Walton (Heimann), Ruth

Walton (Heimann), Ruth

Bochum Langendreer (Germany), Dortmund

Ruth was born in Westphalia, Germany in a town called Bochum Langendreer in 1921.  She lived with her father, Ernest, a shop owner, her mother, Regina, her aunt Meta, uncle Max and one cousin, Otto.

She went to public school and the family attended services at the synagogue on Saturday.

When Ruth went to music class in 1937, other students spit at her because she was Jewish.  Her education, before Hitler, was good, she said.

The family’s shop was on a corner and at first, the word “Jude” [Jew] was written all over the windows, and the next night the windows were completely smashed.

In 1937, her family was transferred to Dortmund, put in a basement flat with her grandmother, the Cantor and many other Jewish families.

During Kristallnacht, hundreds of SS men broke into the flat.  Ruth was then seventeen.  They hit her father on the head and smashed everything:  her mother’s sewing machine, all the cabinets, the dishes, cut open all the upholstered furniture and threw much of it out the window.  Her father disappeared for weeks and when he finally reappeared, he was covered in blood.  Jewish doctors were not permitted to help.  The next day, four SS men came and all the Jewish men were taken away.  Because her father was unconscious, he was left behind.  When the men returned sometime later, they were starving and beaten, but they never ever spoke about where they were sent or what happened to them.

A non-Jewish blue-collar couple, who worked for Ruth’s father, took them in and helped them clean up the mess.  They were anxious to get Ruth and her cousin out of the country.  They went to the station to see her off, putting her on the last train out.  She never saw her family again.

She was eighteen when she arrived by boat as part of the Kindertransport.  She was the oldest one with hundreds of young children, infants up to twelve years old.  When she arrived at the Liverpool Station, no one was there to greet her.  She could not speak English, but hired a taxi and gave the driver the address of the Smith home where she was hired to be a domestic.

Her father shipped a carton with her containing a sewing machine, photographs, tablecloths, a Kiddush cup and a Challah cover.

Ruth’s employer, Mrs. Smith, paid the taxi and also the shipping charge for the carton.  The Smiths had a lovely home. They were churchgoing people who made her feel like a family member.  She had her own room and, because she was lonely, they brought another German Jewish girl to be her friend.

They taught both girls English.  Ruth lived there from 1939-1941.  During 1939 and 1940, Ruth received letters from her parents that, because of censorship, said absolutely nothing.

The Smiths tried to get her family out, but weren’t successful.

When Ruth returned home after the war, she realized that her parents were probably dead.  She found the couple that hid them who had saved some of her parents’ possessions:  her father’s watch and her mother’s jewelry, just in case Ruth returned.

Ruth still lives in England.  Her cousin, Otto Heimann, also survived and lives in Miami.  None of the other forty Jews in her hometown survived.

Ruth is now a widow. She made a tape for her two children, her grandchildren and great grandchildren, telling them of her experiences.

Although her entire family does not practice Judaism, she says that she is Jewish in her heart.  She thought that, by keeping the Jewish religion out of their lives, she was doing this for the family’s own good.

Ruth said that losing her husband, but knowing where he’s buried, made grieving much easier, unlike the grieving for her parents.

Interview information:
Interviewer: Esther Weine
Date: 6/6/92
Format: Video recording