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Paul Levy

image of Paul Levy
Nationality: German
Location: England • Eschweiler • Germany • London • Missouri • New York • Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp • St. Louis • United States of America
Experience During Holocaust: Family Survived • Sent to Concentration Camp • Survived Air Raids • Was a Forced Laborer • Worked in Factory

Mapping Paul's Life

Click on the location markers to learn more about Paul. 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.

“There were plenty of atrocities in there [the camp]. We saw so many things that I'd like to forget.” - Paul Levy

Read Paul's Oral History Transcripts

Read the transcripts by clicking the red plus signs below.

Tape 1 - Side 1

Interviewer: … the Jewish community is stretched out.
Levy: stretched out, very much so.
Interviewer: was the synagogue a center?
Levy: Center it was, most probably right in the center.
Interviewer: Physically located in the center?
Levy: Yah, Yah.
Interviewer: But was it also a place where, which you used for Jews to get together on occasions other than the Sabbath day?
Levy: No, No. That was unusual in our community. I imagine in some of the other communities they used it as recreational facilities.
Interviewer: What was the building itself?
Levy: Was a huge beautiful building and uh it was to my estimation one of the nicest synagogues I have seen. It was the home synagogue, that’s all.
Interviewer: How old was the building? When was it erected?
Levy: I would imagine somewhere around 1900.
Interviewer: Oh?
Levy: Somewhere like that.
Interviewer: So what we are talking about is …
Levy: Maybe before, maybe before 1900.
Interviewer: Huh. That’s rather recent as synagogues in Europe go. Can you remember uh people, your family, talking about the construction?
Levy: No. Uh – that’s the reason it might have been older but, you see my parents came to my home town around 1910, 1912 and it was there already.
Interviewer: Oh.
Levy: They also had a separate school building which was far removed from the synagogue, in a separate building.
Interviewer: A school building in a different location?
Levy: Yah – where the Jewish kids got their education.
Interviewer: And in Germany in those days it was a government supported Jewish education?
Levy: Yes, Yes. We had a teacher who also worked as cantor and rabbi. He was just the head of the Jewish community.
Interviewer: The name of this city is?
Levy: Is Eschweiler.
Interviewer: Eschweiler.
Levy: It is in the Rhineland and it’s about 20 miles from Cologne. It’s right on the border of Holland, Belgium and Germany, within five to ten miles of each of the other countries.
Interviewer: What sort of country was it?
Levy: It was industrial and a lot of farming and it’s similar to the outskirts, or similar to the Ozarks – very, very pretty. Cold winds, nice comfortable summers and actually was a rather congenial town.
Interviewer: Well, 97% Catholic meant that there were only two kinds of people.
Levy: No, there were a few Protestants also.
Interviewer: Oh, were there?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: Alright, that makes three. What kind of Protestants? Lutheran?
Levy: Yah, they were all Lutheran.
Interviewer: All Lutheran?
Levy: Yah, the Lutheran church. One Protestant church which was Lutheran.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Was that a very old one or rather… ?
Levy: That was pretty old too. It was maybe half a block away from the Synagogue.
Interviewer: Was there any uh relationship between the Jews and the others, other than a business relationship?
Levy: Oh there were some friendships but very, very little.
Interviewer: You stayed apart.
Levy: Oh we stayed apart mostly – except when we went to school. I personally had a lot of gentile friends because I was the only Jew in my class most of the time. And so I had to have gentile friends and they were both Catholic and Protestant.
Interviewer: Your being the only Jew in the class reminds me of Alton, Illinois.
Levy: It is a similar town to Alton. It’s not a city, it’s a small town.
Interviewer: Yeah, 45,000 is not a big city.
Levy: No.
Interviewer: And you lived there for how long?
Levy: From 1914 to 1939, early ’39 – no August 39.
Interviewer: You arrived in 1914.
Levy: August 1st, the beginning of World War Two.
Interviewer: And how did you happen to go to Eschweiler?
Levy: Well, my parents bought out a store from someone who retired. And then prospered and…
Interviewer: What kind of a store?
Levy: A small department store.
Interviewer: Oh. And where did they come from?
Levy: They came from … my dad was born and raised in an even smaller town about eight miles from Eschweiler. And my mother was born and raised in a small town about twenty miles from Eschweiler.
Interviewer: How did your parents meet?
Levy: Oh – I don’t know. I think they were introduced or my dad – my mother bought from the firm my dad worked for and I think they were introduced …
Miss Levy: My father was a bookkeeper … (Miss Levy is Hilde Levy, Paul’s younger sister)
Levy: bookkeeper …
Miss Levy: … and accountant.
Levy: … and accountant for where my mother bought. That was not very often discussed (laughing).
Interviewer: So they came to Eschweiler as to a bigger city?
Levy: Yah, they came from Aachan…
Miss Levy: Our father grew up in Aachan…
Levy: … father from Aachan, which was down around 135,000.
Interviewer: Oh, that’s a big city.
Levy: Oh yah.
Interviewer: Oh yes. So from 1914 until you left.
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: How old were you in 1914?
Levy: I was born in 1914.
Interviewer: Born at that time. So there you were. And just the two children?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: Oh. Were you born in the first years of the marriage of your parents?
Levy: My parents were married in 1912, September 1, 1912 and I was born August 1, 1914.
Interviewer: I see. An auspicious day.
Levy: Yah. Very much so. Because Dad left with the German Army on August 2.
Interviewer: The day after?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: And what were some of his war experiences?
Levy: He was a prisoner of the Russians, was in a war with the Russians, and he escaped from Russian
prison. He was in Siberia and with two other fellows from the town of Eschweiler they escaped. They made it to Moscow. And from Moscow they made it to …
Miss Levy: Wait no they ….
Levy: No. From Moscow they took trains and all kinds of means to come. (discussing facts with sister – unintelligible) So that was – And I remember him coming home. I was only four years old. He was a little man with a beard and a mustache and I didn’t know who he was.
Interviewer: You still remember at age four, the return of your father.
Levy: That I remember because it happened during the night that he came home.
Interviewer: So it was 1918 that he came home.
Levy: Yah. And Hilde (his sister, Miss Levy) was born in 1919.
Interviewer: So your father and mother – was your mother involved in the store?
Levy: Yah. Very much so. My mother was the soul of the store.
Interviewer: Was she? Was your father very much a Jewish scholar?
Levy: No. No, he was one of the early Zionists in Western Germany.
Interviewer: Ah, yes.
Levy: He went to see Herzl when he was in Colonge the first time. He was a little bit involved there. My father didn’t talk to much. But we found out eventually that he was Zionistically inclined but yet he was a little bit on the shy side.
Miss Levy: My father was also one of the first ones who went to college. He had some college.
Levy: He didn’t go to college … he had high school. (disagreeing with his sister – unintelligible)
Interviewer: Herzl died in 1904.
Levy: Yah. He was a young man. My dad was born in 1835 so he was a young man when he went to see him.
Interviewer: In his 20’s … 1875. Did he go to any of the early Zionist Congress?
Levy: I don’t know. No – Congress I’m sure he didn’t go but there must have been some meeting or something where Herzl spoke and …
Interviewer: Did he speak about any of the other heroes of the early Zionist days? A man named David
Levy: No. My dad was very German so.
Interviewer: By “very German” you mean?
Levy: He … I think I’m a better American than he was a German but he was very German oriented.
Interviewer: Like?
Levy: The way he walked and the way he carried himself. As a matter of fact we were, our whole family was in the region of Aachen and I have a photostatic copy of a freibreif. You know what a freibrief is? It’s a letter of the court of Ulisch where they allowed the family of Levy to travel without any hindrances through Germany. I can show you that later on.
Interviewer: Oh, that’s fine. You know one of the things we are doing is setting up a memorabilia center in the new building of the Jewish Federation.
Levy: I’ll donate the photostatic copy of the feebrief!
Miss Levy: The original is in our hometown.
Levy: Was… was. But I’ll donate the photostatic copy of it.
Interviewer: Ah, that’ll be fine. What I’m concerned about now is your life after your childhood.
Levy: Well, I went through high school and became an apprentice in a department store.
Interviewer: What year was that?
Levy: 1931.
Interviewer: So, you were 19…
Levy: 17 years old
Interviewer: In 1931.
Levy: And then after that I got a job as what they call a “volontaire”. It’s more of a junior buyer or something like that.
Interviewer: That started you in your business life.
Levy: No. I liked the business from the way my parents had it. Like any – nice Jewish boy was supposed to take over the parent’s business. My parents, as a matter of fact, discouraged me from becoming a merchant. They wanted me to become a doctor. Which I didn’t want… I wasn’t too much of a scholar – I had the brains for it but I was too darn lazy to study that much so…
Interviewer: Do you remember in your high school days before you actually got out and went into business, do you remember uh anything about the atmosphere of your Eschweiler at that time.
Levy: Yes. It was very congenial up until about 1929 I would say. And then when Hitler started getting stronger, certain people excluded me from certain activities. Naturally, it was much worse by the time ’33 came along.
Interviewer: So, from age 15 you remember…something special about a change in atmosphere.
Levy: Yes, fifteen, yes. Oh definitely, certain fellows that were in school with me kept themselves away from me.
Interviewer: You are a tall man, did you engage in any athletics in those days?
Levy: No. I played some soccer but that was about it.
Interviewer: Uh huh – Did you have a …
Levy: That’s about all I participated in. I didn’t really participate in athletics, I wasn’t much of an athlete.
Interviewer: Do you remember the days when the youth corp of the Nazi’s started there?
Levy: Unfortunately, yes.
Interviewer: What years were they?
Levy: Well they started actually about 1927,’ 28, ‘29.
Interviewer: Before Hitler…
Levy: Yah, before Hitler came into power, but they were more or less kept away from the public. Until they were brave enough … when he was powerful enough they were brave enough to march with him and participate in all the organizational doings.
Interviewer: But they were organized?
Levy: Oh definitely, absolutely.
Interviewer: Do you think they were also organized in all the other little towns?
Levy: Absolutely.
Interviewer: Did you also have a growing sense of the Nazi party as becoming stronger and stronger.
Levy: Oh yah, sure. There was certain girls … I liked girls even when I was young … certain girls kept away from Jewish fellows and something very unusual happened to me. There was a girl, a very beautiful blonde girl. Her father was Jewish, her mother was Gentile. And she looked like true Aryans, and we were very friendly, and she walked me to the station every night. And it was in the Nazi paper, Westdeutscher Beobachter, that a Jew had the guts to walk every night with a Gentile girl. They didn’t know who she was. And they tried to create some difficulty for me. And also in 1931 I was one of the first ones, supposedly, to get into the concentration camp. They had marked on the wall “Heil Hitler”, and I was a smart alec so I put at “t” behind it “Heilt Hitler”, which meant “Save Hitler”. So they found out that I did it but a friend of mine who’s brother was the equivalent of a SS General, he saved me from going. And he came to our house ‘til the day we left.
Interviewer: So that you knew about concentration camps?
Levy: Oh yes. Absolutely.
Interviewer: So did everybody – it was no secret was it?
Levy: It was no secret, absolutely not. I mean they denied that they knew about it but there was enough going on in order for them to know what was happening.
Interviewer: Did you know about exact locations?
Levy: No, at that time I didn’t.
Interviewer: We’re talking about from 1914 when you were born, for the first 17 years there was a gradual growth of the Nazi party through your high school days…
Levy: From ’23 on you could see it – how they got stronger because I remember a lot of Jewish people … the majority of them belonged to the Social Democratic Party or were close to the Social Democratic Party. And they bought the Nazi paper every month and laughed about. “It cannot happen here.” But it did happen and it can happen anyplace else.
Interviewer: Of course. Did your parents talk about it as something very seriously or did they think it was a passing fancy?
Levy: They thought it was a passing fancy. Number one – my dad had the Iron Cross First Class , and he figured that they can’t touch him, or they won’t touch him. And they were pretty well established, so they didn’t feel – especially my dad didn’t feel – that they had to get until about 19 … I would say 1934, when my mother and I started actually stealing money from ourselves out of the cash register in order to get out of Germany to have a small foundation to emigrate eventually.
Interviewer: How did you do that?
Levy: Well, there were … number one we had some very faithful employees who did it for a long time until it got to where there were some Jews who did it professionally, for a fee. And not all of them was delivered to the party it was paid to be delivered to.
Interviewer: In your case, what was your plan of salvaging the money?
Levy: Well, it was to some friends of ours in Holland who turned most of it over – whatever they had left – they turned it over.
Interviewer: When later you arrived in Holland they turned it over.
Levy: Yah. From Germany I went to England first and I was in England for a year and ten months. I worked in London for a while. I was a fire fighter during the blitz, you know. And then everybody was supposed to join the Pioneer Corps and I said “No gun, no army”, so I didn’t join the Pioneer Corps but I became a lumber jack in Lenimgton Pack, Wilshire. I wasn’t too much of a lumber jack, I will say (laughing).
Interviewer: You’re not the outdoor type.
Levy: No, not – that’s hard work, don’t kid yourself. And I worked there for maybe two, three months for a pittance. No way to live, we slept on mattresses – on springs, not on mattresses. Had to do our own cooking and at the time I think we were paid 15 dollars – no, 15 shillings a week. So we had to make do with what we had.
Interviewer: We will get to your experiences in England, but I’m very curious about the time when from 1931 there was a rise in Nazi power, and in ’33, he came in. He took over. And then you said, “until 1934”, one year later. What was the actual day of y our exit?
Levy: My exit – I got out late. They deported me to the Dutch border. I got out of the concentration camp the middle of January …
Interviewer: How did you happen to get into the concentration camp?
Levy: I was Jewish. After the Crystal Night, after they burned….
Interviewer: November …
Levy: November ‘38
Interviewer: But that was ’38.
Levy: Yah – and I stayed in the concentration camp …
Interviewer: Which concentration camp?
Levy: Oranienburg-Sachsenhausen. Near Berlin.
Interviewer: Yes. How far away from home was that?
Levy: It was a far piece at the time – I would say about 400 miles.
Interviewer: It really was a new world for you, totally. What were the circumstances of your being taken? Were your parents still in good health and all?
Levy: Oh yah – my parents were in good health. In the Crystal Night we woke up, the time they started breaking all the windows.
Interviewer: In the synagogue.
Levy: In the synagogue and all private homes and stores.
Interviewer: Private homes too.
Levy: And in the morning we were told by our employees that they were looking for all the male Jews. So we were hiding in the cellar.
Interviewer: Was that a startling change? Or had there been some …
Levy: There had been some inkling. Oh Yah – there had been some inkling. One of my better friends stood in front of our store many a day to boycott … to ask people to boycott Jewish stores.
Interviewer: One of your friends stood in front?
Levy: Yah. So called friend.
Interviewer: Yes. He knew you and how long did that go on before Crystal Night?
Levy: Oh, that was in ’33.
Interviewer: Then this was five years before Crystal Night?
Levy: Oh yah – it actually got worse and worse and worse.
Interviewer: The Nuremberg laws came in in 1935.
Levy: ’35, where you couldn’t have any more Gentile household help.
Interviewer: Right.
Levy: Where you couldn’t associate with Gentiles and no movies, no concerts, no theatre, no nothing. It got gradually worse.
Interviewer: Was there anything abrupt in change or was it gradual?
Levy: I think it was more gradual except in uh, I think it was the 30th of January of ’33, when he took power and …
Interviewer: Yes.
Levy: That’s when it really started getting bad.
Interviewer: When did your parents know it was all over?
Levy: I guess in 1938. They didn’t want to see it. I had applied for emigration to the United States.
Interviewer: When?
Levy: ’36 or ’37. And at the same time without my dad’s knowing I also put in for emigration for my parents and Hilde. But their number you know, was on quota numbers. Their number was a little higher than mine.
Interviewer: You did it without their knowledge?
Levy: Without my dad’s knowledge, yah.
Interviewer: He did not uh …
Levy: He didn’t feel like it – he felt comfortable, not comfortable but he felt he was older already. In 1937 he was 62 years old already. And he felt the few years he has to live he had – he was rather substantial, and he felt he didn’t want to start over in anymore in a foreign country.
Interviewer: Now, you developed a secret plan by which you could get some of your money out.
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: Into Holland.
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: Your parents were never party to such …
Levy: My mother was, dad was not.
Interviewer: Your mother knew it?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: Did she keep it from your father?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: So that until the last, he didn’t know?
Levy: No, he had an inkling that something was going on because the cash register didn’t shake out too well (laughing) many a time. And then he finally asked me one day, and I said “yes”. He wasn’t too happy about it but later on he was glad we did.
Interviewer: How did you know he was glad you did it?
Levy: He got out.
Interviewer: He got out? Who got out with you?
Levy: I got out by myself. Hilde and my parents got out in 1941.
Interviewer: Oh – that was very late.
Levy: What we had done – we had a cousin in Argentina. And through him we made contact and I got them an emigration – a possibility for emigration as farmers to Argentina through bribery. And the one that was being bribed was the Cousul General in Dusseldorf who took money hand over fist from not only us but everybody we knew. At the time we tried to get papers for maybe eight or nine more relatives of ours. We wanted to get them all out.
Interviewer: Did you need affidavits from your Argentinian …?
Levy: Oh for with money you can buy them! In Argentina anything is available for money.
Interviewer: But your cousin was a blood relative?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: And he signed …
Levy: He signed and got signatures from others they would be, that they were farmers.
Interviewer: Did your parents have a concentration camp experience too?
Levy: My parents and Hilde went into a pre-concentration camp that I would consider a concentration camp.
Interviewer: Where?
Levy: Outside of Eschweiler.
Interviewer: Oh, right there?
Levy: The day they left, the rest of them were sent to Theresienstadt, so we’re very very fortunate that … If it happened a day later they wouldn’t have made it out.
Interviewer: What were the circumstances of their being taken?
Levy: I don’t know. Hilde could tell you more about that.
Interviewer: How about yourself? You were long since gone?
Levy: I was gone. I was gone. I left three days before the war broke out, officially broke out.
Interviewer: 1939.
Levy: 1939. And I went there for two days to Holland to visit a girlfriend of mine, and then the Dutch government made me leave for England.
Interviewer: Which by then you had recovered some money…
Levy: I had recovered some money and I took that and I deposited it in England. But the funny thing is that the first bomb of the war fell in Eschweiler. And they came to my parents house and accused them that I was the instigator of dropping the bomb, which I wasn’t. Later on, I gave information and the town was bombed – there were certain industries that were rather important to the war effort.
Interviewer: Such as what? Do you remember?
Levy: They had electrical works, they had mining there. Surface mining, a lot of surface mining, and they had some other …
Interviewer: For coal?
Levy: Yah. And they had some iron works that were rather important.
Interviewer: What was the name of the company that controlled the iron works?
Levy: The iron works was F.A. Neumann, B.M.B.R., and the other one was Electrowerk Amerika-Weisweiller, and I don’t know the name of the mining operation anymore.
Interviewer: Was, were all four of you – your sister and your parents – constantly planning as to what to do?
Levy: Oh yah. Oh yah.
Interviewer: So that it was decided that you would be the first to leave…
Levy: No, I had the first number and I was told when I came out of the concentration camp that I’d better leave.
Interviewer: You were taken at night to that concentration camp?
Levy: No. We were not taken right away to the concentration camp. You were taken to the next bigger city where it was like a gathering point and from there after two or three days you were put on the train and sent to the concentration camp.
Interviewer: Did you receive special clothing there at the concentration camp?
Levy: Oh yah – absolutely.
Interviewer: What kind?
Levy: I had an old worn out army jacket and a pair of navy and grey pants. Typical, with the star on there and a number.
Interviewer: Did you have to have to sew the star on yourself?
Levy: I think we did. It might have … somebody might have been killed before and it might have been on there. I don’t, that I don’t recall.
Interviewer: Was it a large camp?
Levy: Well, my number was 13,069, so there were quite a few of them in there.
Interviewer: What sort of barracks were there?
Levy: Well, they were like army barracks, like we had them in the American Army except when we had maybe 20 people in here in the army, we had about 400 in there.
Interviewer: So that you slept close to each other.
Levy: Close is not even the word for it. There were two tiers on straw and limited washing facilities, limited toilet facilities. And I don’t even know whether we took a shower anymore or not.
Interviewer: How long were you there?
Levy: From approximately the thirteenth of November ’38 to the middle or end of January ’39.
Interviewer: So three days after Crystal Night you were taken. And yet you said that everybody hid in the cellars.
Levy: Yah. Until they came into the individual houses and took you along. And we were very fortunate since my parents were so well liked and well respected, they were fairly – ah – nice to us – if you can call it nice.
Interviewer: They only took you though?
Levy: No, they took dad the first day too, but at the time anybody over 60 was to be released, and my dad was released.
Interviewer: To return home.
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: So you went alone to the camp arriving there how long after?
Levy: Must have been between 24 and 36 hours.
Interviewer: You went to a gathering place, and then were shipped on.
Levy: Yah. Yah.
Interviewer: What kind of train was it?
Levy: It was a regular train but it was slightly overcrowded.
Interviewer: Uh – huh.
Levy: I mean I was in a regular compartment. With very limited seating facilities so we had to make room. We sat one side and another sat, some of them were in the overhead luggage compartment. It was not a very pleasant trip.
Interviewer: Four hundred miles.
Levy: Approximately.
Interviewer: And then you were … do you remember the day of arrival?
Levy: I don’t know the date but I remember the day of arrival when the SS was there as a greeting committee. And they sorted us out.
Interviewer: How?
Levy: Well, if you got kicked from the right you were in ?? and if you got kicked from the left you better went some where else. And it so happened, there was one SS man there at the welcoming committee who knew me. It didn’t help me too much – it might have helped me I don’t know – but uh, I was fortunate I guess.
Interviewer: What did you do for all those days?
Levy: Oh, we worked.
Interviewer: Doing what?
Levy: We were supposed to be working in a brick manufacturing plant but the brick manufacturing plant was being utilized as a armament plant. And it was so cold that a lot of us got frostbite. And I was supposed to lose both my hands, and I still got the mark on the one hand. And very little medication. You could only get medication by bribery. And there again I was fortunate. I found out somebody – and I don’t know where – had sent 400 marks which was at the time a lot of money – into my account there. And it was handed over to me, 25 or 50 marks at a time. And I went and bought a lot of fat bacon and cigarettes because fat bacon and butter were the things that we felt were going to give us the most strength and recuperative power. And I distributed that among my friends.
Interviewer: Amazing that you’d had money.
Levy: I always had money on me, but somehow somewhere somebody sent, deposited or whatever you want to call it, 400 marks, which was a lot of money at that time, into my account. I drew from that. And we could buy that stuff in the canteen operated by the SS. The prices were a little bit high, but if you had that kind of money at the time, because the majority had five or ten marks on them – that was a lot of money.
Interviewer: Indeed it was. How lucky for you!
Levy: I would say so.
Interviewer: And you still don’t know how you got the money?
Levy: No. I suspect it was a former employee of ours who might have done that, who was our second mother – both Hilde’s and my second mother, and one who is still alive. And that is one of the reasons whenever we have gone to Europe we spend a day or two with her.
Interviewer: Where is she now?
Levy: In Eschweiler, she is still in Eschweiler.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Levy: And I must say, not that I’m in love with the Germans, but our part of Germany was far more lenient towards the Jews than in ?? or in East Germany. I would say if they – because the loss of Jews in our part of the country was not as high as it was in certain parts of Germany. And I just got two letters, or two announcements today, from a friend of mine, a Gentile friend of mine, who died about four weeks ago. And those people were big farmers and they supplied the Jews with food without anybody knowing it. They bought eggs or butter and delivered it through somebody else who delivered it through somebody else who was special to my parents – who then distributed again. And uh, I hate to say this but it is the truth – that not all Germans in our part of Germany were Nazis. Because otherwise the majority of them would not have come out. I mean I’m not in love with the Germans, don’t misunderstand that, but there were an awful lot of decent Catholics and Protestants that helped the Jews, whether financially or with food or hiding them.
Interviewer: Would you say that about the clergy there? The Priests, the Lutheran ministers?
Levy: We didn’t have any contact with the priests at all. There was a Catholic professor in our high school who was more than nice. And there was a Protestant teacher who also taught religion who was more than nice.
Interviewer: So that on the whole it was a happy place for Jews to live.
Levy: In general, up until Mr. Hitler got too rambunctious.
Interviewer: Yes.
Levy: And there again, the main Nazis at that time and all the time I was there were the unemployed – the ones that didn’t want to work and the scum.
Interviewer: But everybody recognized them for what they were.
Levy: Sure. And yet after they had so many of them and they all carried guns, or machine guns or whatever they had, there was no way a lot of those people doing anything. As a matter of fact, I can tell you another story from the big Nazi. He was the Austruppenleiter. He was in charge of the city Nazi party. When I was in the concentration camp he sent a report to my parents every night how I was doing.
Interviewer: What a wonderful thing … and such an extraordinary thing!
Levy: The last time I was in Germany this friend that just died is his cousin, was his cousin. And I told him to tell him for me I still thank him for it. Because he didn’t have and he endangered his own life. So maybe we have a thing going for us.
Interviewer: Very lucky, very lucky.
Levy: I would say so.
Interviewer: How long were you in Oranienburg?
Levy: Well, from – I would say from about the thirteenth of November to the middle or end of January.
Interviewer: How did you get out?
Levy: Money talks.
Interviewer: That 400 marks that you had?
Levy: No, not that. My parents. Through connections and through money, my parents.
Interviewer: Tell me about these connections.
Levy: Well, not financial, but there were a lot of friends my parents had that had some influence. And then at that time you didn’t necessarily need connections – as many connections as people thought they needed – if you had an exit visa. Or a visa, or papers to come to England or to the States. They released you at that time.
Interviewer: You were permitted to leave until about 1941. So that this is now 1938 that you are talking about and with an exit visa – which you already had acquired …
Levy: No, I got mine …
Interviewer: After you got out?
Levy: After I got out of the concentration camp. I had applied for the papers for the States.
Interviewer: First let’s talk about how you got out. You simply walked out because …
Levy: They called you in the morning, so many per day. And you were reissued your own clothes which were cleaned. You were issued the money that was left in balance there and you were …
Interviewer: Do you remember how much it was at that time?
Levy: I don’t know what I had left, maybe 150 or something like that.
Interviewer: Still a substantial sum.
Levy: As a matter of fact – yah – I took another friend from my hometown. I paid for his train ticket and for the food to take him home with me. And I gave another one, the third one – I gave him some money to travel any way he could.
Interviewer: Three of you left at once.
Levy: Yah. And we were told never to tell anybody where we were or what it was like in there. And the day I left Germany to cross the border from Holland, the border police had already departed and the SS had taken over. And I come to the, Hilde went with me to the border, and I walked across sand there and there was a big tall – he looked like he was twelve feet tall – SS man and he says “I know you.” I said “Well you might have, this friend of mine Carl Roisener”, I said, “I was in his house many a time and his brother …” (I didn’t say he was a no good so and so) “… he was SS General and you might have seen me in the house.” Even this guy at the border crossing was very nice to me. He went and brought me a glass of water, and he found a knife, about a six inch knife which I still have. And he said “What do you want to do with that?”, I said “ Well, you couldn’t kill me. If I can’t make a living I can do it myself.” And he says “You won’t have to worry about it.”
Interviewer: You walked across the border.
Levy: I walked across the border. Then I had trouble getting into Holland because it was already so close to war and I mentioned the name of a Jewish friend of mine in Holland. Right in that town, in the border town of ??, and he called him and he came and picked me up and took me to Holland. And I stayed there a couple hours and I went to the train or bus, I don’t even recall anymore.
Interviewer: What day was this that you left?
Levy: It must have been somewhere near the 24, 25 or 26 of August.
Interviewer: August. Just about a week before the war started.
Levy: Yah, Yah. And I went to my girlfriend’s house and I had to …
Interviewer: Where?
Levy: In Arnheim, Holland.
Interviewer: Arnhum … Arnheim.
Levy: Yes. And I had to report there to the authorities and they came and they told me the next day I had to leave. They put me on a troop train to Flushing.
Interviewer: Where’s that?
Levy: In Holland, at the ?? of Holland. And we took a boat from there to England.
Interviewer: Did you have permission to enter?
Levy: I had, I had (laughing) money.
Interviewer: You mean you bribed…
Levy: No, we had a thousand dollar deposit – uh, a thousand pound deposit.
Interviewer: In England?
Levy: Yah, which I had sent already.
Interviewer: With whom did you send it? Did you put it in a bank or….
Levy: I think we put it in a bank, or somebody from Holland – I don’t recall anymore but I know that I had a thousand pound deposit which was a lot of money in those days.
Interviewer: Oh yes. Was that part of the little by little by little plan?
Levy: Yah. Yah.
Interviewer: So some of your money went to Holland and some went to London.
Levy: London, and I finally took all of it to London and I sent it to my parents later on.
Interviewer: Where were they? In Argentina?
Levy: No – they got out the day I landed in Lyons.
Interviewer: When was that?
Levy: August 11, 1941
Interviewer: Oh. So you were in England for less than two years?
Levy: Yah. The minute I got into New York and I had seventeen dollars on me, the first … a girlfriend of mine picked me up and took me to 90th street where she had rented a room for me, and I went right away to Western Union, and I sent my parents a telegram. “Arrived New York. What can I do for you?” They were handed that telegram the minute they were getting into the Taxi to Argentina.
Interviewer: From?
Levy: From Eschweiler.
Interviewer: They were in Eschweiler?
Levy: They were in Eschweiler until ’41. And they were handed the telegram, brought by carrier or something like that. And they were already in a cab to go to the train station, and the guy hands them the telegram that says “Arrived New York. What can I do for you?”
Interviewer: They were on their way to Argentina?
Levy: Yah. And they went from Eschweiler to Berlin and then onto one of those cattle trains from Berlin to France into Spain and Hilde had some nasty experiences there. And from Spain, on one of those hunger ships to Argentina. And I hadn’t heard from them, I don’t know for how long.
Interviewer: But they had your 90Th street address?
Levy: No, they had an address of a cousin of mine who gave the affidavits for us to come to New York, not even a cousin, she’s maybe a fourth cousin.
Interviewer: Yes.
Levy: (To his sister) Hilde – get me some cigarette’s please, will you? And …

Tape 1 - Side 2

Interviewer: How long was it before you knew where your parents were and they knew where you were?
Levy: Well, the thing was the uh … I imagine when they got to Argentina they wrote to me or wrote to my cousin who then forwarded the letter to me. But I have some, an envelope that is to me very valuable that my dad wrote from Germany to England already, he knew that I was in England. It was censored by the German censorship and censored by the English censorship. So to me it is a valuable thing.
Interviewer: Oh yes. Very special. How did you get it if it was censored.
Levy: I don’t know how I got it. I think I finally got it through England. They had to send it through Spain.
Interviewer: Oh my.
Levy: There were … the Jews found out how to do it … they found a way. I think it was sent through Spain but it had both German and English stamps on it.
Interviewer: What an envelope! What a story behind that envelope!
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: What did you first do when you arrived in New York City?
Levy: In New York City, well let’s see. Like all refugees I had a stack of recommendations for jobs and I started working. I had to save that nickel. I arrived with seventeen dollars. My rich girlfriend took a cab from Canal Street to 90th street and I got my first cussing in English which I didn’t understand, because I think I gave the guy a dime tip. I didn’t know what was going on then. Then I paid $8.75 for the first room for the first week’s rent, and I sent a telegram so I might have had five or six dollars left. And I started pounding the streets and I finally got a job in Children’s Fashion Center on 23rd street in the garment district.
Interviewer: What year was this?
Levy: 1941
Interviewer: ‘41
Levy: And I, the first thing I did I applied for my first papers, and I worked there for a while. And I was hired at 15 dollars, and I got paid 14 dollars – business wasn’t so good (laughing). And I had seven jobs in eight months. And I was in business for myself once in that time too. And um, well a cousin of mine – I had a cousin in St. Louis – and I had already graduated to a 20 dollar week income which was a lot of money at that time. And out of that money I had to send money to my parents. Out of the 14 dollars, I sent two or three dollars.
Interviewer: They did, uh – they had no income in Argentina?
Levy: They had no income except the little bit of money I had transferred them. And they were very careful because they didn’t know what they could do, and what I was able to do and what Hilde was able to do. But I stayed there for a few weeks. I had various jobs. I was — I made mirrors in a mirror factory. I was in charge of a warehouse. I was in charge by myself, with myself, of another importing house. I had about seven or eight jobs in that one year. I didn’t know what I was anymore. And I finally came to St. Louis.
Interviewer: How did you come here?
Levy: My cousin said “Paul, if you can only make twenty dollars in New York and it is cheaper to live on twenty dollars in St. Louis than in New York.” I took the bus. I was told by the Family Services or whatever that was that they would pay for the bus ticket – which I refused. They refused to let me pay for it because I only had twenty-five dollars saved up for myself and the bus ticket was twenty-one dollars. Well, they insisted they pay and I came by bus from New York to St. Louis. My cousin picked me up. And after three days I got a job with the ?? clothing store on Eighth and Franklin.
Interviewer: What was the year? Do you remember?
Levy: It was 1942, early ’42.
Interviewer: So you were in New York City just a few months.
Levy: About seven, eight months. And then I lived with a German family in a boarding house here, and the son was a production manager of the Portnoy Garment Company, and he wanted me to work for them. So finally , they talked me into it – switching. And I switched to them, but in the meantime I had paid up my debt to the family service. I didn’t have a checking account, which was funny, and every payday I took the streetcar. The family service was on 5500 Franklin, or Easton, and I went out and brought them two dollars and took the streetcar back. And there was a lady by the name of Mrs. Apple at the time, and she said, “You are one of the very few that ever paid it back.” And I paid my twenty-one or twenty-two dollars back.
Interviewer: It’s fascinating. When you think back in your childhood days, way back in Eschweiler, did you have any relatives?
Levy: In Eschweiler? No.
Interviewer: It was just your own family?
Levy: Yah. But my mother’s brothers and sisters were living in Langerwehe where she was born.
Interviewer: And that’s about eight miles away?
Levy: No, that was about twenty miles. My dad came from Haram Von Aachen. Haram was about a mile and a half from Aachen. And he had some cousins there and a sister, and he had a brother in Berlin. And two sisters in Emerisch – that’s near the Dutch border on the northern part.
Interviewer: Have you ever been able to track what became of them?
Levy: They are all gone. They’re all gone. Except for a sister-in-law of my parents who came through my parents to Argentina. She was the mother of this cousin of mine in Argentina. And uh, she got out but her sons never got out. And another cousin of mine is a Rabbi in Buenos Aries, and his father lives in Carli, uh Columbia, South America. And I have two cousins in Israel. I have a cousin, with whom I’m not on speaking terms, in New York and his sister in Berlin. I’m not on speaking terms with her either because of so many matters. And that’s about all the relatives we have.
Interviewer: Were any of the others in those small towns around Eschweiler able to leave. Do you know what their story is?
Levy: Well, my mother’s sister and her husband and two daughters went to Israel.
Interviewer: From Eschweiler?
Levy: No, they were in Monchen Gladbach. It’s all within a twenty-five mile radius.
Interviewer: How did they know to go to Israel?
Levy: They had money – they had lot’s of money.
Interviewer: Oh. And this year was when?
Levy: Oh, they left fairly early in ’35, ’36 I imagine.
Interviewer: They were able to transfer all their money –
Levy: Legitimately! And later on they had to call some of it back. They issued an edict that they had to call the money back then. He was fool enough to bring most of it back. And they were living in Israel. We visited them in 1963 in Israel.
Interviewer: Um hum. What sort of a life did your parents have in Argentina?
Levy: Pitiful!
Interviewer: Really?
Levy: They lived in a one room – Hilde and my parents lived in one room in a boarding house. For a long time Hilde slept on the floor, a mattress on the floor, because there was no money. The small money that Hilde made did not support all of them, and fortunately enough I got into the American Army and sent them my allowance. Which was fifty dollars, which was a lot of money at that time.
Interviewer: Of course. They depended on help from you.
Levy: Absolutely. Hilde contributed and then they had my allowance.
Interviewer: Did your father do any work of any kind?
Levy: In Argentina? Yes, he sold sausages from door to door. And my mother darned socks for other refugees for which she got a very small payment.
Interviewer: Yes, but that was not enough for income. Was there a large colony of German refugees in Argentina?
Levy: From what I understand, yes.
Interviewer: What eventually happened to your parents?
Levy: Oh, my parents got over here. I got them over here in 1947. Thanksgiving day, 1947 Hilde and my parents came to St. Louis. And I had bought a house and we lived as nice, as well as we could until they died.
Interviewer: When did they die?
Levy: In ’62, 1962. They died two weeks of each other.
Interviewer: Did they?
Levy: And they were in and out of the hospital from January ’62 until May ’62. But when they came, something … I want this to be known. My parents and Hilde got into New Orleans.
Interviewer: They arrived in the country via New Orleans?
Levy: Yah, via New Orleans, and were supposed to be picked by HIAS. They were so generous they left the old people and my sister and didn’t bother about them. Until the night when they had to leave and somebody came and asked Hilde whether she needed money. And we had a funny habit, we like to be a little bit more affluent than normal. And Hilde said that yes she would like … to his sister, How much money?
Miss Levy: Thirty dollars
Levy: Thirty dollars, which we would be repay. And this was on a Wednesday. I picked them up at Union Station on Thursday afternoon. Friday morning in the first mail I had a bill for the thirty dollars they loaned her. And I had a grand total of forty-five or fifty dollars in the checking account at that time. And the minute I got that bill I sent them a check for the thirty dollars, and I still feel bad about it. (Raises voice) Because that is not the way it was supposed to be and I’m sure somebody goofed there, but that is the way they were.
Interviewer: That really hurt.
Levy: It did hurt, because there wasn’t a heck of a lot of money left for us to live on until my next pay day.
Interviewer: Was there a reception? Did anybody meet your parents here?
Levy: My cousin and I.
Interviewer: Your cousin.
Levy: Yah. And then later on some friends came, and my boss’s friend at the time were very nice. I think they were here for two or three days and we invited them over for a cup of coffee. My mother baked a cake and one of them came. Jack Hamilton came and Dave Portnoy came. And the nice part about it, the first day when we opened the door, they had ordered a fruit basket. A big huge basket with vegetables and fruit and it was something that nobody could believe they had done. They were very nice.
Interviewer: How lovely. You really learn to know who are your friends, don’t you?
Levy: Look here. Nobody has a lot of friends. If you can count friends on one hand then you have a lot of friends. You have a lot of acquaintances, but very few friends.
Interviewer: They were true friends for you, weren’t they?
Levy: Oh yes. As a matter of fact Dave Portnoy used to give me dresses out of the garment factory and I sent them to Hilde. Hilde was stopped on the street in Buenos Aries and they asked where she got those beautiful dresses.
Interviewer: So, you’ve got some wonderful memories.
Levy: Good and bad. But the fortunate part is you remember only the good things and you kind of forget temporarily the bad things.
Interviewer: You arrived in New York City when you were in your twenties.
Levy: Yah, my late twenties.
Interviewer: Your late twenties.
Levy: In 1941 I was twenty-seven years old.
Interviewer: Did you have any close friends in New York City?
Levy: I had a former girlfriend of mine, and we knew there some people there. And eventually from one you hear about another one and you get together with them occasionally. There were not that many because New York was a big city and everybody shied away from spending anything for the subway.
Interviewer: You walked.
Levy: Oh yah. (Laughing) We walked a lot!
Interviewer: Were those were the days when Washington Heights was populated with German Jews?
Levy: That just started about ’41. A lot of them were living on 90th street between Western Avenue and Riverside Drive, which was a good neighborhood in those days.
Interviewer: Excellent.
Levy: I wouldn’t dare to go to that neighborhood today anymore! (laughing)
Interviewer: (Laughing) Times have changed. Well, thank you very much. This is a really fine story. It’s unusual in that you have passed over the dangers. You haven’t talked about very much of the feeling of fear that you had.
Levy: Oh, you had fear. You are bound to have fear. And the unfortunate part at the time was that I could be picked out very easily because I was much taller than the average, and I couldn’t hide as easily as the short guy (laughing). And maybe I was fortunate, maybe somebody protected me more than somebody else. I mean, I was fortunate in keeping my hands. And the way to keep your hands in a concentration camp might not be appropriate for the tape, but you could see hundreds of men standing in front of the urinal and urinating over their hands. The acid in your urine cured my … On this one, yah I don’t even know where it is anymore. On this one you can still see it.
Interviewer: Yes. Yes.
Levy: But, uh. And I got through some friends and maybe through some Nazis who gave a couple of bandages, one for me and one for the rest of them, and I put the bandages on and, like I said, I was very fortunate in having that money which I distributed, and bought the food and distributed it. I mean, if I hadn’t had it – I had a cousin there who is a Rabbi in Buenos Aries today. And, naturally, I gave him too, but he wasn’t too gracious about it.
Interviewer: Have you ever been back to Buenos Aries?
Levy: No. I have never been in Buenos Aries – but I don’t think Hilde has any desire…
Miss Levy: Oh I would like to, but nobody is …
Levy: There’s nobody there. Except our Rabbi cousin and I don’t know if I want to see him anymore.
Interviewer: Uh huh. You spoke of the fear that you had in Oranienburg.
Levy: Sure, look here, there was a guy maybe five foot, two tall and he had a Nazi uniform on, and he … I mean there was a lot of things that happened that scared the dickens out of you. For instance, one night some drunken SS men came into the hut and they turn the cupboard over where all our eating utensils were and the snow was about four feet high. They opened the windows and we had to jump through them into the snow, run around the hut, through the window in again and through the door out again. They kept that going. One night they brought in a barrel of salted herring as our meal, and I was smart enough not to eat it. The poor devils who ate it, they suffered quite extensively. And our best meal was on Thursday nights. I like to eat, I always did like to eat. We had soup made out of real meat and everybody was looking forward to that Thursday night meal (laughing).
Interviewer: Did you meet any Orthodox Jews while you were there?
Levy: There were some. They were davening (praying) in the morning and in the evening, but I think there were some Rabbis there that told them they should eat everything they could in order to feed their strength. I don’t think that in Germany there was that many fanatical Orthodox Jews as maybe in Poland or Russia or even here. I think if they had some Catholics, they would have gotten absolution for eating the chaser (pork) and from eating from whatever they got. I think the majority of them ate it all. They got some bread for us in exchange for something they couldn’t eat or wouldn’t eat. I remember now that some trading took place. I would say that when they had something that they figured wasn’t kosher, we gave them a piece of bread – that’s all we had.
Interviewer: Did you see any Jewish observances of any kind?
Levy: During that time there were no holidays, there were no Yom Tovs.
Interviewer: What about Shabbas (the Sabbath)
Levy: Yah. Shabbas, they were davening (praying) there.
Interviewer: Shabbas meant they davened (prayed). Did you see any tallitsim? (Tallit – fringed prayer shawls)
Levy: No.
Interviewer: Did you see any tfillin? (Tefilin – leather boxes bound to the hands with pieces of Torah inside)
Levy: No, no.
Interviewer: Did you see any prayer books? Any Siddurim? (prayer books)
Levy: No, no.
Interviewer: So the davening (praying) was by memory.
Levy: Memory, yah.
Interviewer: Was there a group, a minyan? (A group of ten or more Jewish men, required for congregational prayer)
Levy: Oh there were plenty of minyans. You didn’t have to look for minyan (laughing) – there were four hundred men in there and they were all Jews!
Interviewer: Was there any activity other than Shabbas davening? Other Jewish activity?
Levy: No, it was too early yet. I imagine that took place later on when the situation was far more severe than the time when I was there.
Interviewer: What did you do to spend your time in Oraneinburg?
Levy: Well, we went to this what they called the “Klinkerwerk” and we worked there and maybe I had a little bit more guts than others. It was sand, and you had to sit down on some sandbags, and they put two one-hundred pound sandbags on our back, and we had to double-time to a certain place to deliver it. (Laughing) I had a pretty long thumb and I poked a hole n one of the sacks, so as I had to go along, it got a little bit lighter. If they had caught me, they would have shot me. I mean, there were plenty of atrocities in there. We saw so many things that I like to forget (voice gets soft).
Interviewer: You were there for enough time to see a variety of atrocities?
Levy: Oh heck yes. They had a roll call every morning and every night. One day I saw a man being dragged out of the hut, who had tried to commit suicide. He had cut his throat. And they dragged him out, and we saw the blood spurting out of his throat. We heard the people holler and cry and beg and do whatever possible. They were hung up with their hands bound behind their backs and then pulled up and couldn’t touch the floor. I saw people beaten. I had a guy stand in front of me and I don’t know what happened. He was about five foot two tall and he hit a couple of other guys and he comes to me and he looks at me, like he was sure to come back. He never touched me. Another thing I was fortunate. There was one SS man looking for him. He had twin sisters who I dated pretty regularly (laughing) and he was looking for me, and he never found me. But I found him in Normandy.
Interviewer: In Normandy?
Levy: I found him in Normandy.
Interviewer: After you were a member of the United States Army, the American Army. You found him! What a story that must be Paul!
Levy: I found another guy, the guy that hit my dad on the Crystal Night, and I had sworn to myself that I would catch him. (Makes a hissing sound) Needle for him! And when I came first back … I was stationed in Lieges, Belgium, after the Battle of the Buldge, after I came out of the Battle of the Buldge. And I happened to run into a friend of mine from St. Louis. And he said, “Have you been back to Eschweiler?” I says, “No, I have no way of transportation.” He says, “I got transportation.” And I went to my Colonel and told him I would like to see my home town, and he gave me permission. And we drove off from Lieges towards Eschweiler.
Interviewer: In what?
Levy: In a jeep. And all of a sudden this friend of mine he says to me, “You’d better start practicing the password.” I said “Why?” He said, “He said, “The password is ‘victory’, and don’t you dare to say ‘victory’!” Typical German … well, we got there, and out of a town of forty-five thousand there might have been two-hundred people left. And I report right away to military headquarters there, and they gave me a pass that I could walk through there and look up people. And there was a Gentile doctor who studied Hebrew. He was so pro Jewish that it wasn’t even funny, and he suffered a lot. And I went to see him. And I asked for the lady that – like I said before – was like a mother to us. And he says “She is not back yet.” So I went to her house with this friend of mine, and took a pencil and wrote on the wall. Her name was Mathilde, and as kids we could never pronounce Mathilde. We called her “Aullie”, and I wrote with bog letters on the wall, “Aullie, Paul was here” and that date. And the next time I came to Eschweiler, I went to Dr. Wilhems and he was sick in bed. And I said “Anybody home yet?” And he looks at me and he says, “Yes, Aullie is back.” She was known all over Eschweiler as “Aullie”. I said, “Goodbye.” He had sixteen kids and he had about four boys about my size, posted in front of the door. He says, “This I want to see … when you see her again.” He sent one boy to see – which was about a mile away from there. And here is that poor soul, Aullie, running down the street hollering, crying, “Paul!” When she came, we fell in each others arms and we both cried.
Interviewer: Sure.
Levy: And the other one, the one that’s still alive, Tina, she is still in Eschweiler and she was just as wonderful. And she is closer to me than any of my relatives.
Interviewer: And you found some of these men too.
Levy: Oh yah. I went into a butcher shop where they were also nice to the Jews and there was a Russian Captain tried to rape her. And even though I was not supposed to have a gun on me, I had a gun on me. And I pulled my gun and made him stop. And he says, “Me Russian Captain!” And I said “To hell with you! Me American Sergeant, out!” So he went out. And I met a few more people there who claimed they were not Nazis. I gave them a good recommendation to the military government. And the guy that hit my dad, I went to the police department in Eschweiler and said, “If this guy ever comes back, I want him arrested.” And I kept on going back and forth periodically. And one day I go to the Chief of Police and he says, “Paul, he is back. We got him in jail.” I took my little twenty-five out of my pocket, and I said “Turn him loose.” I meant to shoot him. But, in less than thirty seconds there must have been twenty-five people around him. They wanted to see what was going to happen. And I didn’t have guts enough to draw that gun and pull it. And I told him … the only thing I told him, I said, “I want you to know. I know what you did.” And he denied it. I said to him, “Don’t you ever come back to this town because I have friends here who will take care of you.” He has never come back to that town either. So … And a few times when I was back in Germany, I visited certain people, girl friends and friends of mine. One of my best friends over there married my former girlfriend. And a funny thing happened – we wanted to pass by the synagogue which was burned down and is now a parking lot. About two houses away from the synagogue was a friend of mine Dr. Adolphs.
Interviewer: Adolphs. Like Adolph.
Levy: Yes.
Interviewer: And he didn’t know I was there. And I go into his office and the nurse asks “Can I help you?” I says, “Yes, I want to see Dr. Adolphs.” She says, “What’s your name?” I says “Paul Levy” and the minute he hears that – you know, they wear the white kittels there (white coat worn by Religious Jews – basically a white coat) – he comes running out and embraces me and he says “Where’s Hilde?!” I said “Hilde didn’t want to come in.” So he ran out, he left his patients in his waiting room and let’s go. I tell him what I’m doing and we went upstairs and had a cup of coffee. Then he called a fellow who was my best friend, one of my best friends. Oh, another time – the first time we were, went back to Germany. We stayed in Aachen, we didn’t stay in Eschweiler, and I rented a car in Brome and I drove to Aachen. And on the way there we went to the Jewish Cemetery, Reichlenz, where my grandfather and uncle was. And I bought Hilde – no it was the second time – and I bought Hilde some flowers in Ansterdam. They looked like daffodils but they were completely different. We didn’t want to leave them in the hotel room and I said “Let’s take them.” And we went to the cemetery after a lot of trouble and saw our grandfather’s grave. And right in the middle … (to his sister) Remember that?…
… was a hole. Whether it was a bullet hole or what it was, and it had water in there. And we put the flowers in the water. So, that was quite an experience.
Miss Levy: Would it interest you that there’s a new synagogue in Weisbaden? (Showing picture)
Interviewer: Oh, that’s a beautiful tall window – in Weisbaden, near Frankfurt? And this is a courtyard outside the synagogue?
Levy: Yah.
Interviewer: A beautiful mogen david on the window, lovely flowers. And is this a Star of David figure here? I think it is.
Levy: Yah, I think it is.
Miss Levy: Yah, right inside the doorway.
Interviewer: Lovely, beautiful. Thank you.
Miss Levy: Would you like to keep it for any reason?
Interviewer: Someday we’ll get a lot of things together, and put them all together.
Levy: I promise you, if you have this building built, I’ll give you the photostatic copy of it. As a matter of fact, before you leave, I’m going to pick it up.
Interviewer: Very good.
Levy: I’ll show it to you.
Interviewer: Oh, fine, very good. How many times have you been back to Eschweiler?
Levy: Three or four times. As I said before, we only see the people that were friends. And not only our old friends, we feel an obligation, whatever it is, towards some of the people who were so darn good to the Jews because there are not enough of them that appreciate or show appreciation of what has been done. Because when Hilde was in a pre-concentration camp, they came at night and put food under the barbed wire for them to have something to eat. They brought food to my parents. So somebody has to show a certain amount of appreciation. I feel that we are the people to it.
Interviewer: You never married? Nor Hilde?
Levy: Well, I would have married, but I had obligations. And I always felt I can’t live the way I want to live with two families. I never made that – I always made a darn good living – but I never made enough money to get married and support two families. Maybe it was wrong. I think it was, but by now I find out it’s wrong, but that’s the way it turned out. That’s the way it is.
Interviewer: Sure. What else do you think we might talk about?
Levy: Whatever you want to. I’m ready for a cup of coffee or a glass of milk. How about you?
Interviewer: That’s a great idea.
Levy: Hilde, Rabbi Jacobs is ready for something.

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