Braun, Robert

Braun, Robert

Chemnitz (Germany)

Braun’s parents were Austrians who moved to Germany shortly before Braun was born in Chemnitz in 1910. Braun’s father owned a wholesale textile business in the city. After his father died and he graduated from high school, Braun and his mother moved to Vienna, where he attended the University of Vienna and its medical school. Braun became a doctor in 1937 and viewed with fear and worry the political changes sweeping Germany, and then Austria. After the Anschluss in March 1938, Braun lost his position at the hospital where he was employed.

In the days that followed Braun witnessed Jews being forced by brownshirts to scrub sidewalks and he himself was grabbed off the street to clean a toilet. He knew he had to get out of Austria and applied for a visa with the United States. His girlfriend, blond and blue-eyed, did not look Jewish and was able to obtain applications for him without the same risk of being picked up off the street. Braun and his mother were asked to move out of their apartment because they were Jewish. During the move, Kristallnacht occurred. They narrowly missed the dangerous mob that roamed the streets and buildings around them. Desperate, Braun tried to take a train across the German border to Denmark, but he was stopped and sent back to Austria by the SS and Gestapo.

Braun’s uncle in Chicago was finally able to put up an amount of money as a guarantee to the British government so that Braun could get a visa to England and then to the United States. Braun left Vienna for London in February 1939. There, he was once again able to see his girlfriend, who had managed to get to England as a domestic servant. Braun waited in London for the rest of his paperwork to be completed and finally took a Dutch ship to New York, arriving on December 24, 1939. Meanwhile, his mother sailed to New York on a separate ship and met him when he arrived. His girlfriend remained in England until after the war. On January 3, 1946, she arrived in New York, and five days later, she and Braun married.

Interview Information:
Date: December 9, 1996
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Format: Video recording