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Eva Klin

Eva Klin
Nationality: German
Location: Germany • Missouri • Munich • St. Louis • United States of America
Experience During Holocaust: Attended Nazi Rally • Converted to Judaism • Family Resisted the Nazi Party • Hometown was Bombed

Mapping Eva's Life

Click on the location markers to learn more about Eva. Use the timeline below the map or the left and right keys on your keyboard to explore chronologically. In some cases the dates below were estimated based on the oral histories.

“You can only fool yourself so long and then you have to face it. I guess I had a lot of resentment also that they…I resented that they fooled us.” - Eva Klin

Read Eva's Oral History Transcripts

Read the transcripts by clicking the red plus signs below.

Tape 1 - Side 1

PRINCE: Eva, let’s begin with where you were born.
KLIN: Okay. I was born in Munich, Germany, January 17, 1929.
PRINCE: Okay, and tell me about your family…who lived in your home?
KLIN: Okay…who lived in my home? My mother, my stepfather that I considered actually my father and two younger sisters. At the time of my birth – they weren’t here yet, because I am the first born. So…my second sister was born in 1935 and my third one was born in 1945. So there’s a large span of time…
PRINCE: Eva, what was your maiden name?
KLIN: Albrecht – like Albrecht Durer.
PRINCE: Okay. And…what were your sisters’ names?
KLIN: Hilde and Traudl.
PRINCE: How…say that again.
KLIN: Hilde – H I L D E (I think it’s Hildegard in German) (LAUGHTER) I forgot about that.
PRINCE: And the second one?
KLIN: Waldtraud – Traudl in short…but Waldtraud in long…in…How do I spell Waldtraud – W A L D T R A U D…Waldtraud.
PRINCE: Okay. So there was six years between…you were six years old…
KLIN: Mine…yes, my next sister and the other one is 16 years younger than me.
PRINCE: Okay. Now your father’s name?
KLIN: Georg – George…that’s my stepfather. My, uh, real father was (I forgot now) was…
PRINCE: You’ll think of it.
KLIN: Okay.
PRINCE: And your mom’s…your mother’s name?
KLIN: My mother’s name was Appolonia.
PRINCE: Appolonia?
KLIN: Uh huh…like Appolo.
PRINCE: Uh huh. Did you have grandparents that lived there?
KLIN: Yes, but I only knew my mother’s mother. My grandfather had committed suicide after the First World War.
PRINCE: Was he in the war?
KLIN: Yes. He came back from the Battle of Verdun and couldn’t stand the butchery and killed himself. (SPEAKS QUIETLY)
PRINCE: So you knew your…
KLIN: My grandmother…
PRINCE: Your grandmother.
KLIN: Uh huh.
PRINCE: Were you…
KLIN: I was very close with my grandmother.
PRINCE: And she lived in Munich?
KLIN: Yes, she lived in Munich.
PRINCE: Okay…what did your father do?
KLIN: My father was a fine mechanic which was a very necessary occupation at that time…for the war purposes. And he worked for a Swiss firm…a Swiss owner…eventually became a Nazi – stayed in Germany and became eventually a Nazi.
PRINCE: A “fine mechanic?”
KLIN: A fine mechanic – I don’t know whether you’d call that anyways. I think it’s a tool and dye maker. I’m not quite sure about that so I’ve never really investigated it.
PRINCE: Okay. What’s the first memory you have?
KLIN: First memory of what?
PRINCE: Of anything. What do you think of when you think back to the very beginning?
KLIN: Very beginning?
PRINCE: Uh huh…
KLIN: Of home – I suppose you mean.
PRINCE: What kind of home did you have? What did it look like? Describe it…
KLIN: We had our own house. It’s very small in comparison to our houses…primitive. We had a large garden and actually I remember lots of fun besides having problems as a kid. But we were basically, I would…I would call it here, middle class. I always thought I was poor, but when I look at the poor people here, we were in the middle class, insofar we had our own little house – we had our own garden. A bike was a “big deal” for me.
PRINCE: And you had one?
KLIN: And I had one, and ice skates. I always wanted to have, and we never got around to it. And a tennis racket, I always wanted to have, and I never got around to it. But thank God I got around to it now. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: When you say “garden,” did you grow flowers or did you grow food?
KLIN: We grew food…some flowers…but we had a large vegetable garden which was really…
PRINCE: Now what years are we talking about right now? When I say, I asked you about what you remembered…it, this…?
KLIN: Very good, yes. This is about, I would say…1935. Previously, now as you say, what do I remember? My memory goes a little earlier. We had an apartment. Apartment – it was one large room and in that room, actually my memory’s very hazy there. Okay, I think we slept in it, we cooked in it, and we bathed in it and we did everything in there. But that’s hazy. And we built a house in 1933 or ’34 – it might have been ‘ 35, illegally. What does it mean “illegally?”…You have to have permission of the city commissioner and I remember we didn’t get it. So my father went ahead and built at night, and if he had a certain amount up, they couldn’t tear it down.
KLIN: That just came to my memory recently. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: Interesting law…
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: Okay, uh, allright. So you were about six or seven or eight when you moved to the house?
KLIN: I was more – I was younger than eight…
KLIN: I would say, yes, ’30…I started school in 1935 and we were already in the house. The house was primitive in comparison to ours. We had…the water was not in the house yet. We didn’t have electric lights in the house and I considered that middle class for that time – not our time.
PRINCE: Were all the houses in the neighborhood the same?
KLIN: No. Some of them were much more advanced and elaborate and I always imagined in my mind, after I came here, that our house was very little and our neighbors which was an aunt of my father’s…an aunt of mine…a sister of my stepfather – had a big house, I thought, in my mind. When I came back after the war – after being in the United States – the house had shriveled up. (LAUGHTER) It became very small and I was surprised how small the house was, but in my mind, it was big.
PRINCE: Was it a…was it a neighborhood where you – you knew the people and you played with the children?
KLIN: Absolutely, yes. It’s a suburb of Munich – Forstenried. I think we haven’t mentioned that. And it was at that time, a very small suburb, like, let’s say, Olivette – in the beginning of Olivette or that’s where I lived, so I can compare it – but in the meantime it grew to such dimensions that I don’t recognize it anymore.
PRINCE: Was it, uh, that we haven’t ascertained your religious background.
KLIN: No, we haven’t done that. I was born a Catholic.
PRINCE: Okay. Was this…was this…would you call this a Catholic neighborhood?
KLIN: Absolutely. I went to school with very few…kids that were of another denomination.
PRINCE: Was your school within walking distance?
KLIN: Absolutely, yes.
PRINCE: So your whole world was fairly…school…?
KLIN: Church…it’s what you call in German a “dorf,” really at that time. It wasn’t even part of Munich yet. “Dorf” meaning “village”…at that time in 1935. And everything circled around the church and the schoolhouse….
PRINCE: Your life, okay. And what did that encompass when you say “everything.” Okay, you went to school…
KLIN: We went to school, went shopping – to the bakery – to the pharmacist…
PRINCE: So the same children that might have been in your school class were in your Sunday school class?
KLIN: Oh yes. Now “Sunday school.” Sunday school did not exist in 1935 because Germany had separation – did not have a separation of the church and state. So we started out having religious (Oh, what’s the word in English?)…instructions in school – not in the church. The priest would come to church and instruct, uh…uh…religiousity in school. We did not have a Sunday school. We had a Catholic instructions in school.
PRINCE: In school?
KLIN: Uh huh.
PRINCE: So then you just went to church – you didn’t have a Sunday school like we think of here?
KLIN: No, no. You see the church and state isn’t…wasn’t separated. Hitler came in separating church and state eventually. That…it’s such a contradiction here because I embrace today, the strong separation of church and state and I found that Hitler…that was one of the things that he did…I think that are good here…the separation of church and state.
PRINCE: Okay, uh, you…so your school was a public school? How would you describe what your school…
KLIN: Yes. School was a public school. It was…
PRINCE: Grades…
KLIN: The grades one to eighth. After this we had to go take a bus and a streetcar to finish up (what do they call it here?). I don’t recall exactly, but we had to go another two or three years to the city of Munich – but this is suburbs – and at that time, it wasn’t even Munich. It didn’t belong to Munich yet, uh, to finish up grade school. It was a small schoolhouse… “small.” The definition is kind of relative because here a small schoolhouse was one schoolroom, but let’s say the village had (I don’t know how many people) but we were about 200 people, I would…200 kids going to that small school…at the most 200.
PRINCE: Now we’re talking about 19…
KLIN: ’35.
PRINCE: ’35. Okay, and you’re just beginning school really.
KLIN: Right.
KLIN: And Nazism is just beginning to take hold, so that, from ’33 till ’35, I really don’t have much recall of how Nazism manifested itself. I do remember in ’35 that we – the greetings were still “Gruss Gott” in contrast to “Heil Hitler.”
PRINCE: Okay. What is “Gruss Gott?”
KLIN: Gruss Gott – Greetings to – (STUTTERS) Greetings to God. It was really wishing you a “Good Day” by means of God. It’s a Catholic country. So Greetings to God…
PRINCE: So that changed?
KLIN: Yes. And that changed within, I would say, a year or two with me being in school.
PRINCE: How were you conscious of that changing?
KLIN: Well, first of all, you raised your hands when you Heil Hitler, then you…
PRINCE: Who told you to do that? Explain that to me.
KLIN: Yes, okay. If…(I have to try to recall) I think it was a first grade teacher which was a woman. And I remember her being…very…(How should I say it?)…”strict” is the only word I can think about. It struck me as a very severe change because…
PRINCE: You know you had a change…you knew there was a change.
KLIN: Yeah, yes…that the Gruss Gott is a very informal greeting whereas to me, the Heil Hitler became a very…I, in my own mind, is almost a militaristic…inclination.
PRINCE: Uh huh. Well, we know that now. Did they change teachers or just the custom?
KLIN: No, no the custom. The teachers stayed the same.
PRINCE: Uh huh. Okay. So you…let’s, let’s just go back a minute and you start in your regular…going to school and learning whatever – you’re playing with your friends. Now…
KLIN: We had the crucifix and the cross in the…the crucifix in the classroom, which changes eventually and I don’t remember the year when that happened.
PRINCE: Did you wear a uniform or anything?
KLIN: No, no, not at that time. No. You had your own clothes, however you wanted to dress. Uh, in fact, uniforms as such, from Hitler Jugend – never came…
PRINCE: Hitler Youth.
KLIN: …into Hitler Youth – really never came into school if I recall correctly. I don’t remember whether we ever wore them. Well I didn’t have one but I wanted to have one, but I don’t think we really had to wear it or were requested to wear it to school.
PRINCE: Okay – now back to just the “schoolroom,” and you’re there and the change takes place…the first one was the changing of the…
KLIN: Of the greeting.
PRINCE: The greeting.
KLIN: From Gruss Gott to Heil Hitler and…
PRINCE: Did you go home and ask your parents?
KLIN: No, I don’t remember, uh, asking. Also in the beginning of school I remember we used to have prayers. Before, we would get up and say a prayer whereas later on, within a year or two (I don’t remember the time) that was not done anymore. It was changed over from prayer services to political instructions, like “Deutschland braucht Raum” meaning, “Germany needs room”…needs room, meaning “land”…being too cramped into whatever Germany encompassed at the time. And I remember vaguely meaning room in the East, like Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc. But the timing of this, I don’t have it straight – I don’t remember how far that from ’35, ’36, ’37, ’38, ’39…war is already going on. So it must have been between ’35 and ’39.
PRINCE: That you began to get this? Okay. How did you react to it, how did your friends react to it?
KLIN: Well my father, or my stepfather, being a strong Catholic…there was a lot of discussion at home going on but I don’t remember a lot. I remember my stepfather being strongly opposed to the Nazi movement insofar when they removed the crucifix…the cross from the classroom, when that came, there was a strong reaction and a lot of discussion from my father’s side at home.
PRINCE: Did they do it in a ceremony or did you just come one morning and it was gone?
KLIN: Oh now – it was just gone – no ceremony.
PRINCE: Did you…did anyone ask?
KLIN: Uh, I don’t remember. I remember that there was a strong reaction from my father and there must have been…
PRINCE: At home?
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: Did he go to school?
KLIN: No. I remember having…he must have talked with our priest but I don’t remember what happened. In other words, a lot of, uh, abrasive…
PRINCE: Abrasive?
KLIN: Abrasive, uh, discussions going on – what to do and that caused problems at home, uh, was how to handle that. And that’s where, I have mentioned it previously, I think we talked about it, where my stepfather was searching for help from the church – how to handle that, and that’s when he…
PRINCE: Emotionally or physically?
KLIN: I think “emotionally” how to handle it and “physically” how to handle it. Because in retrospect, I can now empathize with my father – not knowing what to do. And there is the name of Pater Meyer always comes back…(Make a note on there)…
PRINCE: Padre?
KLIN: No, it’s in German – P A T E R…
KLIN: Uh huh – Pater and M E Y E R. Pater Meyer.
KLIN: I’ve never been able to find out what he stood for.
PRINCE: And he was your priest?
KLIN: No. My father went many times to find out from him…with him…with other people – (that’s very vague in my mind) – how to handle the situation…the changes that were happening.
PRINCE: And he was someone important at that time?
KLIN: Yes, yes – the same way – now I cleared up my haziness of my mind with Cardinal Faulhaber. Cardinal Faulhaber, uh, was the leading Cardinal in Munich – waivered from…waivered…going from one side to the other…vacillated from one side to the other – sometimes…
PRINCE: He did this?
KLIN: Yes. Faulhaber…Cardinal Faulhaber…supporting the Nazis and sometimes opposing the Nazis. And I think, also in retrospect, my…it caused a lot of problems for my father because he wanted really…he searched support from the church to resist in any way what the Nazis were doing. And he didn’t find the support in Cardinal Faulhaber.
PRINCE: Did he realize how dangerous that was at that time? Did he have any friends? Do you remember?
KLIN: He must have realized this. I…we never talked about it amongst us, but…
PRINCE: Why not?
KLIN: Apparently discussion was not one of the things that was done. Maybe they were afraid that I will repeat something in school…very possible…I’m speculating on this. But in retrospect, my father must have known the danger of this because I remember one of our neighbors being picked up – tarred and feathered and thrown out of a driving car. Again, it must have been between ’33 and ’36.
PRINCE: Do you know what he had done?
KLIN: Uh, I am not sure. I think he was accused of being a Communist and in fact the same man who was for a while my guardian. He was in the neighborhood, his name was a Mr. Klaag – K L A A G. He was my guardian for a while but you know, it’s very hazy for me today. He was accused of being a Communist. He was picked up from the Nazis and between Staenberg which is also…Staenberg is a lake and also a village…
PRINCE: A lake and a village?
KLIN: Uh huh, was…there is a forest – that’s where he was thrown out of a driving car…that Mr. Klaag…tarred and feathered…nude and picked up and from his wife again and nursed to health. And eventually, I don’t know really what happened with him. It would be interesting for me to know.
PRINCE: How did you find out this bit of information?
KLIN: I guess from my mother and from my father. They must have talked about it. I don’t remember discussing it.
PRINCE: Okay. But did your friends know it? Was this common knowledge?
KLIN: I am sure, but nobody…
PRINCE: Talked…
KLIN: Nobody talked. It was always “hushed.” If it was talk, it was talked behind closed shutters.
PRINCE: So that was something else that began to change besides your school and what was going on there, uh, the feelings of openness or whatever, that was beginning to change.
KLIN: Very much so. I’m…don’t remember (OVERTALKS)…
PRINCE: Go ahead.
KLIN: …The freedom of before ’33 – I don’t remember that. I was born in 1929 so I would have been four years old, okay. I’m not able to recollect.
PRINCE: So you don’t have the feeling of freedom before you have the feeling of…
KLIN: Of fear – of being caught for something to be put to Dachau. Dachau was a word that did appear and was attached – fear was attached to Dachau.
PRINCE: Tell me what Dachau was.
KLIN: Dachau is…was a concentration camp in…I remember…
PRINCE: And where was it?
KLIN: It’s about 30 kilometers, I think, from Munich. And the people were put there for their opposition to the Nazis.
PRINCE: And it was the first…
KLIN: It was the first concentration camp?
PRINCE: I believe so.
KLIN: Yeah, I think you’re right.
PRINCE: Tell me, while this is going on in school – the changes are taking place in school – you’re being taught something different, your cross is removed – your father is trying…your stepfather is trying to resist and find some help and you feel fear. What is going…what do you…what do you hear in church on Sunday?
KLIN: Good question. I don’t remember that anything…yes…there were discussions about the church being expelled from the schools but I’m very vague about it. To put it really into words…I’m not able.
PRINCE: Well, that’s unfair to ask you that particular question. Let me put it a different way. Did church seem to change? Was it as filled up? Were there uniforms in church?
KLIN: No, no uniforms. If a uniform appeared, I remember somebody coming there with a uniform one time and being…picking up somebody else. A couple of people in uniform and they picked somebody up. But I don’t remember who it was and it was an intrusion – it was a disturbance – and again there was fear attached to it and apparently a lot of that stuff. I either forgot or didn’t want to remember.
PRINCE: And you were still a little girl playing games, and…
KLIN: Yeah. That’s ’35, ’36, I was six, seven years old. I remember vividly having an aunt, actually she’s a great aunt of mine – she passed away in the meantime – being…her being a very strong Catholic – living not too far from us – and also they got specifically better radios what they could listen to radio (let’s see what was it…CBS…) London – it must be CBS Radio London to information. (That comes in later – I think that comes in – with war time) Okay? See, war started when I was 10 years old and so many things happened in that time…so many changes…that it’s a little helter-skelter in my mind.
PRINCE: All right, well, let’s talk about…I know it’s difficult to go back, but what’s one of the first changes in your own life? I’m talking about your life…I’m not talking about what…what, in your…just your own feelings.
KLIN: Well my own feelings were very torn. I have a father…a stepfather, okay, who was very opposed to the Nazi movement. And I really wanted to join the fun. And the fun consisted of singing and of playing ball and doing calisthenics and having a fire and sitting around the fire and I felt I was being deprived by my father opposing those type of things. And what I wound up with was that I was the only one in the classroom what had to stand up and say, “I haven’t joined the Hitler Jugend yet.” And I kind of resented that. I wanted to join the fun because the situation at home wasn’t much fun. And it seemed to me, as a seven, eight, nine year old, that they were having a lot of fun.
KLIN: And I was deprived of that.
PRINCE: And you were the only one?
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: So you felt very left out.
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: That was very difficult. And how…did they talk about it a lot? I mean, is that how you knew what everyone else was doing?
KLIN: Of course I knew – I had a girlfriend whose family was…they called kinderreich. It was a big deal during Nazi time then to have many children. And my best friend’s family were rich in children…that’s “kinderreich.” And they would get rewards and special treatments, etc. And I felt very left out. First of all she got to go to the Hitler Jugend. They weren’t Nazis yet, as such. They were just following along, I think, simply for getting more stuff – getting food in addition to what they had. There were about five or six kids at home, so they didn’t have an elaborate amount of food. We’re talking about times where, you know, and I said before…middle class. When I think – if we compare it today – people cannot imagine middle class – from today – to 30 years ago…more than 30 years ago. How long?…I’m 55…’38 – oh, that’s 50 years ago. (LAUGHTER) God, I’m getting old…50 years ago. Middle class was something different then as it is today. And they got support from the Nazis in form of 10 lbs. Of flour, and…
PRINCE: So you’re saying that they weren’t Nazis, but they were…
KLIN: Mitlaufer – they call in German, Mitlaufer…just followers.
PRINCE: Followers?
KLIN: Uh huh.
KLIN: For the sake of getting something…
PRINCE: For the sake of getting something.
KLIN: And she was my…the youngest daughter was my best friend. And I kind of was always envious. She could go to the Hitler Jugend and have fun and I couldn’t. And she had a little outfit – it wasn’t a total outfit even – you can’t call it a uniform…a training suit, no, a sweatsuit. It wasn’t even a full sweatsuit…she only had the top of it. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: What color was it?
KLIN: Navy blue…it wasn’t brown yet…navy blue. Never mind, whatever it was – and a white blouse with it, and I wanted it very badly, and never got around to it.
PRINCE: When you’d go home and tell your stepfather this, what would he say?
KLIN: Well I wouldn’t even tell.
PRINCE: You wouldn’t tell.
KLIN: No, that wasn’t the thing. I guess we didn’t have very strong communications. It was…
PRINCE: Uh huh. Did you tell your mother?
KLIN: No, no. The times were so busy with trying to eke out a living from the garden to…I also remember my stepfather being unemployed from ’33, ’34 – not working yet in that factory that he eventually made good money with. He might have not worked there till ’35. It’s possible because I remember my mother going to work…my mother waitressing. And I remember when we built the house that my father moved the furniture and my mother coming home from work and finding dishes in a…where we were making the broken dishes…where my father had tipped over the credenza…

Tape 1 - Side 2

The broken dishes – we’re coming back to the credenza. I think it’s a china closet in English. And my mother must have gone to work and my father was at home cleaning the house, rearranging the furniture and breaking…tipping over the china closet and breaking our best dishes. And my mother – that gives me the indication at that time there was a tremendous amount of unemployment – my stepfather not having a job and eventually getting a job with that Swiss company that then eventually became a tool for the uh, uh, ammunitions factory almost. What they produced, I don’t know. But I know that the owner was of Swiss nationality and stayed in Germany…became an admirer of Hitler.
PRINCE: I have two questions. Was that the end of the china closet? That means he was home a lot.
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: Okay the other thing is, how…when did he get a job?
KLIN: That’s also a good question. That’s very vague in my mind. It must have been any place between ’35 and ’37.
PRINCE: And how did that change your life?
KLIN: Well it got better – at least financially. He got the job and he was skilled at it and more money came in. Whereas before we had a struggle. The house couldn’t be finished because we didn’t have the finishing…the money to finish it. We couldn’t have hot water – we didn’t have not only hot water…hot water was a luxury. We didn’t have hot water…we didn’t have cold water in the house. We had to get the cold water from the, uh, uh, wherever it was – maybe a hundred meters which I would say, a hundred yards from the house…carry it in with buckets.
PRINCE: Was it like a well?
KLIN: No, it was with a…it was a…it was a…sticking out of the ground with a uh, uh….
PRINCE: Spigot.
KLIN: Yes spigot, okay, and you got the water there. Wintertime it would freeze. We would have to wrap it with straw and sometimes we would have to defrost it with fire slowly so it wouldn’t bust. So when my father got work – it was to some extent better. We could finish the house, at least, insofar as it was a “finished” house with a door. (LAUGHTER) If I remember correctly, we didn’t have a door for a long time.
PRINCE: It must have been very cold and…
KLIN: Yes – cold. Well we had no…uh…the stove would sometimes smoke and it was a choice between a smokey room and somewhat warm or no smoke…but no heat.
PRINCE: So, Eva, life was very difficult and…
KLIN: Life…when I compare it to nowadays…it was tough.
KLIN: So when the Nazis came in and brought in work, uh, that made life for a lot of people, much easier.
PRINCE: All right, uh, so how did your father adjust to the good part of what he was so much against?
KLIN: I think in retrospect, the way I see it, he must have been very torn because he was trying to, from one side, to reconcile his Catholic upbringing with whatever the Nazis demanded of – the separation of church – getting the church out of the involvement of…in school and in politics. Bavaria was a very strong Catholic country and here the greetings even was very meaningful for a Catholic changing over from Gruss Gott to Heil Hitler – that’s a big change. So I suppose that prompted him a lot of problems. And in turn then affected his whole life because he had to…in order to get the job…he, uh, had to some extent not (I’m saying the word “singing”… “singing” is not the right word) kind of join a little bit in order to hang in there or not to wind up in concentration camp in Dachau. We didn’t have, at that time, in ’35 or ’36 or ’37, such a horrible attachment as we have today. I don’t think we knew that they burned people there, but from the other side, I think, grownups…my father, my mother must have known because I knew, and I know it today. I knew then that they tarred and feathered that neighbor that we talked formerly. So they must have been very much aware of the cruelties that went on already to people that opposed or the people that were not encompassed in their ideology.
PRINCE: So you’re saying that they…were…they had fear and they knew what would happen if they did not go along…
KLIN: Go along or did not follow what was being demanded. I kind of wasn’t involved in that so much. I was busy having fun and having to eat and to drink – and that’s about it. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: Right – you were a child. That’s…and I would like to ask you, being a child and what responsibilities or what did you do? Tell me just about a regular day in your life when you were nine years old.
KLIN: Okay – nine years old. Well I had conveniently forgotten about a lot of those things but I talked it over with that friend of mine who I mentioned formerly who were rich in children which was a big deal during Nazi time, because they got support in food wise, etc., even money. And a lot of those houses – like our house – was built in 1933, ’34, ’35, so was their house. I suppose, now I’m not quite sure, that they got support from them because the father was a Hilfsarbeiter. A Hilfsarbeiter is somebody…”helping hand”…more of a (how should I say) whereas my father had a skill. Her father was a…
PRINCE: A handy man?
KLIN: Yes, somebody that would help building a house. A “handyman.” I don’t know whether we have that here – I’ve never heard of it here. “Hilfsarbeiter” is somebody that helps the bricklayer laying the bricks…brings the bricks to the “layer” (LAUGHTER)…to the bricklayer.
PRINCE: He’s unskilled.
KLIN: An “unskilled” laborer. Now I got it, okay… “Hilfsarbeiter” an unskilled laborer. That what he was. But they did much better than we did eventually…
PRINCE: Eventually – because they were rich in children?
KLIN: No. They were rich in children…they got support from the Nazis. He had already joined the Nazi party and whereas my father being a skilled worker – we didn’t have that type of support, because he didn’t support the Nazis. He never joined the party and – I shouldn’t say “never” – because he did join the party in 1944.
PRINCE: Did we talk about why…what you think he was against?
KLIN: We didn’t talk about it.
PRINCE: Okay I’ll ask you. What do you feel, or what do you feel as a child’s point of view, that he was against the Nazi party? Why…why would he not want to join them?
KLIN: I think that he was a strong Catholic. That’s the one thing he clung to, was his Catholicism and the Nazis wanted to replace the Catholicism with Nazism in power. Power was manifested in Bavaria (that’s where I come from) very much in Catholicism. And his sole spiritual support came from the church. Whereas, the Nazis wanted to and did replace the Catholic Church in power from the, uh…the Nazis replaced the Catholic Church – that’s what it was, and he opposed that.
PRINCE: And when he tried to oppose this, he must have been…tell me…
KLIN: He was torn…
PRINCE: Torn, and he had no support.
KLIN: He had no support from the Catholic Church itself. As I found out in retrospect from Harry Cargas, he gave me that article on Cardinal Faulhaber. Faulhaber the leading man in…the leading church man in Munich, waivered, waivered, vacillated, between supporting the Nazis and withdrawing support. So I…for a little man like my stepfather, he was torn to pieces. He couldn’t find himself a spot. He didn’t want to go to concentration camp, I’m sure of that, although in, uh, and I think I talked to you about that…there was a lot of family problems. My stepfather was, I would say, a very (PAUSES)…(how should I put that)…(PAUSES) I think he had a lot of problems. He wasn’t a drinker, he had a lot of emotional problems. He lost his mother very early in life. The family life at home with my mother not ever a good one…the relationship between the two of them – although they loved each other, I think…but it was never (PAUSES)…there was a lot of abuse…physical abuse…and not from being drunk. Okay. I don’t know whether that was the pattern that he learned early in life but he could never (LONG PAUSE)…there wasn’t…but there was a loving relationship too. There was times of love in the family and support for each other and then – until he “cracked up.” Maybe his frustrations that he experienced from the outside came out at home. I don’t know.
PRINCE: How did he show his love?
KLIN: By bringing home a paycheck – that was his first thing, okay, I’m bringing home a paycheck. How did he…well we would go on hikes together and we would sing together…
PRINCE: All five of you?
KLIN: Yeah – at that time – it was four. Because my youngest sister was born when the war ended – when I had left home already. See I left home when I was…the first time…14, and then finally when I was 16…a couple of times going back. How did he show his love? Paycheck. (LAUGHTER) It’s sad and it’s not laughable but it’s easy for me to laugh about it today.
PRINCE: All right. And you did take hikes and you did things.
KLIN: Oh yes and we had a picnic and we bought a liter of beer…with bread and radish, and we did have some fun together. We played in the forest…we played ball…it was fun, at times…
PRINCE: And then when you say “abused” before he “cracked up,” it was…you mean by “cracking up” it would be losing his temper.
KLIN: Losing his temper – yes. Abusing physically…me, my mother, and never my sister – come to think of it – the one that was born in 1935. She was his favorite.
PRINCE: So you…you sort of maybe left the house when it happened, or…
KLIN: Oh yes – went into hiding someplace, ‘till the storm would weather…
PRINCE: It was weathered, right. Okay, let’s go on to…
KLIN: Now I see really that the man had a big problem…that he was torn, he was torn between his allegiance for the Catholic Church…his allegiance for the Fatherland and he loved Germany – and the indication to me today is that in 1944 he joined the party when the hope was completely gone of winning the war…
PRINCE: Oh, so…
KLIN: Because that’s after Stalingrad. Stalingrad was in 1944 and that’s when he joined the party, the Nazis, what kind of sense was that…an opportunity was knocked.
PRINCE: So in his heart he was a…
KLIN: He was a good man…
PRINCE: He was a good man.
KLIN: But he could – he had not support from uh, a little man, I guess, looks for some support, some place, and there wasn’t any.
PRINCE: So he was – he dealt with it…
KLIN: His frustration manifested itself at home. He couldn’t vent it anyplace else. In fact he had to be close-mouthed outside of it and because it would endanger him. And I remember my own torn feelings and I think I had talked to you once about it over the phone…him want…no, my mother and me praying, okay, that he should go to war – now wanting him to be a hero, just being removed from the situation…from us…so he wouldn’t have his temper outbreaks. I really – I think at the time had very little political involvement. All I was interested in, having to eat, to drink, to be dressed and go to school and I guess it’s a naïve approach but how sophisticated are you at the age of 10?
PRINCE: Not very. Eva, at school, because you were, as you say, “out of things” and not belonging to Hitler Youth, how did your friends react toward you? Did you still have the same friends?
KLIN: Yeah – my friends…they…friends with me in spite of her going – she would tell me what happened and I would want to go and I had the yearning, but otherwise we were friends. And in fact, I haven’t written to her for many a moon now, but when I do get to Germany, I see her. (I just thought for a minute) – we pick up there, you know, politically I think we all were very unsophisticated and really didn’t care very much. Perhaps didn’t dare…didn’t dare even to, uh, I know that I wanted to join the Hitler Jugend badly. And I know that in school the changes that happened in form of the prayers being exchanged for political indoctrination, political instructions, Germany needing room, Germany having lost the First World War and then being down-trodden and losing – it just now popped into my mind the losing the colonies. There was Cameroon and Togo…those were the…apparently Germany must have had some, uh, colonies in Africa – that just popped into my mind right now. But I remember we’re learning that in school that this was taken away in…I guess it had to do with the Treaty of Versailles. And those instructions came in school instead of the prayer services. We would have in…before school started, uh, a half an hour or 45 minutes – prayer and a little singing. The Catholics do a lot of singing and that changed.
PRINCE: Let me ask you this. You said a priest or a father would come in and give that (OVERTALKS)…now when you had your indoctrination of the other and took the place of the prayers – did another teacher come in and give you that?
KLIN: No, it…there’s a difference, okay. The prayers that we had was done with a teacher that eventually took over to do the political instructions. The religious instructions that were set up an hour, like here, sociology instructions, we had religious instructions. We had, I think, about three Protestants that left the room. We had no Jewish people. I never knew anybody Jewish in Forstenried…I had never seen anybody Jewish.
PRINCE: Had you ever heard of anybody Jewish?
KLIN: I did…of Jews I learned really first in the catechisms. I didn’t know anybody Jewish. I learned from my mother eventually that she, at one time, had…was engaged to a…was having a liason with a Jewish man that never came to be in the long run; but I didn’t know anybody Jewish at all. I didn’t know a Jewish kid. I found out about Jews through catechisms…the Jews killed Jesus, that’s…I knew that Jews existed. And we’re being so much in the “outs”…outskirts of Munich, we got very seldom into Munich. Transportation…wasn’t at the time as it is today…We had to take a bicycle for 45 minutes to get to the streetcar. So wherever there were Jews living, we weren’t, and I have a friend…the only Jewish friend of Munich that I have…Lisle, uh, uh…
PRINCE: Steinberg.
KLIN: Steinberg, thank you, lived in Schwabing which was far…Schwabing is being part Munich’s. I mean it was Munich proper then and still is and Forstenried was a village. So there was no way for me to know anybody Jewish.
PRINCE: Okay, we’re up to…’38 or ’39.
KLIN: With the war coming along…
PRINCE: War, let’s, let’s…what did that mean to you? How did you hear about it? What changed?
KLIN: I would like to intersperse a little bit. We were talking about Jews before…what appeared in Forstenried…in the village of Forstenried that eventually became part of Munich…was stands…like you have a TV stand here and that postered Streicher’s paper, and I forgot now the name of the paper…Julius Streicher.
PRINCE: Der Sturmer.
KLIN: Der Sturmer, okay, are published – there appearing in Forstenried – they had a stand and I was reading…(I was a reader then – I’m less of a reader today as I was then and then later on)…but I was asking questions at home. I wanted to know who those Jews are with big noses and dirty people, etc, etc. That’s the way they were shown on…in Der Sturmer. And my mother saying to me – I remember that distinctly – “Just don’t believe everything that you see and you’re being told.” That was the…and she left it at that and never gave me anymore information. I wanted to intersperse that to make sure that I got that in. Now we’re talking about war…
PRINCE: Why do you suppose she answered you that way?
KLIN: She was afraid. She was afraid that I shouldn’t talk in school something different, uh, she was afraid the information she would give me…I shouldn’t talk amongst…kids in school…not kids…I think she was more afraid of the teachers there. And there were some people that would be taken away to Dachau. So…
PRINCE: And yet she did not agree with the newspaper obviously.
KLIN: She did not agree with them. Then I remember distinctly coming…(but that must have been war-time already)…movies coming on that were, uh, distinctly antisemitic and…
PRINCE: You went to the theater to see them or they showed it to you at school?
KLIN: No, no, I went to see it. In fact, if I remember correctly, you had to be 14 in order to see it and I wasn’t 14 yet and I went to see it. But I was just torn to pieces because it showed a Jewish man – it was “Jud Suss” – that was based on Feuchtwanger’s “Power” – in English it’s called “Power.” In German it’s called “Jud Suss.” “Jud” meaning “Jew” and “Suss” that being his name. And the book was not available anymore. It had been on that…
PRINCE: Banned.
KLIN: Burned and banned. After the war, I only got out the book…the way it was written, and the movie in retrospect is a complete misrepresentation of Feuchtwanger’s writing. But they said, at the time, that the Jew wrote the book on which the movie was based on – a complete misrepresentation…picked out only what suited their purposes. But I remember always thinking that Jews must be terrible. My mother, every once in a while, saying, “Don’t believe everything that you hear or see.” But propaganda is a very powerful means and that I’m always thinking…I thought that perhaps my mother is wrong – how could so many people be right and my mother – be wrong…and my mother be right. And I’m…I was always torn…myself on that issue.
PRINCE: It’s…it’s…trying to think in terms of you, as a child, it had to be very, very difficult…
KLIN: Difficult…confusing. “Confusing” is the word. Always being torn between the two. And I guess it was also a tearing factor for my father and for my mother. They really didn’t know how to turn and what to do. From one side my father wanted to make a living in that factory that was supporting the war, of course, coming back to work and of being torn…of being a German – but not wanting to do it the way it was done during…by the means of the Nazis. So it must have been difficult for them perhaps more than for me because I blamed more on my parents. It was easier. In fact, even after the war, only now – I’m 55 years old – can I empathize with the position they were in.
PRINCE: Let’s go to the war.
KLIN: War – I remember – the first remembrance I have of war was me having a fight with my best friend again, the Kinderreich…
PRINCE: What is her name?
KLIN: I beg your pardon.
PRINCE: What was her name?
KLIN: Uh, Freida is her first name, and Adam.
KLIN: Adam – we had a fight and we didn’t speak to each other and the declaration of war came…
PRINCE: It probably had nothing to do with…
KLIN: With war? Oh, no, but I remember that the fight that I had with her was more important to me than the war issue and I went over to her and I said, “Listen, you’re very important to me…that the whole world is fighting but let’s resolve our fight.” And it almost moves me to tears (LAUGHTER)…I didn’t care about the war. That’s an indication how we humans…
PRINCE: You’re a child…
KLIN: …care really. What’s more important is your first…is your small circle – your…than you can care about the large circle.
PRINCE: But you were a child.
KLIN: Yeah. I’m just wondering how it works in families.
PRINCE: What do you mean?
KLIN: What I mean is, if your income isn’t settled and it has to derive from a source like the Nazis, okay, like my…where my father worked in a factory that produced war machinery and from the other side, he wanted to, uh, have a different way of political allegiance, a different way…a different way of life is what the Nazis offered. And from the other side – he needs to have an income. I don’t know whether this…what comes first? I think what really counts first is that we have a good income, and that you support yourself…
PRINCE: Bread.
KLIN: Bread, yes, and a bed to sleep on. And if this isn’t there, how much human beings give for the sake of that. Makes me almost empathize with a lot of the people that became Nazis, just for the sake of having support. Oh wow, okay.
PRINCE: Well – the war…
KLIN: The war, okay. I settled my fight with my friend (LAUGHTER) the whole world? (LAUGHTER) I remember a propaganda coming strong – the propaganda against France and Germany needing room in Poland and Czechoslovakia – how the…we were told the Austrians wanted to go home to the Reich. To me…I don’t know what’s the right translation for the Reich?
PRINCE: Fatherland.
KLIN: The Fatherland…how they wanted to join the Fatherland and the same way…Czechoslovakia, part of it, I think went home to…
PRINCE: Sudetenland. Went home?
KLIN: Sudetenland, that’s what they claimed. So in my own mind, I only remembered the propaganda and how it was presented to us. It was presented to us that all those people were deprived of the homeland and they wanted to join…
PRINCE: And you felt sorry for them that they weren’t part of…?
KLIN: I don’t know if I felt sorry. I think I felt sorry for myself, really. (LAUGHTER) I really…I…
PRINCE: Why did you feel sorry for yourself?
KLIN: Uh, all I was concerned with again, as I said earlier, is wanting to join some of the fun that the Nazis presented. I don’t think I ever had a political input there. I remember wanting to be proud as a German, but I never could really accomplish it.
PRINCE: Because you were…
KLIN: Because I was held back from my stepfather. And I think my stepfather and my mother were held back themselves too. They wanted to…and didn’t want to, because it wasn’t the right way for them.
PRINCE: They wanted to be part of things but they really didn’t feel it.
KLIN: They really didn’t feel it, yes. And they needed to be part of it because they needed to make a living and they really didn’t feel it. They feared the abuse of the Nazis and they were aware of it…
PRINCE: Because you mentioned Dachau…
KLIN: Uh mmm…the horror and the people there were taken away and uh, uh disappeared.

Tape 2 - Side 1

PRINCE: This is Mrs. “Sister” Prince with Eva Klin on her second interview on September 17, 1984.
KLIN: Okay, I’m going to try to elaborate a little bit on the war years. And I’m not quite sure whether Hitler and Mussolini came to Munich and it wasn’t war already, or it was shortly before the war because I remember I must have been for sure, 10 years old already when I took the liberty of taking my father’s bicycle when…and which I really wasn’t allowed to. He didn’t give me permission to see Hitler and Mussolini and I disobeyed and I took the bicycle and I bicycled to the center of Munich through the Hauptbahnhof which is like Union Station in Munich…the train station. And it took quite a few hours until Hitler came and he came first and the crowd had swollen over the last couple of hours to thousands and thousands of people waiting for Hitler. And I was very excited. I wanted to see the Fuhrer and although my father always held me back but I guess I wanted to be one of them.
PRINCE: You were curious.
KLIN: I was curious, yes, and…
PRINCE: Were you scared? Were you frightened?
PRINCE: It must have been exciting…
KLIN: Exciting.
PRINCE: Flags – can you kind of describe…what…can you remember?
KLIN: Uh (PAUSES), yes…
PRINCE: Was there music?
KLIN: Music and flags and singing here and there, and uh…
PRINCE: Arranged singing, or just…
PRINCE: Choir?
KLIN: Arranged…military music. Oh, not military music, it must have been the SA (Is this working?)
PRINCE: It must have been what?
PRINCE: What’s that?
KLIN: SA…SS and SA – Sturm (I don’t remember) The brown shirts, uh, that’s a song…
KLIN: Uh, I have it in my ears that the music of the…of the…uh, of the SA…not the SS was the brown shirts and it would come up in different…from different corners of the plaza in front of the Hauptbahnhof was a big one so they had it apparently strategically located. Hitler came first and he was…
PRINCE: Could you see, I mean…?
KLIN: I saw Hitler and he was impressive to me.
PRINCE: I’m sorry I interrupted…he came first, and then what?
KLIN: Mussolini came. And you know, I can’t remember whether I did see him or I left in the last moment before he came or after he came. I can’t remember.
PRINCE: You mean Mussolini.
KLIN: Mussolini.
PRINCE: But you did see Hitler?
KLIN: Yes, Hitler for sure and I think Mussolini came so too. But it was quite a few hours later. Again, I was very well aware that I was running late with the bicycle and that I’m gonna get a beating and, but somehow I dragged it out and it’s very foggy in my mind whether I saw Mussolini or not. I think I did but…
PRINCE: You were half scared and half excited.
KLIN: Yes it was…in retrospect…I looked up “ambiguity,” “ambivalence,” “confusion” – all those words play into my childhood that I experienced, because I was torn…always torn between something…should I believe what my mother said…should I believe what they say…should I believe what they talked in school about – Hess going to England, Rudolph Hess. And we were told in school that he…went crazy. And then we would hear in my aunt’s house that he went to England to propose a peace with England and the Americans against the Russians – said they would combine forces – Germany with England and America – to combine forces against the Russians. It was all very confusing information that I think in my childhood really were difficult to cope with. And I’m sure that the same thing…I picked up from my parents. And it makes it very difficult for me today still to have an allegiance to any political movements; although I’m a Democrat, but I always go at it very carefully (SPEAKS QUIETLY)…because I really don’t trust anybody. And I think that’s where it stems from. I think we covered Hitler and Mussolini…
PRINCE: Well, let’s, let’s…just tell me what you felt when you saw him.
KLIN: What did I feel? I was impressed. He looked overwhelming. I was…to me…and I think I almost had tears in my eyes – here I see the Fuhrer and it was an experience for me, an overwhelming experience – when he was standing there very…he must have been standing on something because I remember him being way up in and towering over the crowd. And when I see today of the movies where it’s almost, uh, (PAUSES)…(what’s the word I’m groping for?)…uh, caricature. It wasn’t…he wasn’t a caricature to me then. And it’s hard to understand, I guess, for people who don’t feel him as a cari…who do feel him as a caricature today…that somebody didn’t. But he didn’t look to me as a caricature, and…
PRINCE: He spoke?
KLIN: He…(LONG PAUSE)…I don’t remember speaking, no, I think he drove by and the crowd would yell “Heil Hitler”…
PRINCE: He must have gotten out because he…
KLIN: No, he did not get out of the car.
PRINCE: Oh, he just…
KLIN: It was a big Mercedes. (OVERTALKS)
PRINCE: And they lifted him up higher on something.
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: Oh, oh.
KLIN: He was in a large Mercedes…an oversized Mercedes. And they must have raised him to some extent because in…in…(PAUSES)…he looked larger than life.
PRINCE: Was there an exchange between he and the crowd – whether it was a “Heil Hitler” or was there a verbal…(OVERTALKS)…
KLIN: Well as soon as the car appeared and he appeared, the crowd just, uh, went into “ecstasy” (LAUGHTER)…I guess that’s the word.
PRINCE: Like flowers…
KLIN: Yes, flowers and the “Heil Hitler” and the flags waved more, and the music played more…(LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: And Eva was there with her bicycle. (LAUGHTER)
KLIN: (LAUGHTER) And I was always afraid to let loose of the bicycle…it shouldn’t get stolen.
PRINCE: This is difficult but do you remember if he had a uniform on, or a suit?
KLIN: Oh he had a uniform on, yes. He had a brown uniform that he always…with Hacken Kreuz, with the crooked cross on it. Yes, that was his, in fact, I don’t remember him in the Army uniform. When I see him here on TV…sometimes in, in, when they repeat something – I remember him only in the brown uniform because that’s the way I saw him.
PRINCE: So you were glad you went…
KLIN: I was glad I went. I was scared stiff of my father because I know…I knew I would get it.
PRINCE: How long did it take you to get home on your bicycle?
KLIN: Well, Forstenreid is a village like, let’s say…township like Olivette. Uh, I would say it would take about 45 minutes, at least, by bicycle.
PRINCE: So were you singing and still filled with what you had seen? (OVERTALKS)
KLIN: No, no…
PRINCE: Or were you anticipating…(Laughter)
KLIN: Fear to go home – I knew I would get a thrashing, and…
PRINCE: The good part was gone and you…
KLIN: The good part was gone and I went home and I sure did get a good licking and (LAUGHTER) oh God. I kind of resented my father always that he didn’t permit me to have all the fun that everybody else had. And eventually it wasn’t only the disagreements we had at home about joining Hitler Jugend – there was a lot of family problems and I did move in with my grandmother when I was, oh, 14…that was the height of war already…14…I’m born in 1929, so that must have been 1943, I moved in with my grandmother. And I persuaded her to let me go to a B.D.M. meeting. B.D.M. meaning Bund Deutscher Madchen…meaning when you were 14 instead of Hitler Jugend, you joined the B.D.M. And I went to a meeting and it was dead serious. At that time, they were trying to teach, uh, the people – the kids – 14 year old ones – the morse code so they could be helpful in the…in the war effort. But that didn’t appeal to me at all. I, uh, they…the fun was gone. It had become very serious business…war…it was the height of war already and I did not want to get involved in this. I went once and I didn’t go back.
PRINCE: Could you do that? Obviously you could do that.
KLIN: Apparently. Well, they were so busy at that time already, 1943…with the war effort, that they couldn’t pay attention to a little, uh…
PRINCE: 14 year old…
KLIN: A 14 year old who…whether participated, or didn’t. Apparently they didn’t, because I was an apprentice at that time to (No, it couldn’t have been yet…I can’t remember…the years are a little funny there)…
PRINCE: May I ask you – you lived with your grandmother – did she live near your own house?
KLIN: No. She lived in the city of Munich itself. So again, that would be with the bicycle about 45 minutes from us.
PRINCE: And she, uh, approved of Nazism?
KLIN: Oh I think her feeling was also kind of mixed. She didn’t join anything. She didn’t go to anything. She wasn’t as “Catholic” as my stepfather. She, in fact, didn’t go to church every Sunday and eventually had herself cremated. That caused a lot of problem really to my mother…that means to my grandmother’s daughter. And, but apparently she wasn’t that, uh, “Catholic” because cremation is very much against Catholicism.
PRINCE: I would like to ask you to go back just a little bit and tell me about what a day in school was. Now you went to…were you finished with school at 14…at that time?
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: Okay, so then go back and just run through a day in school.
KLIN: Okay. There was in earlier times when the crucifix was still in the school and the religion was still taught in school. The beginning of the day we would have, perhaps, some singing like a song to Maria, you know, who was Saint Mary, or another song that had to do with the church when…when the separation came in – the separation from church and state – we would start out singing nationalistic songs like “Die Fahne hoch” or “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles” – not we would…we did that every day then.
PRINCE: Did you ever sing that Horst…?
KLIN: Horst Wessel, of course, the “Die Fahne hoch,” that’s…
PRINCE: Die – what?
KLIN: It’s the…flags…have the flags up high. It’s the Horst Wessel Lied – I want to say that now, okay, – it’s on?
PRINCE: Uh mmm.
KLIN: Okay. “Die Fahne hoch” is the Horst Wessel song. And what’s interesting to me, after the war, I heard a second stanza to it, were… “The blood of the Jews is running” – that part of it I’ve never heard of…
PRINCE: I thought that was the first stanza.
KLIN: No, not the first stanza. I’ll repeat it eventually and I’m going to write it down for my curiosity but it had nothing to do with Jews at the first. It had mostly to…I have to sit down and think about it.
PRINCE: Okay, so go back.
KLIN: That was always so…sung before we started to class…”Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles” which was not an invention of the Nazis. That was already before the Nazis and the Horst Wessel Lied. We sang that every day.
PRINCE: The other was the German national anthem.
KLIN: Yes. “Deutschland, Deutschland uber alles”…Germany, Germany, over all. And then from after singing that, we would review what had been happening the last day because it became intense when the war started – every day were new happenings. First of all the blitz which happened very quickly when they went into Austria. Czechoslovakia…so there was every day something to review.
PRINCE: Blitzkrieg? What’s Blitzkrieg?
KLIN: Blitz means “fast.”
PRINCE: And Krieg?
KLIN: Krieg is “war.” You know how thunder strikes fast so that’s a “blitz.” Blitz is really the lightning. So “lightning war,” that’s the exact translation of this.
PRINCE: Did you also salute the flag?
KLIN: Of course, sure. Summertime we would do it outside and wintertime we would do it in the classroom. And then we’d follow like, it was always in…the day was divided in hours. So the first hour would be a reviewing of what was happening and what should happening and propaganda. And like I said earlier, Germany needs room and how deprived Germany has been and how Germany has been…how Germany has been deprived or cheated out of land that would belong to Germany from the First World War, the Treaty of Versailles. We also had instructions on first aid…
PRINCE: First aid?
KLIN: Uh huh. If bombs were dropped and how to throw them out. Sometimes the first few years when bombs were dropped, they were only fire bombs. They wouldn’t destroy – they wouldn’t have detonation in it. So it would crash through the roof and they were basically small – it was just a stick… a heavy stick and it would have phosphor in it and the phosphor would be kind of spreading out a little. If you took immediate action, you could throw out that bomb from the house and it wouldn’t put the house on fire.
PRINCE: Didn’t it burn your hand if you picked it up a little bit?
KLIN: Well, they told you…that’s what we had instructions for to have maybe a mitt or something ready to throw it out. And in the beginning of the war, I remember sitting on top of our house…we had a one story small house and watching where the bombs were falling and how to…it was dumb but I tell you (LAUGHTER)…I was curious. I think curiosity has always been one of my assets or at times – it’s been my downfall. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: You’re fantastic.
KLIN: (LAUGHTER) You’re good for me, “Sister”.
PRINCE: (LAUGHTER) I salute you. Okay, all right, back to school.
KLIN: Yeah. I wanted to bring out a little bit about the different teachers we had…I had…some teachers that were openly Nazis right from the beginning and I had one who very reluctantly went along with it. He was in First World War. He always…he cried the fact that he lost so many of his friends in the war. And I had another teacher who also followed but I had the feeling he followed reluctantly. He…the conviction wasn’t as obvious as it was with one woman – Fraulein Bierl. She was an old maid, and she was a convinced Nazi and then the Hauptlehrer, which was the principal and the principal that was such a convicted…convinced Nazi. Not “convicted”… “convicted” too eventually…he became such an observant Catholic after the war. It’s like Erlichman in the States here. (LAUGHTER) If that doesn’t make you sarcastic about politicing…it made me sarcastic. Okay. (I have difficulties going on right now.) But it made me sarcastic, but apparently, I could tell the difference at that age of how the different people felt in reference to Nazism. But nobody was ever straightforward. Nobody ever, uh, well they couldn’t say they’re opposed because if they would oppose it, they would risk their heads.
PRINCE: Or lose their job?
KLIN: Lose their job and where would they go? They would put them to Dachau. Although we talked about Dachau jokingly, but there was always, uh, in Germany it’s called Galgen Humor. Galgen Humor…humor that has to do with the hanging. I don’t know exactly what you would call it in English. There is truth in the fact that the Dachau was danger, even if we talked about it jokingly.
PRINCE: Tongue in cheek?
KLIN: Tongue in cheek is the word. It is not a good translations for Galgen Humor. But when a man goes to be hung and he still has humor hanging out…talking about it…humorously – what do you call that in English? It’s a good word and I have to look it up in German…Galgen Humor…Galgen Humor…
PRINCE: How did you talk about Dachau humorously?
KLIN: I don’t know whether humorously is really the right word, but somebody would make a remark and it would be something that wouldn’t chive with the Nazis and the other one would say, “You better watch out or I’m going to see to it that I bring you to nach…Dachau” and that’s tongue in cheek.
PRINCE: Did people laugh then…did people laugh?
KLIN: People would laugh, yes…uh huh…
PRINCE: Could you tell that it was a different laugh…or straining…
KLIN: Well it was – there was a lot of ambivalence – in all the ambiguity in those things. That’s why I always remember about those times – so much confusion where you never knew exactly. And I think that my parents were confused about it too. They didn’t want to talk to me straightforward either because they were afraid I would repeat it in school.
PRINCE: Okay – let’s finish the school day.
KLIN: Yeah, okay.
PRINCE: All right – so have we gotten to lunch yet?
KLIN: Well, yes, something came along that was good with the Nazis. They brought in lunch into the school, where formerly we had to go home and eat lunch at home…
PRINCE: Oh – or bring it? Could you have brought your lunch?
KLIN: Oh, bring it – no, we went home for lunch. The school wasn’t that distance from the home and a walk of twenty minutes, and that was not…
PRINCE: Was it a good lunch? Nourishing?
KLIN: All I remember is really the milk and Knackebrot. Knackebrot is something like we have here, like pumpernickel, but it wasn’t…maybe it was nourishing but I wasn’t crazy about it. (LAUGHTER) But it was wintertime…warm milk, so you know…
PRINCE: Was it a noisy lunchroom? Was it…
KLIN: We didn’t have no lunchroom. Lunchroom, you kidding? Who had a lunchroom? (LAUGHTER) That’s a luxury. We ate our lunch on our old desks, and…
PRINCE: Then how was it brought in to you? How did you get it?
KLIN: It was brought in…the milk was brought in in containers and carriers. And it wasn’t a complete lunch, a hot lunch, like we have here. We had hot milk with bread and that’s about…I don’t even remember anything on the bread. I’m not quite sure whether it was lunch or it was a snack to be frank with you. It might be…it might have been just a snack. No, I think it was lunch because school would go from – let’s say from eight ‘till two and we would go home at two. So it was an early closing time in comparison to ours here.
PRINCE: Okay, so your day was…the rest of it was…
KLIN: Instructions in the different…
PRINCE: Now, now…
KLIN: I covered the first aid – the thing that we had instructions in first aid. Yes I did. Okay.
PRINCE: Your friends maybe then went on to whatever activities they had. Did you…two questions. Did you have peer pressure to join Hitler Youth and…we’ll start with that one.
KLIN: I don’t remember peer pressure. It was always that I was jealous that they had so much fun…
PRINCE: But nobody ostracized you for not…
KLIN: Ostracized me? Not from the peer group. Ostracized, I was, from the teacher. The teacher who would ask who hasn’t joined yet the Hitler Jugend and I was the only one that had to stand up in the room…who stood up in the room…that hadn’t joined.
PRINCE: Well I’m surprised that they didn’t – the children didn’t turn against you.
KLIN: No. I don’t remember anybody really being…they felt sorry for me because I didn’t have fun and after the war, actually, I talked to a friend of mine and she says, you know, she says, “You weren’t really allowed to have any fun.” (LAUGHTER) So they looked upon it in a very similar way. I guess it’s a very naïve approach.
PRINCE: Okay. What did you do when your friends were at their Hitler Youth activities? How did you fill your time?
KLIN: I…usually my father had an assignment for me; either cleaning shoes or polishing something, or…
PRINCE: Was it thought out just because you needed to fill your time up…because your friends…or he just needed you to help?
KLIN: No. I think that he thought that this was the thing to do. Work was his, I guess, second God after Catholicism. (LAUGHTER) Work was the thing to do and if you, uh, didn’t work…reading was a luxury to him and reading wasn’t really a constructive activity for my father, I would do it in hiding. And my mother had a different opinion but she didn’t really take the initiative to say this is a good thing. She would buy me books here and there and I would read them when he wouldn’t be around – on the sly.
PRINCE: Now there was an episode about reading some poetry at school.
KLIN: Uh huh, uh huh. Yeah – I wanted to mention that. It seems to me in that respect that the teacher selected me specifically to do that poetry although I was honored many a times in doing the poetry readings but that particular piece of poetry made fun of the church goer. And it seems to me that they selected me to do that to, uh, undermine or whatever you would call it…because of the resistance my father had…
PRINCE: To embarrass?
KLIN: To embarrass my father. And I went ahead and did it, but I kind of felt if my father would know – would get another whooping. And sure enough, when I did the poem…it was, I don’t know why – it was done in front of the…of the church…on the steps of the house where the priest lived, which was directly next to the church – there was a crowd of people and the poem dealt with going to church with grandmother and the grandmother on the end asking the granddaughter what she did in church. And she said…and the granddaughter answering – “The church will be over soon…the services should be over soon.” That was the poem…
PRINCE: Over soon for good?
KLIN: Over soon – no – for the day. Okay, but as I came towards the end of the poem, my father appeared. I saw my father storming up in…and I lost my voice at the, uh, uh, in the middle of the poem and I left the steps and that was it – that was the last of my poetry reading. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: What happened?
KLIN: I got a whooping from my father. (LAUGHTER) It wasn’t funny at the time because his…his – what do you call it – his, as I called it “whooping” before because lack of a better word. What do you call it?
PRINCE: His temper – his abuse…
KLIN: His…
PRINCE: His outburst.
KLIN: His hits were so strong.
PRINCE: His frustration.
KLIN: His…he had a strong hand. He had a very bony hand and he would hit me right in the face and it would be not a “little hit,” it would be…it would knock me over. And so in retrospect it wasn’t funny. But it was funny too because I went ahead and did it anyhow…
PRINCE: So you did what you wanted to do.
KLIN: Yeah. I don’t know whether I’m so strong today anymore (LAUGHTER) as I was then…
PRINCE: I’m sure you are.
KLIN: (LAUGHTER) Disobedient…rebel.
PRINCE: Okay. Now I took you back…you were 14 and you were with your grandmother and I took you back to ask you some questions. So if we want to go back to when you were with your grandmother…
KLIN: Well I left my – I went back from my grandmother’s house to home again. It was – I had some trouble with my grandmother too. It didn’t work out so I went back home. The war ended in ’45 and at the time my sister was born – my youngest sister…she’s 16 years younger.

Tape 2 - Side 2

PRINCE: Eva, tell me between, maybe, 1944 and 1945, what was the feeling where you lived, because Germany was beginning to lose the war.
KLIN: It was obvious, in fact, my father talked about it at home. I remember him talking about it that we will be losing this war as soon as went into Russia because Napoleon couldn’t survive the Russian winter and so my father speculated that we will lose that war. Nobody could survive the Russian winters. And eventually the winters became very difficult. So people…became afraid.
PRINCE: Did you get news of different events that were going on like…’44…did you know that the invasion of Normandy took place in France?
KLIN: I don’t remember that, but I do remember that the Germans…the Nazi radio…always was talking in a positive way. They didn’t really give us the information about Stalingrad, etc., the tragedy of how many people were killed, etc. It was always talked about…like we pulled back a planned pullback in order to prevent. But because we did listen to Radio London in my aunt’s house, we knew that war was getting to a point that we would be losing it. And that’s when my father became afraid and that’s when my father joined the Nazi party. It must have been a symbolic act to give strength to the Fatherland. I have never been able to figure that one out, but…
PRINCE: The food…was it less food?
KLIN: Very little food, very little. My mother was pregnant with that sister of mine that was in ’45. She had lost all her teeth and all her nails because of lack of food.
PRINCE: Your mother?
KLIN: My mother, yes. Times were very bad. We had only the rations and the rations were very small. We had no relatives that had…were in the country that we could get anything. So it was – we would get frozen potatoes sometimes to supplement. And I remember I made…I sewed purses from old coats. I made a pattern and I sold it to the farmers and got potatoes for them and where we had some yarns, we knit some hats and traded it with the farmers in order to get some supplement. The best thing we could get was potatoes, always.
PRINCE: And you were back at home now.
KLIN: Yes…And when…towards the end…we were really scared what would be happening where we had heard propaganda or we…I didn’t call it propaganda. The warnings that they gave us if the Russians would come in, they would rape and plunder and kill, so we were afraid.
PRINCE: Did the church play any part in any support at this time? Were you still going to church?
KLIN: I was still going to church but I…the church…I don’t remember any kind of a support from the church. No.
PRINCE: Did you notice that they were taking younger men and younger boys?
KLIN: Oh yes, oh yes. Boys in my class were used to the flak. Flieger abwehr kanone…they were trained to shoot against the airplanes that would be coming and those were 15 year olds. And in fact, one of my boyhood friends was killed in 1944.
PRINCE: Where?
KLIN: He was operationg one of those…
PRINCE: Well you mean right around in your area?
KLIN: Yes. And there was air raids became very prevalent. In fact, in ’44, there were air raids that lasted…
PRINCE: But you didn’t know things like…oh, you had air raids?
KLIN: Oh yes.
PRINCE: Where did you go?
KLIN: We had a special room that was dug underneath the basement and protected against bombs…an air shelter…bomb shelter.
PRINCE: Were people surprised? Were they amazed, that after all the promises and all the excitement that this was happening? Or was it gradual or did the propaganda last?
KLIN: Oh the propaganda was…lasted till the last moment…till the last moment.
PRINCE: So you were still winning even though you were being bombed?
KLIN: We were winning and pulling back. (LAUGHTER) Sounds funny, but it doesn’t sound, yes, it does sound funny but from the other side, a contradiction…pulling back strategically for our favor.
PRINCE: Now you’re old enough to…not to understand what…all the things had happened, but you…but you can understand what people were saying and – and sort of take it to heart more so, how did it…how did things seem to you then?
KLIN: I think people were scared. People – I said that before – it seemed to me people were afraid of what will happen when we lose the war.
PRINCE: So they knew they were going to lose no matter what they were hearing?
KLIN: Yes, yes. They didn’t talk about it openly because again, those are the things you didn’t talk about. But there was that type of…it was in the air…that we were losing.
PRINCE: People still had their jobs?
KLIN: They had their jobs and my father was on his job and they were producing ammunition and they didn’t have enough people to produce. They had brought in foreign workers to help along to do the work-in-land in order they could send out the people…the Germans that were capable of fighting the war. So they had the Polish workers coming into Germany, French and Latvians from all over Europe.
PRINCE: Did you call that “slave labor?”
KLIN: I…we called it Fremdarbeiter. Uh, yes, I don’t know whether they were brought in by force. I heard that many of the Ukraines came in voluntarily. I don’t know whether they were forced. I think they were forced because they had a barbed wire around the places where they worked. But we used a lot of euphemisms. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: That’s a good indication.
KLIN: Yes. And we were always a bit better than…I mean…a lot better – not a “bit” – that’s a little understatement as the Poles. If the…we were the master race and the Poles, you know. I, in my own mind, I always thought that the Germans couldn’t do…kill anybody. The Poles can, the Czechs can, the Russians can, even the French can – but the Germans can’t…wouldn’t do that.
PRINCE: When did that change for you, Eva?
KLIN: Well, the change came on only in 1945 when the door opened of Dachau. I had heard about it before, but I didn’t want to believe it. I didn’t believe it. (PAUSE) I didn’t want to believe it. And when in ’45 the doors opened and the people were found and skeletons and crematoriums…it was a rude awakening for me.
PRINCE: How did you find out about it?
KLIN: Well 1945, I remember only two things. I remember that the Americans came in…we were in the basement…
PRINCE: In your basement?
KLIN: In the air raid shelter…when the Americans…
PRINCE: In Forstenried?
KLIN: In Forstenried – across the street at my aunt’s house…that house seemed so big to me and then shrank to a much smaller size when I came back, uh, 20 years later. But the Americans came in, and I was frightened and although I was a scrawny 16 year old – not a voluptuous one like our 16 year old (LAUGHTER)…but rape had been told to us, but I was…there was nothing like that happened…
PRINCE: What did happen? How did it happen?
KLIN: Uh, we were in the air raid shelter and I remember a couple of American soldiers coming down – they spoke English – we didn’t. And I know they took along a couple of covers. They must have been cold and didn’t have enough, uh, uh…
PRINCE: Coats? Covers?
KLIN: Covers, yes. And they took along a couple of covers and we said, “The Americans stole some covers.” (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: They were…did they treat you all right?
KLIN: They didn’t really…they looked but they did ask whether there was SS around with us. And there wasn’t any SS. We were three families that were down in that air raid shelter. And they were in there shortly and that’s about all I remember that they took a couple of covers.
PRINCE: Okay, the next…
KLIN: The next thing I remember is that I heard, not only heard and I saw…in the center of Munich somebody writing in great big letters “Ich Schame mich dass itch ein Deutscher bin”… “I’m embarassed to be a German.” And that happened in front of the Feldherrnhalle. Feldherrnhalle – that’s one of the big monuments in Munich where Hitler marched…one of his first marches there.
PRINCE: It was like written on the wall?
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: In big letters?
KLIN: In big, gigantic letters.
PRINCE: Black?
KLIN: Yes, black letters in (PAUSES) the…in this black paint – not on paper, but on the wall itself. Ummm, that kind of stuck with me in my mind. And then we found out what really went on in Dachau…and we had…
PRINCE: Did you find out by word-of-mouth? Was it printed in the newspaper? Was it on the radio?
KLIN: You know it couldn’t have been in the newspaper at the time because everything stopped really. In fact, I remember we had young dogs at home and we didn’t have enough to feed them, so we tried to get rid of the dogs to people that had food to feed them. There was a period of, at least, a week or two where things were closed up. There was raids going on. People broke into Nazi houses…
PRINCE: Looting.
KLIN: Looting…looting, yes – that’s the word – not “raids.” Looting and I remember there was…one of the big Nazis had a basement full of food that had rotted away. The cans of can goods had rotted and the anger of the people. I remember, I said my mother had no hair because of the lack of food and my father was, uh, raging about what did they do. So that’s one of the things but a lot of my memories, uh, are very wishy-washy – because my mother gave birth to a child – I had a fight with my father that forced me to leave – and I left home and I went to work for a farmer, and…
PRINCE: Back up one minute though. I’m still trying to ascertain how you learned about Dachau. There was no radio…everything stopped, so was it just word-of-mouth?
KLIN: You know, it must have been word-of-mouth and we…
PRINCE: Then why would you believe it?
KLIN: (PAUSES) Mmmm – our neighbor was killed in Dachau and I think that came out soon. He was a Communist…that was not that Mr. Klaag…that was somebody else. He was put into a concentration camp because he was a Communist and he did something on top of that, and he was killed in Dachau and his wife found out. She got notice soon after this. Uh, what I remember now. I left home…that was still in that period where there was looting going on and where the times were very uncertain…not normal. I don’t think stores were open yet and I went to work on the farm…
PRINCE: Near there?
KLIN: Well they…in fact, I got smuggled out of Munich and I was tied up in a sack…in a potato sack (LAUGHTER) and I went to work on that farm which was about 30 kilometers past Dachau…but on the way to Dachau. And that farmer there talked about the SS men that had been there and the Americans coming to them to pick them up and he fled through a window. That was after…
PRINCE: You said, in the farmer’s house?
KLIN: Yes. They talked about it when I came there. So they were in the middle of the hay – and let’s see – when you…(what’s the word in English, when you get…when you farm – I can’t think of it anymore)…
PRINCE: Crop comes in?
KLIN: The crop comes in, yes. It needed…the hay needed to be brought in and that’s when I got up there. And I immediately joined as a worker. That was my way of getting…
PRINCE: So was that your way of finding out about what was in Dachau?
KLIN: Yeah. I got more information there. I heard from the farmer that they had a SS man there who worked in Dachau. And…but he wasn’t there anymore when I came there. But they talked about it (PAUSE) seeing…I didn’t see Dachau, I mean, personally, till we went there for like a pilgrimage with my family after I was already married…with the kids.
PRINCE: It must have been difficult.
KLIN: Uh, difficult…At that time, I was a mother of two, yes…yes…it’s not, you know, it’s like going to pay homage to somebody that paid with their life for something…
PRINCE: It’s like peeling the layers back also.
KLIN: Uh huh.
PRINCE: All right. Uh, so the war is over and you’re on a farm, and…
KLIN: I stayed on the farm for about a half a year. I brought…I worked on the farm in order to stay away from home – from my stepfather – because we always had conflicts…him and I…and he wanted – the reason I really left was because he wanted to beat my mother…because he wanted to beat me and I…she said that he…he didn’t…he wasn’t fair to me and when he wanted to attack my mother – that’s when I got into a physical fight with him. And then I left home and went to the farm. And then I came back occasionally to bring some food to my mother and I came only daytime there – so in order not to have a conflict with him. And I stayed there about a half a year, or maybe even a year. And an uncle of mine…that means…it’s not – wasn’t again an uncle…a grand…great uncle, from my grandmother’s brother said, “No niece of mine is going to stay on a farm for the rest of her life.” So he helped me to come back to Munich and I stayed with him for a while. His – they didn’t have any kids – it was a married couple…no children. And, but I was always curious. And I went dancing and when I went dancing, I got to know a Jewish young man who had been in concentration camp…not my husband yet…and I, uh, and I asked questions because I didn’t believe – didn’t want to believe earlier – that the Germans killed Jews. I asked him after we danced together and conversation and I found out that he was the survivor…he had two other brothers that survived with him, but his family – his mother and father and younger sister were killed. And he told me…
PRINCE: That took a lot of courage for you to ask him.
KLIN: I don’t know what courage…
PRINCE: Because you were what you were and you were asking about your own people and you really didn’t want to know, but you…
KLIN: You can only fool yourself so long and then you have to face it. I guess I had a lot of resentment also that they…I resented that they fooled us even…that there was such a…for a while, I had a resentment towards my father…why wasn’t he more straightforward. In retrospect, I see that he couldn’t.
PRINCE: Eva, where was this young man from?
KLIN: He was from Poland. His name was David Kantrovitz. He eventually went…immigrated to Israel. In fact, he left illegally.
PRINCE: How did he react to your questions?
KLIN: I guess he was surprised. He was surprised that, uh, in fact, he said at the time, “How come you didn’t believe it?” He couldn’t understand where I came from – to him – that was not, uh, logical. But I guess those other things that we have a hard time sometimes in communicating with each other…that sometimes what doesn’t fit into your scheme or into your pride or into your nationalism that you don’t…that you fool yourself. In my scheme it didn’t fit…the Germans killed…in spite of the evidence.
PRINCE: So you met David, you…
KLIN: I met David. I wanted to marry him – he didn’t marry me here. He took off and went to Israel and left me back in Germany. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: With all your new-found knowledge.
KLIN: With all my new-found knowledge and I had all the intentions of marrying him and it…I didn’t succeed, and…
PRINCE: Were you heart broken?
KLIN: Yes. And I had made up my mind that I’m going to marry a…no, first I made up my mind that I’m going to go back to marry a…marry a German. I had problems with it because the first man I went out with, uh, made a nasty comment about Jews and I…my sense of justice didn’t permit me to do that. He said, he was a former soldier and he said to me that when he sees any of “those people”… “those people” speaking of Jews – his gall runs over – his gall was running over – apparently a little leftover anti-Semitism. And that helped me to make a decision that I wasn’t anymore a part of that. And there weren’t that many men available. A lot of them fell in the Russian war…fell in the war. So I decided that I would find a Jewish man. My mother had told me earlier in her life that she was supposed to marry a Jewish man.
PRINCE: That’s quite a decision, Eva. I mean…
KLIN: Well, that’s the decision I made. I had to make a decision where I wanted to go and I didn’t want to be called a “whore of a Jew.” And so I made up my mind that this was what I was going to do. In fact, I was so disillusioned with Catholicism that I also decided to become Jewish, and…
PRINCE: Now this was before you’d met anybody else?
KLIN: Uh, well I was going…friends of David…David Kantrovitz – the first Jew that I met, okay, then left for Israel. I kind of…after that first encounter with the German – I stayed in contact with friends of his.
PRINCE: With friends of David?
KLIN: Uh huh. And one of them is my present husband.
PRINCE: Okay (LAUGHTER) you were how old then?
KLIN: Well, I met David in ’45. I left the farm, maybe ’46…’47…’48, 1948. I was born 1929…’39, ’49…19 or 20. And I made up my mind that I’m going to join the Jewish faith and I’m going to marry a Jewish man and that I’m going to leave Germany.
PRINCE: Did you mention any of this to your father?
KLIN: No. I mentioned to my mother and uh, my mother, at the time said, “If you do go out with a Jewish man, just make sure that you get married, because that’s a problem.” And again, she never elaborated on those…maybe we were not communicators…maybe she…she warned me, kind of.
PRINCE: Maybe she thought you understood more than…
KLIN: Maybe. Maybe because she leaned on me heavily for support. I was the oldest one. And I did support her in many ways. I mean, I took up weapons against… “weapons,” I mean that…
PRINCE: You stood up for her.
KLIN: Yes, I stood up for her. I got into fight with my stepfather. I protected her, that he should not beat her when she had just given birth to a child. I thought…she had no hair on her head when he wanted to attack her and she had no fingernails and she had wounds on her legs that was from uh, sores from varicose veins that had broken up…and she was a wreck…in ’45…when he wanted to beat her. So she – well maybe she leaned on me.
PRINCE: I think she probably had more confidence in you…
KLIN: Uh….yes. And eventually what I did, uh, I got to know my husband. And I also at the same time started to go the rabbi…to a rabbi in Munich who promptly threw me out the first time I went to see him. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: Describe that.
KLIN: I went to Rabbiner Orenstein who…(was that the first one?) Yeah, Dr. Orenstein. In fact, he’s still alive in Munich. Uh, and I asked…he didn’t give me a chance to ask him. I knocked on the door and the door opened and I said, “I would like to talk to you”…in German naturally… “about conversion to Judaism.” He says, “No, I don’t have any time,” and closed the door on me. Just pushed me out, virtually. And I was outside of the door and a gentleman of the Jewish faith who was in the waiting hall…a German Jew…said to me, in German, he said, “Don’t worry, if you’re persistent enough, you will succeed. Just don’t give up.” And that’s what I did. I, at that time, worked in a…in a…I had left the farm and I had worked in a restaurant where also had accommodations and it was owned by a Jewish family. But, leaving lunchtime and the rabbiner, the rabbi had only hours to see him. It was always between 12 and one, or 11 and one…something like that, which was the busiest time, so I was always in trouble with the staff there and I got called nasty names. They knew, I didn’t make a secret out of it. I guess…it was still talking too much always.
PRINCE: You’re doing fine.
KLIN: But I said that I was going to the rabbi to convert to Judaism and it prompted me all those problems at work. But eventually I did succeed and I got to know my husband. And my husband seemed to me more inclined, uh, for marriage. Somehow I had a feeling that I would succeed there. (LAUGHTER) He wasn’t in a hurry to go to Israel because he had an uncle in Israel…
PRINCE: He wasn’t?
KLIN: No, he wasn’t… “was not.”
PRINCE: Would you say, at this time, that most of the Jews that were in Germany in ’49 were from other countries?
KLIN: Yes. Most of the Jews that I knew in Munich…not most…all of them…were not from Munich…were not natives.
PRINCE: Or maybe not even Germans, they were probably people that came from Poland to get away from the Russians.
KLIN: Yes, yes. In fact, the first German Jew that I met in St. Louis…no, that’s not true. I met one in Garmisch Partenkirchen who was hidden in a German’s house in Berlin. That’s the only one and I didn’t talk with him that much, but for me it was…I felt good to hear that some Germans did something good for their fellow Jewish Germans. Because I…my feelings were very – I was very ashamed of being a German. And I was angry that the Germans didn’t do, uh, more to be informed…in spite of me wanting to join the Hitler Jugend, but I expected the adults…to be more adults – adults.
PRINCE: And this was your way.
KLIN: In fact I was angry still in St. Louis at times at my parents. It lasted…it took me a long time to overcome why…why always that ambivalence – why always that, in retrospect, I found out how everybody were not only threatened – they were afraid to take action.

Tape 3 - Side 1

Maybe they didn’t want to take actions. They were convinced that it was a right cause. And anything like the anti-Nazi was immediately suppressed and never hit the news. I never knew about the movement – about the White Rose till maybe ten years ago. So, I think, that if there was one person or two…or a dozen who put up any opposition, it was immediately squelched, so you couldn’t gain any foothold.
PRINCE: Explain the White Rose.
KLIN: I can’t even explain it because I don’t have enough knowledge of it.
PRINCE: Well it was a group of…
KLIN: A group of students…
PRINCE: Students…
KLIN: Of the University of Munich.
PRINCE: I’m not sure – but they just opposed Hitler…
KLIN: Yes, and I think they were killed – a brother and a sister.
PRINCE: Some professors…
KLIN: Professors were involved too?
PRINCE: I think so, though I’m not sure.
KLIN: I’m going to find out about it and you’re going to help me. Anyhow, my anger that I carried on for many years against the German adults…I don’t even know whether it served any purpose, but I was angry that they didn’t help me to (okay, I step back)…and maybe they did protect me. What if I would have become a Nazi. Maybe if I would have done it all, the Catholic Church had done enough prior to this to say that the Jews were Christ killers and the catechisms teaches the Jews killed Jesus and killed God. So the foundation was definitely Catholicism. So maybe my father even protected me and maybe the ambivalence wasn’t so bad. It’s just kind of hard to live with ambivalence and…
PRINCE: It was a difficult way to grow up.
KLIN: Yes, to say the least.
PRINCE: And that’s an understatement.
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: And I salute you for your ability to be honest and to look for the truth.
KLIN: The truth is hard to find.
PRINCE: And to want to join the family of the persecuted and I suppose that was your way of trying to make amends for something that you didn’t do.
KLIN: Perhaps, yes, perhaps – whatever psychological the reason was involved in there, I made it. There was a rebellion, maybe, whatever psychological reason there is behind that I did join – I became Jewish and I have no regrets and I immigrated…I left Germany. And I did not want to stay in Germany.
PRINCE: Did you marry in Germany?
KLIN: I got married in Germany. I converted in Germany to Judaism. The rabbi that originally got rid of me, eventually got soft, and did convert me to Judaism…did marry us…
PRINCE: What year were you married?
KLIN: I was married in 1951. We immigrated in 1952 to the United States…to St. Louis.
PRINCE: Who was at your wedding?
KLIN: (CHUCKLES) My mother, my grandmother, my two sisters, my husband’s boyhood friend and about…that’s about it. Our wedding, in comparison to weddings what we have now – even our daughter’s wedding – was very modest. I cooked my own dinner. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: Well, I would imagine there…in circumstances such as those, in those days – there may not have been a lot of family and friends…were dispersed and peoples’ lives had changed so that to have a small group at one’s wedding would not have been unusual.
KLIN: Also the marriage between a German Catholic woman that converted to Judaism, uh, was I think, a problem for the Jewish community, as well as it was for the Catholic community.
PRINCE: How did you feel?
KLIN: How did I feel? I wanted to get out of Germany. That was my aim…Very happy…VERY happy. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: I mean, to change?
KLIN: Mission accomplished. It took me a year to make the decision that I convert to Judaism. I didn’t…it didn’t come, uh, I should say “easy,” in fact…
PRINCE: Yes – here on the tape you said, “I decided I”…you know, but this decision (OVERTALKS)…
KLIN: Was labored…
PRINCE: I’m glad you are elaborating on it.
KLIN: Yes. In fact, I had dreams about that. And one dream still sticks in my mind. I remember before I finally went to the rabbi to…uh, when he threw me out the first time – that was prior a year – in that year, I contemplated and I had that dream that I was on one side where, uh, it was the Catholic community in the white clothing going to the first communion. On the other side were Polish Jews with earlocks (LAUGHTER) and I didn’t know whether, you know…shtreimel – maybe I need to explain it… “fur hats”…and peyos.
PRINCE: Yes, Orthodox.
KLIN: Uh huh. And I walked over to one man and I said to him, I said, “What am I going to do?”
PRINCE: Jew or Catholic?
KLIN: I’m…I’m staying in the middle and I even remember he smelled from garlic. (LAUGHTER) I had dreams…it was difficult. And he said, in Yiddish, he said to me, “Sorg sich nischt mir welln dich arrain hemmen”… “Don’t worry about it, we’ll take you in.” And the dream kind of finalized my going, uh, you know. And when I told my mother and my mother had no objections. I think my mother believed in God but it didn’t have to be necessarily through the Catholic way, although she opposed the cremation of my grandmother, but I don’t think she was in any way fanatic. I think she was more concerned about a good life.
PRINCE: She wanted you to be happy.
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: She sounds like a remarkable woman in her own way.
KLIN: Yes…she was a remarkable woman. I’m just sorry that she didn’t have a better life. She picked the wrong men always…
PRINCE: And a hard time to live in…
KLIN: And a hard time to live in, I guess.
PRINCE: Okay – Eva, why did you want to become a Jew? Why did you work so hard to do that?
KLIN: I was disillusioned with Catholicism. The Catholic Church did not give any guidance to my father, and my father, in turn, wasn’t able to give it to me. I became curious at the time also about the belief of the Jews – about the Messiah still coming…and Jesus…the Messiah who had already redeemed the world.
PRINCE: And you learned this from David?
KLIN: Yes, and the redemption that was supposed to have been already…I didn’t think…I, uh, I wouldn’t mind if the Messiah would come now. (LAUGHTER)
PRINCE: Do you think had you met someone Lutheran, you might have become a Lutheran?
KLIN: No. Lutherans believe the same way, that Jesus is the Messiah.
PRINCE: I know, but you were looking for something to replace Catholicism.
KLIN: Uh, if I would have met somebody Lutheran? (PAUSES) The chances of meeting a Lutheran in Bavaria was almost…was rarer almost as meeting a Jew after the war.
KLIN: Because – we talked about it earlier, about Germany being a Catholic country. It might have been a mistake from my side…Bavaria is a Catholic country, but…
PRINCE: Germany was Lutheran?
KLIN: Yes. The average, I think, leans towards the Lutherans. There’s more Lutherans in Germany, in the population as it is, uh, as there is Catholics.
PRINCE: So your husband had a relative here.
KLIN: No, – my husband had a relative in Israel.
PRINCE: Okay – how did you get to St. Louis?
KLIN: How did we get to St. Louis? We got a contract through the Jewish Family Services.
PRINCE: And they just picked…they had a…like a…
KLIN: We had to take whatever contract they had available to come to St. Louis.
PRINCE: And it was to come to St. Louis?
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: It could have been some place else?
KLIN: It could have been any place, and…
PRINCE: I’m glad it was St. Louis.
KLIN: Yes.
PRINCE: All right. I’m very grateful to you, Eva, for going back in time and talking about your life and your memories and it’s very much appreciated. Thank you.
KLIN: The feelings are mutual.

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