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Oral history interview with Margaret Bendahan

Oral History | Accession Number: 1999.A.0122.753 | RG Number: RG-50.477.0753

Margaret Bendahan, born in 1908 in Saxony, Germany, discusses her Jewish mother and Christian father; her childhood in Germany; the persecution she and her family endured under Nazi rule; her father losing his business; traveling east in an attempt to go to the United States; traveling by train through Nazi-occupied Poland and Russia; arriving in Okinawa, Japan and trying to get on a boat that would eventually take her to Panama and being denied admittance on to the boat; her attempts to leave Japan; finding a job as a French tutor for a family in Japan; her friends in Yokohama; her interactions with Willy Rudolf Foerster; being detained by Japanese police because they believed she was a spy; being imprisoned in the central prison and beaten daily; refusing to sign an official document stating that she was a spy and until she eventually signed it; being sent to a bigger prison with slightly improved living conditions; attributing her survival to her daily prayers; being released after liberation; having a difficult time securing medical attention; receiving help from a Catholic organization; working for the American Red Cross; immigrating to the United States in late 1945; renting a living space from her first cousin in Mill Valley, CA; working as a maid; getting married; working at a department store for a few years; her son; her husband’s death 11 years after their marriage; her mother and sister joining her in the US; the difficulty of sharing her war-time experiences; reporting the atrocities committed against her to the War Crimes Board and receiving a small pension as a reparation; and how the trauma of her experiences still affects her.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Margaret Bendahan
Alexandra M. Isles
interview:  1991 August 27
2 videocassettes (SVHS) : sound, color ; 1/2 in..
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Jewish Family and Children's Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:52:51
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