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Eva Wilde

Eva Wilde
Nationality: German
Location: Berlin • Bolton • England • Germany • London • Missouri • St. Louis • United States of America • Warlingham
Experience During Holocaust: Escaped the Holocaust • Family Survived • Was a Child During the Holocaust

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.

“I didn't go through much trauma... my mother and dad were the brave ones. They sent me away not knowing if we would meet again.” - Eva Wilde

Read Eva's Oral History Transcripts

Read the transcripts by clicking the red plus signs below.

Tape 1 - Side 1 (Wagman)

Wagman: I’m interviewing Eva Wilde on September 26, 2008, for the oral history project of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.
Wagman: What was your name at birth and where were you born?
Wilde: ___________, Germany. My name is Eva Landsberger.
Wagman: So what were your parents’ names and their occupations?
Wilde: My mother was Ellen Landsberger and Walter Landsberger. My dad had his own business and he selled. He sold, uh, let’s see, how should I put it…sold material for decorating store windows, and all kinds of _________ paper decorations, just for store windows. I don’t know if he sold manikins, or things like that. But mostly paper to decorate store windows.
Wagman: And your mother?
Wilde: My mother was __________. She did ___________, my mother was secretary. She worked as a young woman, she worked as a secretary, and then later on when she couldn’t get a job anymore, she worked at the temple in downtown Berlin, at the temple. ______________ at the temple ‘cause my dad’s business was going down. _______ wasn’t about to work. She always worked, which was kind of unusual at that time, while I was going to school. I came home; she wasn’t home yet. She always had a little treat for me, every day when I came home from school and she wasn’t there. Instead of her there would be like a piece of candy or a cookie or something so I would feel not lonesome. I had wonderful parents.
Wagman: What was life like in Berlin when you were young? Daily life.
Wilde: Perfectly nice. Very nice. I had a wonderful family. We never had a lot of money, but we had nothing but love and affection. I was the only child so I got all the spoiling. I had a very perfectly nice childhood. I went to nursery school. We lived in the suburbs. So it was a very nice…My parents tried to keep things away from me _________.
Wagman: How did they do that?
Wilde: Well, they didn’t dwell on the Nazi thing. I guess the first time I knew about it was when I couldn’t keep going to the school that I was going to. I went to a regular school and then I had to change to a Jewish school.
Wagman: What year do you think that was?
Wilde: Uh, gosh, I don’t know. It was about ’38. Something like ’38, ’39. I went to school in Berlin downtown which was a Jewish school, which was a lot harder
because it was far away from home and I had to take, I had to take two trains to get there all by myself. I was a smallish child, so my dad used to take me to the station every day. 7:15 is when the train left, and so I was quite a responsible to do that, but you didn’t have any choice. You had to go to the school. That’s when I was alerted to all this, this Nazi business. But I really never, they never dwelled on it. I didn’t have any, as I remember that time, no bad experiences. So…
Wagman: What were your recollections of the city before the war, such as relationships between Jews and non-Jews?
Wilde: I have no – I was too small to worry about it. We went to temple. I believe my parents were active. I remember one year for Hanukah, our whole house was full of toys. We were collecting toys for poor children, Jewish children, for Hanukah. As far as I knew, life for me it wasn’t much different. It really wasn’t. They didn’t. I didn’t get. They didn’t talk about it in front.
Wagman: What was your family’s political affiliation and what was religious life like?
Wilde: We were not orthodox. We were reform. My grand…we had Friday night services at my cousins’ house. My grandfather was orthodox – he was quite learned and he would do the service. But we never had, we never kept a kosher house. We celebrated holidays but we were not orthodox. My grandfather was the one that had the service on Friday night. My cousin came to that with her family. That was about the extent of it, and we did go to temple, but _________
Wagman: What was the family’s political affiliation?
Wilde: I really don’t know. I was 11. I didn’t know, what was, those things. I suppose they were – I don’t know.
Wagman: Once you started going to the school in Berlin, how did you grow aware of Nazi presence in the city?
Wilde: I really didn’t.
Wagman: You really didn’t.
Wilde I really didn’t. I mean, I knew about it. I guess Kristallnacht was the time that I really knew what was going on and how that affected us, but as I said, it didn’t not change our life except when I went away…
Wagman: What do you remember about Kristallnacht?
Wilde: Well, I don’t know, did you go to that program they had? Well I remember walking around with my dad at night, not going home, and wondering why that was and…and I knew something was wrong. After that I didn’t have any terrible experiences, except I knew something was wrong. Why didn’t we go home?
Wagman: Can you tell me more about that story? Your dad was walking you around?
Wilde: Well, we went walking, because we couldn’t go home, and I couldn’t understand why we didn’t do that.
Wagman: So where were you walking?
Wilde: We just walked around town to different places and we stopped in different areas. They had some meals and things set up in the different houses. I know we had dinners there. I don’t remember exactly where we went, but we didn’t go home so that was…until the next morning.
Wagman: Okay. Was it the three of you – you and your father and your mother?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: How old were you then?
Wilde: I suppose. Well, Kristallnacht was November what was it…?
Wagman: ’38.
Wilde: ’38. I was eleven….I guess I was about nine.
Wagman: How did you become aware of your parents’ plans to leave Germany? How did they explain that to you?
Wilde: Well, my mother had a distant relative who had friends in London. And she asked them if they would take a child. And they found a family and for a couple of weeks they would write back and forth and they even sent pictures of the children and they even sent pictures of the toys that I would be seeing ‘cause it was…I was prepared in that way?
Wagman: What toys…what did they send?
Wilde: They sent pictures of dolls and teddy bears and things that I would be seeing. It was good – they were wonderful people.
Wagman: Do you remember when your parents first explained to you that they were writing a family and doing that or how did they tell you?
Wilde: No, I think…I don’t know. They just explained it. I really don’t
remember if I understood exactly. I mean, of course I did. But we tried not to – they of course tried everything not to make it too upsetting. That was the whole thing behind it – it must have been terrible, the hardest thing they ever did in their lives – to send your children to….at least they knew it was a family they had written to or talked to or, of course, my parents didn’t know any English either or anything like that. But those people, the woman spoke a little German, so they got along. Anyway, it was not a total stranger.
Wagman: Did you know English?
Wilde: No.
Wagman: No. What was the journey like, when you went to England? Do you remember getting on the ship?
Wilde: I remember, well the hardest part I guess was to the train station, to say good-bye to my parents. That was the hardest part.
Wagman: What do you remember?
Wilde: I just remember being at the platform and, tried, tried not to have a tearful goodbye for my parents. That must have been just horrendous, the worst part. There were a lot of children we met. We took a train to Hamburg and then we went to, it was a group of children. And on the boat, I don’t remember too much about the boat except we were all together. And, I remember mostly getting off the boat. We stopped in __Lahal?_______, France, and I remember going to the….what is it…outside the boat was docking for a while, a couple of hours…looking over the water and there were children waiting on the dock and we thought we had more stuff than what they did. They were holding out their hands for – whatever, candy or bread or whatever. We didn’t have any but we felt like we were richer than they. I still remember that. And then getting to London.
Wagman: Did you have any possessions with you?
Wilde: I had a suitcase.
Wagman: A suitcase. Do you remember what you took with you?
Wilde: I took some clothes, mostly. And there were – I remember when we got there. She was surprised, they were nice clothes. We didn’t – it wasn’t these pauperish kind of people that came over, you know? She said, oh, you have such nice things. Of course, my mother dressed me nice. It wasn’t like, some refugee, you know. So, no, but the only thing I remember was the man that picked me up – my foster father, whatever you want to call him. He came by himself to the railroad station where we first got off. I remember he was a tall Englishman with an umbrella.
Wagman: What were you thinking?
Wilde: I don’t know. What does a kid think? I was thinking, I wonder what it’s going to be like. Where are we going? I remember sitting with him in the train compartment. He was sitting on one side and I was sitting on the other. I don’t know – he didn’t say very much. I really don’t remember too much. We had a conversation. I didn’t know any English. I don’t know what he was thinking. He was probably checking me out or thinking what…(laughs)…anyway, I don’t know, I really don’t know.
Wagman: How old were you when you reached England?
Wilde: I was eleven.
Wagman: Was this family Jewish?
Wilde: Yes. They were Jewish but they were Russian __________. They
had two boys.
Wagman: How old were the boys?
Wilde: One of the boys were close to my age, about a year younger. The other boy was older. And we got to be good friends.
Wagman: Both of…with both?
Wilde: The older boy, not so much. He was afraid people would think I was his girlfriend. Nobody wanted that. Nobody wanted that, at that age.
Wagman: What was daily life like with their family?
Wilde: Daily life was…they were a very nice family. They sent me to a private school. I took a bus to school, the green line, which was a very…. They lived in a suburb, a very nice house.
Wagman: Which suburb?
Wilde: Uh, Woldingham-Surrey. It was a beautiful place. Really very nice. The only person I had trouble with was… The younger son was called Michael. His girlfriend. ‘Cause she was jealous that I was there (laughs). I had to fight her the first day!
Wagman: You had to fight her? How did that happen?
Wilde: Well, I could see that she didn’t like me being there. I couldn’t speak English, but it was understood that she didn’t like the idea of another girl there with Michael. I think she was – maybe eight – I don’t know.
Wagman: Was it a physical fight?
Wilde: Well, you know how kids fight. Two minutes. It was perfectly….it was not a serious occasion (laughs).
Wagman: What was it like meeting the foster mother?
Wilde: Oh, she was a very nice, friendly woman. She talked a little German so that’s what made it easier.
Wagman: What did they do?
Wilde: I really don’t know. He was a businessman. He would go off in the morning and come back at night and that was it. He had nice… It was just a very nice family he had. It was just, you know, she stayed home, took care of the family. And he would go off every day and come back at night. The thing that impressed me the most I guess was that they had two grand pianos (laughs). I think – that was one of the things that I really liked, just about the house. They had a two-story house and two grand pianos.
Wagman: Had you taken lessons before?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: Back in Berlin?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: Did they all play in their family?
Wilde: The boy was very talented, the older boy.
Wagman: How did their daily life differ from the life you had with your parents in Berlin?
Wilde: I don’t know. The lady did not go to work, not like my mother. And it was a house rather than an apartment. They were wealthier than we were – at least that’s what it seemed to me. But it was a very nice family life and nothing unusual.
Wagman: Had they been established in England a long time?
Wilde: I don’t know. I just, kids don’t ask those kinds of questions.
Wagman: Right, of course. What was the adjustment like for you?
Wilde: Well, it was…the main adjustment I think was in school. I didn’t know any English. I didn’t know the kids. It was all strange. We had to where a uniform to school. I went to a bunch of schools in England. The school was…I don’t remember too much about the actual learning but we had our own ______, we had our own yard, we had our own plantings, we had our own hockey games. The headmaster took interest in me and tried to teach me English. I went to his office every day and he would try to give me English lessons. But that really didn’t work out too well. ‘Cause the real way that you learned to speak a language is when you just do it. Like that friend of Michael’s — I learned more just talking and learning. In a few months I learned to speak perfectly. Didn’t take long. You just learn by doing.
Wagman: How did you hear of your parents during this time.
Wilde: Well, my parents were very lucky. They got a job in England as a domestic couple, which was one way that they had to get out of Germany. And so, after a
few months, I found out that they were coming to England – to an entirely different part of town. So we did not…when they came to England, I saw them briefly at the station. We picked them up from the station. But I couldn’t stay with them ‘cause they had this job in a different part of England as a domestic couple. My mother, my dad had never been doing that, was now a butler and uh (laughs), and my mother was a cook. ‘Cause it saved their lives. So that’s why they did it. So, that’s, there was __________ when the war broke out and they had the air raids, I was evacuated to them, where they were working. ‘Cause that was a raid, we were near ___________airport___.
Wagman: What town were they in?
Wilde: We were in Bolton, Lancashire, which was different from Surrey where I was, near Surrey, which was near _________airport__, and it was more dangerous, near London. So I was evacuated to them.
Wagman: Before they came over, did you talk about them? Did you talk about life in Germany to the foster family?
Wilde: No, never.
Wagman: What kinds of conversations did you have?
Wilde: We didn’t have those kinds of conversations.
Wagman: With the foster family.
Wilde: No.
Wagman: What did you talk about?
Wilde: We talked about everyday things: how was school? What did you
do? What did you learn today? I was never. We never went. This was all in the mind, and understood in their minds but they were not going to talk to me about it.
Wagman: Did you make friends at school?
Wilde: Not very much. I really didn’t. I was a newcomer. I don’t know why, there was a little girl, who for some reason didn’t like me. She would follow me every day after school, for some reason. And I always tried to stay away from her. I don’t know. No, I did not really. We lived in the country. There were really no other children around. It was quite…isolated. And the school was far away. So I really don’t remember making any – not in that school – didn’t make any friends.
Wagman: What was your Jewish life like in England? Were there many Jewish—
Wilde: No. There weren’t any. I never remember going to temple. I never remember them going. So…
Wagman: Did they light candles on Friday nights?
Wilde: No. I don’t think so. I don’t think they did anything like that. They had friends and family that would come over sometime, but I don’t remember doing anything Jewish at all.
Wagman: Did a lot of the children that were on the ship with you wind up in the same neighborhoods?
Wilde: No. Nobody did. They all went separate places. And to this day I think why didn’t I talk to some of those children? But everybody was in their own space. I guess when you are that age, you don’t think about that.
Wagman: How long were you – altogether – on the ship??
Wilde: Oh. A week maybe. Not that long. No, the ship was really. I don’t remember doing much, of what I can remember. Except stopping in France, seeing those other children.
Wagman: Right. Why does that stay in your mind so much, that story about the children in France?
Wilde: I don’t know. I felt for them. But I felt so far removed from those children.
Wagman: How so?
Wilde: I don’t know. I guess that’s the only thing that happened on the boat – that stopping and seeing a different country, the pier and everything. And you know, it was an adventure. I didn’t know.
Wagman: Did your parents write to you?
Wilde: Oh, sure.
Wagman: Often?
Wilde: Yes, of course.
Wagman: How often?
Wilde: My mother probably wrote almost every day. My mother was very instrumental and we always kept very close.
Wagman: What did the letters communicate?
Wilde: Oh. They just said how are you? How are you? She would tell me to be nice to the people and how to behave. It was more on my end, what I had to do. They didn’t tell me about what they were feeling. It was mostly that they wanted me to make a good impression, do the right thing and be appreciative. And then of course as they were coming close to, coming to England, then the letters got, you know, we’ll see you soon and it was really wonderful. I was _________ thrilled. Because the English people wanted to adopt me.
Wagman: They did?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: How did you learn that?
Wilde: My mother told me later on.
Wagman: Oh. And so what happened?
Wilde: Nothing happened. They just were glad, naturally they turned me over to my parents. But if they hadn’t gotten out of Germany they probably would have adopted me.
Wagman: Did your parents explain to you later what that time was like for them?
Wilde: I can imagine. Because at the same time my mother’s only sister also left for the United States and they were very close. It was just a terrible time. But they weren’t going to sit there and tell me all their woes.
Wagman: Right.
Wilde: (laughs) They don’t do that. It was a terrible time. I mean, just the fact that they sent me – was a terrible time – that they had to do that. You don’t send your children to a stranger’s for nothing.
Wagman: What are some of the memories you have of England? What stays with you most from living with the family?
Wilde: England it was most, I think rather fondly…
Wagman: What do you remember most?
Wilde: I remember it was great. Whenever we traveled, we always wanted to go back and see it. We did visit, in later years. We did come back and visit.
Wagman: So once the war broke out there in England, you were able to reunite and live with your parents again?
Wilde: ____________, no, they had a chance to come to the states. And so we all came here together.
Wagman: Okay. How long had you lived with the family?
Wilde: Uh, with the family, maybe close to a year. And then I was evacuated to my parents and started our voyage to the states.
Wagman: Did you live with your parents in England for a while?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: How long was that?
Wilde: A couple of months.
Wagman: And they were a domestic –
Wilde: They were a domestic couple until they lost their jobs because they were enemy alien.
Wagman: Enemy alien…
Wilde: (Laughs) They couldn’t work anymore, so they had to…we moved into – with an English family – into a one room. One room. And my mother got a job as sort of a nurse to a lady who was handicapped. And my father couldn’t get a job because they were enemy alien.
Wagman: Did you know what that word meant or how did…
Wilde: Yes, I knew that.
Wagman: How did you understand that?
Wilde: Well, it was because of the way. Because of war with Germany and England was afraid of people, but anyway. I knew what it was. But I knew that we ______, let us live together in one place. When they were a domestic couple, I couldn’t have lived with them. So in a way that worked out.
Wagman: How long were they a domestic couple?
Wilde: Oh, I don’t know. A few months. Almost the same time, no maybe six months. I don’t know. They got to be good friends with those people, too.
Wagman: With your foster family?
Wilde: Yeah, and with the people that employed them as a domestic couple. They were friends. Anyway, we then moved together to Bolton under one room.

Tape 1 - Side 2 (Wagman)

Wagman: You moved to Bolton with an English family. And what was that experience like, living there?
Wilde: I went to another school (laughs). It was a different school. It was not a private school; it was a regular school. And it was a much more easy-going kind of school. It didn’t have the same…by that time I spoke English and there was no _______. My mother worked for a lady who had, she had, she was handicapped. Her hands were handicapped; she couldn’t move her hands. It must have been some kind of arthritis. And so she took her. And my dad, I don’t know how he made a living. He didn’t have a job. Maybe there was some kind of compensation; I don’t know (laughs). We didn’t have much money, that’s for sure. And then we came to the states, that was ___________.
Wagman: Did you socialize in England? Did you meet other Jewish families?
Wilde: No, we never did. We met other English people. We really never did much socializing, I don’t remember, with Jewish people that I can remember. We were just…It was interesting to them to have us there so their friends would come to meet us and they would invite us to their house maybe for a dinner or high tea or something like that. It was more like a curiosity friendship (laughs). I guess they were too busy just living to really worry about social life.
Wagman: Did you ever experience any encounters of Anti-Semitism?
Wilde: No. I really didn’t and if I did, either I forgot it or wasn’t aware of it. No, I was lucky.
Wagman: Why do you consider yourself lucky?
Wilde: I was lucky because things worked out. I never went to a concentration camp. We got out in once piece. It was hard, but we were the lucky ones.
Wagman: Did you know about the concentration camps?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: In England?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: How did you learn?
Wilde: Well, I guess people knew about it. Personally, I’m sure we did. __________
Wagman: Were you afraid at different times?
Wilde: Not really. I mean, you don’t know what’s going to come next. You’re afraid like you’re afraid of you know, any kind of time. When you are living through something, you really don’t know what the outcome is going to be. My grandfather was deported. A lot of our family were. He was killed, he died in the trains. My uncle was deported. He was married, he and his wife. It was just that time – a terrible time. My parents did not tell me all this. We knew about it, or learned about it later.
Wagman: Had you had close relationships with your extended family – your aunts and uncles, grandparents, on both sides?
Wilde: Yes. Very much, yes.
Wagman: What was your life like with them? Did you see them?
Wilde: We were a very close family, celebrated all the birthdays. We had a very small family. We were very close to my grandfathers and grandmothers. The grandmothers died fairly early but the two grandfathers were very close with them. My mother was a big help in the family. She would take care of them, do their laundry. It was just a very close family.
Wagman: What were your grandfathers like? What did they do?
Wilde: One of my grandfathers was a lawyer, and the other was an artist.
Wagman: What kind of artist?
Wilde: A woodcarver. Decorations for furniture, all kinds of fancy woodcuts.
Wagman: And aunts and uncles?
Wilde: Yes, I had cousins, aunts and uncles.
Wagman: In your suburb?
Wilde: No, mostly they lived downtown in Berlin. My one cousin lived in the suburbs. Most of them lived downtown.
Wagman: What do you remember most about that suburb?
Wilde: It was very nice to grow up there. We lived near the…we had like a promenade where there a river straight, which to this day I remember very well. We were sitting there and we had like a bench with some flowers and I played there while I was a child. And years ago when we went back, I showed it, my husband said this isn’t so pretty like you described it – there was a big factory across the street! I never saw that! To me it didn’t look like this. There was across the water a big ________ factory. I said it never looked like that – to me it was very nice. We had a small apartment, on the second floor of a _______ building. I had a very ______ childhood, a very pleasant childhood.
Wagman: I know we’re skipping back and forth a bit, but going back…going back to England. Who made the decision to go to the United States, and why?
Wilde: It wasn’t any decision, it was something we wanted to do for a long time. Years ago, we had had a visa, but it wasn’t good enough. And now for some reason, I don’t know how my parents did it, anyway we had a visa to come. My father had a cousin that lived in St. Louis and a brother that lived in St. Louis, so. We had an affidavit from them to come. And so we did, we came to St. Louis.
Wagman: Did your parents speak English when they first came to England?
Wilde: No.
Wagman: Did they pick it up pretty quickly?
Wilde: They picked it up. They went, had a couple of lessons before they left. By the time they came, they were able to speak.
Wagman: So what was the journey like to the United States from England?
Wilde: Well, we went on the transport, or where did we go…because it was…it was like a convoy of boats going at the same time so we’d be safer in number. It was like, they were afraid I guess of mines, or something. Anyway it was a convoy of boats. We had a very unadventurous trip. It was – just like the other trip – I don’t remember too much about it. And we landed in ___ Gloucester?__________.
Wagman: Was it hard to say goodbye to the foster family?
Wilde: No, because I had already left them when I went to stay with my parents. We did keep in touch through the years. For some number of years we didn’t have their address, but we found it again. And we had already said goodbye in England when I went to live with my parents, so it was not so dramatic. Maybe for them it was harder than for me but I think was glad to be there.
Wagman: Were you excited to go to the United States?
Wilde: Sure.
Wagman: Why?
Wilde: It was a new country. I was with my parents. I would have gone anywhere. We were united and we were happy. It was like winning the lottery.
Wagman: How long were you traveling together to the United States?
Wilde: I don’t know. Two weeks, eight days maybe, I don’t know.
Wagman: Do you remember your first glimpse of the United States – what was your –
Wilde: No, I don’t remember. I remember talking to the crew, having a fun time on the deck talking to them. They were all very friendly. It was a small boat. It wasn’t like one of these luxury lines. It was a very small boat and everybody was happy to be going. I mean, my parents must have felt a little more worried than I about how they were going to make a living, what was going to happen. But I didn’t worry about those things. It was something for them to worry about. They had very little money, so I guess it was what are we going to do when we get there. It’s not like they had a job waiting or anything.
Wagman: Were you aware of money growing up? How so?
Wilde: I don’t know, it’s just nobody put it into so many words, but money’s important.
Wagman: Did you come directly to St. Louis?
Wilde: We landed in Boston. We stayed there for a few months. We stayed there and for a few months we had met a committee that was very nice and I remember they took us for lunch and then they took us for a couple of days, we stayed in like a boarding house. And then my parents and some other couples rented an apartment that we shared. We had shared meals and so that one person didn’t have to pay the rent. And so we had a shared arrangement for a couple of months, until we went to St. Louis.
Wagman: Were they Jewish families?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: What kind of committee met you?
Wilde: I don’t know. It was a committee in Boston, some Jewish
committee, something like that. But they were very of nice and took care of us for just a couple of days until my dad said he doesn’t want to take money from them, he wanted to find his own…they rented from this apartment together together with these couples.
Wagman: Did they have children too?
Wilde: No. I don’t remember too much. I went to school. There I went to junior high, that I remember. It was pretty difficult because we read all these books, and (laughs) I didn’t know how to read them. We read A Tale of Two Cities, which was very different, very hard work for me.
Wagman: How did you try to catch up?
Wilde: Well, I did pretty well. I caught up. It wasn’t easy.
Wagman: Did you have to study quite a bit?
Wilde: Oh, I had to study but there was this other different school. The junior high was altogether different. I didn’t stay there very long. I went a few months, so ________.
Wagman: When you and your parents were reunited, did you go to synagogue again?
Wilde: I don’t remember doing that again until we came to St. Louis. Then I started going to Sunday school. We had a regular life, a regular family life again.
Wagman: How did it come back? How did your parents establish regular family life again?
Wilde: I guess they got a job.
Wagman: What did they do?
Wilde: My mother had different jobs and different _____________. The first job I remember, terrible hard jobs, __________. It really wasn’t good because the paint was unhealthy and I really think it hurt him later on. At first he was a spray painter and later on he worked at Brown Shoe company as a cut leather. He was a leather cutter. Of course those two jobs he had never done in his life. So I don’t know how – he worked awfully hard. And my mother worked as a caterer. She had different jobs, too. She worked as a caterer and she would deliver sandwiches at parties. And it was hard job but it was kind of fun. She got to take home the leftovers and we used to have midnight parties with leftover sandwiches (laughs).
Wagman: Oh really?
Wilde: Yeah, it’s kind of fun. And she worked, later on, at _____________, as a saleslady. She loved that. She really enjoyed that.
Wagman: What were your initial impressions of St. Louis and moving again?
Wilde: It was fine. I went to school and worked and had a regular family life. I went to Clark School and we lived down the street. And so that was fine.
Wagman: Attended shul?
Wilde: Yes.
Wagman: And continued to play the piano?
Wilde: Pretty much. I was pretty lazy. I was not a great student.
Wagman: Did you have a piano?
Wilde: Yes, we bought an old ____________. I was never very…I was never a very good student. Very lazy, I wouldn’t practice. So that was about it.
Wagman: Can you talk about the long-term impact your experiences may have had on you, your future, your values…your trust?
Wilde: No, I don’t think they did have much. Except it was a very close-knit family. That’s what held us together I think more than anything else. The thought that we would get together again.
Wagman: Are there sounds or smells that evoke past experiences?
Wilde: No, I have no….
Wagman: Were any of the Jewish synagogues or communities in St. Louis interested in hearing about what had happened in Germany and your experiences?
Wilde: I suppose they were. But I don’t remember too much. We had a club and we talked about it – a club of newcomers. Self Aid. Which was very helpful to some people because they found out when they came they could talk to people who were likewise in the same situations and that had been here longer that could tell them where to buy this, how to get the street car, how to get the bus, who has the best rye bread, who has the best corn beef, who has the best whatever, things like that.
Wagman: Did your family begin to socialize with these other families?
Wilde: Yes, we were mostly friends that belonged to the same. Rabbi Isserman was very good. He didn’t charge the temple affiliation, which was a big help.
Wagman: Where was he?
Wilde: Temple Israel. He did a lot for the newcomers ______________. It was all those things _________ my mother. But as a child, you don’t think about all that.
Wagman: Do you feel like you began to understand about the past as you grew up more?
Wilde: Oh sure.
Wagman: And how did that happen? In school?
Wilde: Oh, no. You just talk to your parents, your family who had gone there, who had been in camps, who had survived, you know. You just appreciated everything that had happened to you but of course you felt bad, so.
Wagman: How do you feel about Germany today?
Wilde: Oh. That’s kind of a hard question. We’ve been back there. Our son was in service in Germany. Our two grandchildren were born there when he was in service ___________. So, I try not to think about…I mean you there and you enjoy the country because it’s such beautiful scenery, beautiful country. I don’t think about it much – I try not to let it influence me. So. I think if you were talking to an older person, it would be different.
Wagman: How did you establish your own life in St. Louis and meet your husband?
Wilde: Well, I met my husband who was in the same boat, so that was…we met at this club, Self-Aid, and since we had similar background, we just…met and liked each other, that’s about it.
Wagman: When was that?
Wilde: He came in 1947. I met him in 1947. We married in ___’51?___.
Wagman: What was the wedding like?
Wilde: (laughs) A very small wedding. It was very nice. Family and friends.
Wagman: I know that you spoke earlier about your experiences before, earlier this year. What was that experience like?
Wilde: Yes. Well, that was the first time, and I told them exactly what I told you. There was nothing more.
Wagman: What was the experience like to talk about publicly?
Wilde: It just brings back memories and makes you feel more…it brings a lot back and…you relive it in a way in your mind, and that’s about it. You can’t really, like I said I’m lucky I don’t have such terrible memories where I can, I’m not, it has not, like I said it brings back those memories and you live with it. So. That was about it.
Wagman: When did you go back to Berlin for the first time?
Wilde: I don’t remember what year it was. We went back several times. I don’t remember the year. We went back when my son was stationed there.
Wagman: Do you have one son?
Wilde: We have two sons. Two sons and a daughter. But we would go back when he was stationed there.
Wagman: _______________
Wilde: It was just interesting to be in Berlin and see things. I showed them my old neighborhood and it didn’t look quite the same.
Wagman: Were your parents able to go back at all.
Wilde: I’m trying to think if they did. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I don’t remember. They did take a lot of trips but I can’t remember. I don’t think they went there. I’m not positive about that. I’m really not.
Wagman: As you grew older, how did you and your parents communicate about what had happened?
Wilde: Well, see, they didn’t, we didn’t talk about it. The only thing – I mean we knew about it, but like I said, whatever happened to the relatives is how we communicated. But we certainly didn’t have discussions about – except how they felt, how the….we didn’t have conversations like that. Everybody kept it in their own mind and the relatives that came back and were in the states and that was wonderful. But you didn’t – I never went into discussions about it. I was never that kind of a person. I was just thankful that we had our chance to have our life back and that we were in the states. That’s really, that should be the end of the whole thing, because I’m grateful until this day that we got out.
Wagman: Is there anything that you’d like to share about your relatives, relatives that were able to come here, relatives that weren’t?
Wilde: No, but I was saying my grandfather was deported and died. Uncle with his wife. My cousin was in a concentration camp. Many other relatives. My mother’s cousins they perished. It’s just – and everybody has their own experiences.
That’s it.
Wagman: Did you do much travel in Europe other than that?
Wilde: We went on some small vacations.
Wagman: Do you still have any communication today with the family members that you had stayed with, with the foster family?
Wilde: Yes, we do.
Wagman: You do? How do you—
Wilde: We write to them. Usually for Hanukkah or.
Wagman: And how are they?
Wilde: They’re __________. The ______________ are no longer living. We just communicate with the children, the son. And his family, his wife is very nice. They live in a nice _______________. Unfortunately one of the boys died at a young age. The older boy died at a young age. So that was very sad. But we do still communicate with them. And we went to visit them, too.
Wagman: When did you visit them?
Wilde: ____________. We spent an evening together, had dinner with them.
Wagman: In England.
Wilde: Mmmhmm.
Wagman: Why did you decide to go there…
Wilde: Well basically we liked to, we would enjoy their company. It was very nice and we talked about old things and _________ at their house.
Wagman: What did you reminisce about?
Wilde: Well, he was a little older, a little younger than I was. We just talked about how we met and really what people talk about. It was nothing special. It was just, it was nice of them. They really had a nice dinner for us. It was very nice. It was a short time.
Wagman: I know that last time that we spoke you were talking a little bit about how you consider yourself. And your husband used the word refugee and you didn’t agree with the word refugee. I just wanted to ask you a little about that.
Wilde: Well, we talked about that we don’t consider ourselves Holocaust survivors because we weren’t in the concentration camps.
Wagman: So what do you consider yourself?
Wilde: I just consider

Tape 2 - Side 1 (Wagman)

Wagman: Go on, you were saying.
Wilde: I was saying, we had been through the times but we don’t feel that we should be thought of as Holocaust survivors, not ____________. We didn’t have any,
I don’t think we deserved that kind of….we were just there at that time. Didn’t go to concentration camp. I wasn’t subjected to any….it was a hard time for my parents and a hard time __________ a family of course. I don’t think I have any lasting scars or anything like that (laughs).
Wagman: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Wilde: No. Just gratitude. That’s it.
Wagman: Gratitude to…?
Wilde: To this country and the fact that we had a chance to come here.
Wagman: Thank you so much, so very much.
Wilde: You’re welcome.

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