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Oral history interview with Trudy Festinger

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

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 Wise Polier, 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).


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Trudy Festinger
Interviewer
Ina Navazelskis
Date
interview:  2016 August 13
Geography
creation: Manhattan (New York, N.Y.)
Language
English
Extent
1 digital file : MPEG-4.
 
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:54:06
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn546125