Interview #26 • January 17, 1988
(Running times are approximate)
Reviewer: Diane Bareis
Born: Mishkos (phonetic spelling), Hungary
Her family moved to Antwerp, Belgium. Before the war there were about 50,000 Jews in Antwerp and it was a wonderful, cultural place to live.
2:00 May 1940. The Germans invaded Belgium. Her family had papers to go to the U.S. but they waited too long. Alice was nine and one-half years old when they headed to southern France by train. The Germans were already there and had closed all the seaports.
They went on to a small town in France near the border of Spain.
Some French villagers came out to see what Jews looked like as they had never seen Jews before. They said, “They look like we do.”
8:00 Alice’s father was killed in a bombing attack on a train.
9:00 Belgian students learned four languages in their schooling. Alice knew French and acted as the translator. She went to school in the French village and they stayed there for a couple of years.
13:00 She discusses food and wine rations.
14:00 They move on to a more central part of France. Alice, being rather fluent in French, was assimilated as a French citizen. She was placed in a convent with false papers, posing as an orphan.
She tells of singing a solo, “Ave Maria” on Christmas Eve. Little did anyone know that she was a Jew.
She continued to correspond with her mother.
19:30 The Germans were beginning to retreat from France but Alice had nowhere to go. She was placed on a farm until they heard that the Germans were out of the area. Mail and transportation became unreliable. Alice did not know how to reach her mother. She was placed in a youth hostile in Limoges.
Toward the end the Germans were arresting people and beating them.
24:54 Fay said, “Something entered into me and made me know I was meant to survive.”
She and two other Jewish girls observed the Sabbath by eating their chocolate rations on Fridays.
28:45 As the end of the war came, she found a truck driver who would take her to her mother, hiding in Limoges. Everyone shared for the sake of survival
Jewish community services were organizing and Alice was placed into a girl’s school.
1946. Alice and her mother returned to Belgium. They had lost track of other relatives and some were already in Antwerp when they arrived.
33:00 Her mother’s experience was different. An accomplished housekeeper, she traded her skills for food and survival.
35:25 One uncle had been placed in a concentration camp in southern France.
36:30 Fay’s aunts survived by trading help/labor, just as Fay’s mother had done in order to survive.
37:27 Fay does not recall much about her father but recalls Antwerp before the war. After the war the Jewish population within that city was 4,000 to 4,500.
She was married in 1953 in Belgium and ten days later they came to the United States.