Weinmann, Hans R.
Weinmann was born in 1926 in Vienna, Austria, the younger of two sons of a middle-class Jewish couple. His father, whose ancestors had lived in Vienna since the early 1800s, was employed as a tariffs and traffic manager for a private firm dealing in grains throughout Europe.
Previously his father had been an operational auditor for the Austrian railroads, which was a civil service position, and, during World War I, an officer in the Austrian army. Weinmann attended public elementary school for the first four years, and then transferred to an academic “gymnasium”, a combination junior and senior high school for more gifted children. Living in Vienna’s 12th district, Meidling, where relatively few Jews lived, he personally saw and experienced little anti-Semitism even though anti-Semitism was very prevalent in Vienna at that time. His parents kept him focused on his studies so he would succeed in later life.
Following the annexation of Austria by Germany in March 1938, he was expelled from his school, and his father was dismissed from his job, for being Jewish. On November 10, 1938, Kristallnacht, Weinmann witnessed the arrest of his father by two Gestapo agents. His father was imprisoned in the Dachau concentration camp, but was released about two months later with the specific requirement that he leaves the country within ninety days. Weinman believes that his father was released because of his army service; he was decorated and wounded during World War I. Further details are given in the interview.
Since his parents had a great deal of difficulty obtaining a visa for emigration, they took advantage of an opportunity to send both children to England as part of the “Kindertransport” rescue effort for children under eighteen years of age. In England, Weinmann lived with a Jewish family that voluntarily took him in. During the interview, Weinmann describes details of the Kindertransport movement as well as of his own experiences upon leaving Germany just three months prior to the start of World War II on June 13, 1939.
His parents were finally able to leave for the United States in December 1939. Following an approximately one-year stay in England, Weinmann was able to rejoin his parents, making the trip from London to New York alone at the age of fourteen and a half because his older brother had been placed into an internment camp by the British as an enemy alien. The voyage on a British ship through the U-boat infested Atlantic took over a week due to the zig-zag course of the ship.
After he completed high school, Weinmann was drafted into the U. S. Army, received his U. S. citizenship, and served in the Pacific war zone even though he had been trained in counter-intelligence activities due to his fluency in German.
At the conclusion of the interview Weinmann gives his opinion of Austria and of the Austrian people of today and also states his reasons for his volunteer efforts on behalf of the Holocaust Memorial Center.
Date: January 31, 1995
Interviewer: Donna Sklar
Length: 1 hour 45 minutes
Format: Video recording