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Oral history interview with Thea Kahn Lindauer

Oral History | Digitized | Accession Number: 2017.317.1 | RG Number: RG-50.030.0944

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    Oral history interview with Thea Kahn Lindauer


    Interview Summary
    Thea Kahn Lindauer, born on July 17, 1922 in Eisenberg, Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, discusses the town of Eisenberg; the paternal and maternal sides of her family; her father’s family work in the cattle trading business; the 1918 influenza pandemic; her two older half-sisters from her father’s first marriage; her mother’s brothers, half of whom served in the German army during World War I and half of whom served in the French army; her grandfather from Alsace-Lorraine, who later lived with her and her family; this grandfather’s bakery business in Strasbourg, Germany; her father’s work selling insurance; her religious, Jewish upbringing, but considering herself German first; her nanny; being exposed to Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant traditions growing up; going to boarding school in Switzerland for a year when she was nine years old; her parents’ emphasis on education; her sister; Eisenberg’s small Jewish community; her father’s role as cantor and holding services in their home; attending a Catholic kindergarten and then public school; visiting Germany in the mid-1950s; seeing a psychologist after the war; returning to Eisenberg after boarding school; not experiencing antisemitism at school; her father’s meeting with Gilbert Kraus from Philadelphia who, along with his wife, rescued 50 children and brought them to the United States; Hitler’s rise to power; the Sturmabteilung’s (SA) attacks on communists; knowing some members of the SA in Eisenberg; Nazi propaganda efforts and Joseph Goebbels; a newspaper publisher’s two sons who were sent to labor camps because of their anti-Nazi leanings; Martin Niemöller and his poem; her father’s efforts to get her out of Germany when she was twelve years old; her father’s insistence that she go to the United States, not somewhere else in Europe; finding a Kindertransport through the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS); traveling in April 1934 to the U.S. Consulate in Stuttgart, Germany to get a visa and other required documentation; visiting relatives around Germany before leaving for the U.S. in November 1934; her school class and a teacher coming to the train station to say goodbye; traveling with her father to Hamburg, Germany to get to the ship; the voyage to the U.S.; being one of six children on the ship in the HIAS Kindertransport; catching pneumonia early in the voyage and spending the rest of the time in the ship’s infirmary; arriving in New York, New York and seeing the Statue of Liberty; being sent to a sponsor family in Chicago, Illinois; an aunt who lived in Chicago, but was unable to be her sponsor; moving in with her sponsors and foster family, the Sonnenschein family, who had an apartment near the Museum of Science and Industry; being placed in fifth grade instead of seventh because she did not speak English; her classmates calling her “Kraut” because of her thick accent; staying in touch with her family through letters; moving to live with a new foster family, the Perlsteins, who had children and pets; Mr. Perlstein’s work at the Pabst Brewing Company; her parents’ attempts to leave Germany with her sister; her half-sister, who was studying medicine in Leipzig, Germany, before being offered the chance to continue her studies in Brazil; the Aryanization of her father’s shop; her foster father helping her parents and sister to get visas to the U.S. in April 1937; her family’s arrival in Chicago in December 1937; feeling torn between her family and her foster family; switching schools her senior year of high school; the Works Progress Administration (WPA); the fates of family members who stayed in Europe; staying in touch with the Persteins after moving in with her parents; meeting her husband in 1946, who was serving in the U.S. Army; moving to Japan, Germany, and other locations where her husband was stationed; and making a point throughout her life to go to plays, concerts, and other arts performances. [Family photographs and descriptions follow the interview.]
    Thea Kahn Lindauer
    Ina Navazelskis
    interview:  2017 August 23
    creation: Annapolis (Md.)
    Credit Line
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection

    Physical Details

    Oral histories.
    1 digital file : MPEG-4.

    Rights & Restrictions

    Conditions on Access
    There are no known restrictions on access to this material.
    Conditions on Use
    No restrictions on use

    Keywords & Subjects

    Corporate Name
    HIAS (Agency)

    Administrative Notes

    Ina Navazelskis, on behalf of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Oral History Branch, conducted the oral history interview with Thea Kahn Lindauer on August 23, 2017 in Annapolis, MD.
    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 08:05:43
    This page:

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