Second Interview Insert Key
Introduction of Interviewers
We would all like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with us today.
What is your name?
And why aren't you going to give us your last name on the tape?
I think I feel more comfortable with just going with my first name. [Note: After this interview Freda decided to allow her full name to be published.]
What's your birthday?
And where were you born?
I was born in a place called Baden Bei Wien, which is a small town out of Vienna. When I lived there it was quite small, a sort of medieval town and very charming and beautiful. Today I think it's grown into a very big city.
What was your childhood like there?
You mean before the annexation? Well I was quite young and so I just remember living in a very charming place, in a sort of bucolic valley and life was very melodious, and my personal memory becomes sharpened right after the annexation, the Anschluss.
Who lived with you in your house?
What was your relationship like with your family?
We had a close relationship. My parents came from Poland and my older sister was born in Poland to. Only myself and my younger sister, Lisa, were born in Baden. The three sisters were five and a half years apart.
What was your relationship with your sisters like?
There was no relationship actually. The baby, we were five and half years apart. So there was the baby always being taken care of by the mother, and there was my older sister who would have nothing to do with me, I was just this little, younger kid - brat. She was always with her, you know, contemporaries. So there was no relationship, but again, I didn't know that it could be better and I happened to like being alone or just having one friend, that seemed fine for me.
What are some of your earliest memories growing up?
What was the environment like in your neighborhood?
We lived in a compound with many little buildings. There was a brook that ran by our house. It was a place I loved to play more than any other place. I played a lot of fantasy games. I would pull large leaves from the sides and sent them sailing down the river pretending that they were large ships. Little did I know that I would really go on a large ship.
Could you describe your neighborhood before the Anschluss happened?
We lived in a compound and in the compound - the owners of the compound ran a furniture factory, which was very far away from where we were living and interestingly enough, that factory - when the Anschluss happened and the Nazi's came in, they took over that factory and it became a munitions factory. When the war was in full process, the Allies bombed it and so the whole compound disappeared.
But back to the compound, when I was a little girl, I just remember that there were many little houses and a big wall around the compound and you had to go through a special door to get out into the street. I spent most of my time as a little girl close to home, played with friends around there. There was a little brook that ran by the house and we used to send ships down the brook, little leaves, turned them into ships. It was a very idyllic place to live, beautiful weather, gorgeous trees and flowers.
What types of activities did you do besides all those fantasy games?
I knew my mother loved - she would do her housekeeping and all that and by noon she would be finished and she would love taking the three children to the Kurpark, which was the most important park in the city. It was very gorgeous. In the front of the park there was this amazing fountain with mythological animals and people and all of them having water gushing out of their mouths. I think that when you speak about early memories I think that fountain is engraved permanently in my head.
Why was that park so important?
What other pastimes did you have as a little girl?
Yes, it's a good question, as an American I understand you completely, because as a Mom I did the same thing in America. Where you take children for all sorts of enrichment classes, piano classes or ballet dancing. There was none of that. We just went to school came home, had snacks, played with the children near by. I actually had, I think, just one close friend, and that was it, and went to the Kurpark, every single say. Yeah, that was the big moment of the day.
Did your town have a large Jewish community and facilities?
It had not a large Jewish community but a Jewish community. All of the important buildings of that community - the organizations of the Jewish community - were in a compound. That consisted of a very large synagogue - very large with a balcony - a Hebrew school, a Jewish community center, and sort of the offices - the administrative offices - of all of the other buildings.
What was it like growing up very religious?
How often did you attend synagogue growing up?
I have no memory, no personal memory of ever going to the synagogue. I must tell you - just to jump way ahead but only for a second - I did visit that synagogue again in 1981. I can talk more about that later on.