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A group of Austrian-Jewish friends poses together during a weekly Sunday excursion to the parks.

Photograph | Digitized | Photograph Number: 75085

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    A group of Austrian-Jewish friends poses together during a weekly Sunday excursion to the parks.
    A group of Austrian-Jewish friends poses together during a weekly Sunday excursion to the parks.

Among those pictured are Wilhelm and Irene Basser.

    Overview

    Caption
    A group of Austrian-Jewish friends poses together during a weekly Sunday excursion to the parks.

    Among those pictured are Wilhelm and Irene Basser.
    Date
    Circa 1930
    Locale
    Vienna, Austria
    Variant Locale
    Wien
    Photo Credit
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Harold Basser

    Rights & Restrictions

    Photo Source
    United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Copyright: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Provenance: Harold Basser

    Keywords & Subjects

    Administrative Notes

    Biography
    Harold Basser (born Heinz Guenther Basser) is the only child of Wilhelm and Irene Basser (née Herschan). He was born in 1926 in Vienna, where his father, who was an architect and engineer, helped manage his father-in-law's steel plant together with Irene's brothers -- Hans, a master blacksmith and general manager of the factory proper, and Rudolf, a businessman. Despite the fact that Wilhelm's father, Josef, served as the head cantor of the Kluckigasse Synagogue in Vienna, and after 1934 of the synagogue in Subotica, Yugoslavia, the Basser family lived predominantly secular lives. Heinz Guenther attended synagogue every Saturday and on the High Holidays to fulfill his mandatory religious school education. In 1936 Wilhelm moved his family to Brigittenau to the administration building of the steel and iron factory. Heinz's uncle Hans lived in the adjacent apartment. Heinz attended a Real Gymnasium where he was first in his class and also excelled athletically. The family's situation changed radically when Germany annexed Austria on March 12, 1938. The social atmosphere in Heinz Guenther's high school in Brigittenau seemed to change immediately and palpably. The Jewish students were separated from their non-Jewish classmates, many of whom wore swastika emblems. Formerly friendly classmates began calling him saujuden, "Jew-pigs". Wilhelm warned his son not to retaliate, lest the baiters be the sons of Nazi officials who could do the family harm. Within weeks, Nazi officials arrived at the steel factory and informed Wilhelm that he no longer owned the factorym and that his foreman, who had been an under-cover Nazi when the party was still illegal, would be the new manager. This foreman came to Wilhelm and Irene and asked for their forgiveness, and sheltered them while they made plans to flee. With an ever more hostile environment and deprived of their factory, the Basser's moved to a small one-bedroom apartment and began seeking ways to emigrate. Wilhelm and Irene sent Heinz Guenther to live with his aunt in Innsbruck while they finalized arrangements. Traveling on falsified documents, Wilhelm, Irene, and Heinz Guenther took a train through Karlsruhe and Strasbourg en route to Paris to join Hans Herschan who had come a week earlier. Though their documents were closely scrutinized by the S.S., they arrived safely in Paris and three weeks later, on October 1, 1938 boarded the Ile de France at Le Havre, bound for New York. Once there, Heinz Guenther, now Harold, studied engineering and joined the U.S. Navy Air Corps as a radio technician from 1944 to 1946. He became a consulting structural engineer and in 1947, married Susi Popper, another Viennese refugee. Though Harold and his parents survived, the Holocaust claimed eight members of his immediate family including his grandfather Cantor Josef Basser. His grandmother Risza Basser was liberated from the Mauthausen concentration camp at the end of the war.
    Record last modified:
    2006-09-05 00:00:00
    This page:
    https:​/​/collections.ushmm.org​/search​/catalog​/pa1158620

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