Interview with Alice Dreifuss Goldstein, April 27, 2019

UK Jewish Kentucky
Transcript
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Index
Search this Index
X
00:00:01 - Nazi Germany in the 1930s and immigration to the U.S.

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Today would have been the one hundred and twelfth birthday of my grandmother, Gretel Dreifuss. So it is a particularly uh, appropriate day for Mom to be talking about her experiences.

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein recounts the Nazi regulations in Kenzingen, Germany in the 1930s. By 1936, her parents had decided to leave Germany. When Kristallnacht happened in 1938, her parents' business and belongings were destroyed, and her father was deported to Dachau for six weeks. They were able to obtain the final documents needed to emigrate, and booked passage on the USS Krunning for New York.

Keywords: Atlantic passage; Borders; Dachau concentration camp; Kenzingen, Baden-W├╝rttemberg, Germany; Kenzingen, Germany; Kristallnacht; Nazi regulations; New York; Poverty; Refugees; USS Krunning; Vandalized; Visas; WWII; War; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination.; Emigration and immigration.; Germany; Holocaust; Internment camps; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism; Kenzingen (Germany); Nazi Germany; Nazi concentration camps.; Nazis; Segregation; Shoah; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: Kenzingen (Germany)
Map Coordinates: 48.191667, 7.768333
00:06:51 - Relief on the USS Krunning

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The other day when we were talking, you described that week on the ship between Germany and New York as, uh, the one period of, uh, relief that you had on either side of being in Germany or arriving in the U.S.

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein recounts finally feeling free for the first time in six years upon her stay on the USS Krunning after fleeing Nazi Germany. Her parents were thrilled to be eating kosher meat, and she liked drinking the apple juice and enjoying the nightly ship entertainment.

Keywords: Dancing; Kosher meat; Polka; Steerage class; Waltz

Subjects: Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Discrimination.; Emigration and immigration.; Germany; Immigrants; Internment camps; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism; Kosher; Nazi concentration camps.; New York; Refugees; Segregation

00:07:54 - Arrival in New York City

Play segment

Partial Transcript: When you and your parents arrived in New York in August of '39, your mother's cousin Elsie met you at the harbor, arranged for housing, and helped register you immediately for school. Tell us about your first experiences with school in New York City.

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein talks about her integration into American public schools. She didn't know English. Her parents had taught her that the flag was a sign of evil and not to show it respect, so when it came time to pledge allegiance to the flag, she did not participate and was sent to detention. The language barrier and repeated detentions for not understanding American customs led her to experience isolation.

Keywords: Detention; English as a second language (ESL); First grade; Flags; Isolation; Languages; Nationalism; New York Harbor; Pledge of Allegiance; School assembly

Subjects: Acculturation; Childhood; Culture shock; Education; Immigrants; Jewish children; Language and languages; New York (N.Y.); Public schools

GPS: New York City (N.Y.)
Map Coordinates: 40.712778, -74.006111
00:10:04 - Parents' occupations and move to Bennington, Vermont

Play segment

Partial Transcript: At the same time that you were going through that, your parents were seeking work, of course. They needed to find work as quickly as possible. How did they go about doing this, and what were their first jobs?

Segment Synopsis: While Dreifuss Goldstein was having difficulties at school, her father had difficulty finding work in post-Depression America. Her mother found work as a cleaning woman. The Hebrew and Immigrant Aid Society advised her parents to move to Bennington, Vermont to work as a domestic couple for a household. Her parents saw this as an opportunity to further assimilate and improve their income, so they moved.

Keywords: Bennington, Vermont; Blue collar jobs; Butlers; Chambermaids; Chauffeurs; Cleaning; Cooks; Gardeners; German; Great Depression; Poverty; Refugees; Servants; Unemployment; Vermont

Subjects: Assimilation; Bennington (Vt.); Careers.; Depressions--1929; Families.; Hebrew and Immigrant Aid Society; Immigrants; Jewish children; Jewish families.; New York (N.Y.); Occupations.; Professions.; Work.

GPS: Bennington (Vt.)
Map Coordinates: 42.891111, -73.208056
00:12:06 - Move to Connecticut and FBI surveillance

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And you were under FBI surveillance during this period of time as well, right?

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein explains that it wasn't long before her family moved again to Groton, Connecticut. They moved again to New London, Connecticut. While there, her family was under FBI surveillance.

Keywords: Connecticut; Enemy aliens; Espionage; Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI); Groton, Connecticut; Naval bases; New London, Connecticut; Vermont; WWII; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Groton (Conn.); Immigrants; Jewish children; Jewish families.; New London (Conn.); Pearl Harbor (Hawaii), Attack on, 1941; Prejudice; Refugees.; World War, 1939-1945

GPS: New London (Conn.)
Map Coordinates: 41.355556, -72.099444
00:13:07 - Americanization and learning English

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Yeah, thank you. Let's go back a little bit to, uh, Bennington and Groton, when your parents were domestic household servants.

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein talks about her parents' assimilation into American culture. Her father changed his name from Siegfried to Fred, her mother learned how to cook American recipes, and they all began to learn English. She also recounts that the lack of stability and constant moving, both geographically and in classrooms, led her to not make any friends as a young child.

Keywords: Accents; American cooking; American lifestyle; Bennington, Vermont; Chauffeurs; Cooking; English (Language); First grade; Fourth grade; Friends; German-Jewish refugees; Germans; Groton, Connecticut; Jewish people; Learning English; Loneliness; Lonely; Refugees; Sullivan Cookbook; Third grade

Subjects: Acculturation; Americanization; Assimilation; Bennington (Vt.); Childhood; Connecticut; Culture shock; Education; Groton (Conn.); Immigrants; Jewish children; Language and languages

GPS: Groton (Conn.)
Map Coordinates: 41.3485, -72.0775
00:15:38 - Relationships with Jewish families in New England / Moving to New London, Connecticut

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about any connection with Jewish families in either Bennington or Groton?

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein remembers rarely interacting with other Jewish family members in New England. It was difficult for her to make friends as a child because all of her non-Jewish friends in Germany abandoned her, and fear of anti-Semitism made her fearful of forming relationships. Eventually her family moved again to New London, Connecticut. Their family housed other refugees and Dreifuss Goldstein would leave school every day to feed them lunch while her mother worked at a factory.

Keywords: Boarders; Boarding; Friendships; Groton, Connecticut; Jewish community; New London Garment Factory; New London, Connecticut; Refugees; Stability; Stress; Trust; Watchman

Subjects: American Jews; Anti-Semitism; Antisemitism; Childhood; Connecticut; Discrimination.; Germany; Groton (Conn.); Immigrants; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism; New London (Conn.); Segregation

GPS: New London (Conn.)
Map Coordinates: 41.355556, -72.099444
00:18:42 - School life in New London

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What else changed with the move to New London for you? You want to talk a little bit more about school, maybe, and then we can turn to Jewish life?

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein talks about making a friend in her class in New London after finally finding stability. However, she was still considered an outsider to other students. No one ever asked her about her background, even when she wrote an essay about her escape from Nazi Germany for an essay contest.

Keywords: Bullying; Essay contests; Fifth grade; Making friends; Scholastic Magazine; Stability

Subjects: Acculturation; American Jews; Assimilation; Childhood; Connecticut; Education; Immigrants; Immigration; Jewish children; Jewish families.; New London (Conn.); Prejudice

GPS: New London (Conn.)
Map Coordinates: 41.355556, -72.099444
00:20:05 - Jewish life in New London

Play segment

Partial Transcript: What about, uh, your Jewish life in New London?

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein remembers her parents being very determined that she get a Jewish education, so she would go to Hebrew school on their days off from work, even while they lived in Vermont. They joined a Conservative congregation because it was the closest match to the Modern Orthodox congregation they belonged to in Germany. She remembers a distinct class difference and further prejudice because they were German Jews.

Keywords: Bennington, Vermont; Class differences; Conservative; German Jews; Groton, Connecticut; Hebrew schools; Jewish; Jewish education; Modern Orthodox; New London, Connecticut; Outsiders; Poverty; Prejudice; Social class

Subjects: Acculturation; American Jews; American Judaism; Assimilation; Bennington (Vt.); Childhood; Connecticut; Conservatism; Education; Groton (Conn.); Immigrants; Immigration; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Judaism; New London (Conn.); Orthodoxy; Prejudice

GPS: New London (Conn.)
Map Coordinates: 41.355556, -72.099444
00:22:29 - Communicating with family in Europe throughout World War II

Play segment

Partial Transcript: One last question, because we're, uh--the time is short. Uh, you mentioned just a moment ago about sending funds to Europe, for your family in Europe.

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein recounts her parents initially writing letters and telegrams to family back in Europe to remain in contact. But communication was always spread apart due to these methods and only got worse as the Holocaust went on. Her parents were not able to get visas for family members to immigrate to the U.S. At the end of the war, their main source of news was from their rabbi. After the war, they found out her grandparents had died in Auschwitz. They found out through a newspaper that her uncles had survived and were hoping to reconnect with family.

Keywords: Auschwitz concentration camp; Communication; Cooking; Deportation; Ethnic cleansing; Family; Family abroad; France; Letters; Magazines; News; Newspapers; Recipes; Red Cross; Refugees; Sermons; Telegrams; Visas; WWII; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Childhood; Emigration and immigration.; Holocaust; Immigrants; Internment camps; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Nazi concentration camps.; Shoah

00:25:49 - Growing up as a Holocaust survivor

Play segment

Partial Transcript: And if I may close, then, it had consequences for how your parents treated you as their only child and the only child of that generation.

Segment Synopsis: Dreifuss Goldstein talks about the pressures she felt growing up as a child and young adult as a Holocaust survivor. She felt expectations were high and she couldn't disappoint her parents. She had curfews, never wanted to stick out, and felt this attitude burdened her development.

Keywords: Burdens; Curfews; Disappointment; Guilt; High expectations; Hope; Movies; Survivors; WWII; World War 2; World War II

Subjects: Assimilation; Childhood; Emigration and immigration.; Holocaust; Immigrants; Jewish children; Jewish families.; Jews--Identity.; Shoah; World War, 1939-1945