Comparing Experiences: European Jewish and African American
Dorothy Ziegler. I was about 21,22 something like that, yes.
As a Jew in Austria, what kind of discrimination did you face?
What can happen, when the nazis took over, in this case Austria, the nazis were simply on the streets, going wherever they wanted to, open any door they wanted to, and took everything they wanted to. And of course they also, we're not very gentle with everybody. And one time I had a cold and my mother put a cot into the dining room so I would be apart of everything, and low and behold, the nazis walked in, two or three nazis walked in, they were youngish you know, they walked in and I was lying there and I was terrified because we never knew what could happen. So "they said whats wrong with you?", and I said, "I have TB,", and they turned around and they were gone. So my mother and I had 10 minutes sleep, and got up to the window and we changed places for the whole night, we changed places, being afraid they are coming to the house, and we would run some place. So it was an atmosphere of fear.
Was their any specific moment where you realized the Nazis were a threat?
They were not welcome, aside of the certain group of people, who were anyway, the kind of people that were racist. So that fell right into their consciousness. There were a lot of people their that we're fighting it. They did not want to, but I guess eventually, you know, to defend yourself.
We were very proud to be Austrians, you know? And did not want anything to do with nazism. But I think the greater part, just, you know, you love power.Then they realized, as we learned later on, how much power their was, how many terrible things they did.Theirs my mother,, my aunt, my uncles, everybody was taken to, to the fires, where everybody was burned to death. And that's something that has been proven, it's not a story.
We're you at any times afraid of getting taken by the nazis? At any time, anything could have happened, and you were aware of it. Books were burned on the streets, all the good books, that were written by Jews, were burned on the streets.
How did you get out?
Well I was married, I was married seven days before, your grandfather left, It was an odd thing, that like a social security number, people had numbers, his number was very low, so he could, almost in the very beginning, get a visa to get out of Austria. And then he was trying to get me out. Sending everyday, that I won't become a public charge. So those are things that I think, is very hard to accept that that happened.
Did any more of your family get out, besides your husband?
My father, he went illegally, over the alps, the alps, are in between Austria and Switzerland, illegally over the alps, we had relatives in Switzerland. And he stayed their, until he died. Another time they came in, I had a furniture piece, it was very nice, of all the things I had, they just took it. Their are so many things like that. I had a job, we didn't have the money to go to, the school, the higher schools, I went to higher schools all along, but not to the Vienna university yet, but I had a job because I needed to help with the rent and everything, so I studied and I had a job. One time, I was at the typewriter and everything, the nazis came in, a couple of them. There's always only a couple, or three that did all that stuff. And the ones looked at me and said, the Jews have to go. So, I had to get my stuff and leave. J
Did any more of your family get out, besides your husband?
I don't think anything was really slow, they came in and did what they had to do, to take power. But it didn't take them long to do the real, cruel things, of taking all these, all the hundred of thousand of people, and kill them. So, you know, even I can't imagine, that that happened. But they burned down everything they wanted to burn down. Particularly, if it has anything to do, with Jewish people. I lived in a relatively Jewish area, I mean, not exclusively, but their were a lot of temples their, so naturally I saw even more of it. But, their were so many things that you couldn't do, that you were not allowed to do.
Geraldine Guimont Was 18 or 19 years old during this time
As an African American woman, did you face any discrimination?
Yes, there was always discrimination for me and my husband. When my husband had to go the Arizona base for this war there was a race riot. The white soldiers didn't want us there and so they tried to injure the black soldiers so they would get sent back home. Many of my friends got injured and I almost did too.
Stories of her husband during WWII
He was apart of a black troop and when he was in Alaska he had to build roads for the tanks and machinery to come through. The Americans were in Alaska because they feared that the Japanese would invade Alaska and go through Canada to get to the other states. When he had to build the roads his troop could use the machinery that the white soldiers had. They had to use hand tools, they had to take off their gloves in order to get a good grip on the tools. Many of the men in the troop got frostbite from this. Occasionally the Eskimos that lived in Alaska used to to ride in the cars with the troops. The Eskimos used to trade and help out the troops there. One time they even gave the troops coats because they knew that the troops weren't used to the weather there.
- One time my husband got stuck in a snow storm. These snow storms happened often in Alaska, they could come out of no where and at anytime. In these conditions, freezing to death was happening often. When he got stuck in this, he got separated from his troop. He was alone. He survived by making a makeshift igloo in the snow. He made a cross out of his gun, tool belt, and knife. The stuck this cross through his "igloo" so if the cross was ever seen he would be found. He only got found because the troop that found him thought it was a burial sight. You can imagine how shocking it must have been for them to find someone who was alive there. He almost froze to death but he was still alive. If they found him a minute later, I'm pretty sure he would have been frozen to death.
Another story of her Husband
Were you ever afraid of getting attacked by the Japanese?
Personally I wasn't afraid of getting attacked. I was more afraid that my husband would get attacked. There was one time when the Japanese actually attempted to take over Alaska. It was a small battle. My husband didn't fire upon the enemy so that was good. Soon after this he got trapped in the snow storm and then he got honorable discharge. His hands and feet couldn't work the same after he was caught in that snow storm. I believe that the battle was the only battle he witnessed first hand.
Documents from WWII All are pictures of copies or the originals.
Pictures of documents cont.
Work Cited: Lumas Tyler Morgan Daniel Romo Catherine Danjing Zhang