Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Henry Windmuller

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Jewish Heritage Collection: Oral history interview with Henry Windmuller
Tannenbaum, Karen
Windmuller, Henry, 1924-
Henry Windmuller, born in 1924, in Andernach, Germany, describes the town’s small Jewish congregation and his family’s religious practices, as well as the schooling he received as a boy. He was boarding at a teacher’s college in Wurzburch when the anti-Jewish violence of Kristallnacht broke out in November 1938. He recalls how he and a friend escaped the perpetrators and arrived safely home. His father, Max, was arrested and held at a camp in Dachau for about a month and then released. Stepmother Rosa arranged for Henry and his sister, Ilse, who was a year younger, to leave Cologne for England a week later on the Kindertransport. They were placed with separate families in Edinburgh, Scotland. With the help of his brother, who sent money from South Africa, Max escaped Germany a week before the start of World War II. The family was unable to secure the money needed to get Rosa to safety and they never saw her again. In the spring of 1940, with the Nazis moving into Western Europe, Henry and his father were among the foreign nationals living in Great Britain who were detained by the British. Max was sent to the Isle of Man and Henry was placed in an internment camp in Lingfield, England. Henry recounts his experiences at Lingfield, then on board the Duchess of York en route to Canada, and, finally, in a camp in Red Rock, Ontario. In all three locations German prisoners of war—airmen, submariners, naval officers, merchant marines—made up the vast majority of prisoners detained alongside Henry and his fellow Jews. “It was like being back in Germany,” he notes. A Jewish doctor, who was tending to the Red Rock prisoners, discovered that Jewish inmates were being forced to live with Nazis. He and his Montreal congregation successfully lobbied for the relocation of the Jews, who were then transferred to Sherbrooke in southeastern Quebec. Henry was allowed to return to Scotland in 1942, where Ilse still lived with her foster family. By that time Max had immigrated to Hartford, Connecticut. In 1943 Henry joined his father in the United States. He traveled alone, however; Ilse had died of diphtheria in Scotland. The transcript includes comments inserted by the interviewee during proofreading.
Jewish Heritage Collection Oral Histories
Contributing Institution:
College of Charleston Libraries
Media Type:
Oral Histories
Topical Subject:
Jews--South Carolina--Aiken--Interviews, Kindertransport (rescue operations)--Great Britain, Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Personal narratives--Jewish, World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Great Britain, World War, 1939-1945--Concentration camps--Canada, Kristallnacht, 1938--Germany, Jews--Germany--Andernach
English, German
Shelving Locator:
Mss 1035-319
S.C. County:
Aiken County (S.C.)
Internet Media Type:
Digitization Specifications:
Mp3 derivative audio created with Audacity software. Archival masters are wav files.
Preferred Citation:
Henry Windmuller, audio interview by Karen Tannenbaum, 4 December 2006, Mss 1035-319, Special Collections, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC, USA.
Copyright Status Statement:
Copyright © College of Charleston Libraries.
Access Information:
For more information contact Special Collections, Addlestone Library, College of Charleston, Charleston, SC 29424.