Thursday, May 28, 2015

(1914 - 2011)

(1907 - 1992)



Micael was working so we were self-sufficient in Stockholm. We moved to a smaller apartment with our used furniture leftovers. Golda was not well, and she and I had never gotten along too well, so we took two separate apartments. This moving day was an event in itself. There was an unwritten law in Stockholm that if you wish to move from one apartment to another, it should be done on given days two times a year. For that reason one can only find an apartment to be vacated on those given days. So we found a smaller place, paid our deposit, and prepared to move. 

To our surprise the new landlord asked for a certificate to assure that our furniture would be free of bugs. Stockholm was an old city, and the older parts were especially ridden with insects. We were required to call in the health department who would hopefully issue the needed certificate. To our horror he told us that our beds were infested with bed bugs. Now we understood why our skin had been itching in the mornings. I explained to him that these were not really our beds, but we were using them temporarily. I assured him that if he would issue the certificate of cleanliness for the rest of the furniture I would leave the beds behind. He was very reluctant, but I begged him and explained our plight as refugees with donated furniture. He did finally issue the necessary permits excluding the beds. Of course we had to acquire others.

Just before moving day Micael tried to get a moving truck. We had not realized that because so many people would be moving that day that we should have ordered the truck months before. The day before the moving we were nearly desperate. Micael was going from store to store asking if they had a truck to lend us. At the grocery store a man said, “Yes, I have a truck, and I can help you.” We were so relieved.

At eight o’clock the next morning we were watching out of the window when he arrived with a wheelbarrow. Before he came to the door, I saw him take a swig from a bottle. “Are you going to move this large furniture on that?” we asked. “No problem,” he answered. This man and Micael carried those large heavy pieces of used furniture down the stairs, piled it on the wheelbarrow, and tied it up with rope. Every few minutes our helper would take a swig from the bottle. Micael went with him through the streets of Stockholm pushing the wheelbarrow piled high with old junk. Before long the whole pile collapsed and lay in the street. It took the whole day to complete our moving day, and by then the man himself was lying drunk in the street.

I gave birth to my son Leif in August of 1940. He was given a Norwegian name because we were sure to return home eventually. Sweden has socialized medical care so prenatal care, delivery, and post-natal care cost us only four dollars.

More and more Norwegian Jews were escaping from Norway, and our apartment became a meeting place for these people. Every evening was open house, and as many as fifty people would come. Of course the conversation was only of their plight and war news. Some even started to stay over all night, for the news they heard often worried them, and we offered comfort. Friends were living with us, and as they left, others would take their place. To sleep on the floor was of no concern to them.

To live in Stockholm was like sitting on a keg of dynamite. German troops were allowed to cross Sweden in trains, and one never knew if the Germans would invade. After all, if Sweden had refused this, the country would surely have been taken over. We were issued monthly permits to stay in Sweden but feared that pressure would be put on the Swedish government to refuse this. If this occurred, the Germans would force us to return only to be killed. Micael and I wanted to go to England, but it was impossible to cross the North Sea with war all around. So we started to envision a safe life in the United States. We appealed to the American embassy for visas. At first we were refused for it was just before the presidential elections of 1940. After Roosevelt was re-elected, we were contacted and visas were granted. But they warned us that it was impossible in wartime to cross the North Sea en route to the Atlantic Ocean.

In order to reach the United States, we would have to fly to Moscow, cross Siberia on the Trans-Siberian Railroad to Vladivostok, take a ship to Japan, and cross the Pacific Ocean via Hawaii. They asked us if we had the courage and resources for this approximate six week undertaking with war all around us in Europe. We had the desire and the courage but not the money for the expenses. We appealed to the Norwegian government exiled in Stockholm. With the understanding that after the war they would be compensated with any of our remaining assets in Norway, they agreed to help us. Next we needed a sponsor in the United States. I sent a telegram to my cousin in New York. He immediately replied that he would sponsor us.

So we obtained all of the necessary visas, permits, and inoculations, and every phase of the six-week journey was booked with specific dates to connect with one another. The Swedish government gave us a paper stating that should we not be able to complete the journey, they would allow us to re-enter Sweden. We knew that that paper would be worthless in time of war and that we could be stranded anywhere.

It was necessary to keep expenses to a minimum, so we would travel third class except on the ship from Vladivostok to Japan. Warned that desperate people from war torn countries would use any means to steal our American visas, we decided that we would tie our documents to our bodies underneath our clothing. Someone would really have to kill us to get them.

One of my constant worries was how would I constantly carry a baby around, and where would he sleep? When Leif was born, we had purchased a baby carriage, and this was a show piece even in Stockholm. When we finally reached our destination, that baby carriage was about all of our worldly possessions. 

Our sterling silver was pawned to a gentleman of our acquaintance who promised to retain it until one year after the end of the war unless we claimed it by then. We did redeem it, and it is ironic that after all that, some of it was stolen in 1984 Incidentally, the baby buggy was also stolen in Los Angeles.

In March of 1940 Micael, Leif, and I left Stockholm, and the story of that journey to the United States would be a book in itself. I had one dress and wore it every day for six weeks. The entire right side was navy blue, and the entire left side was royal blue. When I finally discarded it in Los Angeles, it had holes and tears.

Because Micael’s sister was still ill, his mother was still living in Stockholm. We appealed to the exiled Norwegian government again. They made arrangements for the plane to carry fewer passengers and more fuel to enable the plane to fly to Moscow non-stop in order that we could reach the Trans-Siberian Express in time. An intourist official met us at the airport and then accompanied us to the train which was delayed for two hours to await our arrival. All of this consideration was not given to us because we were important people but because some government officials wanted to see three Jewish people gain their freedom.

The Trans-Siberian Express was a European type train with long corridors and compartments leading off of them. Our third-class compartment had wooden benches to sit on and no sleeping berths. The coal driven train spewed black smoke which covered everything, including us. I would constantly ask the attendant for chi-dva, two teas. It was the month of March in Siberia. The country was very flat, snow covered, and bleak. Inside the train it was not too cold, however. We passed Novosibirsk, Lake Baikal (which was frozen over), Barbitsian, and Irkutsk. These people were always drably dressed with their kerchiefs over their heads. At Barbitsan there was a Jewish colony, and some spoke Yiddish. Thinking we recognized a Jewish face, we approached him. Then a small crowd of Jews gathered, and it was like coming home.

Before leaving Russia they searched our poor worldly possessions in the suitcases mostly full of baby clothes. But right there on the top was a map on which we had marked off our route. This caused an immense furor. Officials were called in. They suspected us to be spies and therefore questioned us. We thought that we would be detained and searched, and if they found the money in our coat linings we would surely be in trouble. But after many anxious moments, we were released, and we left the docks on a Japanese ship to sail for Japan.

It was docked a few feet away from the dock, and we had to cross an unsteady rope bridge carrying everything we owned. A number of Chassidic Jews accosted us begging for food and help. We soon found out that these people had escaped occupied Poland and had been promised asylum on a French island in the Pacific. However, upon arriving there, they were refused admittance because the mainland France had been taken over by the Vichy government. So these poor souls were being shunted back and forth on this Japanese ship, and no country would admit them. They continued their daily religious rituals in the orthodox manner, and we can only hope that eventually their prayers reached merciful ears.

The crossing took five days. Three of them were spent in those terrible conditions. We were given a bowl of rice and watery soup three times a day. We gladly left the ship at Tsuruga and because we had three days to spare before sailing again from Yokohama, we had arranged to spend those days in Tokyo. We were then to leave for Hawaii. We sailed from there on the Kamakura Maru. There were a lot of homeless Jewish people on board, mostly with visas to South America. Our next stop was Honolulu, which at that time was a small village with one major hotel, the Pink Royal Hawaiian. Then we sailed on to San Francisco. We docked in San Francisco in April of 1941. Entry into the U.S. was relatively simple.

I have returned to Trondheim many times. Each time I would pass by my former residence with nostalgia, never knowing what had become of our former possessions.

My visit this summer would have been no different except that my nephew Lennart told me that the receptionist in his office said that her daughter has bought a house at Stats Ingenors Gate at the corner of Rosenborg Gate. He replied, “My goodness, such a coincidence because my uncle and aunt used to live there sixty or seventy years ago. My aunt is coming to Trondheim very soon.” His employee told him that there is some old stuff in the attic. “Do you think your aunt would like to look at it for no one knows who it belongs to.”

When my nephew told me this, my heart skipped a beat. “Oh yes, you bet I would like to look at it, maybe it’s mine.” Lennart called to make arrangements for us to go over there. At the appointed time we arrived. When she opened the door to us on the first floor I was almost overcome with nostalgia, but I had to compose myself as we climbed the stairs to the attic. There were a couple of old cupboards there which had not belonged to me.

The lady invited us to her apartment on the second floor, but it had obviously been redecorated so it was not familiar to me. We had lived on the lower floor, but the present occupant was away so she could not let us visit there.

She invited us to have tea with her and she served a chocolate cake with blackberry topping. She took us down to see the cellar and that was very familiar, with the same shelves that stored my blackberry jam, they were empty.


With thanks to Freda and Micael's grandson, Dan Isaksen, for permission to publish part of Freda's biography.

For futher reading on Freda Isaksen's biography, 
click here.
For further reading on Family History, click here

(1914 - 2011)

(1907 - 1992)


This particular Saturday I searched through the weekly Jewish Chronicle and saw advertised a dance to be held at Boot’s Café in Regent Street in London. I called a school friend to ask if she would accompany me, she too was alone that evening, so we dressed in our best clothes suitable for dancing. Jeans and tee shirts were not customary in those days; girls wore pretty midlength dresses for an evening out. We boarded public transportation for the ride to the West End and to the dance hall.

When Sylvia Delow and I walked into the elevator to go to the dance on the second floor, two fellows followed us in. Later they introduced themselves as Joseph and Micael. It was Joseph who showed an interest in me that evening. He explained that he was visiting for a few days and staying with Micael who was living temporarily in London. He was unfamiliar with the city and asked me if I would be his escort and show him the famous sights of London. 

I was not too favorably impressed with Joseph. He was not a type that I admired physically, and he was too anxious to impress me with his monetary worth. However, I thought that if he was really so well off financially, I might as well take advantage and have a good time for a few days. I really showed him London and spared no expense until he left.

Shortly after, Micael telephoned and asked me to go out with him. Evidently, he had been warned that it was expensive to take me out, so he was wary. On our first date he explained that he was from Trondheim, Norway. He had closed his business temporarily to attend a school for men’s custom tailoring in London. For some unknown reason his funds, left with his brother in order to be sent monthly as an allowance, had not arrived for that month. He was broke and surviving mainly on broken cookies and milk. I felt sorry for him and invited him home for a good meal, which became many good meals. He told my mother that his favorite dish was lokshen kugel, or noodle pudding. 

He was definitely disappointed when my mother made this for him because he was used to a sweet pudding with raisins and my mother’s version was unsweet and used to accompany meat. We dated often, but as he was always broke, our good times consisted of walking around London and the suburbs, which we reached by bus or subway, and drinking cups of tea at Lyon’s Corner House.

After some weeks Micael decided it was time for him to return home, and he suggested that I come to Trondheim for my summer vacation. I did not consider this seriously at the time, but we kept up a correspondence which consisted mainly of his urging me to come and visit him. So I thought that this would be quite an adventure. 

When I broke the news of my intention to my parents, they thought I was crazy. I had met a young man who was obviously half-starved, broke financially, and had maybe told me a pack of lies about his family and business. It was out of the question as far as they were concerned. From my point of view, it would just be a summer vacation, and if I was disappointed, I would return home. Their answer was a definite no, but I was just as stubborn that I would go. My father finally decided that the only way I would be allowed to go was if he accompanied me. I think that I was secretly relieved by his decision.

Although Norway is not so far from England, in those days one did not travel by air. We had to cross the North Sea by boat, and believe me, that was and still is a stormy crossing. On the boat we both thought we were crazy. From Oslo we took the night train to Trondheim, which is in the central part of Norway. I remember we did not lie down in our bunks all night because we were so amazed at the twenty-four hours of daylight in the month of June. 

I was invited to stay at Micael’s mother’s home, and my father stayed in a hotel. After a few days, when he was convinced that everything Micael had told me was true and that he came from a perfectly respectable family, he returned home and allowed me to stay on. He spoke to the rabbi and asked him to keep an eye on me and to give me assistance and advice to return home if I needed it. He realized that I must be serious in my intentions of a future with Micael and told me that I must be out of my right mind to think of leaving a city like London to live in a small provincial city in a strange country.

Trondheim was and still is as unlike London as anything can be. It is possible to walk through the whole town in one hour. But Micael taught me to love hiking in the mountains, the beautiful fjords, and the friendliness of the people. His family of ten brothers and sisters really welcomed me. I learned a completely new set of values that summer.

It was in August of 1936 that we decided to get married. I told my parents. Their reply was a telegram which read, “We insist that you be married in London. Your wedding is arranged for September thirteenth. Return home immediately to make preparations.” I realized that I owed them this wish, so I returned home to London with Micael’s assurance that he would be in London the day before the wedding. Micael, his mother, two brothers, and his best friend Mannie Buchman all arrived in time. We were married in a synagogue with a tea dance reception held afterwards at the Regent Palace Hotel.

The following day Micael and I boarded the train for Newcastle and the boat to my new life. Auntie Eva, Auntie Luba, and of course my parents were at the train station. I can even remember how Eva was dressed and that Luba carried a bouquet of flowers for me. When I was on the train, I remember thinking, “What have I done? I am leaving all those people who have been so good to me.”

I did not leave home empty handed. A middle class family such as mine considered it a responsibility to provide a bride with a trousseau. The past month had been spent not only preparing for the wedding, but also shopping for linens, curtains, and other household supplies which were crated and shipped to Norway. My grandmother had left each grandchild a legacy which would be used to buy furniture in Trondheim. There were also wedding presents, and some of them were quite valuable being of sterling silver. Everything followed us to set up our new home.

Micael had rented a small apartment with a garden at the back that led to the banks of the Nidelva, the river which runs through Trondheim. This garden and river were much nicer than the not very attractive apartment. I had already, however, made the decision that my standards would have to be lowered. I realized that this was just a temporary home, and after about a year, we moved to a newly built, very nice apartment. Actually, the standard of living was very high in Norway. With my new name, I acquired Norwegian citizenship and gave up my British one. I immediately set about to learn the language of my new country by taking lessons from my teacher, Miss Gundersen. This posed no problem, as I learned very fast from her.

Micael and his brothers owned seven men’s outfitting stores in Trondheim. Their youngest brother was the only one to attend the university, and he became a dental surgeon. The stores were individually owned, and they were therefore in competition with one another. Micael was the least prosperous because he was the youngest and not so well established. Besides, he had closed his store to go to England. They all catered mostly to the working man’s needs. Micael was the only one of the brothers who had been trained as a master tailor. 

In Norway to be a tailor, plumber, electrician, or any other type of craftsman, one must have a certification of training in the chosen field. After Micael’s extra training at the cutting school in London, he opened a store in the better part of town where he hoped to attract a more select clientele with the name of “English Tailoring” on the store front. However, this was not too successful. Evidently the name of Isaksen had been associated for so long with lower priced clothing that the well-dressed man was not willing to try Micael’s new venture. So when his lease expired, he returned to his old store. Still, it was not too easy to get his former customers back, but he was certainly able to make a living.

I helped out in the store in a limited way. I don’t think I was too helpful because I remember a coat, which Micael had just made, being left on the ironing board. I moved the hot iron and placed it on the coat. The coat was ruined and a total loss. Although I did do some dressmaking, I did not make a career of it. I did, however, always make my own clothes.

As a family, the Isaksens were very close and frequent visitors to one another. I got along with all of them very well except Micael’s two youngest sisters. The two girls were the last of the eleven children to be born and therefore were extremely spoiled. Micael’s mother was very good to me. His father was deceased, and I was attached to all my sisters-in-law. At first I was made quite a fuss over. After all, I was a girl who had come all the way from London and caught a very eligible young man. 

The family was very well known in this small city of only fifty thousand people, and many strangers really would notice me on the street with some wonder. There can be a lack of privacy in a small city where one is well known. Sometimes I resented this, but I was happy with my new life.

I can’t remember ever being lonely in Trondheim. There was such a large family, and they were always together for holidays and ready to assist. Consequently, I was never homesick. Besides, every summer some member of my family would come to visit and stay with us. I only remember feeling homesick when I learned that my father had died in early 1940.

Also, I had to learn to dress differently. To go outdoors it was essential to wear heavy boots, coats, hats, and gloves of fur..

All Norwegian Jews were orthodox and kosher. I had been raised in a kosher home, so I understood and continued the practice. In England one went to the butcher and bought the cut of meat desired, but in Norway it was unlawful to slaughter animals in the orthodox manner. The rabbi, who was also the shoykhet or the one who was licensed to slaughter meat, had to travel to Sweden once a month to obtain meat for the congregation. When he returned with it, it would only stay fresh for a few days as refrigeration in the homes was very scarce in those days. Our meat supply was therefore limited and of poor quality. The rabbi was allowed to slaughter chickens, but he sold them to us with the feathers, heads, and insides all intact. I had to learn to clean them and prepare them myself. They were old hens and took hours to cook. It’s a good thing I liked fish!

Even the use of electricity was different. Because the abundance of water was used to make energy, there was plenty of power. No gas was used. One bought a certain amount of electricity, and when that was used up, all the lights went off and the cooking stove stopped cooking. 

War started in Europe, and England was involved. It was assumed that Norway would be left in peace in this new war. I wrote to my family that if life in wartime England became very bad, they should come to Norway. Because so many commodities and much food was imported into Norway, we were rationed for many of life’s necessities, but this was a small price to pay for peace.

During the summer of 1939, Micael’s brother Isidor and his wife Rosa went on a trip. They asked me to stay on a resort farm with their three children Gerd, Leonard, and Harry. I was delighted to do this as it was a paid vacation for both Micael and me. He came there evenings and weekends for he did have his job. Gerd was thirteen, Leonard eleven, and Harry eight years of age. I

 became very attached to the children at that time. Everything was serene and peaceful and nobody ever dreamed that on the night of the following April 8 our secure world would be turned upside down by a man named Adolf Hitler and his accomplice Mr. Quisling, who sold his country to the Nazis. The three children amongst others were deported to Germany and murdered. 

We were awakened that night by the noise of many planes flying overhead. We turned on the radio and heard the repeated announcement that Norway was now a part of the German Reich. We immediately called the rest of the family. David lived in the center of town, and he told us that soldiers wearing swastikas were marching in the streets. We dared not go out at night, but first thing in the morning we all gathered at Micael’s mother’s house. We all felt certain that Great Britain would not allow this invasion to continue. They would surely come to liberate Norway, and there would certainly be a lot of fighting in the port town of Trondheim. 

So the married men decided to take their families across the Swedish border. Those brothers still unmarried would stay to join the Norwegian army. Micael decided to stay on to serve his country and urged me to go with the rest of the family. I refused, and likewise, Micael’s mother, Rebekka, who had left Poland in her youth because of Jewish persecution by the Russians, refused to leave her home again. 

So Isidor, David, Bernard, and their families left Trondheim and took the train across the border to Storlien. I was about three months pregnant, and the next days were extremely difficult. Although the Germans assured us that no changes would take place and everything would continue as normal, I was afraid to leave my home or talk on the telephone. With my English accent, I thought I was a double enemy of the invaders. Micael persuaded me to follow the others to Sweden as he knew that as soon as the British came, he would have to leave and join with them. I would not leave Micael’s mother and sister behind, so they consented to go also. We were not aware at that time that we took the last train allowed to cross the Swedish border. 

I vividly remember standing at the train window waving goodbye to Micael and Rudolf realizing that I might never see them again. Not expecting to be gone for the rest of my life, I had packed a bag with just about one change of clothing. As I left, Micael handed me a suitcase in which he had put our sterling silver wedding presents. He said that I might have to sell them because all bank deposits had been frozen, and I had to leave with only petty cash.

We crossed the border into Storlien and only had to ask for the whereabouts of the Isaksen family. Here again they were well known as Storlien was a resort town where they had often gone skiing, but whereas before they had always stayed at the hotel, now they had taken into a farmhouse where we joined them. Everything was very primitive. There was only one bed for nineteen people, the toilets didn’t flush so we had to pour water into them, there was only cold water, and we used a wood burning stove. They decided that I should have the bed since I was pregnant, but after one night on that lumpy bed, I joined them on the floor.

Strangely enough I remember this as a time of good spirits. We felt that we were only waiting for the British to come and liberate Norway, and soon we would return home. There was a great feeling of love and helpfulness for one another. Adele kept our spirits high with her good humor and song. One day I was amazed to see Micael and Rudolf approaching with their skis. In Norway they had abandoned hope that the country would be liberated and had travelled for seven days on skis hoping to be able to cross the border undetected by the Germans. They were lucky to have made it safely because otherwise it would have been certain death.

Now our spirits were very low. It was Passover, and we decided to observe our heritage by observing the seder. Someone in Stockholm had sent us matzos and salami, so this was our seder meal. To keep the holiday kosher, we ate off paper napkins and colored the water red to make believe it was wine. We also recited the haggadah to the best of our memories. All this helped us with the will to survive as our ancestors had done. I remember this seder as the most meaningful one of my life.

We could not stay in Storlien indefinitely, for we had no financial resources. So we all took the train to Stockholm. The Norwegian government had also fled to Stockholm, and they were eager to assist any refugees. The Jewish community there was also very helpful. We found an apartment large enough for twenty-one people and acquired some used furniture. The furniture was very old and not at all what we were accustomed to, but we managed. The brothers had been businessmen independently all their lives and now had no way of earning a living. Micael was the only one able to get a job for he had a craft. Therefore, money was extremely scarce. I remember that Bernard had holes in the soles of his shoes and had to stuff them with newspaper. The men became very restless and unhappy with no hope of supporting their families, but we got along surprisingly well.

The months in Stockholm were tragic, but certain humorous events remain as memories and are important as such. The news coming out of Norway indicated that everything was continuing normally. There was no persecution of the Jews, businesses were open, and the only evidence of occupation was the German troops. My sisters-in-law had left parents and families that they were anxious about, and the men thought that they could return and open up their stores again. So gradually the family became homesick and longed to return. They would just ignore the Germans, and the Germans would ignore them. I begged them that this would not be so and assured them that I would never return to Norway as long as one German soldier remained there. To this day they remind me how right I was. Well, they did return. Golda had become ill so she and her mother remained in Stockholm. This undoubtedly saved both of their lives.

Later on, Isidor, his wife Rosa, and their three children were deported to Germany and died in the gas chambers. David and Wolf were taken out of their homes and shot for listening to short wave radio. This was reported on the radio in Stockholm, and their mother heard the announcement on the news. Seeing many of her children killed before her own death, it is very distressing to realize the pain Rebekka went through. Micael’s sister, Rosa, died in Norway of a brain tumor, no doubt brought about by the terrible circumstances there. Her three year old daughter and husband were deported to Germany and died in the concentration camp. The rest of the family and children escaped with the help of the farmers who smuggled them from one village to another until finally across the border. There was an active underground army who helped make this possible. When they returned to Stockholm, Micael and I had already left for a new life.


With thanks to Freda and Micael's grandson, Dan Isaksen for permission to publish part of Freda's writing.

For futher reading on Freda Isaksen's
biography, click here.
For further reading on Family History, click here

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Følgende artikel bragt i det illegale blad, 
Frit Danmark, oktober 1943, skrevet som 
reaktion på aktionen mod jøderne. 

Artiklen fortæller om den harme, aktionen 
medførte hos danskerne, og forsvarer 
de sabotagehandlinger, som gik forud 
for samarbejdspolitikkens ophør.


Det er, som Nazisternes seneste Skandsølsesgerning, Jødeforfølgelsen, har nedbrudt de sidste svage Diger, der mærkeligt nok enkelte Steder endnu dammede op for den Strøm af Harme, der i Dag har sprængt sig frit Løb gennem alle Befolkningslag. 

Forfølgelsen af Jøderne har ramt Danskerne paa det ømmeste Punkt i deres Retsbevidsthed, endog den altfor tolerante, den passive, den lunkne føler denne Gemenhed og krymper sig derved. «Det værste, de endnu har begaaet,» siger Folk og giver ofte i samme Aandedrat Udtryk for Forbavselse over, at «Tyskerne virkelig vover dette.» 

Forbavselsen kan vi ikke deltage i, dertil har vi for onde Erfaringer med denne Magt, der uden Varsel overfalder en fredelig Nabostat, som udplyndrer vort Land, nedbryder vore Love, skyder vore Borgere, tager Kongen til Fange og internerer vore Soldater – af den venter vi os ikke bedre end Raseforfølgelse. 

Vi vidste jo desuden ogsaa, at denne Form for Raahed har hørt til det tredie Riges Specialiteter, fra 1933 har det været en Art national Krampe, som Hitler med visse Mellemrum paaførte sit Rige, en Slags Chokbehandling, som skulde fremme det tyske Folks Styrke og Sundhed. Ganske vist har vi den tyske Førers Ord, for, at Nazismen skulde holdes indenfor hans Riges Granser, den var ikke beregnet til Eksport, forsikrede han, men da det kom til Stykket, kunde han alligevel ikke modstaa Fristelsen til at forbedre de besatte lande gennem sine velprøvede Metoder. 

Alle Steder, hvor Tyskerne spiller Herrer, indvarsles før eller senere Jagten paa Jøderne – at Jagten ogsaa gik ind i Danmark, kan ikke forundre. Men det kan spænde vort Had og sammensvejse vor Front. 

Tyskerne maa ikke tro, at hverken Hjemsendelse af Soldater eller proforma Ophavelse af Undtagelsestilstanden vil kunne dæmpe den Bølge af Harme, som denne Skændselsgerning har affødt. Der er Mennesker, som i Bitterhed erklærer, at «havde vi holdt os i Skindet med al den Sabotage, eller «havde man bøjet sig for det tyske Krav og dannet en Regering, saa havde vi undgaaet, at dette havde ramt Jøderne. 

Vi vil ikke forarges over dem, der i Sorg og Græmmelse retter disse Bebrejdelser mod dem, der handler som aktive Patrioter og dem der denne Gang har sagt Nej, - men enige med disse forbitrede er vi ikke: Danmark er et Land i Kamp. Og vi kan ikke opgive denne Kamp, der gælder vor Frihed og vor Fremtid – vi kan ikke opgive den for nogetsomhelst, end ikke for at frelse en Gruppe Landsmænd fra den frygtelige Skæbne, som er blevet 1600 danske Jøder til Del. Man vil maaske svare, at det kan vi sagtens sige, vi, der ikke selv er Jøder, og som ikke har jødisk Slægt – det er jo ikke os, der betaler! 

Men siger man saadan, overser man, at talrige danske Frihedskapere allerede har maattet lide haarde Straffe, nogle endog Døden for Danmarks Sag, og at alle vi, der i Dag fortsat fører Frihedskampen mod Besættelsemagten, sætter dog hver Time Livet paa Spil og beviser dermed, at for os findes der intent højere end Fædrelandets Gavn. Det er dette, som giver os Lov til at Stille Danmarks Frihedskamp over alt andet – ogsaa over de enkeltes Skæbne, den være sig nok saa grusom og nok saa uretfærdig. 

Vi maa alle gøre os klart, at hvad enten vi billiger det eller ej, ruller Krigen mod Nazisterne videre her i landet, og havde det legale Danmark end bøjet sig for Tyskernes Trusler, saa havde det illegale aldrig gjort det. Ingen Regering vilde ha kunnet hindre, at Sabotagen fortsat havde svækket og plaget Besættelsesmagten, der formentlig atter havde fremsat Trusler, som skulde tvinge os til nye Ydmygelser. Kampen raser og Kampen kræver sine Ofre. Side om Side med Jøderne ble 143 danske Kommunister deporteret til Konsentrasjonsleiren Stutthof ved Danzig. Og ingen ved, hvem der bliver de næste.. .


Front row from left: Birthe Marcus, Margit Blachmann, Henni Lachmann, Helen Arnby, Kirsten Cantor, Eva Garde-Jørgensen, Gitta Kempinsky og Martha Sachs.
Middle row from left: Erik Goldberger, Jan Igelsky, Henning Blachmann, Allan Fogel and Even Bukrinsky.
Third row from left: Bent Chmelnik, John Gordon, Arne Bodnia, Finn Bentow, Per Popp Hansen, Georg Blachmann (with his arm on Finn Bentow), Dan Sobol and Allan Meyer. The photograph is taken in front of the synagogue in Östra Larmgata


by Else Baadsgaard

“How did you get over?”. As a returned refugee you are asked this question a lot of times. Well, how actually did I get over the Sound to Sweden? Today, the time from I went “underground” in Copenhagen to I found myself as a teacher at The Danish School in Gothenburg seems peculiar unreal.

One morning in May 1944 at 5:30 a. M. I walked together with some other people through the grated gate at Toldboden right in front of the German guard who as anticipated didn't notice us in the crowd of hundreds of workers who at the same time glided through the gate on their way to the shipyard on Refshaleøen. 

Nor did he notice that we turned right and finally entered a large steamship where the chief officer, without a word, lead us down through one ladder after another, and finally guided us through a narrow hole, down into the actual keel of the ship where all five of us were placed on iron girders, with our legs dangling over an empty space. Not without horror, I found out as my eyes had accustomed to the darkness that there were at least 5 meters to fall if we tumbled.

Then there was the long waiting time, five unending long hours, before we arrived at Swedish waters and were ordered upstairs to be questioned by the Swedish pilot. He took us over to the pilot boat that headed for Falsterbro, and soon we found ourselves on Swedish ground, in the promised land that did not know of war.

We were immediately taken care of by the Swedish cost guards who at first glance gave rise to our deep disgust by wearing uniforms of a repellent green color. They actually looked like Prussians, the Swedish soldiers. I wonder how many refugees have experienced a chock when they arrived in Malmö and saw the streets overcrowded by green uniforms. 

Then our first experience with Malmö where we were brought to. It was a true revelation. Light, light, light in the windows and the tram-ways. Neon signs as in the old days. We were almost blinded. And how shabby our clothes were! We realized that now where we observed the smartly dressed Swedes wearing genuine leather shoes and all-wool. 

We pressed our noses to the shop windows and enjoyed the sight of incredible amounts of textiles in all sort of lovely colors, dresses, stockings, shoes and so on. On the market place the newly arrived refugees formed a crowd in front of the window of a shop selling chocolate, oranges, figs, and pineapples. We were speechless of excitement.

It would take us too far to go into details of the following weeks. As all refugees we were taken to what the Swedes called a “förläggning”, in our case an internment in a camp in a small village in the middle of the woods of Småland, and we stayed there sufficiently long to be afflicted by what they called a psychosis of “förläggning”, a feeling of depression and nervousness characterized by anxiety for the ones we had left behind in Denmark and a bad conscience of having “run away”, a state of mind that usually followed the initial huge relief of having escaped. 

As anybody else in the internment, I every day hoped to receive the message or letter that would free me from the idleness and reestablish my contact to life. And the letter came! After a month I received the happy message that I was needed at The Danish School in Gothenburg where my former teacher in French, Miss (now Mrs) Henriques, was headmistress. This was an exceptional fortune. Not only I would move to one of the three large, “closed” cities, the object of the longing of all refugees. I would further get employed according to my profession what only very few refugees achieved.

My work at The Danish School in Gothenburg would without comparison become my greatest experience in Sweden. For this reason and because I assume that educational issues are of special interest to the readers of BAUNEN, the rest if this article will concentrate on the school.

The Danish schools in Sweden were as the readers probably know established shortly after the terrible days of October 1943 where whole families of refugees suddenly poured over the Sound and the consulates constantly were packed with desperate parents who didn't know what to do with their children. 

The beginning - that I didn't experience – was modest. However, events rapidly moved so that eventually three large Danish schools were established, namely the school in Hälsingborg with primary and middle school and the schools in Lund and Gothenburg with primary, middle, and high school. These were Danish State Schools because they, in-officially of course, were placed under the Danish Ministry of Education and were authorized to carry out examinations just as the schools at home.

Eventually 29 teachers were attached to the school in Gothenburg, about a dozen with full employment and the rest as temporary teachers. This was indeed a motley crowd. It included masters of art, educated teachers, phd's, professors, students of art, students of engineering, interpreters, headmasters, an organist, a vicar, and an engineer. All of them Danish refugees.

During the last school year we reached a total number of 225 pupils. The largest class was probably the first class with 24 children. Otherwise the middle school classes each included between 10 and 20 pupils. At least taken up was the high school where some classes had only 4-5 students.

My first encounter with The Danish School is still fresh in my memory. I had arrived directly from the internment to Gothenburg and went full of excitement to the High School of Gothenburg where the Danish School celebrated the end of the school year 1943-44. My courage was somewhat lost as I entered the large hall and found it crowded with black haired people. Of course I had expected to find some Jewish children in the school, however I never imagined that almost all of them would be Jewish. 

I suddenly felt like an albino, alone and abandoned among strangers. And things got worse since I found myself in front of a couple who eagerly conversed in German. Luckily – and of course – these feelings disappeared within the next few days.

After two months of “vacation” which I spent in a summer camp [at Tölsjö] for Danish school children, I started the actual work at the beginning of the school year the 1rst of September 1944. At that time, the school had stopped attempting to borrow class rooms and instead rooms were rented all around the city so that teaching could take place in the morning. 

We were placed at the strangest locations, in rooms of Young Men's Christian Association, in the Church of Bethlehem, in the house of the Mosaic Community, in cellars, in attics. In total at 7-8 different locations, something unfortunately not unfamiliar to teachers here in Denmark today.

A staff room was of course not available. However, this would have been completely superfluous since the teachers in every break had to hurry to a new location where they should teach the next class. We troubled to arrive on time, and in the beginning I constantly got lost trying to find my way from the Church of Bethlehem to Drottningsgatan. 

Once I ended up far out in the harbor where foreigners were not allowed. To our excitement, the section for culture under the office for refugees provided the full-time teachers with sparkling new Swedish bicycles with “real” tires enabling us to arrive without too long delays. Not without fear I mounted my lovely, blue bicycle and for the first time rushed headlong into the extremely dangerous traffic of Gothenburg where people against any common sense drove in the left lanes of the streets.

I  soon realized, that being a teacher at the Danish School was a work full of difficulties and obstacles. The class rooms were far from ideal. For instance, one class was placed in a kitchen without daylight. At another location two classes were situated in the same, large room with an absolutely provisional, separating wall with no sound insulation. Then suddenly a meeting was arranged in the Church of Bethlehem, and we had to leave the room. Then there was a Mosaic holiday and we couldn't use the rooms of the synagogue and half of the children took the day off.

Blackboards were at the beginning not available and books were sparse. They had to be ordered from Denmark and illegally imported which often failed. Further, the school grew in size far beyond the limits initially presupposed as the list of book orders were given. I happened to teach English in the first class of the middle school with five books and 12 children. 

Further, I had the doubtful pleasure to be responsible for the education in natural history in the entire middle school, initially almost without books and without additional material such as preparations, plates, etc. Such additional material I had to make myself. First towards the end I received a lot of fine pictures, but then the Germans surrendered and most of them were never used.

An additional difficulty which we at least do not experience in Denmark was the language. Most of the children had been in Sweden for so long time that their Danish was permeated with Swedish. Especially bad was the situation in my first class where many spoke entirely Swedish when they started school. This resulted in many surprises. When the school gathered for the first time after the summer vacation also the small aspirants starting in the first class had appeared. 

As they were going to be in my class, I addressed a cute little boy with dark, brown eyes and asked him – not very originally I admit – the standard question of any adult to children and said “What's your name?”. To my surprise he answered in absolutely accent free Swedish and said something like “My name is Årne”. 

I hastily sent a kind thought to the headmistress who had ensured me that all children in my class would be Danish and replied: “Well – then you are not going to be in this school”. The boy looked very contrite, but then his father appeared and explained that his name was Arne (Årne is the local pronunciation in Gothenburg) and that he indeed was Danish. However, they couldn't talk him into speaking Danish anymore.

Hence, in the beginning it was my principal assignment to teach my first class Danish again. “Aunt, Aunt [Swedish for Miss, Miss], come and look”, little Jan shouted when he was excited. He never succeeded in speaking proper Danish again. He simply refused. 

However, I managed to persuade him to address me as “Miss” with a Swedish pronunciation. Many of the children addressed us with the Swedish pronoun “ni”. When I arrived, they often welcomed me by shouting: “Can we start 'regne' today [i.e. Danish 'calculating', Swedish 'counting' or 'learning numbers'), and a little girl could ask me: “I can well have [can I get] a bead frame as them had when them calculated things like that”.

Some times this mixed language played me a trick. To illustrate the letters, I had one day prepared a drawing of a very elegant bag (Danish “taske”) which I proudly showed to them to illustrate the letter 't'. The children insisted on calling it a “väska” which off course muddled the concepts. In the same way, they delighted shouted “tomte” when confronted with the drawing of a gnome (Danish “nisse”) illustrating the letter “n”.

Just as confusing was arithmetic. As we late in the school year had been through all numbers till 100, Henning one day thoughtfully asked: “I don't understand, Miss, when are we going to learn the numbers 'femtio' and 'sekstio' [Swedish 50 and 60]?”

In the older classes things where not quite so bad. The pupils where bilingual and managed at least when speaking to separate the two languages. However, I did notice that the children of the 4th class were confident with Swedish words like “lingonsylt”, “hallon”, “vinden” (cow berry jam, raspberry, ceiling) and many more. 

When writing the situation was a more Babel-like confusion. This was partly due to the fact that many had visited Swedish schools. Danish words with Swedish geminations (“att”, instead of “at”, “till” instead of “til”), Swedish replacements like “Skogen” instead of “Skoven” (“the wood”), “Mørkret” instead of “Mørket” (the darkness), “Vædret” instead of “Vejret” (the weather) I corrected ceaselessly in the dictations. Not to mention the problem, that the children after some time in Sweden were very reluctant to write nouns with initial capitals according to Danish orthography. The Swedish letters 'ä' and 'å' were not to get rid of.

As always, the children acquired the foreign language with much more ease than the adults. They spoke Swedish accent free without the Danish glottal stops. Swedish shibboleths as in “sju” (seven) they pronounced without any problems. A father told me how he was turned down as he at a ticket-office window at the railway station had tried to purchase tickets to a location where foreigners were not allowed. He then sent his 8 year old daughter who purchased the ticket without problems.

What had all these children not gone through, so small they were! Some of them still an entire year after their escape ran away and hided if the door bell rang. Others took their experiences with great naturalness and described dispassionately how they had crouched together on the bottom of a boat because “they shot across the boat”, how they had become sopping wet by the waves pouring in and “the boat behind us sank”. There was little Allan who had arrived alone. His father and mother had placed him and his sister – at that time 5 and 3 years old – at some foster-parents believing they would be safe there and had escaped alone.

After a few days the foster-parents became anxious, and the two children were given an injection making them unconscious, were provided with false identity papers and sent over the Sound alone on a fishing boat. In Sweden the hadn't the slightest idea what to do with the two unconscious children of whom they only knew their first names. They phoned a Danish internment for advise and by a miracle it was the father of the children who answered the call. He nearly got a chock and hasted to the coast and was present as the children woke up.

There was Johnny whose mother was in Theresienstadt. Two families had hided in a house while waiting for a boat to escape with. The men and the boys had gone out for a moment to look for the boat and in the same moment Gestapo arrived and took the wifes and a little girl they had left behind and took them to Germany. Almost all the children had relatives in German camps.

Standing and looking upon these small children in the first and second classes while they happy and satisfied were playing in the yard in front of the synagogue, I many times had to think of the destiny they would have had if they had been caught and brought to Germany. The cruelty of the Germans I first fully understood when I reflected on the fact that it were such children who had been killed in gas chambers and in other bestial ways. It were such children and their parents who had been hunted like animals.

We cannot allow this ever to happen again. We can prevent that, all of us. Nazism shall not be given the triumph of, before defeated, having sowed the evil seed in the mind of mankind and kept antisemitism alive. Antisemitism lies dormant in time. And danger still exists. 

It was far from uncommon that so-called Aryan refugees aired a kind of – compared to the Germans of course “moderate” - antisemitism: “I'm far from being antisemitic, I've even helped Jews escape; however, enough is enough, and it cannot be denied that ...”. That's how it sounded and then followed the old phrases, arguments, and accusations against Jews which actually were taken from the Nazis. More than anything in the world let us root out this way of thinking. Antisemitism is not rooted out just by preventing direct violent acts against Jews. It is the mind set of people that has to be cleaned for any touch of the old prejudices.

Often I had to think of a Hebrew song I had heard at a Jewish concert. A mother tells her child that each time Israel suffers, God sheds a tear into a cup. The child asks: “Mother, isn't the cup soon full?”. Yes, isn't the cup soon full!

Else Baadsgaard

* Published 1946 in BAUNEN, a yearbook addressing former students at the College of Education in Aarhus. 
Original title “Dansk Lærerinde I Sverige”.

Published by Scandinavian Jewish Forum

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

S A M U E L  S T E I N M A N N 


25. august, 1923 - 1. mai, 2015

Fra boken "Det ang
år også deg." Herman Sachnowitz:

« . .. Frank sa ingenting. Han stod taus og stirret fjernt fremfor seg. Klokken var halv seks. Det var om morgenen 15 mai, 1943.

Det var kveld da jeg vendte hjem fra kommandoen. For første gang siden det andre møtet med Felix skjenket jeg den hemmelige brødrasjonen bare en fjern tanke. Jeg løp til Revier så fort bena kunne bære meg. Døren var lukket og det var forbudt å gå inn, så jeg løp langs husveggen, fra sykerom til sykerom og ropte på Frank.

Ingen svarte.

Jeg forstatte å rope.

Da kom det ut en mann i fangedrakt, tynn og elendig, glattraket på hodet som alle vi andre. Det var min venn, Samuel Steinmann.
«Leter du etter bror din?» spurte han.
Han kom langsomt mot meg. Jeg visste det allerede. Noe gikk i stykker i meg før han hadde sagt det.
«De har sendt ham vekk.»
«Til hovedleiren.»

Jorden sank under føttene mine og jeg fulgte med, ned i en natt så dyp at ingen stjerne noensinne ville kunne skinne dit ned. Alt ble likegyldig, om jeg ble drept der og da . . .

Fjernt hørte jeg Sammy snakke til meg. Lavt og medfølende. Jeg hørte min egen stemme svare at jo – Sammy og jeg, vi skulle være som brødre så lenge det var en gnist av liv igjen i oss. Før hadde det alltid vært Frank og Herman. Det var et fast uttrykk i vår blokk: «Frank og Herman, de er uatskillelige.» Nå skulle det bli «Sammy og Herman». Sammy var en god gutt, snill, forståelsesfull og trofast. 

Men han var ikke Frank!
Han kunne aldri bli det
Blod er blod!

Jeg takket Sammy og gikk.»

 Samuel Steinmann (t.h.) med sin bror Harry
i 1937 i Oslo. Harry Steinmann ble drept
i tysk fangenskap. Foto: Privat

Samuel Leon «Sammy» Steinmann (født 25. august, 1923, død 1. mai, 2015) var en av de få norske jødene som overlevde tilintetgjørelsesleiren Auschwitz. Etter Julius Paltiels død 7. mars 2008 og Hans Levolds død 28. juni 2009, var han den siste gjenlevende jødiske nordmann som overlevde leiren.

Steinmann vokste opp på Nordstrand i Oslo og bodde i nærheten av skolen han gikk på, Nordstrand skole. Han var som jøde et offer for nazistenes plan for å utrydde jødene i Europa under andre verdenskrig.

21. september 1942, ble familien hans kastet ut av sitt hjem av SS på to timers varsel. En måned senere, 26. oktober, ble han arrestert av det norske Rikspolitiet under deres hovedaksjon med å arrestere mannlige norske jøder denne dagen. 

Han ble høsten 1942 først internert i Berg leir hvor norske NS-hirdmenn utsatte han for vold og nedverdiglese. I november samme år ble han deportert med slaveskipet DS "Donau" til Auschwitz sammen med rundt 531 andre norske jøder. Samuel Steinmanns bror, Harry Steinmann, ble drept kort tid etter ankomst til leiren. 

Samuel Steinmann fikk tattovert inn fangenummer 79 231. I mars 1943 hadde kun et tyvetalls norske jøder overlevd av de 186 som ble sortert ut som arbeidsdyktige av tyskerne. Steinmann ble overflyttet til arbeid med vindusvask og senere sykehustjeneste i Monowitzleiren i Auschwitz, noe som trolig reddet livet hans, fordi forholdene på sykehuset var langt mindre brutale enn de øvrige arbeidsleirene.

 Resten hadde omkommet. Fryst i hjel, sultet i hjel, slått i hjel, skutt. Saken var den at … ble du syk og kom inn på «krankenbau» som det het, eller «revier», altså fangesykehuset, og hvis du ikke ble frisk i løpet av noen dager så kom SS-legen ifra Auschwitz «hauptlager». Han så på kartotekkortet at du hadde ligget så og så lenge og hvilken tilstand du var, og hvis du ikke var sterk nok og hadde små sjanser for å bli frisk, så gikk du gjennom seleksjon. Var du uheldig så var det ut til høyre og man ble kjørt bort med lastebiler og kom aldri tilbake. Og det fikk jo vi da erfare, mennesker gikk rett i i gasskamrene i Birkenau. 

– Intervju med Samuel Steinmann i 1997

I januar, 1945 tvangsevakuerte SS Auschwitz da Den røde arme rykket inn i Polen. 66 000 jødiske fanger ble sendt ut på dødsmarsj. De norske jødene som var med på denne marsjen var Samuel Steinmann, Herman Sachnowitz, Julius Paltiel, Leo Eitinger, Assor Hirsch og Pelle Hirsch. Marsjen gikk gjennom Tsjekkia og innover i Tyskland for å ende opp i Buchenwald. I Buchenwald satt også de norske studentene som hadde blitt internert høsten 1943.

I mars kom de hvite bussene til Buchenwald for å hente skandinaviske fanger hjem, men Samuel Steinmann og de øvrige fire norske jødene fikk ikke være med. De ble først befridd av amerikanerne 11. april, etter å ha lurt døden på nytt ved å stjele klærne med nummer på fra døde, ikke-jødiske fanger. De fem blir sittende fast i Buchenwald en måned etter frigjøringen, og kom seg til Danmark med leilighetsskyss 17. mai.

Han kom tilbake til Oslo 30. mai 1945 etter å ha reist gjennom Tyskland og det siste stykket med båt. I Møllergata slapp han inn for å se Quisling sittende på celle.

Samuel Steinmann levde den siste tiden i Oslo.

Han ble i 2012 tildelt Kongens fortjenestemedalje i gull.

Kilde: Wikipedia