Jewish survivors of the Holocaust
Rabinowicz, Bella (1 of 4) Holocaust Survivors Centre Interviews
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Refugee from Nazi Europe
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Holocaust Survivors Centre Interviews
Interviewee's home, London
Rabinowicz, Bella, 1924- (speaker, female)
Glancy, Linda (speaker, female)
Part 1: Bella Rabinowicz [BR], born Bella Grossman in 1924 in Vienna, in the Jewish Quarter which was surrounded by the Danube. In 1920 BR’s parents met and married in Vienna. Her family was very religious. Religious Jews couldn’t work for other people because they were unable to work on the Sabbath, so they tended to run their own small businesses. Her father was not very successful. In 1924 BR was born. They lived in a small rented flat. She had a very happy childhood with devoted parents – memories of nursery school, etc. She attended a non-Jewish school because the Jewish school was ultra-orthodox. She was a good student. She went to an Austrian secondary school, along with several other Jewish children, which she enjoyed. She had both Jewish and non-Jewish friends. Although her non-Jewish classmates were nice to her, she thinks they were basically anti-Semitic. In the late 1920s life was good for Jews in Austria. Things changed around 1932. In 1930 the Prime Minister, Dollfuss, was killed and there followed street battles and a lot of anti-Semitism. Austrians were jealous of the Jews, although the Jews were as poor as them. There was generally great poverty. BR describes wonderful memories of high holidays with her large family and the wonderful synagogue services. She describes happy school days although there were great financial problems. 1934-6 was a difficult time for the Jews and they tried to keep away from public places. Anti-Semitism increased under Schuschnigg. BR describes anti-Semitic incidents at school. BR and her family were unable to get Austrian citizenship so they remained Polish, which was a great stigma. After 1937 her classmates began to wear the uniform of the Nazi youth groups. In 1938 they knew what was going on in Germany. They heard about Jews losing their jobs, Nazis in uniform mistreating Jews, the rise of Hitler, etc. They felt very insecure in Austria and tried to leave for Palestine or America. Schuschnigg was very nationalistic and thought he could defeat the Germans, the Jews believed in him.