Arnold Friedmann Autobiography

From Nuremberg to Hadley

The Autobiography of Arnold Friedmann

December 1997



The Nazi Era

A New Life In Palestine

The British Army

Off to the United States

The Israeli Army

Back in the United States

Leaving New York




As we get older we seem to develop more interest in our past. Perhaps it is a subconscious wish to dex`lve back into our roots or into our childhood in order to prolong life. Perhaps it is the realization that we are at a certain age “the older generation” and we shall not be able to ask our parents any questions. Whatever the reason, I have observed amongst friends and relatives the same phenomenon: suddenly we are interested in the past.

I remember that as a youngster, especially the early years after leaving Germany, I had no interest whatever in the past. I did not want to remember. My mother often asked me whether I remember this or that person, or this or that event. Usually I said “no” even before she completed her sentence. I do not know whether this attitude and the change of attitude later on in life is normal, or whether it has something to do with the fact that we were refugees and had good reason for wanting to forget.

I have unfortunately waited too long before I became interested in and started to think about the past . My father had died and my mother had pretty much lost her memory and her mental functions. Thinking back helped me to remember a good many events in my life; writing down these events seems to help a good deal to get things into focus. It also turns out that as one becomes more interested there are sources and resources that one can consult and before long everything seems to fall into place.

The question is why do I want to write about my life. I guess my life was interesting and seems to have developed in several “layers”. I have had a rather exciting life in many respects, although probably no more exciting than the lives of many of my contemporaries and fellow refugees.

I am writing this in the late 1990’s well over 50 years after the end of World War II and about 60 years after having left Germany and having started a life which was certainly not what my parents had in mind for me when I was born. This is also an era when it seems that week after week new books about the holocaust and the Hitler years followed by emigration are being published. I don’t really start these notes intending a book. I feel an urge to record what I can remember. I hope that perhaps my children and grandchildren might be interested. It is also possible that others—especially friends might be interested in what I have to say.

All in all I have been very fortunate. I got out of Nazi Germany just a few months before it would have been too late. I was in two armies—in two wars—and have not been harmed in any way. And finally I was terribly ill and survived only due to a liver transplant, and I am now almost 12 years after the operation in good health.

In some way this record of my life is a celebration—celebrating the fact that I am still here and doing well.


My family was solid middle class on both sides, but more so on my mother’s side than my father’s. My maternal grandfather was a well respected citizen with an important executive position in Nuremberg’s largest toy manufacturing enterprise—Gebrueder Bing (Bing and Brothers). I know little about my grandfather’s origin and know little about his family. But based on comments made by my mother and various family members, the Bacharachs were a respected family of German business people. In fact, when my parents became engaged some members of the Bacharach family had raised questions about the suitability of the match. A good part of that feeling of superiority was derived from my grandmother’s origin. Her maiden name was Bamberger. The Bambergers were proud of their long and well documented history. I own a genealogy from that side of the family which has its first entry in 1813. It was compiled professionally under the direction of one Friedrich Carl Tuchmann in 1928; it starts with the Tuchman family residing in Uehlfeld (Bavaria). The descendants lived in Nuremberg and in a number of smaller Bavarian towns. One member of the family was my mother’s grandmother named Marie Bamberger who lived in Kronach, a small town north of Nuremberg. Marie Bamberger had nine children. I have a family portrait showing her with her nine offspring including my grandmother Elise. Rumours have it that Marie’s husband was a small time merchant, or a sort of peddler. However, the nine children were very successful as a group. One was a chemist, proudly referred to by the family as “Dr. Heinrich.” Another became a physician. He, Dr. Simon, lived in Kronach and his sister Ida kept house for him. Tante Ida, whom I knew well and liked, was never married. The Bambergers had children and grandchildren in large numbers. The only ones with whom I kept in touch were my second cousins Maja, deceased in 1989, and her brother Rudi whom we visit whenever we are in London. In this country my mother’s cousin Edith Rosenberg is still alive at this time, but is not well and is suffering from a number of ailments.

I have no recollection of my grandparents on my mother’s side. My grandfather died in his early fifties before I was born. My grandmother died at the same age when I was three years old. Even at that time—about 1920—it was unusual for people in Germany to die that young. My mother was convinced that she too would die at a very early age and always talked about it. She died at the age of 98 1/2 years.

I knew my paternal grandparents Herman and Julie Friedmann well. They had lived in Suhl, East Germany, where my father was born in 1893. It took quite a while for me to find some information about my grandparents. I wrote several letters and was finally put in touch with somebody in Hildburghausen who was able to dig up the information I was looking for. My great-grandparents were Lazarus Samuel Friedmann and Juliane Friedmann (maiden name Compart). They were married in Schleusingen in 1860 and my grandfather was born in 1867. The person in Hildburghausen who responded to my enquiries had the title: “Kreisoberinspektorin” (inspector for the region) and she was nice enough to send along a couple of copies of old etchings as well as some photographs taken in 1875 of the town of Schleusingen.

My grandfather was a fascinating person, but one who did not fit the prevalent expected middle class pattern of success... I believe that he did many different things in his life. I remember that he told me that at one time he ran away from home to become a sailor I also remember that when I was in third grade of elementary school our teacher asked us what our grandfathers did for a living. I proudly reported that my grandfather was a ship’s captain (since I did not know the difference between a sailor and a captain). Grandfather did a lot of odd jobs. At one time in his life he had a shoe repair shop, and he seems to have been involved in a variety of business activities. When we were children our grandparents lived in Fuerth where for a while grandfather owned a newsdealership and tobacco shop. My grandparents never seem to have had a lot of money and from time to time my father had to help with some financial support. The family consisted of four brothers and one sister. My father was the only one who through hard work and some scholarships obtained a university education.

My father had a good relationship with his parents. But his nature was undemonstrative. He helped his parents whenever there was need. For a period of about a year my grandparents actually moved in with us. By that time it was the Hitler era when it was difficult for Jews to find housing. Subsequently my father was able to arrange for my grandparents’ residence in the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Nuremberg. That move took place in the last two years of our stay in Germany. The last time I saw my grandparents was on a visit to the home shortly before we left.

None of my father’s brothers had much education and as a result did not have a lot of success in life. My father showed little brotherly love for them and had only few contacts. We rarely met his brothers and their families, except when my grandparents arranged such a gathering. One of my uncles—uncle Leopold—lived in Fuerth, another one—uncle Otto—in the northern city of Aachen. Both brothers were married to gentiles, and both supported themselves through some kind of unskilled jobs. This, of course, was unheard of in the “gut buergerliche” (solid bourgeois) family that my parents represented). I never had any contact with the Aachen branch of the family. Recently I tried without success to establish some sort of communication with the cousins, and no doubt a number of their children. I visited my uncle Leopold in a senior citizens residence in Fuerth on my first trip back to Germany in 1968. On that visit I also met my cousins (Leopold’s children) Kurt and his wife Emi, and Irmgard and her husband Domenico. The latter was a guest worker from Italy who settled in Germany and became a citizen. I invited the whole family to dinner (as I was expected to) and particularly enjoyed getting to know Irmgard. She and her husband at that time ran a bar in Fuerth. Kurt had a position as a bookkeeper. My uncle was not well during that family gathering and hardly talked. He died a few years later. Both Irmgard and Kurt had remained in Germany during the war and were basically treated as Germans. In the early Hitler years they were in the Hitlerjugend and B. D. M. (the official youth organization for girls) but were subsequently forced to withdraw since they were “ Mischlinge” (mixed race). Together with German children they were evacuated to the country to escape the bombing. Kurt eventually was sent to a labor camp, but never to a concentration camp. It is interesting that in spite of their obviously Jewish names and background nothing really happened to them. It is possible that due to their working class environment the Nazis did not perceive them as being Jewish. I do not know how my two uncles survived the war, but I am quite sure that they were never in a concentration camp.

Starting in the 1970’s, I tried to have contact with my cousins, and to this day we exchange Christmas cards. In 1988 Susi and I traveled to Nuremberg for a couple of days so that I could show Susi the city where I was born. By that time the town had been completely rebuilt, but as a city it was very dull. We felt it was more of a stage set than a truly historic city. After 6 o’clock the town pretty much closed down including most restaurants. We invited Kurt and Emi and their daughter to dinner. The daughter was about 25 years old at the time and lived at home with her parents. She was not unattractive but clearly she had few friends outside the family. Kurt, at the time was retired because of poor health. During the day we went to visit the Duerer Haus which neither Kurt nor Emi had ever visited before. Susi (who is from Vienna) had difficulties understanding Kurt since he spoke in a strong Nuremberg dialect. My cousins were pleasant enough but clearly we had little in common with them. Since we also found the city rather dull we left after two days. On that same trip we drove on to Switzerland where we stayed for a week in Pontresina. I had written our travel plans to Irmgard. She and her husband (they have a son named Markus but we never met him) were in Italy during our visit. They have a summer place near Domenico’s family in the South. One evening we were at dinner in our rather stuffy hotel when the maitre’ D informed me that somebody was in the lobby for us. It turned out to be Irmgard and husband who had just driven up from Italy. They looked rather bedraggled after many hours of driving and said they want to freshen up before joining us for dinner. I was sure that dinner and their stay at the hotel would be at my expense. It turned out that they were quite affluent and that they are very nice. They stayed for two days (at their own expense) and we enjoyed each other’s company. I am not sure whether we shall meet them again. We would like to, but we are all getting older and it seems that their health is not the best. Kurt is really quite ill with diabetes. According to his wife’s Emi’s 1995 Christmas card he can hardly walk anymore and sits at home most of the time.

Well, that was a very brief interlude into the present, and now back to my early years.

At times my father helped one or the other of his brothers but I had the feeling that help was offered somewhat reluctantly. My father was the gentlest and kindest of men who lavished love and care upon us and in his later years his grandchildren. The chances are that there were some events in the family, perhaps going back to Suhl, that caused this out of character behavior on my father’s part. The third brother was never married. He worked in various office jobs in Nuremberg and he was called “Heini”—a diminutive for Heinrich. My sister and I liked him quite well, although he too was not included in my parents’ concept of “ family”. He was a sweet and somewhat ineffective person. My father’s sister Ilse almost became a spinster. She married late in life (in the early 1930’s) to an older man. He was a German-Jewish businessman living in Holland. On a trip I took with my father in 1936, we actually visited the Fulds (Tante Ilse) and her husband in Amsterdam.

My grandmother Julie, born in 1866, was a member of the Sommerhauser family. I have some genealogical information which lists Isaac Sommherhauser, born in 1761, as the first recorded member of the family. Like my mother’s family, most of the many children and grandchildren of the Sommerhausers lived in various small communities in Bavaria. Hence my grandparents’ sojourn in Suhl may have been a temporary one, which could account for the fact that I found it difficult to obtain information about them for a long time.

My father was an excellent student and succeeded in getting a university education. At that time it was not easy to gain admission to universities, especially for Jews. His main education was obtained at the University of Erlangen where he ultimately obtained a doctorate in law. It was standard practice in Germany and Austria to award doctoral degrees for law (and other discipline such as engineering), and the use of these titles was de rigueur. Not only did everybody use academic, judiciary, and commercial titles, but the wives of holders of these honorifics were addressed as Frau Justizienrat (Counselor) or Frau Doktor. For many years my parents were in touch with my father's former law secretary Frau Brandl who, in correspondence with my mother to Israel and later to the United States, addressed my mother as “Frau Doktor.” My father’s career was interrupted by military service during World War I. He served in the German infantry from 1914 to 1918. He advanced through the ranks and became a Lieutenant. That rank and his subsequent injuries almost cost him his life. My father was convinced that having been a war hero and officer nothing would happen to him. Indeed, until November 9th, 1938 he was able to practice law and was able to maintain a correct relationship with the authorities, even the Nazi ones. More about that later on. He was wounded twice. Once by shrapnel on his hand resulting in the loss of a part of his finger. The second time a wound in his knee which never completely healed. He was hospitalized in military hospitals but, until his death, he never regained complete use of his right leg. The leg became “stiff,” a condition which prevented him from bending it properly. However, his war injuries did not curtail any activities in later life; he was able to bicycle and hike, ski, and do whatever he wanted. The German military considered him a Schwerkriegsverletzter (a serious war casualty) and he received a small pension for life. This pension was cut off during the Hitler era but around 1952, after the beginning of restitution payments, the pension was resumed with back pay. For his conduct during World War I, during which he saw a good deal of action on the Western front, he was awarded the iron cross second class. After his discharge from the army he obtained a position at Bing Bros. company with the help of my grandfather. He worked in the legal department of the corporation for a couple of years before setting up his own law office (Kanzlei).

My parents met around 1918 and were married in 1920 after a formal engagement. My mother had by that time completed high school and worked as a volunteer nurse for a couple of years from 1916 to 1918. She received training in military hospitals and was an excellent and competent nurse. She had always been interested in medicine and was quite knowledgeable about medical matters. Had she been born a generation later, she surely would have gone to medical school. My parents’ marriage was a one of love, a love which never faded for more than fifty years of happy marriage in unhappy times. Like many Germans, my parents invented nicknames for each other. My mother was 'Nini" and my father "Mumi". I believe there is some vague operatic connection to these names. When my parent were courting they went on hikes and did opern—singing operatic tunes at times of their own invention. This was surprising since neither of them was particularly musical—in fact my father could hardly hold a tune.

When my parents were married after the war, there was a serious shortage of housing, and my father made little money. To start married life they moved in with my mother's parents’ fairly large apartment at No.1 Hallerhuetten Strasse in Nuremberg. Sadly my grandparents died within two years of each other; the apartment became my parents’. It was located in a middle class area of town. Very few people in Nuremberg (or anywhere else in central Europe) owned their own houses, and the norm was to rent apartments. The building where my parents lived and where I was born was a “good” building. But it had a shop on the ground floor and was clearly not the best of residences. A streetcar ran on Hallerhuetten Strasse which was a plus since everybody depended upon public transportation. The neighborhood was integrated. There were a few Jewish families but also down the street, lived Julius Streicher, the notorious Nazi criminal. As an aside I should mention that he went to Tanzschule (dancing school) with my mother. Until the mid-thirties when Nazi terror was rampant, Streicher still greeted my mother and permitted her to board or exit the street car before he would do so. One of the advantages of the location of the apartment was its proximity to the Zoo. The Tiergarten (zoo) in Nuremberg was exceptionally splendid with many amenities for children and a pleasant restaurant. I remember many outings to the Tiergarten where my mother met her friends and where we played with the children of those friends.

My sister Lotte was born in 1922 and I was born in 1925. I was delivered by a midwife with a physician's presence in my parents' apartment. Although Nuremberg had good medical facilities it apparently was the custom in those days to birth children at home. I have few recollections about my early childhood. Perhaps this is due to the fact that after leaving Germany I very consciously tried to forget everything that had to do with the country. But it may also be due to the fact that my childhood was followed by several layers of life in vastly different circumstances, and I may have surpressed memories. Only in recent years, perhaps when I reached the age of sixty, did I become more interested in the past., As it happens so often it was too late at that point to ask my parents. My father had passed away and my mother had lost most of her memory.

Strange as it may sound for a child growing up under the emergence of the Nazis, I had a happy childhood. Our home life was happy and my parents were wonderful in bringing us up. Like every middle class family in Bavaria we had a maid who lived in our apartment. In my first two years of life my grandmother helped my mother. In subsequent years there were various family members from my mother's side who stayed with us from time to time. I remember one of my mother's uncles—Uncle Theo—who lived with us for several months. And there were others who came for visits. I had a normal sibling relationship with my sister, fighting a good deal and complaining to our mother about each other, but basically being fond of each other. I had difficulty pronouncing Schwesterle (little sister) and made a word out of it which sounded like Wette. That name stuck and everybody called my sister by that name for many years. My earliest clear recollections date from the start of elementary school at the age of six. There are flashes of memories predating that age, but not enough to write down anything as facts. Actually, my first day in school must have been a traumatic experience, since I remember much about it. I was scared and did not want my mother to leave after bringing me to school. Elementary school was in walking distance although on a visit to Nuremberg in 1987 I drove around the area in order to show it to Susi, but could not find the school. I went to my first day of school with the usual Schultuete a cone shaped colorful paper container which children received full of little gifts, pencils, erasers and notebooks. I remember that I cried that day because I was unable to tie my shoes—a skill I had previously mastered. My first two years were in the elementary school near our Hallerhuetten Strasse apartment. It was a typical German school with rather strict discipline. A child who mis-behaved was given a Pfoetchen, meaning a strike with a bamboo rod across the open hand. As far as I remember I was never punished that way, yet it is conceivable that I banished the memory if it should have happened. Our teacher was Herr Hoendler and one of my classmates was his own son who received more punishment than anybody else. I was quite happy in school. We learned a good deal by being drilled and by memorizing facts. Our first instructions in writing used German script (Suetterlin). I do not remember when we learned cursive writing, I believe it was taught very soon after we learned how to write. I have never used the German script since my childhood days, and by now have difficulty reading it. I do not recall much evidence of anti-Semitism in those first two years of school. We had to pass a Wirtshaus (bar/beergarden) on the way to school. The little girl of the owners often waylaid us (my sister walked with me) to call us Judenstinker. We did not take it very seriously and gave that little girl the nickname of Judenstinkerle (little stinking Jew). There were some other similar incidents but we did not feel threatened. We were brought up very conscious of the fact that we were Jewish, and that a lot of people are hostile to Jews. An amusing incident took place when I was in third or fourth grade in elementary school. One day our teacher assigned us to research our ancestors and background, and to come in with a genealogy as far back as we were able to go. I proudly submitted my homework based on the printed genealogy from my mother's family. After looking over all the papers the teacher realized that my German background was better documented than that of the majority of Aryan children. The project was dropped. Our friends and playmates were all Jewish and we never played in the street. My best friend was a very small half Jewish boy by name of Heini Kraft. I was of normal height and I thought of myself as his protector. His family lived in an elegant Villa a few minutes from us. I spent a lot of time playing there since they also had a very nice garden and, in general, lots of space. Together we built a treehouse but I was clearly the architect for the structure. Heini and his family did not leave in time and perished in the Holocaust.

Just about every school holiday that I can remember we spent in Italy . In later years my parents took us to various other European countries, but they loved Italy and their favorite resort was the town of Brixen (Bressanone) in the South Tyrolian region. We always stayed at a hotel owned by the Gasser family and known under the name of Hotel Gasser. In 1991 Susi and I spent two weeks in Brixen and thoroughly enjoyed it. I went looking for my childhood in the Hotel Gasser which still exists but no longer as a full hotel with meals. My parents become good friends with the Gassers and kept up that friendship for many years. Old Herr Gasser looked like Santa Claus to me, but in spite of his white beard he was probably quite a bit younger than I am now. We usually had Christmas with the Gasser family as friends rather than hotel guests. During winter vacations there was skiing in Brixen, and we were given skiing lessons near the hotel. Since there was usually a lot of snow around Christmas we often were picked up at the railroad station by a horse drawn sled. Some excursion trips to nearby mountain goals were also done by horse-drawn sled with all of us wrapped warmly into layers of wool blankets. If my father was too busy to travel, my mother took us to Brixen during Easter vacation, and always for some time during the summer. Many times we stayed in Brixen for only a few days on the way to other holiday spots in Italy. The trip from Nuremberg via the Brenner Pass was just a few hours. Many of our Italian summer vacations were spent at the Adriatic Sea, in the resorts of Rimini, Riccione and Lignano. At one time we figured out that the Kirschs (Susi's family) were in Lignano at exactly the same time we were there. And the same coincidence occurred in Alt Aussee in Austria, were we also spent a holiday at the same time period.

In 1935 or 1936 we moved to a different part of the city to a very nice 6 or 7 room apartment on Rieterstrasse. This was a more elegant part of town. Very close friends of ours, the Neumetzgers, lived directly across the street. I was friendly with Hilde who was my age. I did not like Ernest who was a few years older. The Neumetzgers left Germany in 1937 and we took over their apartment which was even nicer than the one we had occupied for the past couple of years. At this time we have become quite friendly with Ernest (their name was changed to Noymer) and his wife, but we have only very limited contact with Hilde.

The Nazi Era

My first awareness of the Nazi regime took place when we were still living in the building where I was born. In fact, I remember that in 1933, I believe, during the first boycott against Jews a shop across the street from us was picketed and smeared up with slogans. My parents did not have to explain anything to me. I was well aware by that time what was happening. I never realized the seriousness of the situation and probably was influenced by my father's optimism that all that Nazi stuff would blow over. Adult conversation, and to a certain extent the conversation amongst children, revolved around the Nazis' takeover of everything in Germany. We were afraid, yet we as children were also curious. A couple of times I managed to be in crowds admiring some sort of Nazi parade even though if anybody had pointed to me as a Jew, I would have been beaten up. In the early years of the Nazi regime, there was still a certain degree of law enforcement and respect for the law on the part of the mobs. Strangely enough in Nuremberg, the city of the party congresses (Die Stadt der Reichsparteitage), Jews were not beaten up on the streets without the pretense of legal cause. I was harassed and beaten by other children, but usually I was able to walk or run away. I did not perceive these incidents as dangerous or deadly, but more like bullying by stronger kids. By 1936 or 1937, it became clear that things were hopeless for Jews. I was at that time a pupil in the Reform Gymnasium.

Under the German system children could be enrolled in a "high school" after the fourth grade. There was tuition to be paid and the choices were Reform Gymnasium which was geared to towards Humanities, and Real Gymnasium which was science oriented. I was in the Gymnasium for two years from 1935 to l937. The prevalence of Nazism became more intense during those two years. There was no overt discrimination against the four or five Jewish children in my class. We were of course excluded from the Hitler salute and the singing of the Horst Wessel Lied (the Nazi anthem). I probably would have liked to participate in all these activities in spite of the fact that I knew of the ever increasing anti-Semitism. I did well scholastically. In fact I was the best student in my class for those two years. By 1937 a Law was passed to exclude Jewish children from German schools. Luckily there was an excellent Jewish high school in Fuerth. The Israelitische Real Schule had very high standards and taught me a great deal. The first thing that I learned was that the Jewish children were smart. I dropped from my status as first in the class to something like number four or five. It was a religious school which had been established long before the rise of Hitler. I learned for the first time about religion other than the minimal observances that we had at home. After a year in the school I approached my mother with the request to keep a kosher household. My mother thought it was a good idea, and encouraged me to do so once I am grown up with my own household. The school had to have one or two German teachers by law. Ours was somebody by the name of Falkenmeier who was not particularly friendly but was a fair teacher. Some of the other teachers were absolutely first rate. Perhaps the most important thing I learned in the two years in Fuerth was how to study and how to be self motivated. Almost every child who had attended the Israelitische Real Schule did well in later life—at least those whom I knew about and those who came to some of the 40 years and 50 years reunions organized in this country. Our most famous alumnus was Henry Kissinger. His brother was a classmate of mine and we were quite friendly. My only recollection of Henry was one time when he picked up his younger brother from our house and made a remark to the effect that “so this is where the wealthy people live.” The Kissingers lived on the wrong side of the tracks. Walter, my former friend, became a multi-millionaire without banking on his brother’s famous name.

Life in those last two years of school was quite normal and I grew up with many friends and many social activities. Of course, they were only Jewish friends. A good deal of our life pivoted around the synagogue and activities there. We belonged to the “Liberal” congregation which was a form of Judaism somewhere between the American conservative and reform movements. All my friends and their families were part of that congregation, which was not really respected by our teachers in Fuerth. There was an orthodox community in Nuremberg and one in Fuerth, but we had little social interaction with people from those groups. That also turned out to be based on prejudice. Many of the orthodox people had roots in Poland or Russia. My parents and their friends looked down on them. Unfortunately, many German Jews had that attitude, and the same was true for Viennese Jews who were even more strongly prejudiced against Ostjuden. I was enrolled in religious instruction in preparation for my Bar Mitzvah. That was the equivalent of Sunday school. We all liked being part of it and we attended Shabbat services in the Synagogue as part of the preparation. Much of it—even the services—were fun for us and constituted a good part of our social life. My Bar Mitzvah in May 1938 was one of the last ones held in the large Nuremberg synagogue. It was a festive affair with two parties—one for family and friends, and one for children—held at our home. I received many obligatory presents. Most were supposedly geared towards emigration, such as a travel chess and luggage. In Germany, people did not celebrate Bar Mitzvahs with huge catered parties the way it is done in the states.

I have few personal memories of anti-Semitism of those years. But there was little conversation at home and amongst my friends that did not discuss some of the horrible happenings.

Several of my Jewish friends commuted to the school in Fuerth by streetcar. We had to walk about three block from our last stop to the school. Several times we were pursued by Nazi children who threw things at us and used the standard epithets against Jews. We usually succeeded in outrunning the other children and got safely to the school. There were fewer and fewer places for Jews to visit without being expelled or mistreated. For about four years in the 1930’s my parents rented a garden within a few blocks from out apartment. It was not unusual in Germany, where most people lived in apartment buildings, to rent gardens. Ours was about half an acre enclosed with a high fence which gave privacy as well as safety. It had a little garden bungalow where my mother was able make tea or coffee, and it had a separate toolshed. We spent most afternoons after school there and on weekends my parents invited friends or family for games of bridge and for “Kaffee und Kuchen.” Lotte and I often had our friends there and were able to play ball games, ping pong and in general did what children like to do.

I remember one incident in 1936 which made me feel very important and grown up. Laws had been passed earlier to the effect that Jews had to turn in whatever weapons they possessed. My father had done so immediately and surrendered his World War I revolver. However, he noticed in 1936 that he still had a few rounds of ammunition at home. One evening I picked him up in his offices and we walked home with the express purpose of getting rid of the forbidden bullets... In one of the parks I strolled into some bushes and carefully dropped the few bullets, making believe that I was tying my shoelaces. I felt like a hero, but above all I was proud that my father involved me in this very harmless action. It also indicates my father’s state of mind. He was the most law abiding citizen who still at that time, believed in Germany and a fair system of justice. On a personal level he felt secure in his standing as a World War I hero whom even the Nazis would not bother. My father’s total respect for law was exemplified every time we traveled to Italy. Everybody had to apply for permission and for foreign currency for a trip abroad. It would have been easy to leave a little bit of money with my uncle Max (my mother’s brother who lived in Italy since 1933). But since that would have been illegal, my father always used up foreign currency during the last two or three days by staying in luxury hotels and otherwise spend the currency legally

It was the night of November 9th, 1938, the Kristallnacht which finally shattered my father’s illusions. Until that date he was fond of saying that he would leave Germany on the last train out, in the last car, after having helped all his many clients to emigrate with as much legal documentation and possessions as possible. I remember the Kristallnacht clearly, even though we were spared the horror that most German Jews experienced that night. We were awakened around one o’clock in the morning by loud banging on the door. A group of 6 or 7 S.A. men in uniform rushed into the apartment shouting “Haussuchung” (search action). They rushed into every room without really looking for anything and, fortunately for us, did not damage anything nor do physical violence to us. We were shocked, but did not realize the nature of the organized violence and destruction which took place nationally. About fifteen minutes after the raid the telephone began to ring. The first call was from some acquaintances who lived nearby. Their apartment had been pretty much destroyed and they were beaten up. The parents and their daughter came over to take shelter with us for the night. Several people called because of my father’s standing as a lawyer and one who was able to communicate with the authorities. Of course my father could not help in any way, and knew as little as all the other Jewish families who called. It became clear that Kristallnacht was organized nationally and the destruction of Jewish synagogues, shops, and private homes was carefully orchestrated. Nuremberg was no better and no worse than the rest of Germany. However, about an hour after the raid on our apartment, we received a call from my mother’s aunt by marriage, Tante Olga Bamberger. The Bambergers had lived in a villa not far from our house and had run a very successful coffeehouse in the building. This was the only restaurant available to Jews by that time. Their house was raided like everybody’s who was Jewish. For no apparent reason uncle Karl was beaten and pushed from the third floor into an atrium-like open space. He died on the spot. My parents asked Tante Olga to come to our place with her children Rudi and Maja. My recollections are not very clear about this. Rudi whom we see whenever we go to London told me that he, his sister and mother stayed with us for a couple of weeks. Somehow life seemed to continue after November 9th, but obviously this was the last wake up call for people who like my father still had illusions that Nazism will blow over. November 9th was also my last day in highschool—ever. The school in Fuerth remained closed, and I was never again able to attend highschool.

About three days after Kristallnacht my father was picked up by the Gestapo at his offices. He was held in Gestapo headquarters for three nights. When he came home he looked ten years older and uttered only one sentence : “Jetzt gehts raus” (now we are getting out of here). My father never uttered a word to us about what happened to him. Much later, some 15 years ago, I obtained a book about the history of Jews in Nuremberg. The book was published by the city and contained pretty much all the horrors that had happened. There was an entry which quoted an eye witness report about how my father was mistreated by the Gestapo. He was made to crouch (which was almost impossible for him due to his injured leg) he was beaten up, and he was given charge of supervising two other Jewish prisoners who had to fight each other. My father always was a very dignified man. Three days of mistreatment by the Gestapo almost destroyed his humanity and never left him completely. In a way he was very fortunate that he was kept for three days only and was not sent to a concentration camp. Whether this was due to his standing as a war hero and lawyer, or whether it was just luck, we never found out.

He spent the next few days using every possible connection in Nuremberg and in Berlin to obtain permission to emigrate. He desperately tried for a visa to the United States or to any country that would accept Jews. During the previous three years my parents careful explored options for eventual emigration. My mother spent several weeks in the States in 1936, and my father went to Palestine in 1937 where his former law associate and a number friends had settled. With his connections and with luck he managed to obtain a permit for legal immigration to Palestine, with the proviso that my parents can show a minimum of 1000 British pounds to their name. By that time it was impossible to send money from Germany. Through a number of calls to my uncle in Milan Italy, my aunt’s parents who were quite wealthy and had already settled in the United States, transferred the required amount to my father’s name. That money was never touched by my parents and was returned to the Gutmans (my uncle’s parents-in-law) as soon as we arrived in Palestine. The money enabled my father to obtain one of the few remaining visas for Palestine. The permit was for the immediate family only and my father planned to get his parents out of Germany as soon as he had settled in Palestine. We never saw my grandparents again.

We were given permission to take a container filled with personal possessions, but no money whatever. It was quite an achievement to receive permission for the shipping of household goods and, of course, to receive legal permission to leave Germany and to emigrate to Palestine. The packing of our household goods was supervised by a German official. Several items were held back “for protection” or for “safe keeping” by the official. This included a number of my things since they were purchased not long before that as items of value to be sold abroad. I lost a very expensive accordion, a new bicycle, a Kontax camera, and also my stamp collection. After the war, much to our surprise, the German official contacted a distant relative who was a correspondent of the New York Times (in Germany at the time) and returned my camera. This got him a letter from my father describing his action and presumably helped to rehabilitate him. Perhaps, to be fair, that official really felt that he should keep the camera rather than have it confiscated at the border. There were other instances of decency which my father reported from time to time. In the early morning after the Kristallnacht raid our doorbell rang. A man in S.A. uniform, who turned out to be the boyfriend of our last maid, brought a bag of rolls to my parents and told them not to go out for a few days.

My parents managed to clear all bureaucratic requirement, pack, and book our trip. We left by train on December 31st, 1938 and arrived in Switzerland in time for the 1939 New Year. We stayed the first night in St. Gallen with an uncle of my aunt’s—also a member of the Gutman family. They had settled in Switzerland in the early 1930’s and moved some of their business from Nuremberg to St. Gallen. After one night there, we traveled on to Milan in order to spend almost three weeks with my uncle Max and his wife Hilde. They had a very nice apartment which had been given to them by Hilde’s parents for their wedding just three years earlier. Max was a salesman who never did particularly well, but he had lived quite comfortably in Italy for several years. He and Hilde were very proud of their elegant apartment in Milan. There was enough space for all of us and the weeks in Milan were the last ones of a comfortable existence for years to come.

Actually there was another week of comfortable life. We traveled on a regularly scheduled Italian ship that plied between Italy and Haifa. I am not sure whether we were in first class or second class but it was certainly a pleasant trip. There was a captain’s dinner to which my parents went, probably the last time dressed up in their fineries. There were films on board, and I still remember one silly German film to which we were taken. It is amazing to think about that trip in comparison to the many refugee ships that came to Palestine later on. The fact that we were able to leave Germany legally after the Kristallnacht, and spent a few pleasant weeks in Milan and sailed aboard a luxurious passenger ship was just good luck, fate, or perhaps a minor miracle. There were of course many other Jews who managed to leave in relative comfort and quite legally, but in retrospect every single escape of that nature was a unique event.

A New Life In Palestine

We disembarked in Haifa without any difficulties on the part of the British authorities. We were met by a former client of my father’s who resided in Haifa. I do not recall his name. He was one of a number of old friends who had previously settled in Palestine and who helped us in the beginning. After one night in Haifa we traveled by bus to Jerusalem. My father’s former law associate, former clients and two other families who were friends’ of my parents had arranged to house us for the first few weeks. By the time we came to Jerusalem we were poor. My father immediately returned the 1000 pound sterling to the Gutman family (that was the amount necessary for a visa (or as it was called by the authorities, a “Certificate”). My parents moved in with the Ottensooser family. They were bankers in Germany and in Israel and they had a fairly large apartment. By coincidence it was in a building located in Rehaviah were many of the well-to-do German refugees lived, and where my friend Jacob Hirsch lived with his family. But at that time we did not know each other. My sister stayed with the Lorch family (Max Lorch was my father’s former associate), and I stayed with the Leurer family. He was a physician who had already passed the Palestinian licensing examination and was in private practice. The three families were good friends, and we (the Friedmanns) saw each other regularly although most of our meals were taken with our host families. We stayed in Jerusalem about six weeks. My father tried without success to find some new direction or some kind of employment. It was felt by all that there were more opportunities in Tel Aviv, and we moved there after our Jerusalem stay. I do not remember whether my sister did anything in Jerusalem. I faintly remember that she helped in a kindergarten. She was 16 years old at the time, and going back to school was out of question. Hence she was encouraged to try various professions which ranged from work with children to salesclerk in a store. I was the only one who started to work in a field which eventually became my profession. Mrs. Lorch’s brother owned a fairly large woodworking factory. This is where I was apprenticed for a few weeks. I was very unhappy that I could not go to school, but high schools were all private in Palestine and were rather expensive. What made it particularly hard for me was the fact that all three host families had children of more or less the same age as Lotte and I. In ,Nuremberg we were not close friends but we saw each other several times a year and we played together. Now they were of a different class. They knew about the persecution of Jews in Germany, and they were kind and supportive. The fact, however, was that we were penniless and they happened to be children of well-to-do parents. It was the first time that I was hit by the recognition of poverty. It took several years to adjust to the situation. Since my parents had been well off in Germany very much like their friends in Jerusalem, it was particularly difficult to accept this new status.

The reason for my apprenticeship to a woodworking shop goes back a few years. As a ten year old I became interested in crafts, especially in jigsaw work. I was quite good at it and enjoyed making thing. My magnum opus was a desk lamp which I made for my parents. I cut out all the component parts; I believe there were 12 sections of scroll work which I had painstakingly cut according to a pattern. I think I also laminated parchment paper to each section , and somehow made a supporting base. Only the putting together of the 12 parts into a lamp shade was done by a shop that specialized in crafts for children. For adults and children alike a paramount endeavor in Germany was umschichten. The translation means to shift to new and different directions in preparation for emigration. Many professionals such as doctors and lawyers tried to learn trades. Young people went to camps that were agricultural schools, which was of course, one of the most needed new fields for the building up of a Jewish Palestine. Due to the suddenness of our departure, my father did not prepare for any new work at all. I had all kinds of private instruction from typing (which I never really learned) to advertising, lettering, and sign making. Again there was time for only very few weeks of instruction between November the 10th—the end of schooling for me, and our departure on December 31st, 1938. My interest in woodworking was also stimulated by the cabinetmakers who had been hired by my parents to dismantle furniture in order to prepare it for a shipping container. So that experience together with my previous interest in jigsaw work determined the direction of cabinetmaking for me. I was encouraged by my parents but I was truly interested. If there was no way for me to continue schooling, wood-working seemed a good thing to do. I was 13 years old at that time and was really still a child. I had not reached puberty when I started to be apprenticed. In the first few weeks at the furniture factory in Jerusalem, I did not do much more than hold one end of whatever was being worked on, and clean the shop. But that was the way apprentices started. My career in the Witman workshops was cut short by two events. One was the fact that my parents had found an inexpensive apartment in Tel Aviv and were ready to move as soon as the container from Germany arrived. The other event was the fact that one of the workers took a liking to me and started to harass me. I did not know what this was all about, but when I told my parent about it they quickly pulled me out of the factory. I had a similar experience in the boyscouts—or rather the Habonim movement in Nuremberg. One of the troop leaders seemed to have sexual interest in me, but again I did not understand what this was all about.

The furniture container—“Lift” in refugee language— arrived on schedule. After 6 weeks in Jerusalem we moved into our own apartment in Tel Aviv. It was a three room apartment which meant three separate rooms off a long hallway, a kitchen around the corner at one end, and a bathroom and separate toilet. The location was in the north of Tel Aviv (Zafon) which by today is more or less downtown. It was an older building, which in Tel Aviv meant probably 15 or 20 years old. It also had two balconies, the front one not exactly splendid but large enough for a couple of people to sit. The kitchen balcony always seemed a kind of miracle to me, the fact that it held up without collapsing. The apartment was on the third floor which at that time did not even bother my parents. There were no elevators. The furniture from Nuremberg fitted in more or less—with the exception of the dining room. The front room was furnished with the “good” pieces including a large desk a large vitrine, a table which doubled as dining table, and a sofa which doubled as my bed. The middle room was my sister’s room for a rather short time. I am not sure when my sister moved out (as a volunteer for the women’s auxiliary ?) but in some way the room was rented for extra income. My parents had brought their bedroom set which furnished the third room. It was quite inappropriate for life in Palestine where most people had to make every room and every piece of furniture do double duty, but by rearranging the twin beds at right angles to each other the room became a kind of sitting room too.

Within days of our arrival in Tel Aviv my father found a cabinetmaker who was willing to take me on as an apprentice. The owner whose name was Mr. Bock was himself a German refugee who had tried to learn a trade (Umschichtler) after having been a businessman in Germany. He had emigrated with enough money to set up a small workshop and managed to get enough work to keep two or three employees. One of them was the only genuine cabinetmaker, and whatever I learned in my 8 or 9 months there I learned from him. Mr. Bock knew very little about woodworking but he was a nice man. My wages as an apprentice were something like three dollars a month. It was however a significant part of the family income. My mother found work as a nurse (not registered and therefore really a poorly paid nursing aide), and my father started a very small enterprise together with another “Jekke” (nickname for German Jews still used widely in Israel and all over the world.) They formed a kind off AAA automobile association which did not exist in Palestine at that time. They struggled out of a shared office and made less than minimal wages. Added to these three incomes was my sister’s. She worked in a variety of jobs, and I believe that for quite a while she was a salesclerk in a shop.

To supplement our meager income my parents started to sell some of the household goods from Germany. The market was flooded with things from other immigrants who had arrived with a “Lift”. One of the larger items that my parents wanted to sell was their dining room furniture. That set, like all the other furnishing in the household, was of good quality in a kind of Art Deco design. The dealer who negotiated the sale insisted that the top of the table needs refinishing. Having already learned a little bit about scraping off finish and applying new polish I volunteered for the job. It was a very painful and frustrating experience. For several days I went to the dealer’s place of business every day after work. Using a hand scraper my fingers got blue and swollen but I was determined to do the job. I am afraid it was not a very good job but the dining room set was sold in spite of it. These first few month were pretty rough for all of us. True to the ideals of a new and different life my father decided to become a real pioneer and try his hand at agriculture.

A former client of my father’s was a widow who had a house in a small agricultural village which was settled mostly by “Jekkes”. The village was Gan Hashomron located about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa in a lovely area of the country. I believe that Mrs. Weiss, the owner of the small house, did not work and was happy to generate some extra income by renting two rooms of her house to my parents. It was a crowded situation with my parents in one room and Lotte and I in another room. Kitchen was shared, and as far as I remember there was one bathroom for everybody. My father worked with one of the other people in order to learn. He was about as inept for any kind of manual work as one could possibly be. My mother used to refer to his lack of dexterity by saying that he had ten thumbs. His understanding of farming was as bad as his ability to work with his hands. I believe we spent not more than a couple of months in Gan Hashomron before my father realized that farming was definitely not for him.

I was immediately apprenticed to another woodworking firm located in Pardess Hannah a few kilometers from Gan Hashomron. I worked there for only a few weeks primarily as a general helper. The commute was a bit of a problem since there was no reliable public transportation. Somebody lent me a bicycle at times, and somebody else lent me a donkey at times. The donkey never took to me and I remember that the trip took longer than walking. In fact at one time when I tried to make the donkey move faster I was thrown off and got my hand caught under the donkey’s foot. That was the end of our relationship. I believe that for the rest of our time in Gan Hashomron I commuted by bicycle.

I met some very nice youngsters of my age while we were there. They all had a similar background. Most of them were either in school or worked with their parents in farming. I was taken along to man the watch tower at night. There were no hostilities between Jews and Arabs at that time but the Jewish settlement had to be on guard anyhow. I felt very important when I was on guard duty for a couple of hours at night. We had no weapons but were in touch with other settlements by Morse code. I learned a few signals for transmission to the other stations and was lucky that nobody had the slightest intention of attacking us. We would not have known what to do.

I am not sure what was done with our Tel Aviv apartment while we were in the country. I believe that somebody rented it. We were able to return to it and resume our life as before. There was a major change for me in store. I had realized that Mr. Bock was no genius in cabinet making. Through a friend whom I had met before we left for Gan Hashomron I became aware of his boss, a cabinetmaker where he apprenticed. That man was Salman Dankner, who was probably the finest cabinetmaker in Tel Aviv or possibly in Palestine. He had been trained in Vienna and ran a workshop with about a dozen employees very much along the lines of a European shop. I was accepted there in a rather formal process with my father officially giving permission and an implied contractual arrangement for me to stay there until I was ready to become a full fledged journeyman. I learned a lot. The workers in the workshop were first class craftsmen and several of them together with Dankner provided excellent instruction.

I stayed there until May 1943 when I joined the British army. I was over 14 years old when I started as an apprentice at Dankner’s and the total time of about three and a half years plus the few months I had experienced before starting there, was just about the time needed to make me an accomplished cabinet maker. Work was fairly interesting. At times I was sent along for installations of special projects. Once or twice these projects were in Haifa and in Jerusalem. Dankner’s reputation was such that we did a big project for the crown prince of Iraq. I had hoped that I was to be sent to Baghdad for the installation, but that was ultimately handled by a subcontractor with only one representative from our firm.

I was part of a group of youngsters whose background was similar to mine. Much of our conversation was in German, especially in the beginning. As time went on we all learned Hebrew— most of the others learned more than I did. The majority were in school, some were in technical schools to learn a trade. One of my best friends was Gabriel Scheuer, nicknamed Luxa (because he had spent some time in Luxembourg before immigrating to Palestine). Another close friend was Peter Herman who lived in an adjoining building. Luxa learned mechanical metal working, something close to tool and die making. He eventually apprenticed with a company handling National Cash registers in Palestine and he went on to a career in that firm in the United States. Peter apprenticed in a bakery and became a baker in Tel Aviv. Most of the kids in our group were encouraged to go into “trades” rather than academic directions. Interestingly enough the majority wound up with some kind of academic training later on and, very much like myself became professionals. The beginning of our group—a Chevre—in Hebrew, met through a small youth group organized by a German origin congregation. When we first arrived in Tel Aviv we were vaguely interested in continuing our brand of Liberal Judaism. We went to a few services, but like many other immigrants to Palestine we felt that living a Jewish life was really more important than religious observances and organized congregations. I did join the youth group under a young man who was called a Madrich (leader) but after a period of a year or so the group no longer kept its affiliation with the congregation. Our Chevre grew and thrived for many years. I met Susi through that group (I’ll get to details of our meeting later on) and the people in the group remained friends until the present. Whenever I came home on leave from my army service, members of that group were the focus of my furlough, especially since the rest of our family was in the armed services and rarely in Tel Aviv when I was there.

The early years of my social life were difficult because I had to work and had very little money. I also took some private instruction in several subjects, particularly in English. At one point I joined the boyscouts but that was only for a brief period. I was unable to buy the uniform which included an expensive hat and I never became deeply involved. My Chevre had boys and girls and included my very first love, a girl by the name of Hannah Maligson. Hannah was sent to a nearby agricultural school for girls. The school became the destination for many Shabbat outings (Shabbat was the one day for weekend activities since two day weekends were not in existence yet).

These were the war years; there was little time for anything but work. I took one bicycle trip with my friend Luxa. We spent one night in a Kibbutz and we wound up in Haifa where we stayed with some distant relatives. Life was rather tense for two reasons: the war and the continuing advance of the German armies, and a shortage of food in Palestine. We ate a good many substitute foods, little meat (and some of it was probably camel meat sold as beef) , and no luxuries such as butter or sweet stuff. My mother was never a good cook so perhaps I did not really notice too much difference between what we used to eat and what we were able to get in those years. Looking back from today’s perspective we also had to do with very few devices to make life easier. My parent had brought a German refrigerator which gave up its ghost shortly after being plugged in. Somebody converted it into an icebox and that was what we and most other residents in Tel Aviv used for refrigeration. Ice was sold from horse drawn or donkey drawn carts. Half a block of ice lasted for two or three days. Cooking was done on little kerosene stoves which had to be pumped up to generate pressure. In Palestine they were called primus and were used by just about everyone. I did not really see any of these shortages and the many primitive ways of cooking as a problem. For my mother it must have been very difficult. In Nuremberg we always had a maid or cook and had the state of the art appliances. My parents and most of the refugees who had arrived in Palestine shortly before the war really deserve a lot of credit for the way they adjusted to a new and difficult life of hardships.

The war affected us to some extent. Compared to what people had to suffer in Europe it was minimal. Every building had to construct some kind of air raid shelters. Our building on Hovevei Zion Street in Tel Aviv had an entrance lobby. The area around it was sandbagged and only a corridor remained as the entrance way. We had a good number of night time air raid alarms and had to spend brief periods of time in the shelter until the all clear sounded. One night my parents forgot to take along the key to our apartment. I was elected to climb over the roof balustrade and was lowered to the balcony by knotted together dressing gowns. There were a few actual air raids on Tel Aviv. The planes were Italian. It seems that there were a couple of planes that became separated from their squadrons and the pilots decided to get rid of their bombs over Tel Aviv. Luckily these were small bombs. One could trace the planes’ flight path through several city block in our neighborhood. The bombs left a series of damaged building but no major destruction. During one of the raids I was on my bicycle coming home from work. By the time I took shelter the airplanes had disappeared.

More serious than our direct war experiences was the development of the German advance in Africa. We were teenagers but like everybody else we were glued to the radio news several times a day. That habit is still very much in evidence in Israel today. Everybody listens to the news several times a day. I am not sure that we completely understood the severity of our situation. Also, these were the years before we became informed about the horrible deeds of the German in occupied countries as well as in Germany. In fact, we had one communication early in the war from my grandparents from Theresienstadt (through the Red Cross) and we assumed and hoped that they were all right. We followed the advance of Rommel’s army on the maps and we knew that they were close to Cairo and that from Cairo it would not take long to conquer and occupy Palestine. We were scared and completely helpless yet it is only in retrospect that I realize how close we came to annihilation. We—our family and my Chevre (friends)—had confidence in the power of the British empire and ultimately the British did protect us from a fate worse than death.

The imminent danger, the shortages of food, the need to work and the general war psychosis colored our teenage years. We did not have time for drugs or for any of the many senseless activities normal to growing up. Our life was focused on just being and surviving. On the other hand we certainly did not sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We had as active a social life as our work schedules permitted. There were lots of outings and parties. These were also the years when we were grown up enough to go out to cafes where there was music and dancing. There was a lot of dating and the normal teenage interest in the other sex and in having fun. Our group was pretty old fashioned when it came to sex. Until we reached 17 or 18 years there was little sexual activity—at least not on my part and not on Susi’s. There were many “couples” but most of the time these were platonic relationships. I went out with Susi Fessler—who was Shoshannah Haas at the time—for a while. But basically we were just good friends and kept up that friendship during some of my army furloughs. Susi was very much in love with Luxa (even at this time after a happy marriage to Fred Fessler for fifty years she still seems to have a weak spot for Luxa). Interestingly enough the old fashioned German bourgeois attitudes were still in evidence through parental influence. I never pried into the reasons of the breakup of Susi’s and Luxa’s friendship, but I had the feeling that his parents in some way were not happy about the relationship becoming serious and influenced their son against Susi. I was in love for quite a while with a girl by name of Lore Wallach. Her father was a physician and I was at that time an apprentice cabinetmaker hence not an appropriate match. Lore subsequently became a member of the Stern gang of terrorists before she joined the establishment a few years later and married a psychologist. When I returned from the United States as a volunteer for the new Israeli army I was still interested in Lore. Luckily for me I was more interested in Susi. But to continue the story about Lore, it turned out that when I was stationed in Jerusalem in the Israeli army we were given orders to dissolve the Stern gang after a heinous political murder committed by the group. I did not actually confront Lore, but with a group of fellow soldiers we confiscated her personal belongings and closed up the building where the group had been stationed.

Both Susi and I remained friendly with Lore and her family and saw her several times during visits to Israel. Our group of friends—the Chevre—was an ever expanding group of young people. Before I ever met Susi she was a part of that group and eventually that is how we met. By that time I was in the British army.

The British Army

I had been anxious to join up especially since Lotte was already a member of the ATS (women’s auxiliary). I waited for my 18th birthday—the required minimum age. Since Palestine was a mandate territory there was no draft. There was, however, at times strong pressure to volunteer. The Jewish Agency— the shadow government for Jews under the British mandate, used enlisting as a political device. I volunteered as soon as I was legally able to do so not because of political pressures, but because I felt that joining the war effort was an absolute necessity for me as the only way to help in the war against Hitler. So I signed up on my eighteenth birthday and was ordered to report to Sarafand. Sarafand was a very large British army camp which had amongst its many other functions a large facility for the training of recruits. My army number was PAL 7075 (PAL stood for Palestine) and the day after I arrived in Sarafand I met PAL 7074. The holder of that number was Jacob Hirsch who had joined up the day before me. We became friends and we are still friends after 54 years.

Jacob’s background was similar to mine. He was born in Berlin but arrived in Palestine several years before we did. His father was a lawyer and a very distinguished political leader amongst central European Jews. The Hirschs were very well off (Jacob’s mother was a physician) but in spite of that economic difference we felt very close to each other. We stayed together through recruit training lasting about three months and we were together for part of our service in the RAOC (Royal Army Ordnance Corps). There were several periods in our army service when we were posted to different units in different locations, but we were together again for the last two years when we were stationed in Egypt. After our discharge we remained close friends with Jacob becoming a part of our Chevre even though he lived in Jerusalem. He was a frequent guest at our apartment in Tel Aviv and I often visited him in Jerusalem. In 1947 I left for the United States and came back to join the Israeli army in 1948—more about that later on. When I joined the army it was in its infancy and certainly not yet very structured. I simply joined the Israeli army unit in which Jacob was already serving. He spoke to the company commander about me and as a result I became the regimental quartermaster in the unit, with Jacob filling the post of regimental clerk. We stayed together as long as I was in the army until I left again for the United States. After a few years Jacob came to New York for a visit and shortly thereafter Susi and I went for a vacation to Israel. Over the years Jacob became a regular visitor, first in Kew Gardens, and later on in Amherst and Hadley. We also went to Israel on two or three trips over the years and, after Jacob married Shosh (a young woman of Jekke background whose father practiced medicine in Westfield Massachusetts) she became an equally close friend. Jacob had a high government position and became a vice president of the Israeli national bank after he retired from government service. Both jobs brought him to the States on a regular basis hence we saw each other frequently. Susi became equally close to Jacob and Shosh. We went on trips together in this country as well as in Europe. A few years ago we met the Hirschs in Scotland and traveled together for over two weeks. Sadly, Shosh died a year after that trip. We subsequently traveled with Jacob in Ireland and a couple of years after that in Austria and Switzerland. Having written a bit about our long friendship I want to go back to its beginning in the recruit training depot in Sarafand.

Our training was rigorous, not quite as tough as marine training, but certainly more demanding than the average wartime recruit training in the United States. We had lots of demanding physical training such as obstacle courses, marching and running with heavy packs, and generally difficult training exercises. Of course we also received weapons training and a great deal of typically British marching drills, parades, polishing everything that was polishable, and in general neatness in making up our beds (terrible mattresses rolled up on the floor) ironing our own clothing to the point where shirts almost stood up on their own with lots of starch. For the duration of our training we only had one or two brief furloughs to go home. I was in excellent physical shape after recruit training. In later years I often felt that a period of recruit training in middle age would be a great physical reconditioning treatment.

Our (Jacob’s and my) first posting was to another camp in Palestine which I believe was called Waadi Saarar. We were posted to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and we were put into an ammunition training program. The rest of my years in the army were all in RAOC even though I tried on three occasions to be transferred to different units. The first time I volunteered for the parachute corps. I suspect that I would not be writing these notes if my transfer request had been granted. About a year later, I requested transfer to the Jewish Brigade. That unit had been formed about 1944 in response to a good deal of advocacy and pressure by Jewish groups. We all wanted to be a part of the fighting forces against Germany. Jacob was actually moved to the brigade for about a year. I was never granted my request. I had by that time been to another two ammunition courses. The army authorities felt that specialists in various fields were more important than infantry soldiers. My third attempt to leave the RAOC came in 1945. Because of my knowledge of German I wanted to become part of the intelligence corps which by that time had to interrogate German prisoners of war and deal with large numbers of POW’s. I received my transfer orders and made it as far as Cairo. After a few days my case was reviewed and again it was decided that I was too valuable as an ammunition specialist and I was sent back to my unit in Katatbah.

I am not sure how long I stayed in Palestine after my first ammunition course, but it was not more than a few weeks. I was posted to Cyprus without Jacob. I was sent to a small ammunition depot not far from Nicosia. By that time there was a kind of network of Palestinians in the ordnance corps. I knew several people in that unit from my days in Sarafand, and I was told about others before I left for Cyprus and met up with them in due time. One of these people was Amazia Gans, another Jekke whose family was in Haifa. Amazia became another very close friend. We eventually wound up in Katatbah Egypt, which was also the place where Jacob rejoined us after his sojourn in Italy (not much fighting). Cyprus was quite pleasant. Our small camp was close enough to Nicosia (capital of Cyprus) to go there when we had a pass. We also were able to visit some lovely spots in the mountains. I remember one idyllic village way up on top of a mountain; it had a spring with ice cold water which tasted so good that I still remember it today. I stayed in Cyprus about 4 or 5 months total. One of my vivid memories was a very hot day on a weekend, when I as a corporal by that time, was sort of in charge of the depot. Our labor was provided by groups of mostly Greek Cypriot workers under the supervision of a foreman who was of Turkish origin. On that weekend I was called by some of the workers who were in a panic because a fire had broken out in one of the ammunition stacks (outside—covered with tarpaulins). I knew enough about ammunition at that time and quickly determined that the fire was caused by phosphorus based smoke shells which have explosives only to propel them out of mortars. However, it was clear that there was real danger that the explosives could catch fire. An explosion could cause a real catastrophe if it were to ignite some of the other ammunition stacks holding regular explosive materials. I ran to the commander’s tent. The camp commander was a Captain Myers who was totally drunk when I found him. Therefore I had no choice but to take action on my own. I found the foreman who was a husky guy. Between the two of us we pulled all the smoldering shells away from the large stack and let them burn out far enough from the other shells without danger of causing an explosion. All in all my Cyprus stay was pleasant enough without any real signs of the war—which at that time was winding down. I was posted to leave for Egypt, although we were not told where we were going, nor why.

We (a group of about 30 Palestinians) were sent to a transit camp near the harbor of Famagusta to await the availability of a ship. It was a primitive tent camp on sand dunes near the ocean. Since one usually had no duties at all in transit camps, it turned out to be a very nice vacation period near the beach. We went swimming every day, we read, and we played cards and a few times were given passes to go the Famagusta which was a very small town at the time. We waited almost three weeks for transportation; the actual trip took only about a day. In Haifa we wound up again in a transit camp, this time a less idyllic one. It was an old army camp near the harbor and it had little more than a couple of bare barracks. Our beds consisted of two blankets per person on a concrete floor. I was 19 years old at the time and was not bothered in the least by the lack of comfort. In fact, I wish that I could sleep as well now as I did at that time on a concrete floor. We were in that transit camp for more than two weeks, this time awaiting railroad transportation to Egypt. Standard army procedure was not to be told anything, but we were pretty sure where we were headed since we knew there were several ammunition depots in Egypt. We were given frequent passes to leave the camp, and we hitch-hiked to Tel Aviv, usually taking an early morning bus to get back to the camp in time for roll call.

Our rail transport consisted of freight cars with metal floors and metal walls, which made the temperature inside the cars close to boiling—in spite of the fact that the doors were left open. We felt sorry for ourselves but had no idea that our fellow Jews in Europe were being shipped in similar freight cars to death camps, packed like sardines, with no water and no food. Our trip took two days and we stopped for food and water several times.

Our final destination was a small camp in a large ammunition depot near the Egyptian village Katatbah. The location was about half way between Cairo and Alexandria in the desert. The camp had barracks and huts and had amenities such as a “NAAFI” which was the store and restaurant. It had an assembly hall which was used for films (in that hall we were, for the very first time made aware of the horrors in Europe. There were several films showing concentration camps, and films on similar subjects presented by the British army for the education of troops). The camp had sports fields and even one pretty decrepit tennis court. I think the total of British, Palestinian and a few Ceylonese troops stationed there was about 200 soldiers under the command of a Major Brown, a well educated and pleasant man. We were well integrated in out multi-cultural environment before the anyone even thought of that term.

The time was the last weeks of the war; we celebrated “VE” day in that camp. Our mission was the disposal of surplus ammunition—British, captured Italian, and abandoned German. The camp had a railroad spur and the village of Katatbah about five miles from the camp, was at a canal which was used by barges for the shipping of ammunition. There were a couple of fairly good roads through the desert which also permitted the shipment of ammunition by truck. Everything was first stored in sheds which were spread out in the desert surrounding the camp. The siting of each shed was far enough away from the next one to prevent a possible explosion which might spread to other storage facilities. To unload shipments and to load them for our daily demolition explosions, we had groups of Italian and later on German prisoners of war, and the last few months of 1946 we had Arab civilian workers. Most of the ammunition was blown up. Some large shells were emptied of explosives in order to salvage the brass casings. Land mines were spread out in long rows and were simply ignited to burn out. When the detonators were removed, the mines did not explode but simply burned, developing great heat. Ammunition of all types were trucked to a remote desert site each day and were carefully stacked up. We piled up as much as 200 tons of live ammunition which was set off at precisely 2 o’clock each day. The force of the blast was strong enough that those who knew of it could feel it in Cairo some 60 miles away.

After several months in Katatbah I was promoted to sergeant. Since I spent two years in that camp it formed a significant part of my army career, and I therefore describe a number of events and features of my life. Becoming a sergeant meant that I left the barrack that I shared with about a dozen Palestinians. Jacob, who arrived there a few months after my initial posting, was in my barrack and we were spending our evenings and weekends together. The difference between sergeants and lower ranks was not very much and we were able to keep up our friendship, plus that of Amazia (who had already been posted to Katatbah before my arrival). Sergeants were in small huts with three or four to a room which in my eyes was the ultimate luxury. There were orderlies or Arab servants who woke us up with a cup of tea in the mornings. The sergeants’ mess (dining hall) was separate from other ranks and again appeared quite luxurious to me. Officers, of course, had their own quarters.

Until my promotion I had been supervising work gangs, dealing with loading and unloading ammunition shipments. With my promotion I was given the job of “R.O.T.” (railroad transportation officer) and felt very important with that responsibility. The most important status symbol became a motorcycle which was necessary for the job. I had to make frequent trips to the village in order to check on the arrival of barges, and I had to see to it that railroad cars were shunted to the proper sites. I had to requisition railroad cars and trucks; all these responsibilities convinced me that I was just about as important winding down the war effort as any General. The villagers were poor and simple Fellahin who had practically no education. They knew, however, that we were Palestinians, and they had heard about the fact that Arabs in Palestine had a much better life and earned more money. They all had the dream of being able to move across the desert to Palestine. There was a little “square” in the village, unpaved and dirty. It adjoined the widened canal which was the “port” for barges. The villagers used to take cattle into the stagnant water, where they defecated and urinated, yet the children all swam and played in it. Every single person in the village had billharzia—a pretty debilitating disease which also causes glaucoma. To show their friendship to me I was always invited to imbibe at the tiny cafe in the square. I only accepted sealed bottles of soda which came from Cairo. I was called “Ahmed Ali” and was very proud of my Arab name.

Our camp life was quite pleasant, although at this time the primitive conditions would appall me. We had a soccer field, a tennis court, and a variety of recreational activities which included some adult education in the evenings. I had previously enrolled in a British correspondence school to prepare for the London matriculation, a high school equivalency examination offered in most parts of the British empire. My last formal high school education had been in 1938, and I had only a few evening classes and very limited high school equivalency course work until that time. I worked quite hard on the correspondence assignments. During the year I spent in Tel Aviv after my discharge from the army, I took some intensive private instruction for the London matriculation. Susi also studied for it and we both passed it in 1946. It was not particularly difficult but when I arrived in the United States in 1947 I found out that it must have been more demanding than the American equivalency examination (in New York it was the Regents examination). I started to apply to colleges shortly after my arrival but did not have the results of the London matric yet, and knew it would take several months to receive formal notification. Somebody suggested that I try the Regents’ examination. I took it on a weekend at New York University without preparation or coaching. I passed in the 93rd. percentile and was therefore able to apply to schools.

Back to life in the Katatbah camp. The Palestinians were considered somewhat odd by the British comrades. The fact that we took a shower every day was most unusual. The British troops always looked very neat but took a shower only once a week. There were other differences such as our concern for physical fitness. We liked to jog as a good form of exercise. Since the camp was small we received permission to jog around the ammunition camp in the afternoons (when any self-respecting Englishman took a nap) and evenings. These were great opportunities for the Haganah; the Haganah was the Jewish underground army in Palestine. Only a few members of our company were formally members of the underground, but everybody supported it. The scheme was a simple one: trucks which were rented from Arab contractors with Arab drivers (almost every working class Egyptian seemed supportive of Palestinian Jews), drove into the munitions depot at nights. These were drivers who worked officially transporting ammunition, hence they were familiar with the depot. The trucks were loaded up with ammunition and explosives scheduled for demolition, which were driven across the desert during in darkness, winding up in Jewish Kibbutzim in Palestine. Since the stolen explosives were to be demolished within days, nobody ever checked the quantities anymore and the scheme worked very well.

We were given passes most weekends, and we regularly had home leave to Palestine about twice a year. Weekends we mostly went to Cairo, although every once in a while we visited Alexandria. Our weekends in Cairo were usually stays in cheap hotels (all we could afford on our meager pay) and inexpensive restaurants. My stomach was pretty strong at that time. Now, just thinking about some of the Egyptian restaurants makes me queasy. There were a number of cinemas catering to British troops but above all there was a club called “Music for All” which we frequented a lot. It had comfortable lounges and it presented recorded concerts of classical music every afternoon. The club also had facilities with bathtubs so that occasionally we were able to take hot baths. One of our furloughs was a trip to Luxor. Several of our group, and of course Jacob, went by train on an organized trip. It was a great experience to see the Egyptian temples and many excavations. Unfortunately we did not go all the way to Asswan and I had always hoped to go back to Egypt to see Asswan and other sights. But due to my lowered immune system I shall not be able to visit Egypt again.

For about a year I was probably the only soldier who visited with his parents on weekends in Cairo. I mentioned earlier that Lotte had been the first family member to join the war effort. Shortly after I joined the army my father was also “drafted”. He had already worked for two years as a civilian employee for the British army. I believe that his group dealt with supplies, shipment of foods, and other logistical needs of the armed services. When it appeared likely that Palestine would be overrun by the Germans the British decided to put the Palestinian Jews in that particular group of offices into uniform. It was partially a very decent attempt to save the lives of Jews, and partially an attempt to keep the trained staff organization intact. At some point, after the invasion of Egypt seemed less imminent, my father’s group was transferred to headquarters in Cairo where my father spent another year or so before being discharged. It was a strange experience for my father to be a private or lance corporal after having been an officer during World War I. I am sure that there were not many people who served in the military in both wars—on opposite sides. My father and his colleagues were not put through military training since most of them were much too old for that. They had a couple of days of rudimentary training—just enough to understand the basic rules of the army (such as saluting everything that moved). When my father’s office was moved away from Tel Aviv (where he had continued to live at home) my mother felt left out and lonely. She cheated on her age and volunteered for the WAAF’s (women’s air force auxiliary). My mother always looked much younger than her years and was young in spirit as well. I believe that she was in her mid-forties at the time and took off some ten years when she enlisted. Because of her age she was not put through military training either. She was posted to Cairo very quickly and given the job of a sort of housemother for a bunch of young women. The living quarters were a houseboat anchored on the Nile in the center of Cairo. My mother had the time of her life and I am sure that she was not very strict with her charges. She was given the rank of corporal and felt as important as I did with my three stripes. We all outranked my father. My parents were housed in different units but since both were in Cairo they were able to lead a strangely comfortable family life seeing each other every weekend. Quite a few times I spent weekends with them. Some of my friends also became friendly with my parents and my mother introduced me to some nice Jewish girls. There was never anybody in particular but the very idea of going out with a girl in Cairo was the envy of all other soldiers.

The war in Europe was won. Our work continued; in fact with the end of the war there was more captured ammunition to be disposed of. Everybody talked about discharge from the army. Some of the older British soldiers were sent home and discharged. A system for discharge was developed which consisted of the combination of length of service and age. According to that I was scheduled to remain in the service for at least another two years. The war in the Pacific was still going on, and the allies could not simply send everybody home and walk away from the mess that the world was in. It turned out however, that the British were very much aware of the emerging disloyalty of the Jewish Palestinians. Those who were in Europe had participated in the smuggling and transport of illegal immigrants to Palestine. Those Jews who served in the ordnance corps were either smuggling ammunition and military supplies to Palestine, or they were suspected of doing so. As a result the point system for discharge was abandoned for Jewish Palestinians (there were never more than a handful of Arab Palestinians) and in the early part of 1946 were all discharged unceremoniously, in rapid order.

For me, and I am sure for many others, it was a difficult adjustment. We had little time to prepare mentally for civilian life, and the situation at home had become very tense. I remember that a few days after I arrived back in Tel Aviv one of the many curfews was imposed. I felt outraged that I as a sergeant (ex) was forced to stay off the streets and that every simple policeman was able to command me around. At least I had a home to return to. My parents had been discharged before me. Our apartment in Tel Aviv was there for us. The money that I had saved for my discharge was negligible, but because I had a home I was much better off than many others.

Lotte never returned home since she was married to Patrick Pringle several months before our discharge. I was the only family member at her wedding in Tel Aviv. My parents were unable to get leave on short notice. Lotte’s wedding was arranged rather quickly. Luckily, I was on furlough at the time. Lotte and Pat were married in a civil ceremony. A small reception was given by old friends of my parents in their Tel Aviv apartment. These friends, the Mailanders, had a daughter who was a close friend of my sister’s. Lotte and Pat were discharged around 1946 and set up house in London. For many years they had a very good marriage. My parents visited them several times. Patrick was a fairly successful writer and was able to buy a house in Totteridge, a London suburb. Lotte came to visit in Palestine and subsequently in Israel. After Susi and I decided to stay in the States and my parents came to join us, Lotte came to New York for several months. I believe it was in 1960. Susi stayed with Lotte and Pat on her way to visit Israel with Danny, and as far as I remember Ronny was already born when Lotte came to New York. At that time her marriage was in trouble but I never found out all the details. Lotte rented a room in Kew Gardens close to where we and my parents lived at the time. She took a job with a travel agent but was never very happy there. She was not committed to stay in the States since she had hopes of salvaging her marriage. After she returned to England she accepted a job with a British travel agency whose specialty was the arrangement of package tours to Spain. Susi and I visited Lotte at her station in a little town called Estartit. It was on the Costa Brava and was one of the villages pretty much taken over by British travelers. Lotte’s job was to pick up groups across the border in France and escort them to their hotels in Estartit. There she was the local representative who took care of whatever problems arose. She was quite happy in her job and Pat, at the time, spent time on one of the islands off the coast of Spain in order to write. Susi and I spent a few days with Lotte. She got a hotel for us for some absurdly low price which included meals. It was the last time I saw my sister. After spending over a year in Estartit, she requested a transfer to Malaga. Her company also arranged package tours to that location, and Lotte was to have been the local representative there. She arrived there on a weekend and moved into a furnished room arranged by her local colleague. When she did not report for work on Monday morning, her colleague became worried and went to her room. Lotte had died of a lung embolism; I understand that this would not have been fatal if somebody had been there. Sadly she was all alone at the time. I believe the embolism may have been partially caused by her heavy smoking. Lotte had been an unhappy person in her last years, and I feel badly that we were not closer and were not able to give her help and support. She was buried in Malaga with advice provided by a rabbi in Madrid, outside the consecrated cemetery in an area where other non-Catholics were buried. My parents went to Malaga a year later and arranged for a grave stone. Susi and I went there a couple of years later to see Lotto’s grave and to make sure that it will be cared for in perpetuity. We have no idea whether this is done, and because of my health situation I am not allowed to go back to Spain. My parents indirectly blamed Pat for Lotte’s death, but he really was not to blame. He wrote a very good letter to my parents, and there were another couple of mail exchanges before we lost touch. Our cousin Rudi Bamber knew Pat and tells us that he has remarried and has children . It was Rudi, by the way, who had worked at the same travel firm in London and who heard about Lotte’s death. He telephoned us in Kew Gardens and I had the awful task of informing my parents. I am sure they—particularly my mother—never overcame the shock and grief. Yet my mother adjusted to the situation and the fact that our children were living in the same house helped her cope with her terrible loss.

Immediately after my discharge from the army I resumed work as a cabinetmaker at Dankner’s. I was by that time I full fledged craftsman and was pleased with my job. I knew that I wanted to do more in life, although I am certainly not looking down on cabinetmaking. I enrolled in private classes and lessons and worked pretty hard doing physical labor and a great deal of studying. I had continued with correspondence courses while in the army. After less than a year I was ready to sit for the London matriculation. I already mentioned that the result of the test was slow and that I took another equivalency examination in New York. But when the result came in, I had, of course, passed all subjects. In spite of working and studying that year in Tel Aviv. I had a lot of friends and a fair amount of parties, going out, and going on day trips. Before my discharge, on my last furlough from Egypt, I had met Susi on what was to have been a blind date. Two of our friends who were part of the Chevre felt that we might have a lot in common and that we should meet. They arranged for us to go out together on a double date one evening. Going out at that time meant to go to some cafe after dinner for a drink and possibly dance. We did not have enough money to go out for dinner. The day of our scheduled blind date I went to watch a sports event in a small stadium in Tel Aviv. There was a parade at the end of the event. It included several teams marching, preceded by the Maccabi (the sports organization) flags. I went to that event with Susi Fessler who at that time was called Shoshanna Haas. She knew about our planned blind date; suddenly she pointed to a girl carrying a flag and said that that is my date for the evening. We went down after the parade and Shoshanna introduced me to Susi. We decided not to let on to our friends that we had already met in the afternoon. This established an immediate bond and we had a great time that evening. The rest is history.

My year in Tel Aviv passed quickly. I wanted to study but had no opportunity to do so in Palestine (there was no school of architecture or design in those years), and certainly had no money for higher education. Like millions of others I thought that everything is possible in the United States. It turned out to be true for me. Since I had no money I knew that I would have to work in the States. I therefore applied for an immigration visa which would give me permission to work—unlike student visas which restricted such activities. My uncle Max had been in the States since the early years of the war. Even though he had no real profession, he had by that time opened a small chocolate shop, and had enough income to be able to give me an affidavit. This was 1946 when the German quota (under which I had to apply) had many openings. I received a visa and was ready to leave Palestine by June 1947. I somehow hoped to work and study and return to Palestine upon the completion of my studies. My mother came with me to Haifa where I embarked on the SS Marine Carp, a former troop ship which had not really been improved for its runs between Haifa and New York. When I said goodbye to my mother I could sense that she thought she would never see me again. She had been convinced since her parents died in their fifties that she too would die at a young age. Neither of us had any idea that my parents would eventually wind up with us in New York.

Off to the United States

The Marine Carp was primitive with military style dormitory bunks. Having served in the army for over three years it certainly did not bother me. I think that I had saved enough money from my army pay to purchase a ticket. In addition I had close to 200 dollars with me, which was the sum total of my earthly possessions. Max was at the dock when we arrived. He had rented a young girl’s room across the street from where they lived. The girl was away at camp. After a couple of weeks I found a furnished room in the building where the Bacharachs (Max and Hilde) lived. I rented from a retired minister and was fairly comfortable even though the room was just a small spare bedroom that Mrs. King rented for extra income. For almost a year I became part of the Bacharach household. I got along very well with Hilde and I ate my main meal with them at night. I contributed to the household expenses. Although the Bacharachs apartment was a small two bedroom apartment at the time and Elizabeth was already a year old (I think Henry was about 5 or 6), Hilde was very happy to have me there. Max worked long hours in his candy store and I think that I was company for Hilde. I also did a fair amount of baby sitting for them, and at times took Henry on some kind of outing.

As soon as I arrived I started to look for a job as a cabinet maker. I knew that my money would not last very long without regular income. I found a job with an old woodworking firm in Long Island City. I used most of my savings to buy tools which were required in order to work as a cabinet maker. I stayed with that firm until I left the country. The people there were nice enough and apparently I was a better craftsman than most.

I started to explore schools right away but I also knew that my background in drawing and art was insufficient. Hence I signed up for evening classes at the Brooklyn Museum Art School and was there for two semesters. I was young enough not to mind working eight hours, taking a subway to Brooklyn and taking the subway home after classes. I was not sure whether I wanted to study architecture or interior design. Because of my background in cabinet making, it became interior design. I also knew that in Europe, most schools of design and architecture required a minimum of 2 years related building work for admission. I thought that this would make sense for me, and it did. My art ability was still not very strong. I had to take a home examination for admission to Pratt. The head of the department was a German architect who saw enough promise in my work to call me in for an interview. I guess that my own German background together with my cabinet making convinced him to recommend admission for me.

I planned to commence my studies in September of 1948. In May that year Israel declared independence and the war started shortly thereafter. It was very difficult to learn about all the attacks from a distance. I found out that my heart was very much in Israel, and even though I was a permanent resident of the United States, I felt obliged to return to Israel and wanted to do so. There were problems about leaving and obtaining a re-entry permit. The father of a girlfriend (her name was Esther and small world that this is, she became subsequently a cousin by marriage to Jacob Hirsch) was a lawyer and helped me get the requisite papers. I had been part of a group of Israeli (Palestinian) expatriates in New York and I was also under pressure by representatives of the Jewish Agency to return to Israel. Interestingly, the fellow who was the chief recruiter, never went back for the war. I ran into him when I was just about ready to leave Tel Aviv for my second trip. He told me that he had completed his studies in America and had just arrived . I am not sure about the date, but I think I departed back to Israel on the SS Marine Carp around July 1948. On board was the very first group of returning Israelis. The Marine Carp had a scheduled landing in Beirut and the group of about 40 young people was taken off. Through the intervention of the American embassy they were released when the ship came on its return trip to New York. The group that I was with were about the same number. So it turned out that I, part of the second group, got to Israel with the very first group of returning students and volunteers.

The Israeli Army

When we landed we were immediately recruited for military service. Due to my British army experience I was offered a chance to be sent to an officers training school right away. I knew enough about the military to decline since, especially in the Israeli army, the officers were the ones to lead into raids and battles. In spite of my genuine patriotism, I did not want to be killed if I could avoid it. The Israeli defense forces were not organized yet at that time. I had been in touch with Jacob and decided that I would try to join his unit. The unit was the Moriah regiment (Gdud Moriah) an infantry regiment with its base in Jerusalem. However, at that time Moriah had been moved into the Palmach and was stationed in Sarafand—the camp that I knew well from my British recruit days. Palmach was the toughest fighting unit in the infant Israeli army; it was basically a series of commando units. I was hesitant to get into that kind of situation, but was told that within a few weeks Moriah would be transferred back to Jerusalem. I had time for a brief visit home before reporting for military service(for all the years that we were in Gan Hashomron for several months and later on in the British military my parents kept the apartment at 40 Hovevei Zion St. in Tel Aviv). At times the apartment was rented, but my parents always kept at least one room as the family pied-a-terre in Tel Aviv), I simply showed up in Sarafand. Jacob who was the regimental clerk introduced me to the company commander, a major by name of Mart. When Mart heard that I was in the ordnance corps he suggested that I join his unit as the regimental quartermaster. I did. It was a strange army in those days. No real uniforms—only donated stuff collected in the United States and some supplies purchased in Czechoslovakia and wherever else military surplus was available. The discipline, especially compared the British army was very casual. Male and female soldiers were put up in the same barracks. The atmosphere was more like a Kibbutz than military unit. As the newly appointed regimental quartermaster, I was given the rank of sergeant-major, the highest non-commissioned rank. It became a fairly high and prestigious rank later on and I was quite happy with it and preferred that to an officer’s rank. My job in the early days was to hound various supply depots for the requisition of uniforms, food, and arms and ammunition. After several weeks in Sarafand we were indeed moved back to Jerusalem. This was not an easy task since the main road was controlled by Arabs. When I arrived back in Israel it was during an armistice, but the armistice was broken every day. Fighting and skirmishes were the order of the day. The army engineers had created a new road to Jerusalem through very difficult territory but in areas which were more or less under Israeli control. The road was called “Burma Road” after a similar situation during World War II in Asia. It took us several days since the vehicles at our disposal were mostly old civilian trucks which overheated and broke down. We made it into Jerusalem and the population there was very happy to see us. Jerusalem had been under siege with very little food and water, and only minimal Israeli forces.

We were quartered in a formerly Arab neighborhood call Bakaa. Our regiment took over a block of apartment buildings and that became my “home” for the next several months. The apartments had been emptied out by their owners and all we were given were military cots, about four in one room. The majority of Moriah soldiers were students, and I made many friends amongst both male and female comrades. There were also several former buddies from the British army. Moriah was assigned to various defense outposts. My job was to see to it that they got supplies. I also presided over a former pharmacy which became the quartermaster stores and armory. I actually had an office and a secretary and had to deal with countless general orders from headquarters and, again, one of the most important tasks was to obtain the maximum of arms and supplies for my regiment. The organization of the army improved every week, but still was very casual. I succeeded in getting supplies very often because I knew the right people, and was pretty good at making a case for our needs. After several months the army got around to formal ranks, uniforms, proper military attire and saluting.

During the first weeks in Jerusalem there was still a serious shortage of everything—especially water. We had no showers other than some makeshift empty petrol cans with holes punched into the bottom. The official ration was one or two flasks a day. The situation improved with the growing strength of the Israeli forces and with a number of United Nations negotiated truces and compromises. Our life in Bakaa was fairly comfortable. We received weekend passes to Tel Aviv when the roads became safer and more passable. There was shelling almost every night. At one time a shell landed in our room, luckily at a time when nobody was there. There were also snipers from the old city (which at that time was under the control of the Jordanian forces). My stores were at the entrance to our Bakaa compound and at one time somebody took a shot at me while I was standing in the middle of the road. I found the bullet which had been deflected; I should have kept it for good luck but did not think of it at the time.

There were some military actions almost every day, but most of them were minor skirmishes and were stopped by the United Nations truce supervisors. One larger action was supposed to have resulted in the capture of Bethlehem. It was staged to start at the outskirts of Jerusalem in what used to be a small restaurant and resort called “Miss Cary’s”. As quartermaster I was in charge getting supplies and ammunition there. Somehow it turned out that the troops were there and I was the highest ranking officer and, therefore, in charge until the arrival of regular officers. I was very impressed when Moshe Dayan, at that time regional commander for the Jerusalem area, came in a jeep and told us to get all ammunition indoors as quickly as possible since shelling from the Arab side would start in a few minutes. Dayan was correct and mortars started to come down on our building. A couple of people were injured and as soon as the “fighters” (the name we gave to regular officers) arrived I took two of the injured back to the city and was quite happy to get out of the way. On the road out from “Miss Cary’s,” several U.N. jeeps tried to come in since they had heard about the planned military action. We were told to try delaying them as long as possible. We all pretended not to understand a word of English and kept blocking the road. By that time the commanding officers realized that the whole action was screwed up, and called a halt to it. Bethlehem remained under Arab control until the 1967 war. The Israeli army was not better than other armies but had a superb spirit and idealism, and the secret weapon of the Israelis was the gross inefficiency and cowardice of the Arab forces.

I was stationed in Jerusalem for most of the year that I served in the army. It was a very cold winter with lots of snow in Jerusalem. By the end of 1948 we had an almost comfortable life and suffered more from the cold (not enough warm clothing and of course no heat) than from enemy actions.

Whenever we received weekend passes I went to Tel Aviv. During the week, I often was invited to Jacob’s parents for dinner. I also had a number of friends in Jerusalem, including Susi Thaler who married Gerhard and became my sister-in-law as Susi Kirsch. When I went home I slept in my parents’ living room—an arrangement which was the norm for everybody since nobody had a spare bedroom. My parents were not happy about my return to serve in the Israeli army since they felt three and a half years of service in the British army was enough. My father was incensed when, after about three months in the army, I was sent a bill for the trip from New York to Haifa. I went because there was a lot of pressure on the part of the Jewish Agency in New York and because I really wanted to volunteer. My pay in the army was something like three dollars a month and I had no other funds. My Father wrote a letter to that effect and made clear that I followed the call of the then official authorities and that he—my father—did not want me to return anyhow. The matter dragged on and was finally settled by the newly appointed minister of justice, Felix Rosen (formerly Rosenblueth). He was a good friend of the Hirschs and at one point I was invited there together with him. He said that this request for the fare was an outrage and that he would stop it. He did.

I saw all my old friends in Tel Aviv, except for those who served in other parts of the country. Above all, I saw a lot of Susi. We both felt that after the year of separation that I spent in the States we still were close—in fact closer than we had been before. We always joke about the fact that we both dated during that year but did not find anybody we liked better. We became engaged and set our wedding date coordinated with Gerhard and Susi. We had to have the wedding so that we could go to their wedding and they to ours. Gerhard was Susi’s brother and we had all four of us been good friends before we married. Our wedding worked out for Susi’s birthday on March 10th. We were married in the Shivat Zion Synagogue in Tel Aviv with most of our friends and of course, our families present. Weddings during the war—or during the very fragile peace—were modest affairs. Besides our families did not have money for an elaborate celebration. We had some refreshments in the courtyard of the Synagogue followed by a dinner for only our closest family in one of Tel Aviv’s bad restaurants. Until the 1960’s food in Israel was pretty bad no matter which restaurant or hotel. Susi and I went on a brief honeymoon to Haifa and Nahariah, and then went back to our respective army units. Susi was stationed near Tel Aviv and spent most of her time at home. For our wedding Susi wore a beautiful white dress made by the other Susi’s mother who was the best dressmaker in Jerusalem. I wore my battle dress uniform—an outfit which was donated to Israel by the United States. But I certainly had no money to buy a suit.

Between March and my discharge from the army in early September, I spent most of the time in Jerusalem. For several weeks I was in a couple of different army camps near Tel Aviv. By July that year—1949—the truce had become permanent and it was possible to request early discharge from the services. I had been accepted to Pratt Institute for September 1948 and I tried everything possible to make the beginning of the 1949 academic year. It became a real paper chase being pushed from one office to another, but I finally made it, leaving by airplane with an arrival time in New York just two days after the beginning of the semester.

Susi and I were given my parents’ bedroom as our “apartment” in Tel Aviv. We had made no attempt to settle down after our marriage, and most of our time was still spent in our respective army camps. Susi had saved a little money and paid for most of the cost of my plane ticket. It was the only way for me to make it back to New York in time for school. I was able to go back on my re-entry permit, but Susi needed an immigration visa which took a good deal of time. As soon as I got to New York I started to work on it. Susi’s cousins, the Frankels, were not wealthy but had enough money to give an affidavit. I arrived in New York in early September, and Susi arrived by ship in early January of 1950.

Back in the United States

I found a furnished room again in Kew Garden in the same apartment complex where the Bacharachs lived. This time in a large apartment owned by an older woman who rented three rooms of her apartment. I again shared household expenses with Hilde and ate most of my meals there. As soon as I started at Pratt Institute I needed to find part time work in order to eat. My uncle, Max Bacharach, still had the small chocolate shop in Queens and he needed help. At that time many people shipped care packages to relatives left in Europe. Max made food packages which were more thoughtful and better than commercial ones. He also offered to pack personal belongings along with food. Pratt’s classes ran more or less like a high school—on a fixed daily schedule, Hence I finished school every day around five o’clock and went right over to make packages in the store. I also became familiar with the chocolate business and helped as a salesclerk. Most Sundays I opened the store and was pretty much running it. My income for working several hours every afternoon and the better part of Sunday was around 15.00 per week. I was permitted to eat an open assortment chocolates and frequently that was my dinner. Usually, I ate some awful pastry and had a cup of coffee before going to work. I needed as much time as possible after work to prepare design projects and do homework in general. I kept doing the same work after Susi arrived and did all kinds of odd jobs to supplement my meager income. I made a deal with my landlady that I would collect rent from the other tenants when she was away. I also took over the cleaning of the common bathroom, for which my rent was reduced to something like 9 dollars a week even after Susi arrived. In between, I gave some driving lessons and did some babysitting. Susi and I kept the furnished room for a few weeks until another room in the apartment—this one with a small private bathroom—became vacant. We had kitchen privileges and, since our landlady was away in her country place (which she ran as a small bed and breakfast place), we felt quite happy in our small room. A few times we even invited guests, using our landlady’s dining room. After almost a year we decided to move to an apartment. I keep teasing Susi that if I had not insisted, we would still live in a furnished room. Our first apartment was a two room apartment in Kew Gardens which had a “kitchenette” in the living room and had an entrance foyer which became my workspace. We were very comfortable, and we paid only 55.00 per month. That was cheap even by 1950 standards. Danny was born when we lived in that apartment. We had our parents (one at a time) at various times as house guests and with mostly inherited furniture from various relatives we felt that we were leading a perfectly comfortable life. While we were still living in the furnished room we bought our first car, a 1936 Chevy for 115.00. We went away for weekends and, at Susi’s insistence, for a few days of summer vacation in cheap places. We also started to go to the theater quite regularly. Susi had a family friend in Canada who was a stamp dealer. Our parents and friends were asked to send all the special edition Israeli stamps when they wrote to us. From time to time Susi sent stamps to her dealer friend in Canada, and whenever we received a check we went to the theater. Susi found a job right away as a sample hand in the garment field. She worked with the designer (who happened to be Howard Fast’s, the famous writer’s, wife; he was in jail at the time having been denounced as a communist), making the first models of new blouses and rather liked her job. Her net income after taxes was around 35.00 per week. Together with my 15.00 or somewhat higher income at times, we managed quite well. After my freshman year at Pratt I looked for summer work as a cabinetmaker. For the first few weeks I teamed up with several of my classmates to work as a construction team, sheathing houses in the newly developing Levittown. I was the only one of the four of us who had some woodworking skills. We worked very hard on a piece work system. We were frustrated when we saw some old time carpenters do the work in half the time it took us. After a few weeks we gave up. I found a job as a cabinetmaker in a firm where an ex-Israeli was foremen. He (Si Adler) is still a good friend today. I also worked with Si on and off part time, Saturdays and in between school over the next couple of years. My earnings went up and I dropped working in my uncle’s shop. We both continued to work and enjoy life as much as possible. I did well at Pratt and decided to continue for a baccalaureate degree when that option opened up. (Originally the course was to be only three years leading to a certificate.)

I graduated with honors and was not sure what I wanted to do. I always thought I would become a furniture designer due to my cabinetmaking background. I started to do some free lance design but found out that the income was unreliable and that I was not as good at it as I had hoped. When I completed my third year with a certificate, I was offered an assistantship and accepted. I received very little money but did not have to pay tuition, and had enough time to complete my own course work as well as undertaking some free lance work. After receiving my bachelors degree, I was offered the opportunity to stay. My salary was miserable but again I was able to supplement it with part time work. We never intended to stay in the United States permanently, but we were told by family and friends that we better save some money before returning. This was a time when things like refrigerators were hard to come by in Israel and that, plus a variety of other appliances was what we saved for. When Susi became pregnant we still thought that after a while we would go back. My mother came for Danny’s birth and helped us for a while. I am not sure whether she or Susi’s parents influenced us, but somehow we stayed and we stayed, and realized after two years or so that we really wanted to live in this country. Life in Israel was quite difficult at the time. I had no feelings of guilt (Israelis frown upon those who emigrate) since I had paid my dues by serving for three and a half years in the British army and one year in the Israeli army. Likewise, Susi had served in the army. Not having planned to emigrate from Israel, we did not have the problem that many ex-Israelis (and immigrants from other countries as well) had, of not belonging to either country. We continued to be happy. Susi stopped working a few weeks before Danny was born and by that time I earned enough for us to live relatively comfortably.

My salary was incredibly low (certainly by today’s standards), but I started to do some freelance work and from that developed a professional practice. I kept this up over the years and had a good following; I never solicited any projects. Somehow one job led to another and if anything I tried to be careful not to take on too many projects. After two or three years I found out that I liked teaching and administrative work. I was the assistant chairman and later on the associate chairman of the Department of Interior Design at Pratt Institute. I was promoted from instructor to assistant professor in the late 1950’s and subsequently over the years advanced to associate professor and full professor. At the time it was much easier than today to get promotions and with it tenure. By 1969 I became chairman of the department and was heavily involved in governance committees at Pratt and in many appointed and elected positions. While teaching and doing administrative work I also started to write and undertook some research projects. In the early 1960’s I became interested in some national issues as they related to design education. Together with some 20 other educators I became one of the founders of IDEC (Interior Design Educators Council). I was the first secretary and the second national president of the organization. These nationally visible activities together with several articles for professional journals led to speaking engagements and invitations to other universities. I wrote a textbook on interior architecture together with two colleagues in 1970. By that time I started to think about the future, and decided that if I ever want to move I would have to do it soon. I was heavily entrenched in every activity at Pratt. It was the time of student revolutions and a very exciting new spirit . The fact that I was elected by the students and the faculty to preside over a “revolutionary” legislative body at Pratt was a real honor at the time. But I was 47 or 48 years old and knew that unless I made a move at that point, I would be at Pratt forever. Many people thought I was foolish to leave a tenured professorship and chairmanship of a department. But I started to look for a new opportunity seriously in 1971. Since I had a national reputation by that time, I immediately had some offers from other universities. I opted for the University of Massachusetts since I wanted to stay on the East coast and I saw a real challenge at UMASS. Susi was very supportive in spite of the fact that a move for her was much more difficult. I would have my work and new colleagues. Susi had to give up her job and her friends in New York.

In 1959 we had bought a house in Kew Gardens together with my parents. They had moved to the States in 1957, when my father was forced to retire at age 65 from his government position in Israel, and when it was clear that we would remain in the United States. (For a couple of years my parents lived in an apartment in the same building where we had moved from our two room apartment to a rather large four room apartment). Ronny was born in 1957 while we lived in that apartment, but we knew that we’d need more space. Our house was an old Victorian house which had previously been converted into a “mother-daughter” house. My parents had a three room apartment on the first floor, and we had 5 or 6 rooms on the two upper floors. There was a very nice garden which for New York was quite unusual. We all made a lot of use of it. Susi by that time had completed her degree in sociology at Queens College (being a part time mature student for a number of years), and took a job working with educable retarded children.

We lived in our house for about thirteen years. We got along well with my parents especially since they loved to have the children and we loved to have built-in baby-sitters. That arrangement permitted us to travel quite a lot and go out whenever we wanted to. I was aware that our move away from New York would be a blow to my parents. One reason why I wanted to stay on the East coast was to be near them. I was concerned about the increasing responsibility on our shoulders and felt that a separation at that time was possible—that waiting another two or three years might have been too late. We found an apartment for my parents in Kew Gardens and for two or three years they were quite happy there. We visited a lot. They came to visit us in Amherst, and they had all their friends and my mother’s brother Max nearby. After 2 or 3 years my parents felt that they were slowing down, that visits to doctors and other needs became difficult. They had put their name on a waiting list for an “independent living” apartment at Isabella Home. When a vacancy occurred there they decided to move.

Leaving New York

Having lived in New York for almost 25 years we were apprehensive about leaving. We had many close friends. We took advantage of what the city had to offer and often went to the theater, concerts, museums and exhibitions. In 1972 many people left New York because the city had become difficult to live in. That was not true for us and we missed New York greatly in the early years of living in Amherst. I was deeply involved in various national organizations and I was still doing professional design work in New York. I went down almost every other week and of course visited my parents at the Isabella Home at the same time. During a sabbatical at Pratt some years earlier, I had started a major research project about design education. I was able to raise a fair amount of money through IDEC. It enabled me to travel to many schools of design in Europe and in the States. The report that I wrote was published in 1968 and became a very influential document for design education. I suggested in the report that programs in interior design should be accredited. I also suggested some form of individual examination and possible licensing. Both proposals became realities. FIDER was established as an accrediting body, and NCIDQ became the recognized testing agency for the United States and Canada. These two bodies were the main reason for many trips to New York and to many other locations as well. It made the transition from New York to Amherst easier for me. Susi made a number of friends in the area and also worked on her masters degree at the university. After several years we began to feel very much at home in Massachusetts. By now, some 25 years later we would hate the idea of living in New York again.

In addition to the organizational and professional work in New York, I did a fair amount of writing. By the time I retired, I had written or co-authored four books, some major studies, and some 60 articles for professional journals. I also became involved in some research projects and I began to develop a professional practice in the area. I had come to the university as a department head and professor. The department was based in the School of Home Economics. After a year I pulled out with the design option and moved into the Art Department. I was able to establish a strong professional program on both the undergraduate and graduate level. Hence I also was heavily involved in teaching and in administrative work. Without Susi’s taking care of the household and the children, I certainly would not have been able to do the many things I was involved in. Although Susi completed her masters degree it was too late for her to start a meaningful career. Susi had a number of jobs, most of them part time. For a year she worked in the foreign students office of the university. For about two years she was the regional representative of the American Heart Association, primarily doing public relations work. She also became the local representative for the “Welcome Wagon” organization and rather enjoyed meeting new arrivals in the area and getting to know them. For quite a few years, Susi went back to her first profession of dressmaking. She did alterations mostly and again enjoyed the contact with her customers—many of them became friends. Working at home had the advantage that she was her own boss and did only as much as she felt like doing.

While still in New York, I had become interested in the new field of environmental psychology. I was admitted to the graduate program at City University, but before really getting started, we decided to move. I found out about a doctoral program offered the Union Institute, an external degree program which by now has become very much part of the establishment. But even in 1973, when I applied, it was already very demanding. I was admitted and started to do a lot of work, including a colloquium of several weeks duration, some course work, and mostly independent work. That same year, I, along with a colleague from the psychology department and two very bright graduate students, succeeded in raising a grant of over 200,000 dollars. We were funded by the Department of Health, Education and Welfare for a study of the effect of the environment upon institutionalized mentally retarded persons. The institution was nearby, and I did a lot of work and research. That project became part of my dissertation and I combined it with some of my theoretical work in the field of design. I was awarded a Ph.D. degree in 1976. Previously I had a B.F.A. and an M.S. degree from Pratt, and since I came to the university as a full professor, I did not really need a Ph.D. But I was very interested in exploring new directions such as environment and behavior, and I also felt that since almost everybody at the university had a doctoral degree, I should get one too. For a number of years, I not only continued with research projects, but team taught a yearly course dealing with design evaluation. That course was cross listed in the Art department, in Landscape Architecture (where I was given adjunct professor status), and in Psychology.

In spite of my many activities we always made time for travels. We went on at least one major trip each year, most of the time to Europe. For a number of years we made trips to Australia usually during January. Most of the time Susi left earlier in order to spend more time with her mother in Melbourne. We liked Melbourne very much and made a number of friends there. Whenever I arrived in Melbourne we moved to a hotel and after a week or two went on trips to various places in Australia. One year we also traveled for two weeks in New Zealand. My first trip to Melbourne was in the early 1980’s when I was invited to be a visiting professor at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. A few years before that I had been invited to be visiting professor at the Glasgow School of Art. I became active with an international organization called “IFI” (International Federation of Interior Architects and Designers). I went to several of their congresses in Europe, most of the time as a speaker, as well as a representative of the educational organizations in the field of design in the states. Susi came to several of these meetings and we became friends with some of the representatives from Scandinavian countries, Austria, Switzerland, Holland, and others. We still get together with some of these former colleagues on various trips, and some visit us here. I became the official IFI education chairman and also published a newsletter on educational issues. Through all of these professional involvements, I became well known and was often invited to speak at conferences or at universities. As an academician it was expected to do much of this kind of activity, together with writing and research.

I was also very active on a number of university committees, especially in the area of the arts and planning. In 1980 I received one of the few university awards for distinguished teaching, an award which I appreciated more than many of the other awards and honors that came my way. In 1983 I was appointed associate dean for Humanities and Fine Arts . I decided to accept the opportunity, but did not want to give up teaching and all the other activities that I was involved with. Hence my life became very full indeed but with Susi’s help I managed. Danny and Ronny were adults by that time and had started their own lives and their own careers.

I am now getting to the penultimate chapter of my life. It was a very dramatic illness. In January 1986 we took a one week or ten day package trip to Brazil. In years that did not include a trip to Australian summer, I always wanted to get away for a bit of sunshine during the winter. In fact, even in New York, we often took short trips to Puerto Rico or other Caribbean locations to make the winter more bearable. The trip to Brazil was particularly nice and interesting. About three weeks after returning home I thought that I had a flu or some kind of an infection. It turned out to be Hepatitis A and started an incredible saga. I was, by the way, on sabbatical leave that semester and had many plans that included a visiting professorship at Iowa State University, and a three week trip for both of us to China. Since my Hepatitis did not go away my physician put me into the local hospital. I did not improve and lost all appetite. After ten days the hospital sent me home, suggesting that I might do better eating at home. I became weaker and weaker (it also turned out that I was given all the wrong medications and the wrong advice for food), and it was clear that something was very wrong. Luckily Susi insisted that I get to a teaching hospital rather than back to our local hospital. After ten days at home, I had to be taken by ambulance to Boston. Susi found a physician at Massachusetts General Hospital who was willing to admit me there. It turned out that my liver had ceased to function. Only during the operation did the surgeons find out that I had hemochromotosis, a condition which many people have without being bothered by it. My liver had collected iron. That, together with the hepatitis caused the total failure of the liver. I was in the hospital for almost three months. I had massive internal bleeding. I had two cases of serious pneumonia, and I was in a coma for five days . I needed over thirty units of blood transfusions, and for weeks I was hooked up to tubes, respirator, and just about every medical device. There were three occasions when the medical team pretty much gave up hope. I was very lucky that on a weekend when the doctors told Susi that I would only live about 24 hours unless a liver suitable for transplantation could be obtained, indeed a liver became available. It came from a young man who was killed by a hit and run driver. I never found out the name of the donor family. I was one of the very early liver transplant patients and at that time contact between donor families and recipients was not permitted. Most of the time in the hospital I was semi-conscious and I think that it may be nature’s way to enable us to suffer pain. When I began to function again I was concerned about what I could possibly say to the donor family and I was glad that contact was not allowed. I was also concerned about the fact that I was 60 years old. I felt that since organs for transplantation were so rare perhaps younger people should have been given preference. Of course I did not think that I would live more than perhaps a few months.

To everybody’s surprise (including the physicians) I survived!

Much of the credit goes to Susi and to Danny and Ronny. Susi was at my side whenever I was conscious—which was rare. Ron was finishing law school in New York and came to Boston frequently. Dan was working in California at that time and he came to Boston several times. I had tremendous support from friends and former students. I received over 300 cards. Few people were permitted to visit me since I was in a “clean” room to avoid infections. But somehow the support shown by so many friends helped me in some way. Colleagues at the university organized a group of my students to come to the hospital in a van in order to give blood. Friends of Danny and Ronny also gave blood and most of the 30 units that I received were given back to the bloodbank. The overall experience of my transplant was a shattering one. For weeks I could not understand that this really happened to me. I always felt that it was some kind of nightmare and, that I would wake up to find out it did not really happen. Liver transplants were still in their infancy state and I felt that it was the kind of thing one reads about in newspapers, but that it does not happen to somebody like myself. My case was reported in the local newspapers since I was the first liver transplant patient in Western Massachusetts..

After many weeks in the hospital I was unable to walk since most of my muscles had atrophied. I was in a wheelchair when I was discharged and could only walk a few steps with the help of a walker. The hospital insisted that we stay in Boston for at least two weeks after my discharge in order to come to the outpatient clinic every two days. Susi and Ron found an apartment in an elevator building which had been converted from a hotel into executive apartments. Getting to the clinic—a taxi ride of less then five minutes—was very difficult. While I made my way through the building lobby to the entrance Susi went back to the apartment to leave the wheelchair. The hospital had wheelchairs at the entrance and I balanced my walker while Susi pushed me. With the help of the Justers I was able to be moved back home after two weeks in the apartment. The Justers and Chris Hurn were wonderful in their support for Susi while I was in the hospital. There were many other friends who were true friends when we were in need. Pepi and Vera Jelinek came up on a weekend when it looked as if I would die. In fact, while Susi talked with Pepi in their hotel room, (I was in such bad shape, that Susi did not want to see me and remember me that way, and so did not want to be in the hospital). Vera was in my room and pleaded with me not to leave. Somehow, that was what I remember when I came out of a five day coma that I was in at the time. I knew that I was dying and was at peace with that thought. In fact, I was somewhat annoyed at Vera for having awakened me and prevented me from the continuation of my journey. For most of the time of my hospital stay Susi stayed with cousin Agnes. For some days she together with Ron or Danny (or both) were in Ernie’s (Urvater) apartment, and while I was in a state of crisis, they stayed for a few days in an apartment owned by the hospital. I do not want to write a lengthy story about my illness and subsequent recovery, even though I have given talks about it to many groups over the years. I must mention the wonderful care I received from the transplant surgeons and the nurses at Mass General Hospital. I was lucky to be in one of the country’s best hospitals. But on top of the recognized standing as one of the leading hospitals, the human element was superb. The nurses at times sat with me day and night and two nurses were “my” special nurses and did much to keep me alive. They also were great in making Susi feel almost a member of their group, and permitted her to use their private spaces to make coffee or whatever.

Without my liver transplant I would not have retired early. I never thought much about retirement, but I vaguely had planned to continue working as long as possible. I realized during and after my illness that I was very lucky to be alive; I also realized that it was very easy to die and that we are frail beings. Hence when I got back to work, I explored the possibility of retirement at the age of 65. I slowly went back to teaching and working in the fall of 1986. My department, with the help of the dean (whose associate and friend I was) covered my classes for that semester. I started to teach as an extra critic in team teaching. I decided to give my lecture series in the first year design course since I was the only one who had the material to do so. The audio-visual department at the university provided me with a portable microphone and speaker for my lectures. Due to the extended period of entubation in the hospital (feeding tube, respirator, etc) my vocal cords had been damaged and to this day I have difficulty projecting my voice. It is particularly hard for me to be heard when there is background noise, such as music or when I am in a restaurant or larger party. By the end of 1986 I was pretty much back to normal. That December/January I already went to Australia. I started to play tennis around October and by the spring of 1987 I was functioning 100%.

I resumed all of my many activities at the university and continued professional design work. In 1989 I received an international award given by the IKEA foundation. That foundation financed by the Swedish furniture company was administered in Amsterdam. Every two years they make three or four major awards in addition to their normal awarding of smaller grants. I was honored with one of their larger awards for my contributions to the field of design over the years. When I was informed of the award, I had no idea what it would be. But, I thought, that I would probably receive enough of an award to afford the trip to Holland for the ceremonies. It turned out that the foundation paid for my trip and my expenses and would have done so for Susi. But by the time we found out it was too late for Susi to join me. Much to my surprise that award ceremony was a huge event in Amsterdam and my award was 30,000.00 dollars. Of course one third of that amount went immediately to the IRS, but it was still a wonderful and unexpected prize and honor. That same year of 1989, the art museum of Mount Holyoke College gave me an exhibition for 50 of my balancing toys. It was a beautifully installed show. Danny and Laurie came to the opening and to the dinner for the participants. In addition to my balancing toys the museum had commissioned eleven artists to create sculptures related to balancing toys. A very nice catalog with an introductory essay that I wrote was produced and is still for sale at the museum at this date—almost ten years after the exhibition. That year I received the sabbatical leave which was postponed when I became ill, the year before I retired.

In 1990 the university had an incentive program for “early” retirement which I decided to take. It did not offer me a great deal of additional compensation, but it worked out that I retired just when I turned 65. In fact, my retirement party was held on my birthday. It was great party with some 120 people for dinner, including Danny and Laurie and Ron, and the Fesslers. I had been active for many years as chairman of the Fine Arts Center advisory committee and for that reason the University Gallery agreed to provide the space for the party. It was a lovely party with great food, music, speeches and entertainment.


I had arrived at a retirement contract with the university which provided for teaching one course each semester for two years. I gave up my office in the art department but kept my office as associate dean in another building for another three years. My contract was renewed for three more years so that I taught part time until I was 70 years old. For two more years I did volunteer teaching by serving on student committees both on the graduate and undergraduate level. In addition I also participated in many design reviews and served as a guest juror for specific class projects. I found myself becoming somewhat bored and decided that the time has come to do other things.

Several years earlier, I had started to audit classes, something that Susi had done for many years. I have taken either one or two classes each semester for about four years now. The topics range from art to Jewish themes and as I write this, Susi and I are auditing a class on Yiddish culture at Amherst College. I am also in a class of Yiddish language at Hampshire College. Until this semester, I had taken all of my classes at the university. This was the first time that I took classes at the other area colleges. I am doing a fair amount of volunteer work in several groups. I am on the Friends Board of Directors for the Fine Arts Center and usually serve on several subcommittees of the Board. Since that activity deals essentially with cultural and social events I felt that I also wanted to do something with social significance. I volunteered to become a Foster Care Reviewer for the state social service agency. I went through training and I am doing some reviews each month. My other volunteer work is devoted to several transplant organizations. I have gone to speak at a number of health fairs and schools, and both Susi and I have been to events where we staff a booth for the distribution of literature, and try to sign up people as organ donors.

For a number of years I talked about what I would like to do in retirement. There were two activities: learning to fly, and learning how to cook. I have not done too well in either subject. I took flying lessons and enjoyed that. But the Federal Aviation Agency gave me a hard time for certification due to my medical history. I did not feel like going through a lengthy process every half year; I also realized that going for a pilot’s license would require a long and costly period of time, plus an ongoing commitment to maintain a license. I dropped my lessons after a few weeks. I did learn some cooking. I enjoy making somewhat fancy dinners when we have company, but my repertoire is rather limited. On the other hand I realized that cooking is not too difficult when one knows how to read.

Another retirement activity is tennis. I play an average of five times a week all year long. I enjoy it, and I know it is very good exercise. After my transplant operation the surgeon told me that my tennis is what kept me alive. I was in good physical shape before the operation and would not have made it if my basic health and strength would not have been what it was. I hope to keep up tennis as long as possible. Susi does the same; we both have our own groups and partners but often we play together in doubles.

We usually go on two major trips each year. During the summer we often go to Europe and during January we go to warmer spots for a few weeks. Susi loves the snow and cold, which is probably the only major conflict in our marriage, since I prefer warm weather. But we have learned to compromise. I would like to be in a warmer climate for at least a couple of months, but the way we plan our trips now we just go away for three or four weeks. As long as we audit classes, we stay within the academic year schedule. Sometimes we go somewhere for a week or ten days in March during the semester break. We take quite a few weekend trips to New York and, at this time, once a year to Washington. However, since my mother died, our New York trips are quite rare. I used to make many day trips to the city, but neither one of us is very keen on New York any more.

By now I have pretty much stopped all of my professional involvement in design. Since I closed my office (the small partnership I had here), I have also stopped doing individual work for some of my former clients—or at least very rarely do anything professionally. One tends to lose interest after so many years of heavy involvement. At least I have. I used to read about ten professional journals each month, and I felt it important to keep up to date on all the latest buildings. I am down to three design journals each month and, when we travel, I like to visit interesting architecture as an enjoyable activity without feeling obliged to photograph everything and write about it.

My last hurrah in the field came three years ago. I was given a special award for the Interior Design Hall of Fame. That body consist of about 100 or 120 designers and architects with all the famous names included. My award was in the special (not for professional practice) category which has by now some 30 names. I am the only design educator in this group consisting mostly of museum people and celebrities in related fields. The award ceremony was a black tie affair at a 900 people dinner at the Waldorf Astoria in New York. I was pleased by the recognition but do not take the “Hall of Fame” very seriously.

We are very lucky that we have each other and enjoy whatever we do together. We love our grandchildren and only regret that at this time Danny has just accepted a new job in Westchester and we do not see enough of Timmy and Jilly.

I am completing “my story” at the end of 1997 at the age of seventy-two and half years. Obviously the story will only be complete when I am gone. One does not know how long one is going to live. But whenever my time comes I know that I am ready. My life has been a full and enjoyable one in spite of many difficult episodes.


When I completed my autobiography in 1997 I thought it unlikely that I would live for many more years. It is now 2009 and I am still doing well physically and mentally. Considering my medical history ( more to come in this segment) it is almost miraculous. This new chapter will continue about what I did and what has happened to me during these past twelve years. Having re-read what I wrote and completed in 1997 I remembered some facts that I should have written about and did not. I might digress here and there in order to fill in some of these blanks. By coincidence we just talked with our son and his family. The question arose whether autobiographies are really all factual, or whether one might have the tendency to exaggerate or embellish things from the past. I stated that I have tried to stick to facts yet on second thought 1 am sure that certain events have been written from my perspective, which would not necessarily be seen that way by others. Instead of listing what I did in the last twelve years in chronological order I shall write about some events that at least to me seemed important, without sticking to the time frame.


In the summer of 1999 I met a new arrival to the area who was interested in playing tennis. We made a date to play the following morning at Amherst'College. As I was getting ready to leave I was overcome by bad stomach cramps and could hardly stand up. I had to ask Susi to drive down to the tennis courts to tell my friend that I was ill. By the time Susi returned we decided that I should go to the emergency room at Cooley Dickinson Hospital. I spent about two hours there after which the attending physician told us that there was nothing wrong with me and sent us home. By the afternoon my pains became worse and I called my prime care physician who also happened to be a gastroenterologist. After listening to my symptoms he asked us to return to the hospital immediately. When we arrived a surgeon was already waiting for me. He was an excellent surgeon and had previously operated on me for three different hernias. I don't remember much after getting to the hospital. When I became conscious again I was heavily drugged with morphine in the hospital's intensive care unit.

Susi was given a private space to await the results of the surgery. She telephoned both of our sons and local friends to ask them to sit with her in the waiting area. After the operation the surgeon reported to Susi that I had ruptured intestines, that he had put in a colostomy, that the very large open wound had to remain open until it would heal over, and that I had at least a 20% chance to survive. The next morning he apologized for the way he gave such bad news to Susi. By that time both Danny and Ron had arrived. ( Ron flew in from Washington carrying a dark suit in a bag. His partner Stuart who is a physician told him that he would most likely have to be at my funeral). Both Dan and Ron stayed for a few days and were of course of tremendous help and support for Susi. As it turned out I had once more beaten the odds and survived. Or as a friend noted in a get-well card that I "now had another seven lives to look forward to ". After a week in intensive care and several consultations between the surgeon and the transplant unit at Massachusetts General Hospital I was taken to that hospital by ambulance. The local hospital did not know what to do about my medications ( I am still on immunosuppressive medications even now) , and the transplant unit suggested that I should be taken there. I think I was there for more than another week. My open wound was large and pretty horrible, and the stoma ( an artificial opening through which the bowel can empty) was devastating to me. The only good thing was the fact that I was told that the colostomy was reversible after about 6 months. We were told that I need to be in a rehabilitation or nursing home for at least two weeks before returning home. I did not want Susi to have to drive back and forth from home to Boston and requested a transfer to the Hadley nursing home, just a few hundred feet from our house. The nursing care and physical therapy was very good. But the place was pretty awful and depressing and the food was inedible. A friend made a huge pot of Matzo ball soup and Susi brought me some of that and some other food every day. I was very happy to go home after two weeks. I needed visiting nurses twice daily to change the dressing on my wound. I also had a visiting therapist and at the beginning somebody to help me take a shower. After a couple of weeks Susi, who had watched the visiting nurses volunteered to change the dressing in the evenings. I was home in bed for over two months. Half a year after the emergency surgery I went back to Boston for the reversal surgery. The chief surgeon of the transplant unit who had been the lead surgeon for my liver transplant did the reversal surgery. It was the one time I had eagerly looked forward to a stay in a hospital. Everything went well, except for the fact that I caught a serious case of pneumonia in the hospital. If not for a caring and alert nurse who noticed that something was very wrong with me during the night, I would not have made it out of the hospital alive.


By the year 2001 I felt that our large old house, the big barn, the land and the many trees became somewhat of a burden. Although I still am quite fast on the tennis court I found the constant up and down the stairs, and the ongoing need for minor repairs, and the problem of a long ( icy in the winter) driveway was getting to be a burden. We discussed our options and decided to look for a small house rather than move into one of the area's many retirement communities. We were shown our present house the afternoon before it was listed officially and decided to buy it on the spot. The house was green (anathema to me ) had fake shutters, and awful bathrooms and kitchen. Since our large house was sold for more money than the new house in Hadley, I hired a general contractor and had the kitchen and bathrooms remodeled, and had the house painted white. Susi immediately liked the large deck and the over half an acre of land. We have three bedrooms, two bathrooms an eat-in kitchen and a two car attached garage. The previous owner was handicapped and had installed a chair lift from the garage to the main level. We decided to keep it (perhaps as an insurance hoping we'll never need it) and had three removable steps made from the main level to the garage. Our Hadley house was not only large but was a very attractive house with many new features. However, it was not too difficult to get used to live in a small ranch house (which we call "ticky-tacky"). We worked many weeks getting rid of stuff in the large house and the very large barn. We sold many . things, some of the furniture went to an auction house, and for the last week in the old house we rented a dumpster. With the help of both our sons and our grandson Tim we filled up the dumpster to the top, but we still moved with too much stuff. Our house has a basement ,the whole ,area of the house which is dry and quite pleasant. It now contains a sewing area for Susi, a workshop space for. me, a small drafting and work area and lots of space for extra chests of drawers, books, art work and "stuff'. I am currently on a campaign to get rid of whatever we can. For instance the many slides and carousels that I . had used for teaching, and carousels that were loaded with slides from 'many trips are all going to the garbage. By today slides are as outdated as vinyl records ( I already threw out my old turntable and our records) and nobody showed any interest in the "relics" from the last century. .

Unfortunately I could not move all. the many balancing toys that I had collected over the years. After I retired I would. have liked to write a book about the collection. I had an outline and a sample chapter and I approached several publishers. They responded positively but explained the very high cost of a book consisting primarily of photographs made such a book too costly. I also had contacted several museums and was close to a possible donation of the collection the Rochester Toy Museum. But after two years of discussions they decided to decline my offer. By the time of our move I had already separated myself from the emotional attachment to the collection. Of about 360 toys I sold and gave away about half. We still have quite a few balancing toys and I suspect that should we move to a retirement community I would have to get rid of more of the toys.

A few weeks after the reversal surgery I was pretty much back to normal. The whole episode, very much like my liver transplant would not have had .such fortunate results without Susi. She was always there when I needed physical and psychological support. ( I am writing this a couple of weeks before our 60th. wedding anniversary) and Susi deserves the major credit for our being together for all these many years.

In spite of the fact that we are very happy and comfortable in the house, we are realistic and know that something might happen which would make living here hard or impossible. We have two cars and really need to drive to wherever we want to go. Two years ago we put our names on the waiting list of Applewood, the local retirement community where we know many of the residents. We are not ready to move yet, but in two or three years we would db so if an apartment that we like would become available.


About a year after we had moved to our new house I heard that the university's International Programs is interested in getting retired faculty members as resident directors for the forty year old program offered by UMass in Freiburg, Germany. In order to qualify one had to be fluent in German and hold the rank of professor. I had actually been interested in the position many years ago but my department could not spare me for a whole year. The salary of a resident director ( a 15% salary increase for the year) plus the cost of the university's apartment in Freiburg was getting too costly. Hence International Programs offered the position to people like myself without salary, but with enough compensation for the expenses of the trip and for the cost of renting .the apartment. We both liked the idea of being in Europe for an extended period of time. We no longer needed to worry about our old house with constant problems ·and repairs. We also knew that the new generation of Germans were totally different from Germans in the Nazi era so that the idea of spending some time in Germany was no longer a problem for us. I applied for the position for one semester only and became the resident director for the fall semester of 2003. We were informed by our insurance company that we need to install an alarm system unless somebody stays in our house. Hence we contacted the women's study center at Mount Holyoke College who were able to recommend two postgraduate students for half a year. One woman was Austrian, the other one German. The latter turned out to be a very nice person and we are still in touch with her. The Austrian woman was messy and careless and we found quite a bit of damage caused by her.

We left in August in order to have time to get settled in Freiburg before the beginning of the fall semester. The fully furnished apartment was just beyond the city line of Freiburg. It was a very nice apartment with three bedrooms and one and a half bathrooms, and it was equipped with all appliances. We had a patio and a balcony and liked the apartment and the area in which it was located. During our stay there we had Ron and Stuart for ten days and our friends the Jelineks for a week. I went to my office ( quite a splendid place) every day, in spite of the fact that we had very few students that years. I was responsible for all the students in Baden- Wuerttemberg and was also expected to visit several of the universities to help with the selection of German applicants and to give talks about the University of Massachusetts. The German woman who had been working in our office for many years was very competent and knew what needed to be done much better than I. I strongly supported the idea that our university's program does not need a resident director at all, and as it turned out I was indeed the last resident director in Freiburg. I enjoyed some of the official Freiburg University events to which I was invited and I enjoyed the trips to other universities in Baden- Wuerttemberg. For overnight visits the host university provided hotel accommodations, and Susi came along on several trips. We Also took advantage of the location and went on several trips to Switzerland and France. In September, before the start of the semester we went on a five day trip to Berlin. For the half year we were in Merzhausen ( the name of the suburb where we stayed) we never once rented a car. I had the choice of two buses to my office. The monthly travel cards that we purchased entitled us to many railroad and bus trips including trains to the borders of France and Switzerland. Freiburg is a )ovely city with the old city center converted to pedestrian use only. The cuisine in the region is strongly influenced by its proximity to France and is quite excellent. Often Susi would come to pick me up at the office and went out for lunch and sightseeing expeditions. All in all we enjoyed our trip very much. At this time the Freiburg functions well without a resident director. A staff member from the International Programs visits the Freiburg office every semester, and the savings to UMass are considerable.


I audited classes at the university and Amherst College for several years after my official retirement. After some years I became somewhat uncomfortable since the students could all have been my grandchildren. Hence I joined our regional lifelong learning organization, know as 5CLIR. I enjoyed the seminars which required every participant to be responsible for one session. Over the years I took semimus on a variety of topics from history to literature, and from films to Jewish topics. I also enjoyed some of the many special program activities such as field trips, social events, and special lectures, Susi joined the group two or three years after 1 did. 1 have also been the moderator ( organizer and leader) for several seminars ranging from "Vienna at fin-de-siecle "to "Modern Architecture" .

All of the approximately 250 members are expected to volunteer for various committees. I did so for several groups, including the key committee of the organization the "curriculum committee". Four years ago I was asked to stand for the election as vice president and president elect. I knew that this would be a three year commitment with lots of work and responsibilities. As vice president I had to be at just about every committee meeting but that gave me a good understanding of the organization. I tried my best as president and I think that I was reasonably successful. The last of the three years as "past president" I still had to attend all Council meetings and was a member of several committees. Both Susi and I enjoy the challenge of undertaking research for a variety of topics, and.we enjoyed meeting many new friends through our participation in various activities.

Most of the time I sign up for two seminars and participate in several of the special programs such as the "Great Decisions" during the spring. This consists of a series of five topical subjects selected each year by the Foreign Policy Association and presented with an introductory video produced by tp.e association consisting of interviews with nationally recognized experts. We (5CLIR) select our own regional experts on the topic, from the faculties of one of the five colleges. The speaker will field questioris after a formal presentation and there are usually very lively and interesting discussions.

Our organization differs from the numerous other groups all over the country in as much as we do not hire lecturers but ask every member of a seminar to actively participate. As vice president I attended a regional conference in Ashville, NC and found most other lifelong learning groups to be structured similar to conventional college courses, or have programs consisting of just a few lectures during the semester. Our seminars run for ten weeks.


In 1997 I thought that I would like to get involved in some kind of volunteer activity. The Massachusetts Department of Social Services was looking for volunteers in their Foster Care program. The state mandates that every child and family involved in fo.ster care must be formally reviewed every six months. These reviews take place in various offices ofthe Social Services Department in nearby towns. An official reviewer together with a community volunteer and frequently a supervisor form the review panel to determine whether the child or children under review are placed appropriately and have made progress since the last review. Every case that involves children in care comes from very troubled family background. Families with drug or alcohol problems, physical and sexual abuse, and problems with the law and of course poverty. For me it is a very small way to offer help to what I call the other half of our population. It is not a cheerful activity but I have been doing these reviews at an average of four or more times a month for over twelve years, and I hope to think that my participation in these many reviews has been of some benefit to the children and families involved.

Quite a different volunteer activity has been my long standing involvement with the university's Fine Arts Center. While I was still teaching I became a member of the internal university advisory committee for the Fine Arts Center. After I retired I was asked to serve on the "Friends Board of Directors" and did that for the maximum possible period of nine years. I was subsequently elected to the status of emeritus board member and I am still serving in that capacity. I have always tried to help oUr university galleries and have served on a subcommittee for the main .art gallery for many years, and from time to time on various other committees. .

F or three or four years I also served on the board of the Commonwealth Opera but not being a musician I felt somewhat out of place and I resigned. Another advisory board on which I served is the orie for the Architecture and Design program. That prograrp is the one I basically started as a professional option within the Art Department. Unfqrtunately the program lost its accreditation for interior design. However the program becaJIle the only accredited architecture program at a New England State university and seems to be prospering now. For many years after my official retirement I still served on design juries for student projects, but at this point I am pretty much out of it. .

One of my ongoing activities is tennis. For the last forty years I have tried to play two to three times a week. It is excellent exercise and it is an enjoyable game. After my transplant the surgeon told me that it was most likely' due to my tennis that I survived the many problems at that time. Right now I am the coordinator for two groups of doubles. It is quite a chore to work out a schedule and deal with a group of seniors who often are unable to show up when scheduled, and some who go to Florida for many weeks during the summer. I still enjoy singles and try to do that once a week.


We have always enjoyed traveling and we still do so in spite of our age. I am writing this just after Susi turned 83 and a few weeks before I shall be 84. Every trip involves many . inconveniences such as getting to the airport and then getting through the tedious check­in procedures. But sofar we have managed, and we are booked for a two week trip to . Portugal in June, including a river cruise there. Last April we went to Israel for the first time in almost thirty years. Due to my immunosuppressive medications I was not allowed to travel to many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean basin. But since I have been on very low doses of medicines in recent years the doctors gave me permission to go to Israel. We took a tour which provided individualized trips and enjoyed the trip very . much. We visited many places where we had not been and of course all the familiar places where we had lived and grown up. We saw our friend Jakob many times and we had meals at each of his three children's homes since we have known the children ever since they were born.

Most years we take two major trips and many short trip to New York, Washington, and other nearby places. Several years ago we were invited by the city of Nuremberg for ten days. Like many other German cities, Nuremberg each year invites groups of former residents who had to flee from the Nazis. Although I grew up in Nuremberg I had never seen many of its historic places and found our trip very interesting. We met some very nice people. Unfortunately many Germans are still in denial about the past. Several people we met made sure to tell us that their parents were not Nazis; obviously not true. Writing about the Nuremberg trip reminds me of several Nuremberg-Fuerth reunion weekends we attended in the Catskill area of New York. A most dedicated former Nuemberger has given years of his life to organize these reunions. By now there are hardly any people in our age group who still go to what has become a multi generational meeting and we do not plan to attend any more reunions.

In recent years we have been on many trips including Australia, the Baltic countries, England, France, some of our National Parks, and to a mimber of Elder Hostels in the United States. We have at times gone on long weekends with our children and grandchildren, and during January we have always gone for two or three weeks to warmer places. I am writing this just a few days after our 60th• wedding anniversary which we celebrated with a splendid family dinner in New York.

I have written these last few pages in a somewhat disjointed manner in order to complete my story with at least an image of my life after ending my previously written autobiography a dozen years ago. There is no end to this story until I shall have departed. I very much doubt that I'll write more, even if I should live to a very ripe old age. In spite of growing up in Nazi Germany, serving in two armies, and overcoming two life threatening illnesses I have had a full and a good life. I have been fortunate to have chosen a career that was interesting and challenging, and I achieved satisfaction with what I did and perhaps a small degree of success. Susi and I have been happy together and have a loving relationship with our family. I know that my life is coming to a close even though nobody ever knows when that last day will come. I am ready whenever the day will arrive. I hope that this autobiography might at some point be of interest to our grandchildren or perhaps to their children. The first part of my autobiography is on file at the Leo Beck Institute and at the archives of the University of Massachusetts library, and I shall probably submit this last part called "Another Chapter" as an addendum.