Alflen (Lang), Marion
Vienna (Austria), England
Alflen was born in Vienna, Austria, the eldest daughter of an upper middle-class assimilated Austrian-Jewish family, in 1921. Her father, a World War I veteran of the Austrian army, held a high administrative position with Vienna’s largest insurance company. She had a French governess and a maid. The family lived in a non-Jewish neighborhood, and although quite assimilated, Alflen did join a Zionist group as a teenager.
When Austria was annexed by Germany in 1938, the family’s life-style changed abruptly. Her father was dismissed from his job the day after annexation, and her school closed soon thereafter. Alflen recalls witnessing from a street car the arrival of Adolf Hitler in Vienna three days after the annexation and saw the enthusiasm of the Viennese, who greeted “our leader.”
Before long, the family realized that they needed to make arrangements for emigration. Alflen’s parents trained to be servants and applied for jobs as domestic help in England, the only way immigration to England was possible. Alflen took lessons to become a bakery cook.
Alflen tells of her father being forced by the Nazis to clean the streets of graffiti and, during Kristallnacht, their apartment was looted and her father arrested and sent to Dachau. Alflen saw Vienna’s synagogues burning during the pogrom.
Alflen claims that due to the intervention of General Ludendorff, her father was released from Dachau after several months and given forty-eight hours to leave the country. Through bribery, he was able to go to Monaco. Alflen, then seventeen years old, traveled to England on the Kindertransport. Her mother, sister, and later her father, followed when their visas for domestics arrived.
After the start of World War II, Alflen’s father was interred as an alien on the Isle of Man. Alflen apprenticed as a dressmaker, domestic, and beautician. Eventually, the family was able to immigrate to the United States.
Date: December 22, 1993
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Length: 1 hour, 16 minutes
Format: Video recording