Oral History Interview with Ellen Tarlow

Ellen Tarlow, née Meinberg, was born in 1927 in Gütersloh, Westphalia, Germany, where her family had lived since the 17th century. Her father, Paul Meinberg, an importer of cattle, was dec-orated with the Iron Cross in WWI. She describes her early childhood in public school and then a Lyceum for girls. She first felt antisemitism at age of eight and was expelled from school in 1938. She studied Hebrew and Bible once a week. She details Nazi atrocities during and after Crystal Night (Kristallnacht): social ostra¬cism, burning of their home and synagogue, her father’s deportation to and flight from Buchenwald. Remaining family found shelter in a local cloister then fled to Bielefeld. She describes subsequent life in a Judenhaus in Gütersloh, including attempts to educate the children there. HIAS helped the family many times; there was also aid from several Germans in Gütersloh. She briefly mentions a failed attempt to emigrate to Haiti. After many disappointments and a difficult experience at the American Consulate in Stuttgart, the family left Germany for the United States, via Lisbon, Portugal, on the SS Mouzinho, in August 1941. She describes the journey from Berlin to Lisbon in a sealed train, and her stay in Lisbon in a group home run by HIAS. She describes how refugees organized to cope with primitive conditions on the ship, her arrival and processing in Staten Island, NY, and her life in New York in a group home for refugees sponsored by HIAS. She reflects at length on the family’s adjustment in the United States and the survivor’s guilt she feels. She talks about her return to Germany, by invitation, in 1985, accompanied by her husband and daughter.

Date: 11/19/1993
Interviewer: Natalie Packel
Interviewee: Ellen Tarlow
Language: English
Subject: Antisemitism in education--Germany.
Holocaust survivors.
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Germany--Personal narratives.
Jewish refugees--United States.
Jews, German--United States.
Kristallnacht, 1938.
Refugee camps--United States.
Synagogues--Destruction and pillage.
World War, 1939-1945--Atrocities--Germany.
Women--Personal narratives.
Bielefeld (Germany)
Germany--Social conditions--1933-1945.
Gütersloh (Germany)
Lisbon (Portugal)
Staten Island (New York, N.Y.)
United States--Emigration and immigration.
Tarlow, Ellen, 1927-
Hebrew Sheltering and Immigrant Aid Society of America.
Location: Gütersloh, Germany
Bielefeld, Germany
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