Hunter College H.S. Holocaust Survivors

Trapped in France; Interned in Switzerland

    - Hannah Razdow(itz) Simon June '54

Unlike Edith Schleissner, the Kurcz sisters and Evelyn Konrad, Hannah was stranded in Europe throughout World War II. Recalling those harrowing years, she writes, "It would be a mistake to infer that somehow because we all survived, we were better or more resourceful than those who died. We were not. We were just luckier".

Click here for photos and documents relating to this story.


For our family, the Holocaust starts with the Anschluss, when Germany invaded and annexed Austria on March 14th, 1938. I was seventeen months old at the time. When we finally immigrated to the United States I was not quite ten years old. Because I was too young at the beginning and probably because I was traumatized later on, most of the events that I will describe are known to me, because my family talked about them over the years. Sometimes I am not sure if I remember a certain experience or if I have formed a memory as a result of the many tellings. In addition, even though my family was one of those who talked about our experiences, I never really had a specific understanding of the whole "story" from beginning to end. So in the late 1990’s I started to interview my mother, who was then 90 years old, and to review oral history tapes she made for Steven Spielberg's Visual History Foundation and for my husband. The following narrative is based on these sources.

Our Family's Background

Before the war, my mother's family (my grandfather, grandmother, mother, aunt and two uncles) was a "modern" Viennese family, which had prospered during the period between the two wars and the relative lack of overt anti-Semitism. My grandfather (Opa) was co-owner, with his brother and nephew, of an export-import banking business. He made enough money to provide his family with a comfortable life and to send all of his children to the university for advanced degrees. By 1938, three of his children were married, and he had two grandchildren.

Son David was a doctor. Hans had a Ph.D. in Chemistry, and he and his wife (Fritzi) owned and operated one of the biggest pharmacies in Vienna. Meta, youngest daughter was an accomplished pianist with a Master's Degree in Pharmacy. My mother had finished her Ph.D. in Physics. Life was good, and even though everyone knew about the events in Germany, and even though there was some anti-Semitism in Vienna, no one thought he would ever be unsafe. The Nazi party was actually outlawed, and my family knew some of their acquaintances were secret members. But again the belief was that this was a fringe group that would never come to power, sort of the way we used to view some of these extremists in the United States today.

My father (Adel), who had grown up poor because his father died when he and his brother were small children, still managed to go to the University. He had to work extra hard because some of the professors were open Nazi sympathizers. One even warned the Jewish students that they would have to watch it, because he was going to trick them into failing.

My father left Vienna, Austria in 1933 because, even though he had a Ph.D. in Physics and a Master's Degree in Engineering, he was unable to get a decent job. He felt this was due to anti-Semitism. When he was invited to do a consulting job in France, he was able to turn it into a full time position and relocated to Paris. My mother joined him there after they were married in 1934. I was born in Vienna in 1936. My mother wanted to be with her mother, when she gave birth. We returned to Paris when I was six weeks old and never went back.

In this narrative I describe how our family survived the Holocaust. There were many instances when resourcefulness and the right decision saved our lives. At other times it was pure luck. It would be a mistake to infer that somehow because we all survived we were better or more resourceful than those who died. We were not. We were just luckier. It also helped that the family had money and that my uncle David was able to get to the USA. After re-establishing himself as a physician, he was able to help us by sending us money.

1938 - Anschluss and Betrayal

My mother remembers the Anschluss very clearly. People in my family had believed that Mussolini would insist Austria remain neutral and serve as a buffer between Italy and Germany. They also thought that "the World" would not allow another war. My mother knew what the Germans had done to the Jews in Germany. So she was shocked and desperately worried. There were no phones, so she had to wait for letters to learn her family's fate.

Later she learned that one of my grandfather's senior employees was a secret Nazi. As soon as the Germans marched in, he came dressed in an SS uniform and "Aryanized" the business. My grandfather was thrown in jail. At first the family did not know where he was. He was held in a local prison in Vienna. David, the doctor, was able to get in to see him by saying that his father had a heart condition and he needed to bring him his medicine.

Meanwhile, the employee went to my grandmother and extorted a large sum of money from her. He said that since my grandfather had taken profits out of the company that really should have belonged to the Aryans, she had to give him the money. He warned that if she didn't pay up, she would never see her husband again. My grandmother paid, and he was released two weeks later on condition that he leave the country. At that point, the Germans still had a policy of getting rid of the Jews by having them emigrate. They even permitted them to take some of their assets with them. That changed after Kristallnacht in November of 1938.

My uncle Hans’ pharmacy was also taken over by the Nazis, and he fled to Italy to avoid arrest. A woman who had been my baby nurse showed up with an SS trooper and extorted a year's wages from my grandmother. Everyone witnessed terrible actions by the Viennese mobs and thugs. Old men with long beards were beaten by young hoods and forced to clean the sidewalks with lye, using their bare hands. My grandparents got David out first, because he became involved in trying to protect these old Jews from the mobs and they were afraid he would get killed. He was the one who eventually ended up in the US. They did not want to leave Vienna until they had made sure that all of their children and their families got out safely.

After a great deal of effort, bribes and assistance from my mother who now spoke French and knew her way around, everyone ended up in Paris. My grandparents, my paternal grandmother, my aunts and uncles and my cousin all were able to get out before Kristallnacht. Some of our other relatives were not so lucky, relatives I had never met and did not hear about until I was grown and started to ask around. My paternal grandmother's sister, husband and all but one of their sons were killed, as were other members of my father's extended family. My father never talked about this. He died in 1985, and I only have information from my mother.

In France the Parisian authorities ordered refugees to relocate, since they felt there were too many in Paris. So the family scattered. My younger aunt and her husband went to Brittany. There they split up, and she became involved with a man who was a Jewish immigrant, and also a French citizen. This turned out to be a very helpful connection for all of us. In the summer of 1939, we all decided to get together in an oceanfront resort in Brittany for a vacation. Meanwhile, it began to look as if France was going to be in the war. Because of worries about Paris being bombed, my father decided we should stay in Brittany. My grandparents and my aunts and uncles were also with us.

1939 - War and Arrest

When the war officially started on September 3rd, 1939 the French classified us as enemy aliens because Germany's annexation of Austria made us German nationals. The central government left it up to each Department (like a State in US) to decide how they would deal with this. Brittany was less strict and more humane, than areas around Paris. They did not arrest the women and children at all. They did arrest my grandfather, my father and my uncle, however. My mother thinks that I witnessed this arrest, quite an experience for a child not yet three years of age. No wonder I have always been very anxious around authority figures in uniforms. I am not sure where the men were taken for internment, but it was not as harsh as the camp where Parisians were sent. After a few weeks, the older men were released, and my grandfather was sent to live with us.

When the men were arrested, the rest of us were ordered to relocate to the Brittany town of Chateaubriand. The French wanted all the aliens in one town where they could keep an eye on them. We had to report to the mayor once a month. My aunt's French boyfriend helped us move and found a sub-let on a soldier's house. It had no heat and no running water. Food however was still plentiful. We became friendly with some of the other refugees and had a nice little community. Although France was officially at war, there was no fighting. This period was called drolle de guerre, the phony war.

My mother had become pregnant earlier that year and gave birth to my sister, Eva in November 1939. Since my parents were now the parents of a French citizen, we were looked upon more kindly. My mother went to Paris soon after my sister's birth. There she was able to find jobs in industries essential to the French war effort for my father and uncle, and they were released from the camps. They lived in our Paris apartment. We had to stay in Chateaubriand.

In the spring of 1940 the Germans began their actual offensive, invading France in June. By the end of the month it was all over. France was divided into two zones, one occupied and the other unoccupied and governed by the Vichy government. We heard that the men had been re-arrested. We lost contact with them and learned only later that the French had actually sent them to the South of France. They had volunteered to be in an army auxiliary, building airports with their bare hands. They made a fortunate choice. In other camps in the North the internees were later turned over to the Germans for deportation.

When the tanks rolled into Chateaubriand, we did not know what was going to happen to us. We feared that the Germans would take us. But though some French collaborated with the Germans many resisted in one way or another. The mayor who was in charge of us "aliens," all Jews, did not have a fondness for the Germans. After he was put in charge of the town by the German troops, he got on his bicycle and came to our homes to tell us not to worry, because he had burned all of our records before the Germans took over and no one knew we were there.

A German army officer in charge of quarters wanted to house soldiers in our house. My mother was able to talk him out of it, pointing out that there was a crying baby and two other very small children. So we stayed put, but it was a very anxious time. We were afraid the Germans would discover us. We did not know what had happened to my father and my uncle. We had lost contact with my younger aunt, her French boyfriend and my grandfather. He had been staying with them in a nearby town, because he needed some medical attention and was unable to come back because of the invasion. Things were quite chaotic and we were running low on money.

One morning in July I woke up screaming. When asked what was the matter, I sobbed, "My daddy is dead, my daddy is dead." I was not yet four years old. My mother's heart sank. She said to herself, "Maybe this child knows something." She decided we had to get out of Occupied France. She and her mother and sister-in-law thought they should try to go to Vichy France. They thought that probably my younger aunt and my grandfather might be in Marseilles. My aunt's boyfriend's business had a branch in that city, and they had previously talked about going there. He was a French citizen and had a car, so it seemed probable drove there when the Germans invaded.

Flight on an Empty Train

Because my mother was the only who spoke fluent French, she was the one who always had to arrange things. She went to the sympathetic mayor for help. He told her that the Germans, always so neat and well organized, did not like the fact that the French people who had run in every direction at the start of the invasion were not living in their hometowns. They ordered that everyone be repatriated. The mayor suggested that he could use this policy to order us all to go to Marseilles. Apparently, he liked helping people and conning the Germans. He issued a repatriation order and had it signed by the German Kommandant and stamped with a Swastika. We still have a copy of this document ordering my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, my 4-year-old cousin, my baby sister and me "back" to Marseilles.

Even though the border was closed, my mother was able to persuade the trainmaster to sell us tickets. We went to Bordeaux and then took a train to Marseilles. When the train got to the border between occupied and unoccupied France, the conductor walked through and told everyone to get off. The family decided not to do this. A German soldier got on the train. As he was boarding my cousin and I were told not to say a word--we all spoke German--because the soldier who was getting on was a very bad man.

Again my mother was the spokesperson. She acted as though she did not understand the soldier and only spoke French. She insisted that we had special permission from the Kommandant and showed him the document stamped with the Swastika. He was a young soldier and didn't know what to make of this. He passed this paper to a more senior soldier on the platform. My mother went through her routine again. The officer looked at the paper and looked at the three women and three small children who were refusing to move, shrugged his shoulders and let us go on. The train continued on, empty except for us. My mother remembers that although she tried to act cool her heart was pounding.

We reached Marseilles and found my French uncle there. The aunt who was with us actually ran into her husband in the street. My father did not get out of his camp until October. My French uncle helped us find a little apartment. The family tried to establish a "normal" life for the sake of the children. I am told that we also made all the hardships more bearable. Some of the adults lived in nearby boarding houses. Life was tough but, for a while, fairly safe. It was very cold. After a while my uncle couldn't drive, because there was no gasoline. Food was becoming scarcer, but since Marseilles was a big port there was a great deal of smuggling and a thriving black market. Ration cards included rations for cigarettes and wine, and we traded those in for food rations. My grandparents still had some of the money they had brought out of Austria. My uncle was only able to work as a volunteer, but because my father had been in France since 1934 and still had working papers, he was able to get a job teaching electronics. My cousin and I started public school.

Soon enough however, the French started collaborating with the Nazis and rounding up Jews. We heard of people being arrested and deported. One day someone we knew in the police station warned us that there would be a raid that night. Another friend permitted us to spend the night in his warehouse. Thus we were not caught.

When we returned, our upstairs neighbor told us to close our shutters and no longer answer our door. He said if anyone came, he would answer and say we no longer lived there. The neighbor, whose property abutted our back yard that was terraced above his, placed a crate near the wall so that we could escape should there be another raid. These were some of the many instances of kindnesses we experienced in the South of France. I think it helped that there were three little girls living in the household.

My father who was doing volunteer work for a Jewish agency began to hear rumors that the people who were being deported by the Germans were not just being sent to labor camps but were being killed. It is important to remember that the official adoption of Hitler's "final solution" took place in January of 1942. My father began to agitate for us to think of moving on but did not tell the family why.

In the summer of 1942, my maternal grandparents and my aunt and uncle and their daughter went over the border into Switzerland and were able to remain there. Although this was good for them, it must have been quite a wrench for my sister and me. We had been living together since they left Vienna in mid-1938. In fact, we all called my parents Mama and Papa and called this aunt and uncle Mammy and Pappy. My father's brother also made it over the border at that time.

On November 11th, 1942 the Germans and Italians totally occupied all of France, with Germany controlling the major part of the country. We moved to Grenoble, which was under Italian rule. My parents felt that might be safer. Germans were efficiently carrying out the deportation not only of foreign Jews but also Jews who were French citizens. My French uncle and aunt also left Marseilles for Grenoble. However, when our food stamps were issued with a letter "J" printed on them, they decided to try to get to Switzerland. This was a very dangerous undertaking, because the Germans now patrolled the borders. Also, you never knew if the underground (paid) guides were, in fact, double agents, ready to take your money and hand you over to the Germans.

We had also heard that the Swiss were sending back everyone except the very old or families with small children. So, my parents decided to split my sister and me up and send me over with my aunt and uncle. My mother tells me that this was a terrible decision, and she and my father agonized over it. They felt that such a decision would not only benefit my aunt and uncle but would increase the likelihood that at least one of their children would get through to freedom. They also felt that there was an advantage to being with my uncle who was a French citizen.

Illegal Border Crossing

On December 3rd, 1942, we took a train from Grenoble to the border. We started walking over the border at Cruseilles. It was cold, wet and muddy. I had little dress shoes, which kept coming off, so my uncle had to carry me most of the way. Everyone forgot that I had boots in the little backpack I was carrying. We started with one guide. He took us as far as a vineyard and then told us to wait there for another guide. We had to hide, and we waited a long time.

At one point floodlights shining on us picked us out. Apparently this was the French police. We started to run, and they did not pursue us. My aunt thinks they did not want to stop us, civilians with a small child. When we were dodging the lights my aunt told me we were playing hide and seek. I told her, "Don't be ridiculous, I know we are hiding from the Nazis." I was six years old.

Finally two Swiss civilian guides came. They guided us to the Swiss border that was marked by barbed wire. They cut the wire, and just as we were about to cross I said I had to go to the bathroom. My aunt said that she was upset and told me to go in my pants, but the guide told her to let me do it, we could wait. No wonder I have a nervous stomach to this day. After we crossed the border, the guides left, and we walked to a village--probably a suburb of Geneva. We passed the backs of houses and finally came to one where the entrance was visible. It was still nighttime. All border crossings were in the middle of the night.

We knocked on the door, two adults and a child, dirty and muddy. The people were very nice. They let us in, let us clean up and gave us tea. We asked about getting a train or bus to Geneva.

In the morning the man of the house started to walk us to the bus but the police stopped us. They arrested us and wanted to arrest the man as well. My uncle prevailed on them to let him go, telling them that he had nothing to do with us, he was merely a man on the street whom we had asked for directions.

Arrest and Internment

The police brought us to a school house. It was a sort of a staging point for refugees who were caught after crossing the border. My aunt had to admit that I was not their biological child since they had papers with my real name, but she said that I was their ward, and they let us all stay.

One week later, my mother, father and sister, along with my father's 69-year-old mother made the same trip. All of these arrangements were made through a Priest my father had met as a result of his work with a Jewish agency. They missed the train to Grenoble, when they got off it to move to a compartment with empty seats in the back. The train started moving and left without them. They went back to the hotel. The next morning they learned that this train had been stopped by the Germans and all Jews had been removed. They had had a narrow escape.

It was now too dangerous to take the train. They went back to the Priest. He was able to get a newspaper truck driver to bring them to the border the following night. My mother and sister sat next to the driver, while my grandmother and my father hid behind the newspapers in the back. Soldiers stopped the driver, but they believed him when he said he was taking his wife and daughter to visit relatives. They did not search the back.

My aunt, uncle, parents, paternal grandmother, and my sister and I were reunited there one week later. We were sent by train to a town in the Emmenthal Valley called Burgdorf-then walked up a little mountain called Rothö he to an old hotel without running water and no heat. We were placed three families to a room and slept on the floor. My grandmother and another old woman were the only ones with a bed. This camp was under military control.

Every morning each family got one basin of warm water. They washed first the kids, then themselves, then the underwear, and then the floor. Toilets were old fashioned and functioned like outhouses-not uncommon in older European houses in those days. The soldiers took any man who wanted to, to a nearby spring, where they stripped and washed in the cold water, in December! My father who always looked at the positive side of things joined them. He said it was very invigorating. The women had to help with household chores and cooking. The local inhabitants of the town of Burgdorf were welcoming and tried to help by bringing apples and such.

We remained there for two or three weeks. Then we were taken by train to the French part of Switzerland, to the Canton of Vaud in the town of Champery to a better, bigger hotel with running water but no heat. This camp was also run by the military. Each family got a normal hotel room with beds; we had a double bed and two cots. Downstairs, the dining hall had a big iron stove heated with wood or coal. At night we had sufficient blankets to manage. The hotel was in a deep valley. It took a long time for the sun to reach it, and the North side was especially cold.

My father who always reached out to everyone had become friendly with the commander of the camp. The commander made my father the camp leader and put him in charge of allocating rooms. Since my father didn't want to appear to be using his power unfairly, he did not give us a south facing room even though he gave all other families with children such rooms. Even then some of the refugees who got North-facing rooms like us accused him of being a Nazi.

Meanwhile the Swiss authorities were urging but not forcing families to get their children out of militarily run camps by placing them in "children's homes." My family did not opt for this. However, when they were told that a wealthy Jewish family with a child my age who lived in an apartment in Geneva and wanted to provide a home for a refugee child, it sounded good to them, better than where I was, so they agreed to this. I was put into the program of children who were to leave the camp. Meanwhile, the mother of the little girl discovered that she had breast cancer and canceled the offer. However, since I was already in this program, I was not sent back to my parents but was instead placed in a children's home. My parents did not find out until after the fact.

People who were interned in military camps were not permitted to travel, so my maternal grandmother, who was in a civilian camp, was the one who visited me at this children's home, which was on a dairy farm. She wrote a letter to my mother telling her to do whatever they could to get me out of there. She said I looked neglected and had diarrhea. My mother received permission from the Captain to travel in order to see this camp. She came unannounced and not on visiting day. I was not there when she came. I was with other children doing chores on a dairy farm. I was six years old.

The home's authorities said this work was good for us and we all loved it. Eventually, I appeared with some other girls, pulling a wagon with big cans of milk. She asked about the food, and I told her it was good. She asked me what we ate. I said soup. Then they served us our afternoon snack. It was bread with jam and water sweetened with syrup. Even though it was a dairy farm, they did not give us milk. My mother said I confided to her that my room, which I shared with other children, was on top of a steep flight of stairs, that the bathroom was downstairs and that I was afraid to go there in the darkness; so I soiled my sheets when I had diarrhea, and I was punished for that.

My mother returned to the refugee camp and told the Captain about this and about how upset she was. He told her he could imagine himself sitting on her side of the desk. Even though it wasn't legal, because I was no longer on the camp roster, he authorized her to go to the children's home and bring me back to the camp. She did this the next day. I was at this children's home for four weeks. I remember almost nothing about it, except moving around in my bed, which I think I shared with other children, in order to avoid lying in the spots which I had soiled.

After a while, the Swiss started to create camps under civilian authority, where families could stay together. One of these was in Saint Cergues, at the Hotel Observatoire, which faced Mont Blanc. We came there in the spring of '43. My three grandparents and my French aunt and uncle also ended up there. This hotel was not heated either. We had a small room with private bath although the water was cold. There were other kids there, at first. There was a school on site, run by a 50-year-old refugee from Berlin who had taught the Montessori method there. I went to the one-room school in the village.

At this civilian camp, women were issued a type of "uniform" to wear, more like a lab coat, blue with little white dots. They could wear whatever clothes they wanted under that. Clothes were donated. There were work crews for all camp related chores. The Chief of the camp was a Swiss and there were Swiss office workers and cook. Refugees served the food. Everyone sat at long tables but the Swiss ate at a separate table, a little higher than the rest, and the rumor was that the food they got was different from that served to the refugees.

The most important thing about this camp was that the inmates were not restricted to the buildings. They could go to the village or walk in the woods, after finishing their assigned work. My mother remembers going to the woods to pick flowers or hazelnuts. Each week the camp director gave everyone a little spending money. The group leaders got a little more than the others. In the afternoon they would go to the village to a café, to buy paper goods.

My mother was a group leader, in charge of the cleaning crew. My grandmother was in charge of the knitting crew. They unraveled old sweaters and knit socks for the Swiss soldiers. My father was the group leader in charge of leisure time activities.

Social workers came to the camp from the YMCA and from the Government. They asked the refugees what their needs were. My father spoke to these social workers about the fact that many of the refugees were depressed, that having so much idle time on their hands caused them to dwell on their losses and the loved ones they lost. So, with the assistance of various organizations he arranged to bring activities for evenings and leisure time. They brought books, a record player (for concerts) and speakers. Eventually, he was given an office and a typewriter outside the camp so that he could organize this. There was a social hall with a stage. Someone also organized a show by the children in the Montessori school, and refugees also provided entertainment.

We were in St. Cergues until early spring of 1944. After a while all the children were sent to separate camps. Because of the jobs my parents had, they and the camp doctor were permitted to keep their children. We were then the only children there. Every six weeks you were permitted to leave the area for a few days "vacation." This was probably financed by Jewish organizations. People could go to a hotel or, as in our case, visit various relatives in other parts of Switzerland. My aunts and uncles and grandparents had all managed to be released to apartments where they lived on small stipends from Jewish organizations. Working for money was not allowed, and my chemist uncle worked for Hoffman La-Roche as a volunteer. They became his employer when he came to the U.S. and he worked there until retirement.

1944 - Freedom

We lived in an apartment in Geneva from early 1944 to the end of June 1946. We were freed because my father had become active in helping various organizations and their social workers to study the needs and wishes of refugees as part of a planning process for repatriation after the war. They also started to give information about places to go for resettlement. The government subsidized and supported these efforts, which were for all refugees in Switzerland, civilian and military, Jewish and non-Jewish, a total of 200,000 people. The government decided not to forcefully send people back to their country of origin, but they wanted them to leave once the war was over.

My father worked with the Geneva Workers' Circle, which was interested in the problems of refugees after the war and with the Central Government Office for Assistance to Refugees. He helped with questionnaires and needs assessments and in January 1945, helped to organize a conference related to the future of refugees. One of the outcomes was the establishment of a newspaper called Informationsdienst. My father was chosen to be the editor. He held this position until we left Switzerland in June 1946. I don't think he had an official salary but did get a stipend from the organizations involved.

1946 - America

We were able to reactivate the US immigration papers we had received in Paris before the Anschluss. Initially, we hadn't used them, because the family was still in Vienna, and we didn't want to leave until they were out. Later we were unable to use them, but were allowed to re-activate them in 1946. This was due in part to the fact that my father was born in Austria, and immigration quotas for Austrians were larger and more plentiful than for Eastern Europeans. Therefore, we were able to come to the U.S. without going into Displaced Persons Camps. It also helped that my doctor uncle was now solidly established in the U.S. and able to help all of his family to come here.

My mother was again pregnant, not great timing on her part. We had no money and spoke little English. My father had not worked in his field for many years and was not sure what he was going to do. Luckily, one of the people who had worked for him in Paris had moved to the United States before the war and had done very well. He now owned a company and hired my father as an engineer. My brother was born in October of 1946.

For financial reasons and because there was a terrible housing shortage the only apartment we could find was on Riverside Drive and 136th Street. This was a poor neighborhood. The schools were not very good and the area in general was not safe. When I was enrolled in public school in the fall of 1946, I was almost ten years old. I was placed in a "foreigner's class." The school did not have bi-lingual education, but since most of the "foreigners" were kids from Puerto Rico, they had a teacher who spoke Spanish. A little Haitian girl who, of course, spoke French clued me in. I thought that the kids were speaking English!

Even though I had not been a very well behaved student by European standards, I was much better behaved and more passive than American students. The teacher loved this. I became her servant. She did not teach us anything, let alone English. She did not want me to leave. A cousin of mine who was a student teacher at the time had to come and get them to switch me to the regular classes. I took the Hunter test in the sixth grade, but my English was poor, and I failed. In junior high school my parents made sure I got coaching in English and math, so that when I took the test again I passed-the only one in my junior high to do so. I started at Hunter in the 10th grade in September 1951.

My maternal grandparents lived with us until they died. Although they lived to ripe old ages, their lives were ruined by the Holocaust. They lost all their money and my grandfather, who had been in export/import banking, was too old to start again. So instead of being upper middle class heads of the family, they became dependents living with their daughter. I think this had a profound effect on me during my teenage years. I also feel that many of my anxieties and quirks are due to my early experiences. Starting in March 1938, our lives were disrupted. Adults were anxious. There were discussions about what to do and what was dangerous versus what was safe. Relatives crowded in with us. Our living situations worsened. My mother and my father came and went. We moved from place to place. It was not a good way for a child to grow from a toddler to grade school age.

On the other hand, the family did try to create some of the "normal" aspects of life wherever we went, and there was a lot of support and sharing amongst the extended family that lived together through these years. I also feel that seeing the family cope so actively with many adverse and difficult situations had a very positive effect on me. I have always reacted to setbacks by acting and problem solving.

Hannah's mother died in April of 2007, a few weeks shy of her 98th birthday.

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