David P. Boder Interviews Hildegarde Franz; September 20, 1946; Munich, Germany

  • David Boder: [In English] München, September the 20th, 1946, at Funkenkasernen, a camp for transient displaced people [such who are ready to leave for overseas in the more or less near future]. I have here before me Mrs. Hildegarde Franz who is expecting to go to the United States.
  • David Boder: [In German] Now, Mrs. Franz, please turn around, make yourself comfortable. You will be warm. Take off your coat. [Speak] in this direction. Right?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now, Mrs. Franz, will you tell me again, what is your full name?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Hildegarde Franz.
  • David Boder: How old are you, if one may know?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Seventy-five years old.
  • David Boder: [surprised] No-o-o!
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: That is impossible. You look so young [and that was indeed so].
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. I am.
  • David Boder: You are seventy-five years old?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [in a soft, fading voice] Yes, yes, yes, yes.
  • David Boder: Now then, Mrs. Franz, will you be so kind and tell me where you were when the war started?
  • Hildegarde Franz: My . . .
  • David Boder: And then what happened to you afterwards until now.
  • Hildegarde Franz: I was in Nuremberg. With my sons and my husband we were working with my relatives at Schloss Ardien [?] near Nuremberg, in a "ready to wear" [business].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And in the '34 we were compelled to sell the business since we were Jews, no?
  • David Boder: Already so far back, '34?
  • Hildegarde Franz: '34.
  • David Boder: Now, Hitler was elected when?
  • Hildegarde Franz: In '33.
  • David Boder: Yes, if one figures that way. He came to power in '33.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: And in '34 you were compelled . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: We were compelled to sell our business for certain reasons, because our employees were completely of National Socialist [Nazi] orientation and reported every customer who purchased from us to the Braunhaus [Nazi headquarters], so that the people . . .
  • David Boder: Withdrew? [German word order does not permit verbatim translation of this sentence].
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . withdrew their patronage. They were afraid to buy from us.
  • David Boder: What kind of a business did you say it was?
  • Hildegarde Franz: "Ready-to-wear" for ladies. A very large business of ladies' "ready-to-wear".
  • David Boder: A "ready-to-wear" establishment. Did you yourselves also manufacture the dresses?
  • Hildegarde Franz: No, no, not that.
  • David Boder: You simply purchased them from the manufacturer . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: Purchased.
  • David Boder: . . . and then sold them ready-made.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Sold.
  • David Boder: And that was in Heidelberg?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That was in Nuremberg.
  • David Boder: In Nuremberg, excuse me.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Of course.
  • David Boder: That is exactly there where now the trial takes place of the . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: . . . of the Nazis.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes. And so . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . then my husband . . . Ours was a mixed marriage. It was . . . So my husband wanted . . .
  • David Boder: Your husband was a Christian?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. Because I was a Jewess, my husband with my sons had to be discharged, simply put out on the street, so to speak. No?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Nu, yes. The sons then emigrated to America.
  • David Boder: Oh, in 1934 your sons still had a chance to emigrate to America?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: Who sent them the affidavits?
  • Hildegarde Franz: My son happened to meet a gentleman at . . .
  • David Boder: You, you have no relatives [in the United States], so they were . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . the Leipzig Fair.She refers to the Leipzig Trade Fair, a major European trade fair which began in the Middle Ages and still continues today.1 He provided for my son a contact with America.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And he remained there [where?] for a year, and from there [?] he . . .
  • David Boder: To . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . he got his . . .
  • David Boder: Affidavit.
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . his entrance [permit] . . .
  • David Boder: To America.
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . was obtained. Since then he is in America with one and the same firm, since ten years ago, since ten years ago with the same firm.
  • David Boder: With the same firm, yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Employed by Kresge.
  • David Boder: Kresge?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Kresge, yes.
  • David Boder: What is that, the five-and-ten firm. Or . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: A very large firm.
  • David Boder: That very large five-and-ten [firm?]
  • Hildegarde Franz: Employed already for ten years.
  • David Boder: Yes. Yes. Now that means one son is there.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: And do you have any more in America?
  • Hildegarde Franz: One son is in the state of Colorado. Yes, Colorado.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: In Durango. And for six years he holds the same position.
  • David Boder: Aha. Are they married there?
  • Hildegarde Franz: One of my sons is married.
  • David Boder: He did not take his wife with him?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. His wife is there.
  • David Boder: He took her with him from here?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [words not clear; they speak simultaneously] No. He got married in America.
  • David Boder: He got married in America.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now with whom then are you here, Mrs. Franz?
  • Hildegarde Franz: I am all alone.
  • David Boder: What happened to your husband?
  • Hildegarde Franz: My husband died.
  • David Boder: When?
  • Hildegarde Franz: My husband was very, very ill due to all these harassments and the hardships that we endured. Then my husband became very, very ill, true [you see?]?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And due to the air raids . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . which we lived through. It was afterwards, so [that] I for nearly a full half-year hardly got out of my clothes, only in order to help my sick husband, when the [air] attacks would start, so that I could take him to the cellar. For a full half-year I did not take off my clothes.
  • David Boder: Where were you during all that time?
  • Hildegarde Franz: In Nuremberg, in Nuremberg.
  • David Boder: In Nuremberg.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. Then in '43 I was . . .
  • David Boder: Now one moment [apparently adjustment of the equipment]. Now go on. What happened then in '43?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Now in '43 it was . . . when it [the war] became so frightful, I went with my husband for a few weeks to the country. There he became very, very sick. I had [to provide for] an operation. I had to return him to Nuremberg in order to submit him to an operation.
  • David Boder: Now your husband was a Christian?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, and . . .
  • David Boder: He was a German?
  • Hildegarde Franz: He was German. And then he died in Nuremberg.
  • David Boder: And he died in Nuremberg.
  • Hildegarde Franz: In 40— . . . on the 19th of October, '43, my husband died, and on the 17th of January, '44, I was, within two days, from my apartment remo— . . . [she weeps silently]
  • David Boder: What do you mean by "within two days"?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [choking with tears] I had to vacate my apartment and was moved to the KZ, where . . . horribly . . . [she cries bitterly] Let me take hold of myself a bit. [Pause.] At the age of seventy-three, after two months I was dragged away to Theresienstadt.
  • David Boder: Now well, what did they say? Why?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Just nothing. I am a Jewess.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: So I was . . . was simply dragged off.
  • David Boder: Now tell me. You say they gave you two days to liquidate your apartment.
  • Hildegarde Franz: They wanted . . . yes. I could not move any more from the apartment. I was compelled to leave everything as it stood and lay. No? [in a fading voice] I was simply . . .
  • David Boder: [whispers] A bit louder.
  • Hildegarde Franz: [in full voice] I was simply dragged away to Theresienstadt.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, how many people went with you to Theresienstadt?
  • Hildegarde Franz: With my transport . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . went fifteen people.
  • David Boder: And how were you transported to Theresienstadt?
  • Hildegarde Franz: We were [sent] to Theresienstadt by train under guard, that is under the SA [Sturmabteilung, also sometimes known as Brown Shirts or Storm Troopers] . . .
  • David Boder: From . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . of the Gestapo.
  • David Boder: Was that a passenger RR-car?
  • Hildegarde Franz: It was a third class RR-car [an ordinary passenger car, normally decent transportation].
  • David Boder: A third class RR-car?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Who were the other people with you?
  • Hildegarde Franz: There was a Mr. Kaufman, a . . . also a [Mrs.] Dessauer—he, too, had died [her husband]—Dessauer, Kaufman, a Mr. Krengel, a Frau Dr. Rodmar [?] . . .
  • David Boder: [whispers] A bit louder.
  • Hildegarde Franz: A Frau Dr. Rodmar, a . . .
  • David Boder: Now well, I mean what kind of people were they that they had remained in Nuremberg so long in the first place?
  • Hildegarde Franz: They all were of mixed marriages.
  • David Boder: Oh, they were people of mixed marriages [Jew-Christian].
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, and they were all in '3 . . . [correction] '44 dragged away to Theresienstadt.
  • David Boder: But of these mixed marriages they took only the Jewish half?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: The Jewish half of the mixed marriages.
  • Hildegarde Franz: The Jewish half of the mixed marriages, yes, yes.
  • David Boder: These were then [possibly after the death of the Christian half] sent away to Theresienstadt.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Only the Jews.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, how did you find Theresienstadt at that time? [See Mr. Schlaefrig, Chapter 26.]Boder's note refers to the interview with Friedrich Schläfrig, conducted on August 23, 1946 in Paris, France. Schläfrig was also imprisoned in the ghetto for older adults at Theresienstadt.2
  • Hildegarde Franz: Well, we have Theresienstadt . . . we were . . .
  • David Boder: There were various periods in Theresienstadt.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Now then, where, what kind of a place [accommodations] was assigned to you? Where . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: They assigned to us an attic.
  • David Boder: An attic? Of a building?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Of a building, where we had to live . . . sleep and live. And . . .
  • David Boder: And who lived below?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Below was a Siechenheim where sick people were lying. [The interviewer did not get the word "Siechenhiem." It sounded somewhat like "Ziegenheim," goat home, hence the confusion below.]
  • David Boder: What kind of a home?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Siechenheim, where only sick [people] were lying.
  • David Boder: Why is it called Ziegenheim?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That's what they called it. I don't know.
  • David Boder: Aha. How do you spell it?
  • Hildegarde Franz: S . . . S-I-E-C-H . . .
  • David Boder: S?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Siechen. S-I-E-C-H-E-N-H-E-I-M. Siechenheim.
  • David Boder: Siechenhiem [the word "Siech" meaning chronic, incurable, or incapacitating illness].
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes.
  • David Boder: Yes. And you lived there upstairs . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: Upstairs.
  • David Boder: . . . Above that home for the incurables [Siechenheim].
  • Hildegarde Franz: We lived . . .
  • David Boder: Now how many people were you in one room?
  • Hildegarde Franz: About thirty-five people were lodged in that attic.
  • David Boder: Only women?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Only . . . [correction] women and men. Everybody together.
  • David Boder: In the same room?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Everything in the same room.
  • David Boder: So how did you sleep there?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Now, well, we slept in a kind of box with a paillasse [sack of straw].
  • David Boder: Aha. For each one separately? A bed for each one, so to speak?
  • Hildegarde Franz: A bed, yes.
  • David Boder: With a paillasse.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Paillasse, yes.
  • David Boder: Now what kind of things did you take with you?
  • Hildegarde Franz: A little . . . I was permitted to take with me only the most indispensable. A coffer with clothes, which I had been using at the time, a little underwear, a blanket and a pillow.
  • David Boder: Aha. And that they let you keep in Theresienstadt?
  • Hildegarde Franz: I was allowed to keep it. But many . . . I happened to be lucky, but from many it was stolen, so that they had nothing. They . . .
  • David Boder: So. And tell me, how was it afterwards in Theresienstadt?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Nu, yes . . .
  • David Boder: How long were you there, and . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: A year and a half. Until the liberation by the Russians had come.
  • David Boder: Were you well?
  • Hildegarde Franz: For seven weeks I lay in the hospital.
  • David Boder: In the same Siechenheim?
  • Hildegarde Franz: No, no. In a hospital. "The Grand Hotel" it was called.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And there I lay for seven weeks, because I lost weight so quickly.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Within three months, four months, I lost forty pounds. That was too much. So all my inner organs, heart and everything, were affected by it. True?
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And so I lay for seven weeks in the hospital.
  • David Boder: And what did they do for you?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [weeping] In the hospital? Oh, dear God. How much could they do? I was lying in the hospital. I was treated with [unclear; still in tears]. I was discharged too early, because this hospital was really used only for people sick of the lungs.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And so I was returned to my attic.
  • David Boder: Who were the physicians in this hospital?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That was a Dr. Guttman.
  • David Boder: Were they Jewish physicians?
  • Hildegarde Franz: They were Jewish physicians. There were only Jews there.
  • David Boder: Yes, and the . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: Only Jewish . . .
  • David Boder: Yes, I understand. And the physicians were Jewish, true?
  • Hildegarde Franz: They were Jewish, yes.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, as time passed and it came nearer to the defeat, did the conditions change a bit in Theresienstadt?
  • Hildegarde Franz: No. I mean at the end we did not believe any more in general [she weeps]—how should I say?—to be freed [?]. We were completely cut off from the world. We did not get any news, nothing.
  • David Boder: No newspapers, no magazines?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Nothing, nothing. No newspapers, no radio, no . . . not even a letter placed in a package. That too they took away.
  • David Boder: Did you get any packages?
  • Hildegarde Franz: I . . . No. Not a single one did I receive.
  • David Boder: Why?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [in tears] I got nothing. Nobody sent me anything. [unintelligible].
  • David Boder: Didn't you have any friends left in Heidelberg
  • Hildegarde Franz: [correcting] In Nuremberg.
  • David Boder: In Nuremberg, who had remained there?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, but I was . . . none of them sent me anything. I also did not request [demand] anything, because I did not want to embarrass those people. True? Because it was strictly prohibited that the Jews should have anything sent to them.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, did you still have any money?
  • Hildegarde Franz: In Theresienstadt, no, not a penny.
  • David Boder: How come?
  • Hildegarde Franz: I was not permitted to take any money.
  • David Boder: Oh. Did you have any money in . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: But in Theresienstadt there was—sorry I don't have it with me—there was a ghetto money [currency].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: True? And . . .
  • David Boder: And who got that?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That we got . . .
  • David Boder: For what . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . so we could buy something.
  • David Boder: Now, did you get that money for nothing, or . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: We got every month fifty crowns, true?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Ghetto money.
  • David Boder: Yes. With that Moses picture on it?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Moses' picture on it. Yes, yes. I have saved [as a curiosity] a few of them.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: We all had to wear the Jewish star, no?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And we were . . . Now the food was more [less] than little.
  • David Boder: How were you fed? Did you cook there in your quarters or . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: No. With . . . we were fed from a [central] kitchen with . . .
  • David Boder: And who fetched the food?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That all of us had to get. We had to call for it. We had to fetch the food.
  • David Boder: Did you stand in a queue? [She may not have understood the word queue. Maybe it was mispronounced.]
  • Hildegarde Franz: No. Just on the street. There were streets.
  • David Boder: And so you fetched your food and . . . Where did you eat it?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [in tears; words not clear] . . . and we sat down on the bed and ate. A table we didn't know any more. True? There were no tables in our room. Nu, so one had to sit down on his bed.
  • David Boder: Yes. So. Did you keep your own bed linen?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. I had my own bed linen. These I took with me. And I washed them regularly.
  • David Boder: Hm. Did you have enough soap?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Soap? [chuckle] What soap? Well, we got some soap paste.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And of that there was very little.
  • David Boder: Yes. And then? Did it not get better towards the end?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Oh. There began to come commissions.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: From Sweden and from Switzerland [International Red Cross?].
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And it had to become a bit better for us.
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And everything had . . . Now what they wanted to show, the Nazis, that they showed, that was put in order. And the rest remained as it was. Then we would get once a bit more food, and when they were gone, the commission, then they deducted it again from us. Then we got less again. No?
  • David Boder: So. Yes. Who were the Nazis with whom you had come in contact?
  • Hildegarde Franz: We had less contact with the Nazis. It was the Council of the Elders who received the orders from the Nazis, and the Council of the Elders had to execute them.
  • David Boder: Do you remember any people from the Council of the Elders?
  • Hildegarde Franz: [recollecting] From the Council of the Elders? I really . . . Wait please . . . One—what was his name? I met a Mr. Meier. Otherwise, no one.
  • David Boder: No one.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Because once I was summoned to the commandant's office where I was confronted with a will which I and my husband had made out in the year '32. And they asked me at the commandant's office [in tears] if that was in the handwriting of my husband, and they told me to declare it void.
  • David Boder: Why void it?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Well, I don't know. I did not agree to that. I said to myself that I have lived with my husband in a very happy marriage, a forty-three year old happy marriage, and that the family of my husband is sacred to me [a will in their favor should stand]. Thus I explained it to them. That was . . .
  • David Boder: Was that a Jewish group that [told] you . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: No. These were the . . .
  • David Boder: The S[S] . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: The S[S]. That was the Gestapo that questioned me. The SS were . . .
  • David Boder: Yes. What was there in the will that was not to their liking?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Well, at that time I assigned everything to the name of my husband, no?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And if I somehow had voided it then they would have taken over everything. No?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And so there was [?] . . .
  • David Boder: Now what was there to take over?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Well, my husband . . . we had some property. No? And the apartment . . .
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: . . . and the furniture, everything that there was. And so they were very eagerly after it in order to distribute it among their Nazis. And so they were greatly interested in getting it, but they could not do that, because everything was in the name of my husband [a Christian]. No?
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And I did not agree to give it up.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: True?
  • David Boder: Did they not threaten you?
  • Hildegarde Franz: No. I just told them that under no circumstances would I acquiesce to counteract the wishes of my husband, and the will should remain as is.
  • David Boder: Yes. Now tell me, Mrs. Franz, how did the liberation come about?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Liberation came through the Russians.
  • David Boder: How did they come in?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That was the 8th, 9th of May. The 8th or 9th of May they came.
  • David Boder: '45.
  • Hildegarde Franz: '45.
  • David Boder: And what happened then?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Then it happened . . . They got away in flight, those [Nazis] who were still there. True? They retreated and abandoned everything in disorder.
  • David Boder: Yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And the Russians treated us decently.
  • David Boder: So.
  • Hildegarde Franz: We got more food, and we were given proper maintenance.
  • David Boder: So, and when did you return to Nuremberg?
  • Hildegarde Franz: We returned the 2nd of July, '45. We were called for [fetched] by the Americans from Theresienstadt.
  • David Boder: In camions, buses?
  • Hildegarde Franz: In buses, in such cargo trucks we were called for.
  • David Boder: Now what did you find in Nuremberg of your property?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Nothing at all. [Pause.] The house was bombed out.
  • David Boder: Was it your own house?
  • Hildegarde Franz: No, it was not my own house. Of my whole apartment I salvaged hardly anything. The people who had sublet from me have helped themselves [to my things] rather well.
  • David Boder: Did you find some clothing? Did you . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: Nothing. There were only a few things, a few valuables that I had stored away with a Dr. Mombart.
  • David Boder: A Christian?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. He kept it for me wonderfully, while the intermarried couple who lived in my apartment did exactly the contrary. [See note at end of chapter.] But I don't want [to do anything] against these people.
  • David Boder: Oh yes, you don't want to complain . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: It is over. I don't want to demand [prosecute]. They have deprived me of a lot.
  • David Boder: That was an intermarried family that lived there.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: And nothing happened to them during . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: They left the apartment afterwards. A bomb hit [the house], true?
  • David Boder: Oh, and then?
  • Hildegarde Franz: It tore off one wall, but the things, the furniture remained standing. No?
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Hildegarde Franz: At least a large part. And what happened to it? I got a few pieces back, but in part they said they had nothing more.
  • David Boder: So. And your bank account? Did you get that back?
  • Hildegarde Franz: That I got back.
  • David Boder: That the Americans have returned to you?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: And they permit you to take it out?
  • Hildegarde Franz: They have . . . that [the permission] I got, too.
  • David Boder: Yes. So that was safe.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, that was safe. But of the furnishings of my apartment, I have lost very, very much.
  • David Boder: Now tell me, did you make quick contact with your sons?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, I obtained it through an American.
  • David Boder: Did you telegraph, or what?
  • Hildegarde Franz: My son sent me a cable first, because I had sent him a letter. And then he sent me a cable full of great joy about me still being alive [tears].
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Hildegarde Franz: They didn't figure that I was still alive.
  • David Boder: Now when do you think you are leaving?
  • Hildegarde Franz: I am leaving on the 24th.
  • David Boder: Which 24th?
  • Hildegarde Franz: The 24th of September, with the transport.
  • David Boder: Where to?
  • Hildegarde Franz: To Bremen.
  • David Boder: Oh. And then your ship leaves from Bremen?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Oh, yes.
  • David Boder: I thought that you are possibly going to Paris, because I am leaving the 29th . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: No, no.
  • David Boder: . . . on the [S.S.] Washington.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: Then you are traveling on a military ship?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes, yes.
  • David Boder: So, that is, after all, a happy ending to such a bitter play ["gutes Ende zum boesen Spiel"].
  • Hildegarde Franz: Yes. I have suffered much, and much.
  • David Boder: Oh, that we know. That . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: [weeps bitterly] I have suffered frightfully. I really should not think about it, how hard it was for me.
  • David Boder: Where are you going now? To Newark?
  • Hildegarde Franz: To my son.
  • David Boder: To Newark. And the other one you say is in . . .
  • Hildegarde Franz: Is in Durango, Colorado. In the state of Colorado.
  • David Boder: Yes. You would like it there, too. It is warm and beautiful there.
  • Hildegarde Franz: [in tears] The children are, of course, glad that they still have a mother.
  • David Boder: Of course, they should be glad.
  • Hildegarde Franz: It was frightful. I can't explain it to you at all, how terrible that all was. [She apparently weeps.]
  • David Boder: Hm.
  • Hildegarde Franz: I have gained fifty pounds.
  • David Boder: How much did you weigh? How much do you weigh now?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Now I must have about my old [original] weight.
  • David Boder: How much?
  • Hildegarde Franz: About one hundred fifteen to one hundred twenty pounds. But when I returned from Theresienstadt I weighed only 70 pounds.
  • David Boder: Tell me please, were there in Theresienstadt any selections, so that people were sent away from there?
  • Hildegarde Franz: You mean transports [shipments usually to extermination camps]?
  • David Boder: Yes, from Theresienstadt.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Oh. God in heaven!
  • David Boder: Tell us about it.
  • Hildegarde Franz: Well, in my time [?] many, many people were sent to Poland.
  • David Boder: For what reason? How were they chosen?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Simply. [she speaks very fast, barely understandable, with great apprehension] For transport so-and-so many people were simply ordered. And the transports came for them, [and they went] part to Auschwitz, part to Belsen. They went to Posen where they were kept in KZs, and most of these people have all perished. Then there was one transport that was the last one, in October. There were eighteen thousand people dragged off from Theresienstadt.
  • David Boder: [astonished] Eighteen thousand?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Eighteen thousand people were dragged off from Theresienstadt to Poland.
  • David Boder: How were they selected? Were any Reichs-Germans [actual German citizens whether Jews or non-Jews] with . . . among them?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Germans and all possible . . . all possible nations were among them [?].
  • David Boder: And how did you succeed in remaining there?
  • Hildegarde Franz: Where? I?
  • David Boder: In Theresienstadt, yes.
  • Hildegarde Franz: [in a feeble voice] Yes, that I don't know. I just was not among them.
  • David Boder: What?
  • Hildegarde Franz: I was not among them. I just did not get to it.
  • David Boder: [You] had luck.
  • Hildegarde Franz: I had luck.
  • David Boder: Were there any in the transports who came with you from Nuremberg?
  • Hildegarde Franz: There were such [?] who were dragged off to Poland, to Auschwitz.
  • David Boder: Aha.
  • Hildegarde Franz: And of them only a single one [a woman] has returned. She was a younger person. The others have all perished.
  • David Boder: [After a long pause possibly due to difficulty with the equipment, at which times some statements were made that could not be recorded; in English] There is a correction: four people from her transport were sent to Poland, and one returned of these four, a younger person.
  • David Boder: This concludes the interview with Miss Hildegarde— [correction] with Mrs. Hildegarde Franz, age seventy-five, born in Nuremberg, or who lived in Nuremberg in a mixed marriage with a Christian husband, and who after his death was sent to Theresienstadt. She is now in the UNRRA camp at Funkenkasernen in Munich. And the 24th of this month—that means in four days—she is going to Bremen, and from Bremen sailing to the United States to her son in Newark, and to the other one in Colorado. This concludes the interview with Miss [Mrs.] Hildegarde Franz at twenty minutes of the spool [about 25 minutes running on 50 cycles]. An Illinois Institute of Technology wire recording.
  1. She refers to the Leipzig Trade Fair, a major European trade fair which began in the Middle Ages and still continues today.
  2. Boder's note refers to the interview with Friedrich Schläfrig, conducted on August 23, 1946 in Paris, France. Schläfrig was also imprisoned in the ghetto for older adults at Theresienstadt.
  • Contributors to this text:
  • Transcription : Dagmar Platt
  • English translation : David P. Boder
  • Footnotes : Eben E. English