Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History

Interview with William Drucker

Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries
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00:00:09 - His escape to Switzerland

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Partial Transcript: --a little bit before the war, um, your family, what your family did for a living, and then go from there.

Segment Synopsis: Drucker describes the events that took place in Vienna after the Nazi invasion on March 11, 1938. He describes his escape to Switzerland, where he lived in a temporary refugee camp until 1940, by which time the Swiss army was mobilizing for defense against Germany.

Keywords: Borders; Mobilization; Nazis; Refugee camps

Subjects: Switzerland; Vienna (Austria)

GPS: Vienna (Austria)
Map Coordinates: 48.200, 16.367
00:16:02 - His move to the Dominican Republic

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Partial Transcript: Uh, I have to think now. Nineteen hundred and f--yes, nineteen hundred and forty, I think, it escapes, escapes me what month, early or mid.

Segment Synopsis: Drucker describes his finding out about the Dominican Republic's program of accepting Jewish refugees as farmers, a plan spearheaded by President Rafael Trujillo. Drucker recounts that shortly after his arrival he met the woman who several months later was to become his wife, and that in the late 1940s they had two children. He tells that that he was able to secure Visas for his parents and his younger brother, who were still in Vienna at the time.

Keywords: Agriculture; Farming; Farms; Marriage; Rafael Trujillo; Visas

Subjects: Dominican Republic; Jewish refugees.

00:24:43 - Why he later moved to the United States / life in Sosúa

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Partial Transcript: Ladies in Europe at the time came to became, uh, teaching French, English, not, no Spanish.

Segment Synopsis: Drucker explains how, not wanting to raise his children in the Dominican Republic, he moved to United States in the late 1940s through his contact with a textile factory owner. He explains, however, that the Dominicans were extremely friendly to him and the other Jews. He describes life in the Jewish colony in Sosúa, Dominican Republic, which was for the most part undisturbed except for a scrape with the law in which he was unjustly accused and was spared time in prison only because his wife was in the hospital at the time.

[[Silence in the recording at 31:51 - 32:04.]]

Keywords: Judicial process; Legal accusations; Sausage vendors; Textile industry; United States

Subjects: Agriculture.; Sosúa (Dominican Republic)

GPS: Sosúa (Dominican Republic)
Map Coordinates: 19.750, -70.520
00:42:40 - His move to the United States

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Partial Transcript: Uh, that's when our, our life started in '51 in the United States.

Segment Synopsis: Drucker describes the next phase of his life, in the United States, beginning with a year in New York which he describes as unpleasant because his family was used to the open spaces and beautiful beaches of the Dominican Republic. He describes the situation of his brother, who was living in England at the time, and explains that he and his brother were originally Czech citizens. He describes his attempt to move his employment to San Francisco, which was complicated by the fact that he had children.

Keywords: Britain; Brothers; England; New York City (N.Y.); San Francisco (Calif.)

Subjects: Czech Republic; Emigration and immigration.; Textile industry.

GPS: New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.713, -74.006
00:50:44 - In the Swiss camp--Jewish-Swiss relations, and photographs

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Partial Transcript: Uh, -------?? of course I was very grateful to Switzerland, but we were still illegal immigrants, and by the state law, we had--we got always notified by the police that we had to leave, that our term has expired.

Segment Synopsis: Drucker describes his stay in a Jewish camp in Switzerland, before his years in the Dominican Republic, particularly the relations between the Jewish refugees and the Swiss citizens. He shows documents and photographs to the interviewer from his time in Switzerland.

[[Silence in the recording at 53:00 - 53:43.]]
[[Recording was interrupted at 1:03:45.]]

Keywords: Citizenship; Kosher; Military mobilization; Refugee camps

Subjects: Food.; Jewish refugees.; Law--Switzerland

01:03:46 - In the Swiss camp--Mobilization

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Partial Transcript: It's on and ready?

Segment Synopsis: Drucker describes life in the temporary camp in Switzerland which he lived in after leaving Austria and before moving to the Dominican Republic. He explains that the Jews were not allowed to help the Allies in any way because of Switzerland's neutrality, yet he recalls the mounting tension as both German and Swiss troops mobilized on the border. He describes the medical facilities available to the Jewish refugees, and he discusses the differences between the High German dialect he spoke, and the Swiss German dialect.

Keywords: Doctors; German dialects; Kristallnacht; Military mobilization; Poland; Refugee camps

Subjects: German language; Hospitals.; Jewish refugees.; Nazis.; Switzerland

01:21:54 - Correspondence with his mother / his trip to Portugal

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Partial Transcript: How did you get news about your mother?

Segment Synopsis: Drucker indicates that he corresponded with his mother while he was in Switzerland, and he tells of how she saved the yellow badge that she was forced to wear in Austria. Drucker describes his trip through Spain to Portugal with about forty other refugees.

Keywords: Bus travel; Letters; Spanish Civil War; Yellow badges

Subjects: Mothers; Portugal; Spain; Star of David badges

01:29:24 - The colony in Sosúa

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Partial Transcript: Now, we were a few hundred in Sosúa, but today it's only a handful left.

Segment Synopsis: Drucker describes the housing accommodations in the Jewish colony in Sosúa, Dominican Republic, the foods there that were new to the Europeans, and how land was distributed to groups for farming.

[[Silence in the recording at 1:35:37 - 1:35:54.]]

Keywords: Dominican Settlement Association (DORSA); Engineers; Farming; Farms

Subjects: Agriculture.; Communal living.; Food.; Fruits; Housing.