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Paul Engel

Language: English

Paul Engel was born into a middle-class Jewish family on May 4, 1922 in Vienna, Austria. He had a younger brother, Robert. When World War I broke out in 1914, his father, Eduard, was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army. Captured as a prisoner of war, he spent six years in Siberia working in a coal mine, finally reuniting with his family in 1920. In Vienna, Eduard owned a perfume wholesale business. Before the war, Paul attended a primary school and was accepted to a Gymnasium in the 14th district of Vienna. He attended a synagogue and was a member of the Betar youth movement associated with Revisionist Zionism.

On March 13, 1938, the day after Vienna fell to Anschluss with Nazi Germany, Eduard lost his family business. Paul, along with other Jewish students, was expelled from the Gymnasium. His brother, Robert, fled to Palestine. During Kristallnacht, on November 10, 1938, Nazi officials ransacked the Engels’ home and arrested Eduard. Having obtained an immigration visa to China, he was soon released and the family left Austria in January 1939.

Upon arrival in China, the Engels settled in Shanghai and made a living manufacturing candles and perfumes. After the Japanese invasion of China in 1943, the family was incarcerated in the Hongkew ghetto established for stateless refugees in Shanghai by the occupying authorities. The ghetto was liberated with the arrival of an
American goodwill mission on September 3, 1945.

After liberation, Eduard’s parents returned to Vienna, whereas Paul, affected by the Holocaust, decided to pursue immigration to Australia. After a short trip to see his parents in Vienna, Paul arrived in Sydney on September 15, 1949 and established himself in menswear retail. He married Eva Stern in 1952; the couple had two children and three grandchildren.

The interview was conducted on June 2, 1995 in Sydney, Australia; interviewer: Scott Williams; videographer: Rafael Corday.

  • Paul Engel

    Language: English

    Paul Engel was born into a middle-class Jewish family on May 4, 1922 in Vienna, Austria. He had a younger brother, Robert. When World War I broke out in 1914, his father, Eduard, was drafted into the Austro-Hungarian army. Captured as a prisoner of war, he spent six years in Siberia working in a coal mine, finally reuniting with his family in 1920. In Vienna, Eduard owned a perfume wholesale business. Before the war, Paul attended a primary school and was accepted to a Gymnasium in the 14th district of Vienna. He attended a synagogue and was a member of the Betar youth movement associated with Revisionist Zionism.

    On March 13, 1938, the day after Vienna fell to Anschluss with Nazi Germany, Eduard lost his family business. Paul, along with other Jewish students, was expelled from the Gymnasium. His brother, Robert, fled to Palestine. During Kristallnacht, on November 10, 1938, Nazi officials ransacked the Engels’ home and arrested Eduard. Having obtained an immigration visa to China, he was soon released and the family left Austria in January 1939.

    Upon arrival in China, the Engels settled in Shanghai and made a living manufacturing candles and perfumes. After the Japanese invasion of China in 1943, the family was incarcerated in the Hongkew ghetto established for stateless refugees in Shanghai by the occupying authorities. The ghetto was liberated with the arrival of an
    American goodwill mission on September 3, 1945.

    After liberation, Eduard’s parents returned to Vienna, whereas Paul, affected by the Holocaust, decided to pursue immigration to Australia. After a short trip to see his parents in Vienna, Paul arrived in Sydney on September 15, 1949 and established himself in menswear retail. He married Eva Stern in 1952; the couple had two children and three grandchildren.

    The interview was conducted on June 2, 1995 in Sydney, Australia; interviewer: Scott Williams; videographer: Rafael Corday.

  • Maurice Blindt

    Language: French

    Maurice Blindt was born on February 20, 1924, to Samuel and Fajga Blindt, both of whom were originally from Poland. He had a sister, Lucia, born in 1919, and a
    brother, Henri, born in 1926. On the eve of World War II, Lucia left Paris to live in Algiers. When Germany invaded France in May 1940, the Blindts fled Paris. In the process of fleeing, they encountered heavy gunfire and arial bombings, and Fajga had a nervous breakdown.

    The family separated at the moment of France’s surrender to the Nazis, but reunited several weeks later in Paris. Fajga was hospitalized, and wasn’t released until 1956. In Paris, Maurice engaged in propaganda activities for the illegal communist party. After his arrest in October 1941, he left Paris to go into hiding in the south of France.
    Samuel and Henri were arrested during the Vélodrome d’Hiver roundup in Paris. Deported to Auschwitz in July 1942, they never returned. After crossing the demarcation line in Vierzon, Maurice walked to Marseille. Hoping to flee to Algiers to join his sister, he left Marseille on February 11, 1942. He completed the journey hidden in a
    barrel in the baggage hold of the Sidi Aïssa, a passenger ship, arriving in Algiers on February 17. In September 1942, he worked as an operator at Radio-Algiers. He then enlisted as a parachutist for the rest of the war in the Free French Forces. He received military training in Tripoli, Libya, then, in November 1943, in Scotland. Having
    completed his military training in June 1944, he participated in the Normandy landing, the liberation of France, and the campaign for Holland. He was demobilised in September 1946.

    Back in Paris in 1946, Maurice reunited with his mother, still in the hospital. His sister returned from Algeria, profoundly shocked by the loss of her father and brother and her mother’s illness, and passed away. Maurice cared for his mother, who passed away in 1981. Sixty-five members of his family lost their lives in Nazi extermination
    camps.

    Maurice was married and had a daughter, Arianne. At the time of the interview, he had two grandsons.

    The interview was conducted in Nogent-sur-Marne, France on July 30, 1997. The interviewer was Samuel Grosman and the cameraman Guy Elkrief.

  • John Baer

    Language: English

    John Baer was born to Bernhard and Marta Baer on April 26, 1917 in Breslau, Germany (today Wrocław, Poland). His father was a sales representative for fur and textile manufacturers and his mother owned a millinery store. John had an older sister, Lilly. He received his elementary and secondary education in public schools in Breslau, and also attended a Hebrew school.

    In the 1930s, conditions for the Jews in Breslau worsened. John was one of only two Jews out of 20,000 students to attend the University of Breslau at that time. After the pogrom of November 9-10, 1938 (Kristallnacht), he fled to Berlin, leaving his family behind. In Berlin, John learned that his father had been deported and killed in the Buchenwald concentration camp. Determined to leave the country, John obtained a visa to Peru.

    Upon arrival in Arequipa, John quickly found a job as a translator and sought to bring over his family. With the help of his Peruvian landlord’s son, John got an audience with the Bolivian President, Carlos Quintanilla, who kindly arranged for proper visas for him, his mother, and his fiancée, Ursula Boehm, to make their way to La Paz in 1940. He and Ursula got married as soon as she arrived in Bolivia. Living a modest life, John eventually became an economic advisor and translator at the American consulate in Bolivia. Three years later, the former US Ambassador supported his family’s immigration to the United States.

    John, Ursula, their two children, and John’s mother ultimately settled in Los Angeles. John continued his education and went to law school. Practicing international law, John made a life for himself as a legal council for many European consulates in Los Angeles establishing economic, social and cultural ties. He received the highest civilian awards by heads of state of Germany, France, Austria, and Italy. At the time of his interview, John had four grandchildren.

    The interview was conducted on April 14, 1996 in Los Angeles, CA, United States; interviewer: Mark Rothman; videographer: Raul Prado. John Baer passed away in 2001.