Findling, Joseph

Findling, Joseph

Cologne (Germany)

Findling, born in 1928 in Cologne, Germany, was the oldest of five children whose parents had immigrated to Germany from Poland. His father was a laborer. He attended a parochial school and remembers considerable anti-Semitism outside of school. In October 1938 Findling’s father was deported to Poland. Less than a month later, on November 10, 1938, Findling witnessed Kristallnacht and describes the looting and burning of stores and synagogues in his neighborhood.

Convinced that the family had to get out of Germany, Findling and his two brothers and a sister were smuggled into Belgium on December 25, 1938. His younger sister and mother followed later. In Belgium the children were placed in separate foster homes and orphanages, and the mother worked as a cleaning woman. The father attempted to join the family but was arrested in Germany.

Findling and his brothers left Belgium for southern (Vichy) France on a children’s transport just ahead of the invading German army. In the summer of 1941, through the efforts of the American Society of Friends (Quakers), they were able to travel to the United States via Portugal.

Finding’s mother and two sisters were unable to leave Belgium. His sisters were placed in convents and survived the war. His mother was arrested by the Germans and sent to Auschwitz, where she died. Findling’s father, who had returned to his hometown in Poland, was shot and killed by the Germans and buried in a mass grave.

In the United States, Findling attended high school and university. He brought his two sisters to join him after the war. The older sister had almost become a nun in the convent, and the younger sister became mentally distrubed by her childhood experiences.

Interview Information:
Date: October 25, 1996
Interviewer: Hans Weinmann
Length: 2 hours, 12 minutes
Format: Video recording