Weissman (Broessler), Eva Gertrud
Survivor/False Papers, Survivor/Hidden
Vienna, Austria, Holland
Mrs. Eva Gertrud Weissman was born in Vienna, Austria in 1923. Her mother was Thekla Lampl, her father was Gustav and sister Ruth Newmark.
The Broessler Family was an upper class household with live in help. They were a close knit family with grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. Her grandfather had a medical practice outside of Vienna in Bad Voeslau. Mrs. Weissman went to public elementary school and gymnasium for five years. Her father was a textile executive. They lived in a mixed neighborhood where there wasn’t any anti-semitism.
Mrs. Weissman spoke German and the family was fairly assimilated. Her family didn’t keep kosher. They thought that Hitler was a psychotic and would not last. Austria was a Catholic country and Fascism was on the rise. Mrs. Weissman’s family heard about the occupation on the radio, about Hitler being greeted by the Viennese.
The father of one of her friends was sent to Dachau. Jews were forced to scrub the streets, not allowed to go to public school, nor visit any parks. Her father’s business was slowly Aryanized and the Nazis sent in a non-Jewish manager to replace him. Her father’s cousin visited from Budapest and said “leave here immediately.” They listened, but it was difficult to leave.
In March, 1938, the Nazi occupation began and Jews were more anxious than ever. On Kristallnacht, her father was taken from the house leaving her mother, her sister and her. Her mother found a document showing that the father could not work and the Nazis released him. The neighbors were nice and their maid wanted to stay, but listened to her parents and left for England to cook for a Lord and Lady, who were responsible for their permit to leave the country.
A distant relative, Dr. Franz Alexander, a psychoanalyst from Chicago attained visas for all four of the family. They were able to get American papers, but still were unable to get out. Relatives in Holland arranged to take Mrs. Weissman’s sisterand her to different families in Holland; but not their parents. They wanted to go to the United States, but ended up escaping to England. Her father couldn’t work there without a work permit.
Mrs. Weissman went by train to Holland with seven other children. They all went to Jewish families and her parents visited for one week. Then Hitler arrived. Mrs. Weissman was able to visit her sister who lived with the Isaac family. Mrs. Weissmanlived with theSimons family and went to vocational millinery school. Mrs. Weissman was sixteen and her sister Ruth was seven.
When the Nazis invaded Holland in 1940, her sisters’s foster family fled with Ruth to Switzerland. Mrs. Weissman lived in the Hague and at the age of nineteen, was arrested by the Gestapo. She was imprisoned and was not mistreated. She was told, upon leaving prison, to get papers to go to Utrecht. Her foster family, the Simons, told her not to go back to Utrecht, but disappear and hide. This she did for five years with her forged name, Johanna Cornelia Meijer.
At the end of the war, there was dancing in the streets.
Mrs. Weissman’s sister, Ruth came to the United States in June, 1946; and Mrs. Weissman followed six months later. Their parents were in Michigan City, Indiana. They were very unhappy there and didn’t know what to do. Her father had a menial job and they lived in a rented house.
Mrs. Weissman left for New York and got a job at the Women’s Hospital and eventually became director of the Women’s Health Organization.
Her husband, Mr. Weissman, is a medical director who had two children. They married on April 19, 1959. Mrs. Weissman became a citizen in 1952, works with Woody Guthrie’s wife to raise money for Huntington’s Disease and in 2010, wrote a book, “The War Came to Me”.
Date: April 8, 2010
Interviewer: Donna Sklar
Format: Video Recording