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Oral history interview with Trudy Festinger

Oral History | Accession Number: 2016.235.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0890

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

Trudy Festinger (née Hess), born on October 4, 1929 in Frankfurt, Germany, describes being an only child; visiting her mother’s hometown in Poland when she was a child; her mother’s death in 1934 and her father hiring a nanny for her, “Tante” Henny; being visited by her mother’s sister, Selma (Selma was deported to a concentration camp and years later Trudy saw her in Israel); her father traveling a lot for his business selling leather goods; her friend Annaliese, who was non-Jewish; her father’s two siblings Emmy and Eugene; how Eugene’s business friend helped them get visas for the United States; seeing swastikas on posters and gallows at the end of her street in Frankfurt; the Nazis marching in the street; hearing Hitler’s speeches on the loudspeakers and children calling her a “Jew”; her teacher telling her it was too dangerous for her to attend school; her father’s escape to Sweden after he fought a member of the Gestapo in August 1939; going to Sweden by train; going with her father to Norway and taking a ship (the “SS Bergensfjord”) to New York, NY; arriving in December 1939; obtaining rooms in Manhattan; being housed with Rabbi Wise’s daughter, Justine Polera, while her father searched for work; graduating from Lincoln High School in 1947 and attending Oberlin College; graduating in 1951 and getting married to Dan Bradley; her daughter’s birth in 1958; moving to Berkeley, CA, where Dan obtained a scholarship in chemistry and Trudy obtained a master’s degree in social work; getting divorced; attending Columbia University to earn her Ph.D.; teaching for 45 years at New York University; getting married to Leon Festinger and traveling all over the world together for his work; visiting her old home in Germany; her husband’s death after they were married for 21 years; some of her personal documents from her emigration; her belief that everyone should have knowledge of all of history; and the poem her non-Jewish friend Annaliese wrote her before she left Germany (which she reads in German and translates into English).

Interviewee
Trudy Festinger
Interviewer
Ina Navazelskis
Date
2016 August 13  (interview)
Geography
creation : Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
Language
English
Extent
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
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Record last modified: 2018-04-09 14:51:52
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn546125