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Oral history interviews with Eleanor Ney and Herbert Ney

Oral History | Accession Number: 2017.247.2 | RG Number: RG-50.995.0001

Eleanor Ney (née Hannelore Grundmann), born in 1920 in Essen, Germany, describes being the youngest of three children; her twin siblings, Ralph (Rolf) and Lee (Liselotte), who were seven years older than her; being raised in an upper-middle class Jewish family; her father Otto Grundmann (“Opi”), who was a distinguished lawyer with a thriving legal practice and fought in WWI as an officer; her mother Hete, who was a homemaker; having a happy childhood; her athletic pursuits; her childhood best friend Franz Oppenheimer, who lived next door until they were eight years old; leaving private school and enrolling in 1928 in public school; the Nazis’ rise to power; experiencing antisemitism from her teachers and classmates; her mother’s decision that Eleanor had to leave school in 1934; interning with a local chef, who trained her in cooking and baking while she prepared lunch every day for 12 businessmen; going to Offenbach in 1936 to apprentice in the leather-goods trade; meeting her friend Henry Goldsmith, who was two years her junior; being told by her father to leave Germany in October 1938; going to Basel, where her aunt and uncle lived; the arrest of her father; going to London, England in January 1939; being labeled an “enemy alien” and imprisoned by the British; her parents’ arrival in London circa January 1940; experiencing the Blitz while she was imprisoned and the effects it had on her psyche; being allowed to leave her cell during air raids after the House of Commons realized the turmoil the bombardments caused the imprisoned women; her mother’s refusal to go to the air raid shelters during the Blitz; her brother Rolf fighting for the US Army in New Guinea; being released from jail on the condition that she get a job; working as sleep-in maid; moving to Brighton with the family that employed her and cooking for nine people; feeling like a prisoner because she had to obtain permits to leave the house; working at a private hotel and cooking for 18 people; being hired by the Alligator Leather Goods Co., in the small town of Bishop Auckland (County Durham) in Northern England; being promoted to supervisor; falling in love with her supervisor, S. Rollman; the takeover of the German-owned factory by the British; being sent to a penitentiary in London where she was locked up in a single cell; her father and the Jewish Committee helping her to get a visa to the US; being sent to the Isle of Man to await the issuance of the visa; the difficulty of buying a ticket for a passenger ship to the US; boarding the “Cynthia” on September 23, 1940; the torpedoing of the ship after one day at sea, and not having fresh water for the remaining nine days of the voyage; arriving in the US and working at a leather goods company in Kew Gardens; and working for several other leather goods manufacturers. [Note that this summary may not fully represent the content of the interview.]

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Eleanor Ney
Herbert Ney
Steven Ney
2 DVDs.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Steven Ney and Michael Bournas-Ney
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:54:18
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