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IamA 95 year old survivor of Nazi Germany, I moved to the US at the age of 16 a week before Kristallnacht. Ask Me Anything!

Aug 20th 2017 by Youngladyof95 • 19 Questions • 3148 Points

Hello Reddit!

My name is Hanna Hamburger and I am 95 years old. I was born in Eppingen, Germany in 1922. At the age of 14 I was removed from school by the Nazis. I experienced anti-semitism first hand. Right before Kristallnacht, customers of my fathers warned him to leave Germany right away. At the age of 16 I left Germany with my mother and father and arrived in Hoboken, New Jersey the 5th of November, 1938. In 1993 I moved to Nashville, TN to be closer to my family. I have 2 of my grandchildren helping me with this AMA.

Ask Me Anything!

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/0ae1Z

Edit: Thank you for your questions! Hanna goes to bed pretty early so she's going to log off, but her grandchildren will continue to answer some questions!

Q:

Hi Hanna - have you (or any of your children/grandchildren,) ever visited Auschwitz or other former concentration camps as part of a tour? If so, how did you feel to experience being there after such a tragedy?

A:

Hi, I'm her granddaughter, and I have visited Poland and many of the concentration camps. It was an awe-inspiring tour, and very humbling. I know most of my and Hanna's family were killed in those camps or elsewhere.


Q:

My grandmother is a few years older than you. She too escaped as a a young girl. She spoke German with my grandfather. After he died, she refused to speak German. Do you still speak German?

A:

Oh yea, I speak German all the time with my friends and family that speak the language. I still have many friends over in Germany and we talk on the phone sometimes.

However, I didn't teach my children to speak German because in the late 1940s and 1950s, it was looked down upon to speak the language publicly. Although I spoke German to my husband at home, I didn't want to teach it to my children because we were Americans - not Germans.


Q:

Is there a fond memory before you moved to the US back in Germany? And what was it?

A:

Yeah, I had a very nice childhood. In the summer time, we had a garden next to the wood warehouse (hardware store), so my father used to say "get me a tomato and a beer." So I had the bierstein and and I would go to the tavern and got the beer. And on the way back I would drink the foam off the beer.


Q:

Have you been able to watch any movies involving the Holocaust? Which one would you say is the most accurate?

A:

I have seen a few movies. The movies never show the true horrors of the holocaust.


Q:

What was your life like when you first came to USA? What about America surprised you? Were your community and the kids here welcoming to you?

A:

Hard. Because each of us came with $100. And I started working as a nanny.

The big buildings. The many people. At the time I left, the town I was from had 3500 people. (She moved to NYC)

Yeah, we had a German congregation (synagogue). And then the people moved and we went to an american congregation. The neighborhood I moved to was poor, but most of them were welcoming.


Q:

Thank you for sharing your story with the community here, it helps to stay connected with our recent history.

After all these years, do you still marvel at the luck of your family's timing?

My step dad survived the war in France and came here as a teenager, his mom (spoke English and was put to work) married an American soldier (real dad died in Dachau) - so he was in a more middle class neighborhood, where he had a tough time fitting in, on top of ptsd from his war experiences and hiding in an orphanage. They were supposed to leave before the occupation, just didn't make it happen in time - like your other family. What a horror show.

A:

(This is her granddaughter) There was a lot of luck involved, especially because they were warned to leave and had a lot of friends in their town.

We don't know what happened to a lot of the family. Some went to Switzerland, some to England, and many died. But we don't have a lot of family because we don't know what happened to them.


Q:

What did you feel when the news of the concentration camps came out? Was it a sigh of relief that you got out of there, sheer guilt?

A:

No, it was a sigh of relief that we got out. My father tried to get his brothers and sisters out to America. One brother was single and one owned a factory, but by the time they were ready to leave, it was too late.

We tried to give as much as we could at the time to help and to release jews.


Q:

What is something you know now that you wish you knew growing up?

A:

More English, haha.


Q:

What music do you like?

A:

Classical, Opera's, symphonies.


Q:

Can't speak for OP, but he was popular with Jews too you know. A recent ban of Wagner operas in Israel caused a minor uproar with older Yiddish speaking Jews.

A:

By the way, how does it feel that YOU have the best name ever? ;-)


Q:

what do you see as life's greatest joy?

A:

My children and grandchildren make me happiest.


Q:

How many children and grandchildren do you have?

A:

2 Children, 4 grandchildren


Q:

Not a question, just sending you lots of love ❤️

A:

Thank you very much for your thoughts! And wish you all the luck in the world.


Q:

Did a lot of people around you oppose Hitler (in private)?

A:

"Some of them, but they were afraid to say something."


Q:

I assume the political situation of Germany back then was already indicative that Hitler would rise to power. Why do you think so many jews stayed in Germany even though it was obvious that an anti-semite was going to rule the country?

A:

"Their business, their money, they had nobody to give them a visa. People thought it wouldn't happen"


Q:

Was is just your mother and father? What about other family?

A:

At the time, it was only me and my parents that came over. Some aunts and uncles came over to the US in 1943. Prior to that, they were interned in Cuba because the US would only allow so many ships to dock and immigrants to come in.

My grandfather, on the other hand, was killed in Holland by the Nazis. He was thrown down a flight of stairs.


Q:

Fantastic username! What daily routines or tips do you credit for your impressive longevity?

A:

Sorry, no secret tips. I just live my life from one day to the next


Q:

What do you think of groups like antifa?

PS: Hope you enjoy the Solar eclipse!

A:

Oh, and as for the eclipse, we are watching it tomorrow!


Q:

Careful... don't go blind!

A:

Too late, I'm already legally blind!