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Oral history interview with Michlean Amir

Oral History | Accession Number: 2019.54.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0270

Michlean Amir (née Michlean Jeanette Lowy), born on March 27, 1940 in Nimes, France, discusses her childhood; her father Oscar Lowy and mother Gertrude; the farms her paternal and maternal families had near Pilsen; her father’s law education in Prague, which was interrupted by the war; her father’s arrest and release before he went to the London School of Economics for two years; her parents’ wedding in Pilsen in April 1939 at ages 23 and 24 and their honeymoon in northern Italy; the difficulty her parents experienced trying to return to Czechoslovakia after the German annexation and their decision to go to Nimes; the food store her father bought in Nimes; traveling with her parents by convoy to England in the summer of 1940; Oscar’s active duty with the Czech Brigade of the British Army; moving frequently with her mother; her parents not seeing each other from mid 1944 to mid 1945; having some slight memories of the bombings in London; flying at war’s end in an army plane back to Czechoslovakia over the Alps and her development of a fear of flying; her sister Eva being born and her father rebuilding his wholesale food distribution business and farm; her grandmother, who had gone to Palestine, returning to Czechoslovakia and taking Michlean and her family to Israel in the summer of 1948; her father’s reluctance to talk about the loss of his parents, his brother, and extended family who had been transported by train to Tallin, Estonia, where they perished in a forest; her maternal grandfather, who was deported to Mauthausen and forced to clean toilets and died of a “weak heart”; living on her grandmother's family farm; her father buying a food store north of Haifa; making friends easily and learning Hebrew; her parents’ desire to go to the United States in 1955, which was difficult for her with her heavy accent; graduating from high school in Rochester, New York; returning to Israel; marrying George Amir, a merchant marine, in 1958; returning to the US; teaching Hebrew at Camp Ramah; going to New York, where George studied naval architecture and engineering; moving to New Jersey, Massachusetts, California, and Washington, DC; earning her bachelor’s degree at Northeastern University and a library degree from Hebrew Union College in 1965; working as a librarian at the Applied Physics Lab; adopting her daughter Dahlia in1969; working part time at the Jewish Public Library in Rockville, Maryland and then at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as a reference archivist for the Resource Center; walking into the Museum and feeling that the staff is doing “holy work”; buying a Czech Torah and rededicating it; helping Lukas Pribyl, a Czech filmmaker, to make four documentaries called “The Transports”; and her thoughts on other Yad Vashem and USHMM.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Michlean Lowy Amir
Gail Schwartz
interview:  2019 February 13
creation: Chevy Chase (Md.)
1 digital file : WAV.