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Della Krieger oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Tori Lockler.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (31 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (15 p.)
Holocaust survivors oral history project
Interview conducted November 23, 2010.
Oral history interview with Holocaust survivor Della Krieger. Krieger was born in 1920 in Dresden, Germany. Her mother died when she was born and her father was frequently away on business, so much of her childhood was spent with her elder brother and the family's housekeeper. When she was in middle school, Krieger met her friend Puppe, a Christian girl. Although Puppe was a member of the Hitler Youth, the two girls were good friends. They were separated by the war, but eventually managed to get back into contact. A seamstress by trade, Krieger immigrated to the United States in 1938, where she met her husband, Hans Krieger, and married him in 1946. Her husband was also a Holocaust survivor, who escaped on a Kindertransport, came to the United States, and eventually liberated a concentration camp.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)
v Personal narratives.
Crimes against humanity.
Lockler, Tori Chambers,
Florida Holocaust Museum.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Holocaust & Genocide Studies Center.
University of South Florida.
Special & Digital Collections.
Oral History Program.
Holocaust & genocide studies oral history projects.
Holocaust survivors oral history project.
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 transcript
text Tori Lockler: Today is November 23, 2010. I am here with Della Rose Krieger; at birth, Della Rose Neuberger. My name is Tori C. Lockler. We are in Dunedin, Florida, in the United States of America. The language of the interview is English, and our videographers are Nafa Faalogo and Richard Schmidt.
Can you please tell us your name? Full name?
Della Krieger: Della Rose Krieger.
TL: Okay. And can you tell us your name at birth?
DK: Della Neuberger.
TL: Okay. And what year were you born?
DK: Nineteen twenty.
TL: Okay. Whats your birth date? Whats the month and day?
DK: April. April 15.
TL: Nineteen twenty.
DK: Nineteen twenty.
TL: Okay. And where were you born?
DK: In Germany. Dresden. D-r-e-s-d-e-n.
TL: Okay, thank you. And can you tell us your mothers name?
DK: Rose Seidel.
DK: S-iS-e-i-d-e-l, I think.
TL: Okay. And can you tell us your fathers name?
TL: Okay. And what did your father do for a living when you were little?
DK: He was aGod, what is the name of it? He sold things. He went from city to city, I think.
TL: Okay. And what about your mom? What did she do?
DK: Well, when I was born, she died.
TL: Okay. So, who did you live with when you were little?
DK: I had a brother, who was six years older, and we had a housekeeper.
TL: And what was your brothers name?
DK: Ralph. I guess. I knew him as Ralph.
TL: All right. And you saidis that your only sibling?
TL: Okay. And so your father was something like a travelling salesman
DK: Travelling salesman.
TL: Okay, and you stayed with your brotherand the housekeeper.
DK: And our housekeeper, yes.
TL: Okay. Can you tell us something about your earliest memories, your childhood, or the town you lived in?
DK: Well, it was roughits rough to remember what went on in Germany at the time I was growing up.
DK: I was thrown out of school, but I had a friend whoI was thrown out of school because I was Jewish, but I had met before when we were going to school a ladyI mean, at that time she was about my ageand we became very good friends. Her namewe called her Puppe; Puppe in English is doll. And she was the granddaughter of a pharmaceutical industry.
TL: A representative?
TL: A representative in a pharmaceutical
DK: No, she was more than a representative. She was the granddaughter.
TL: Okay. Okay.
DK: And where we lived, I had to pass her house, but because they had a beautiful villa with a lake and a lot of treesat that time, her father drove American cars, which was all veryhow shall I say?
TL: Upper class?
TL: Upper class?
DK: Not on her class; but for me, it was, and I became very friendly. And to the day, shes still in Germany, she went through a lot, but she was here in America several times. And she cannot travel anymore either, but theres a telephone nowadays, as you know.
TL: Well maybe, if its okay, can I take you back just a little for a minute? Before the war, before you were thrown out of school, what was it like where you lived? Was it pretty there? What was it like?
DK: In Germany?
TL: Mm-hm. Before the war.
DK: Before the war, yes. Well, it wasevery country has its pretty sights, and plenty of people.
TL: What was the house like that you lived in?
DK: Oh, it wasit was nice, I guess, [the house that] I lived in, and I remember a few little things. Theyre still in my hands.
TL: Was the housekeeper nice?
DK: Yes. Well, she was nice to me. The only thing is, and Ive told it so many timessee, in Europe, you have your main meal at lunchtime. And shemy tea or coffee, whatever I drank, there was no sugar in it. And our place was a long walk, and I yelled, Theres no sugar in it! and she said, Come and get it! And you know, like all little girls, the heck with you, and from that day on, many, many years ago, in my tea or my coffee I cannot stand sugar.
TL: And how did she get along with your brother?
DK: Well, I guess all right. I cant remember too many incidents that stand out in my head.
TL: And what was your relationship like with your brother?
DK: Very good.
DK: Very good. He sort of, being six years older, as I grew older, in a way brought me up.
TL: How often did you see your dad?
DK: Not too often, because he was travelling around. But again, there comes Puppe into my life, and through the years I had problems one way, she had problems the other way, but we still became [and] stayed friends.
TL: Do you remember how old you were when you met her?
DK: Well, she is eleven months younger. But we were in the same year, so in the same class. And sheI was her best friend, in a way.
TL: But do you remember how old you were?
DK: Well, how old are you when you are inmiddle school, I think.
TL: Middle school? Okay. All right, so around middle school, then.
TL: Okay. And tell me what you remember about her from when you were young together, when you were little together.
DK: Well, when we were young, we were reallike every young girl.
TL: What is that? Tell me what that means to you.
DK: Oy, oy, oy. Young girls, they like the boys, naturally. And she went through the problem of Hitler with me. And like all young girls, she wanted to have a uniformnot that it meant anything, but young girls liked the uniform. She belonged to the Hitler Youth.
TL: So she wasnt Jewish?
DK: She was not Jewish, no. And I went in her house and I decorated her room, but when they were meeting, I knew enough by then already not to be. Well, many years later, she had a problem, too. She was married; her husband left her after the war. But we stayed friends. She came, she visited us here in this country several times, and she had children, I think. I dont know, two boys and a girl, I dont remember exactly. But to the day, after visiting me here in America, and now she calls me. She said, Good for the telephones. We still can talk. You tell me whats happening to you. So
TL: When the two of you were young, did she know you were Jewish?
TL: She did.
DK: Yes, because when Hitler came on the street, on the big streetthere was a train station, there were bricks, and it was written, Della ist ein Jde, if you understand that.
TL: Can you tell me what it means?
DK: Jewish. Della is Jewish.
DK: And anyway, what comes then? To the point now
TL: You were telling mewith Puppe, you were telling me whether she knew that you were Jewish, and you said yes, that she knew you were Jewish.
DK: And she did not care. She liked me. Like today, thats what
TL: And when you said that she was a member of the Hitler Youth
DK: Yes, because she wanted to have a
TL: The uniform?
DK: A uniform, yes.
TL: So when there were meetings at her house, did she say anything to you or did you just
DK: No, she told me theres gonna be a meeting. I knew enough not to come.
TL: Not to stay.
DK: Not to come into the house. I went home.
TL: So, during this time, youre spending a lot of time with her. Youre still living with your brother and the housekeeper, right?
TL: Okay. And then you told me that you were kicked out of school. And can you tell me what happens from there?
DK: Well, you gotta give me a moment to remember; its a long, long time ago.
DK: UhI think quite a few years later, I met my husband.
TL: Okay. Wellgo ahead.
DK: Because he was in the army, and there were the Nuremberg Trials, if you ever heard of that. I learned how to sew. I was a seamstress. I needed a profession.
DK: I knew I had to get out of Germany, so I learned how to sew. And with that profession, I could enter the United States. But my brother lived with another family in New York, and I saidI was working in a dress shop in New York, and thewhen I visited my brother to tell him, because my husbandmy future husband said, You can sign up, too. You speak German. Or Ill put you in my suitcase, or you marry me. I had known him only ten days.
Her husband, Hans Krieger, was also interviewed for the Holocaust Survivors Oral History Project. The DOI for his interview is F60-00019.
DK: So I said to my brother, Im getting married, so he said, Congratulations. [DK said] Im going back to Germany. With that, he jumps up and he says, Oh, no, you dont! If you love each other, you wait a year.
DK: So, I went back to work, and naturally I was all (makes sound effect). And all of a sudden, the phone call came to me at the store. Somebody wants to talk to you. It was my husband. He said, Im not going. Im picking you up. Im buying you a ring.
TL: Oh! So you didnt go back to Germany at that time.
DK: Not at that time, no.
TL: Andgo ahead.
DK: Later on, many years laterI mean, a lot of times went on, but I was still in touch with Puppe. But she was looking for me in America; by then, I was in America. And he said, I wouldnt let you go back to Germany at that time.
TL: Your brother said that.
DK: My brother said that. If you love each other, youll wait a year. And thats when all this happened.
TL: And during this time, Puppe is looking for you here?
DK: Yes, for many, many years. She gothow shall I say? She separated. I went to America and she didnt know where I was, but she had aI dont know, was it a friend or somebody? She told, Please put in a Jewish paper where Della is. Well, I didnt read Jewish papers, I read American papers; I knew how to speak English and all that, et cetera et cetera. But where theres a will, theres a way somehow.
TL: So do you remember how she found you, or did you find her?
DK: She found me, many, many years later. And she came toshe came over here. And many years later, when the war was overmy husband, we married but we waited the proper time. I went back to Germany, after I travelled to Israel with my husband and all that. But Puppe stayed always in my heart and my mind, and she toomany years later I went back to Germany. I met Puppe and she went with us to the synagogue. What else?
TL: Do you rememberbefore you got back in touch with each other, do you remember the last time or close to the last time you saw her?
DK: When it was?
DK: You know, so many things happened to us. My husband went to the war, went to liberate a concentration camp and all that. So its very difficult for me.
TL: Do you remember how you got to the United States?
DK: How I got to the United States?
TL: You said that it was with the sewing career, but how did you get here? Do you remember?
DK: Well, my father had a brother, and many years before somebody from America, a relativeI forgot the namecame to my father and said, Ill take one of your boys to America. And through that, we could come to the United States after I learned my trade. If theres anything wrong with what I am telling you, forgive me.
TL: Youre doing great.
DK: So many things happened.
TL: Its okay, youre doing great. Youre doing great. Do you remember how old you were when you came to the United States?
DK: I came in, I think, 1938.
TL: Thirty-eight , okay.
DK: Its in my
TL: So, eighteen?
DK: I wasI guess I was eighteen.
TL: Eighteen, okay.
DK: I must have been eighteen.
TL: Okay. (coughs) Excuse me. Do you remember other friends that you had, other than Puppe?
DK: Other friends in Germany?
DK: Not really, after all that happened.
DK: With the Holocaust and all that.
DK: I went back to Germany many, many years later. But I am still in touch with Puppe.
TL: So youre still in touch with her today.
TL: Youre still in touch with her today.
DK: We cannot visit each other, but the phone. And anyshe remembers everything.
TL: How many years were you married?
DK: Sixty-three years.
TL: Sixty-three years. So do you remember what year you got married?
DK: Forty-six .
TL: Forty-six .
DK: Nineteen forty-six.
TL: Okay, all right. When you came to the United States, do you remember who you lived with? You said you lived with
DK: Yes, I lived with a family who took in people from Germany; they were also German. Two sisters, I think.
TL: Okay. Do you remember about how long you lived with them?
DK: Oh, quite a few years, untilI guess until Iuntil I got married.
TL: Till you got married, okay.
DK: And then my husband was in the army, Second World War. Yeah, well, he passed away very suddenly, and that is still what threw me. Anything else you want to know?
TL: What else would you like to tell us? Would you like to tell us a little bit about your life after the war, after you were married, about your children?
DK: Yeah, we werewe had a child. If he was born ten years later, they could have saved him. Richard, the child before Jeff.
DK: So, life altogether was not a bed of roses, as they say nowadays.
TL: You said before Jeff. Tell us about Jeff.
DK: Richard. He was born with awhat do you call it? Oh, God, I forget the words. A blue baby.
TL: Okay, okay.
DK: Because when he walked a little bit he started to get blue, because his aorta was in the wrong place.
TL: Okay, okay.
DK: And I knowI got my license because we had him in the Mount Sinai; you heard of Mount Sinai Hospital, New York? But they couldnt save him. Today, they could. And then I had another Caesarean, which they dont say anymore either now, and then I had Jeff.
TL: Tell us about Jeff.
DK: Hes sitting right there. Jeff? Hes, sadly to say, my only son. I wish I could have had more children. But when I need him, hes there. Hopefully, he has a little further to go now. But I have help, not onlyits not just help, its somebody who lives with me, whos very good.
TL: What else would you like to share with us? A message you would like to leave the audience with?
DK: A message? As long as you live, try to live on, even if its hard. And remember your friends, your children, your grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Im lucky to have somethree of them, right?
TL: Okay. All right.
DK: I dont think Iits very difficult, and I cant remember all. I had wonderful years with my husband. We travelled all over the world, practically, to visit. We went back to Germany.
TL: What was Germany like when you went back?
DK: How was Germany like? I mean, everybody can read that in the paper. I remember. Thats all I can do, really. Difficulty to see, to walk. Anything else you want to know?
TL: No. Okay. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate you telling us your story.
DK: Youre welcome.
TL: Thank you.
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