Richard Strauss

Oral History | Accession Number: 1990.481.39 | RG Number: RG-50.062.0039

Richard Strauss, born in Mainz, Germany in 1924, describes growing up in Germany and Italy; working for most of his life in the hotel food industry; attending a German public school; hearing antisemitism on occasion from his classmates; how his father was active in the Social Democratic party and was warned to leave on the night of the 1933 election, which he did; the camps near his town where dissidents were taken; how laws preventing Jews from attending high school began in 1935; his uncle’s wine exporting business, which he was allowed to continue operating despite the limits on Jewish businesses; his parents’ divorce; being socially shunned by non-Jewish friends in 1935; being sent to Besel, Switzerland to his father when their business was being reviewed; being placed in a boarding school in Italy from 1935 to 1938; returning to his mother in August 1938 when Mussolini enacted antisemitic laws; how his father went to Cuba and then Australia in 1940; how his mother’s attitude about remaining in Germany changed after Kristallnacht; how shop keepers would allow them to purchase items even though they had signs up banning Jewish customers; being hidden by a family friend who was a member of the Nazi Party, in a park the night of Kristallnacht; seeing the destruction of the city the next morning; how the thugs who committed the atrocities were brought in from another city; taking in homeless families because their home was intact; being on the English Rotary Club’s transport that got children out of Germany; going to Portsmouth, England and working as a window dresser’s apprentice; how his mother left Germany in November 1941 and went from Portugal to the United States; being interned on the Isle of Mann; being sent to Glasgow, Scotland and then transported to Australia; the conditions on the ship and the maltreatment of the refugees; being placed in an internment camp in Australia; sending a postcard to family friends in Australia, where his father also happened to be; being given the choice to return to England or join the Australian Army, and choosing the latter; joining in 1942 and becoming an interpreter at the rank of sergeant; guarding prisoners of war captured in North Africa that were interned in Australia; getting out of the army in 1947 and immigrating to the U.S. in December 1947; getting an apprenticeship at the Biltmore Hotel; going to California, Utah, Hawaii, and New York; his experiences guarding Italian and German prisoners and not telling them he was Jewish; witnessing some antisemitism in the U.S.; and his reflections on the Holocaust.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Richard Strauss
Judy Weightman
interview:  1989 May 12
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: 2022-04-21 07:08:45
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