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Oral history interview with Trudy Schonberger

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.5.1 | RG Number: RG-50.106.0217

Trudy Wellisch Schonberger, born May 20, 1926 in Vienna, Austria, describes her childhood in Wiesenfeld, Austria at the foot of the Alps; how her father had a general store for local farmers and peasants; how she and her older brother, Eric, were the only Jewish children in the town; walking a mile to school in the next town; going later on to a school in Traisen, Austria with her cousin Lily; going to gymnasium in Vienna and living with her parents' non-Jewish friends; seeing pamphlets thrown down from German planes during the Anschluss in March 1938; being expelled from school one week later and going back to school in Traisen; how their teacher was expelled after telling them to say "Good morning" instead of "Heil Hitler"; having no Gentile friends; how her brother was valedictorian but was not allowed to attend graduation; coming home for lunch on November 10, 1938 and seeing her uncle in a police wagon and Lily's mother in a group of 10 women in a house; walking back to Wiesenfeld and seeing her mother on a bicycle; learning that her father and brother were in jail; how her mother organized women to get clothes and suitcases; how the Gestapo ordered them outside to a factory and her mother persuaded a Nazi guard to let the women return to her house instead; how Eric went to the United States in December 1938; how her father lost his business; being permitted to live upstairs in their house with 10 people; how her brother wrote to President Roosevelt, whose press secretary responded three weeks later with instructions to say that his father was a farmer and knew about agriculture; receiving a visa; not being able to say goodbye to Lily and her mother, both of whom did not survive; sailing on the Volendam from Rotterdam, Netherlands in August 1939; living in Queens, NY, then New Jersey; graduating from high school; working for a biophysicist at Columbia University; marrying in 1947; feeling American but Viennese musically; being angry over loss of her people and losing a part of her childhood; and feeling a great connection to survivors.

Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Trudy Schonberger
Gail Schwartz
interview:  2014 January 16
2 digital files : WAV.
Record last modified: 2020-03-26 09:44:26
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