Wildstrom, Marianne (Spiegel)

Wildstrom, Marianne (Spiegel)

Fürth (Germany)

Marianne was born in 1924 in Bavaria to Albert and Emily Spiegel. She also had two brothers. By her accounts, she had a lovely and secure childhood in the city of Fürth. She attended the liberal synagogue in the city. Her father was a traveling businessman. In 1933, public schools were closed to Jews and she went to the Jewish Orthodox High School. She recalls that the German population was sometimes hostile, sometimes friendly to them. As Hitler’s popularity rose, the situation went from bad to worse.

In 1933, Marianne’s father was arrested for two days.  They were looking for her uncle who was a doctor and a prosecuting lawyer and a known socialist. A teacher who he had prosecuted back in 1928 was now a ranking member of the Nazi party and was personally seeking revenge. Their whole family was singled out and monitored. Three weeks after her father’s arrest and release their uncle was arrested and sent to Dachau where he was assumed murdered. But even as late as 1938, Gestapo would frequent their home and ask for his whereabouts. During the 30s, she lived in a constant state of anxiety.

In 1938, the Jewish high school was closed and Marianne went to an all-girls Jewish boarding school in Munich. She was there during Kristalnacht. She was sheltered from the violence, but the school was shut down and Marianne had to endure a 3-hour train ride back home aboard a train full of SA singing patriotic songs. Little did she know that her family had all been arrested that morning and sent to Dachau. So she arrived home with her family gone and the synagogues burning. Her mother and brothers were soon released. Her father spent 33 terrible days in Dachau. When he was discharged he was emotionally and physically drained. He could not work again.

When she arrived home, Marianne worked in a Jewish hospital as a nurse until 1940 when they arranged visas for the whole family. They first tried Holland to no avail, then Italy. Soon their visas expired. In 1941, they luckily got their visas renewed and so began a long journey to freedom that took them from Berlin to Frankfurt to Vichy France to Spain to Portugal and finally to the United States. They escaped on a cargo ship on the day their visas expired for the second time.

Their family first settled in Georgia where she worked again in a hospital. In 1945, she married a Jewish-American soldier and moved to Detroit where his sister lived. She has lived in the Detroit area ever since.