Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Heimler, Eugene (9 of 10) The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
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1989-07-11; 1989-07-19; 1989-10-25; 1989-11-14
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The Living Memory of the Jewish Community
Heimler, Eugene (speaker, male)
Wingate, Jennifer (speaker, female)
Born in small Hungarian town. Father religious Jew, mother not. Jewish education. Father a Zionist and a Social Democrat. Left school when 16 because of anti-semitism. Felt that there was trouble coming around 1937/8 but did not want to leave Hungary because mother was ill. 19th March 1944, Germans arrived. Eugene married Eva. Father arrested by Gestapo, deported in April. Eva and her mother went into ghetto, followed later by Eugene. All three were then transported in cattle trucks, 3-day journey to to Auschwitz. On arrival, they were split up by Mengele. Eva contracted dysentery and died. Poles and gypsies told him about gassings but did not believe it. Talks again about previous experiences in ghetto. Sent to Buchenwald, then Troglitz, to work for IG Farben Industries factory, but Troglitz had been bombed. Back to Buchenwald; better treatment. Became friendly with Danish police, who were imprisoned for not turning in Jews. One gave him a uniform, so he got better treatment. Then taken to Berger-Elster. Left in April 1945; camp evacuated, death march to Czech border, those who couldn't walk were shot. Managed to escape and to stay out of danger until war ended. Got back to Hungary, went to hospital, 3/4 weeks. Tried to find cousins. Anxiety state, disturbed nights. Wanted to be a journalist; became sub-editor; started political writing for free press, motivated by Jewish and socialist idealism. Arrested. Afer further political activity, felt he had to leave, too dangerous to stay. Got visa for Britain. Anna Kethly, Social Democrat MP, opened doors for him. Married Lily, 1946; Jewish wedding. Left for England 1947. Trainee psychiatric worker. Felt isolated. 1955, daughter born. World Health Organisation appointed him to go to US. Naturalised in 1956. Disillusioned with Socialism. Heard that Social Democrat friends back in Hungary had been arrested. Became very involved in social work, instigating courses and new approaches in treatments; "Human Social Functioning". Developed new ideas; a lot of travel abroard. Lily became ill and died, 1984. 1973, Heimler Foundation set up with money raised at 50th birthday; central resource for psychiatric researchers. Talks about how life changed after death of Lily, psychiatric treatment of Holocaust survivors, coming to terms with past. Fear of dogs, crowds, any kind of violence. Feels his experiences served a purpose; enabled him to help others. Feelings about European politics. (See also interview C410/148/01-06 with Brigitte Heimler, his 3rd wife).