Maniker (Gruenbaum), Edith

Maniker (Gruenbaum), Edith

Leipzig (Germany), England

Maniker was born in 1931 in Leipzig, Germany, the younger daughter of an orthodox Jewish couple. Her father was a typesetter and printer, as well as a translator of Hebrew and German. The family lived in a mixed neighborhood with a synagogue and the Nazi headquarters located on the same street. Maniker attended a Jewish school and doesn’t recall any overt anti-Semitism directed toward her. This was partially due to the fact that she heeded her mother’s advice by not revealing her Jewish identity. She also had limited association with non-Jews.

Maniker distinctly remembers Kristallnacht. She observed from her family’s apartment window the burning of the synagogue across the street, preceded by the burning of prayer books and prayer shawls in front of the synagogue. She also recalls her aunt and uncle moving in with her family after they lost their home as a result of this mass riot against Jews. Her father lost his job after Kristallnacht and she remembers how the furniture gradually disappeared from their apartment. She suspects it was pawned to obtain funds to live on. Her father was protected from arrest during Kristallnacht when the caretaker of their apartment building didn’t reveal the fact that Jews resided there.

Following the riots of Kristallnacht, the British government relaxed its immigration laws by allowing children under the age of 18 to enter England. Due to the efforts of one of her uncles who worked for the equivalent of the Jewish Federation in Leipzig, Maniker (at the time only eight years old), her older sister and four cousins were able to leave for England as a part of the Kindertransport (transportation for children). The children were sponsored by relatives who resided in England. Maniker’s oldest cousin was the first to leave, followed by her sister in June 1939. Maniker still remembers her father weeping as her parents took her sister to the train station. It was the first time she ever saw him cry. Maniker left in July 1939. Her three other cousins left five days before the outbreak of World War II. The children’s ages were six years, three years, and seven months, clearly indicating, notes Maniker, the desperation of their parents to save them from what they believed the future held.

During her eight year stay in England, Maniker had to move nearly ten times as a result of evacuations, bombings, and incompatibility with foster parents. These moves proved to be both traumatic and disruptive for Maniker and her young cousins.

Maniker’s parents, her cousin’s parents, her grandmother, and the numerous other relatives who remained in Germany during the Holocaust all perished. No accurate account exists of her parents’ fate, and Maniker relates that she will always wonder what happened to them.

She harbors resentment toward Germany and emphasizes that she has no desire to visit the country. The only remembrance she has of her parents are some silver candlesticks and a silver Hanukkah menorah (candelabra) some friends of her parents sent to her.

Interview Information:
Date: January 27, 1993
Length: 57 minutes
Interviewer: Hans R. Weinmann
Format: Video recording