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Oral history interview with Gertrude Leiser

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 2017.158.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0918

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    Oral history interview with Gertrude Leiser


    Interview Summary
    Gertrude Leiser, born Getrude Kraus on January 3, 1930 in Vienna, Austria, discusses her siblings and parents; her parents’ origins in Stanisławów, Poland (today: Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine); speaking German and Yiddish at home; her father’s work as a traveling stationary salesman; her parents’ efforts to become assimilated, but still celebrating all of the Jewish holidays; her family’s apartment near the Danube River; Hitler’s rise to power; attending public school, but having to transfer to a Jewish school after the Anschluss in March 1938; experiencing increased antisemitism and fear; many neighbors who were Nazi supporters; being forced out of their apartment and seeing their belongings sold; downstairs neighbors who, despite supporting the Nazi party, were very friendly with her family and even protected her father and brother when needed; her father’s attempts to get the three children on a Kindertransport to England; Kristallnacht; leaving Austria for France with her older sister in March 1939; saying goodbye to her parents at the train station; her brother’s journey to the United States in 1936 to stay with an aunt and uncle; traveling to Paris, France and staying at a hospital for a week; moving with the other children at the hospital to Leggett Castle, purchased by the Rothschild family, near Paris; attending school and working at the castle; receiving letters from her parents; the Nazi occupation of France; being instructed to only speak French; remaining at the castle for about a year and a half; having to flee the castle and staying at a building in the mountains for about a year; air raids; her parents’ successful attempt to leave Austria in January 1940 and their journey to Brooklyn, New York; leaving the mountains in June 1941 and boarding a cargo ship in Lisbon, Portugal; arriving in New York and meeting her mother on the dock; learning English very quickly; going to school and being initially placed in a lower grade because of her language skills; attending Hebrew school; moving to a house in East Flatbush, Brooklyn; her father’s work at a burlap distribution facility and her mother’s at a coat factory; graduating high school; the fates of extended family members; never returning to Vienna; a friend from Vienna who traveled to Shanghai, China and lived in the Shanghai Ghetto before coming to the United States; meeting her husband, who also escaped from Vienna; her two children; sharing her wartime experiences with her children; and other memories from Kristallnacht.
    Gertrude Leiser
    Navazelskis, Ina
    interview:  2017 February 26
    creation: Boca Raton (Fla.)

    Physical Details

    Oral histories.
    1 digital file : MPEG-4.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
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    Keywords & Subjects

    Personal Name
    Leiser, Gertrude.

    Administrative Notes

    Ina Navazelskis, on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History Branch, conducted the oral history interview with Gertrude Leiser on February 26, 2017 in Boca Raton, FL.
    Funding Note
    The cataloging of this oral history interview has been supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.
    Record last modified:
    2023-11-16 08:05:34
    This page:

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