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Eva Deutschkron. Eva Deutschkron.
Eva Deutschkron

Name: Eva Lauffer Deutschkron (1918 – 2011)

Birth Place: Posen, Germany (now Poznan, Poland)

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1948, Madison

There's nothing to go back to.

Eva Deutschkron

Map of survivor's journey in Europe.

Biography

Eva Lauffer Deutschkron was born in Posen, Germany (now Poznan, Poland), on November 12, 1918. Her widowed mother moved the family to Berlin. Young Eva was generally shielded from the growing Nazi terror until Kristallnacht. She witnessed the November 9-10, 1938, rioting that launched widespread violence against the Jewish community.

Eva's family attempted to immigrate to the U.S. Delays in the U.S. Consulate in Berlin prevented the family from leaving. In October 1942, Nazi officials captured Eva's sister and the parents of her husband, Martin. Eva's parents were also eventually abducted and murdered. At 24, Eva and her husband were assigned to forced labor at the Siemens Munitions Factory. They eluded Nazi attention until January 1943. That is when Eva and her husband went into hiding.

Helped by a number of Gentiles, the Deutschkrons survived the war by hiding underground in Berlin, the seat of the Third Reich. They experienced many harrowing events - not only close calls with the Gestapo but also bombing from Allied warplanes. After the war, with the help of American soldiers, they re-established contact with relatives in the U.S. In May 1946, they emigrated from Germany, shortly after the birth of their son.

Settling for a time in New York City, the Deutschkrons moved to Madison, Wisconsin, in November 1948. A daughter was born in 1951. From humble beginnings in a rented store, they established Martin's, Inc., a tailoring and retail clothing business with several locations around the city. Eva died in 2011.

Audio and Transcript Information

Below are the highlights of each tape. They do not list all topics discussed. Recordings of only one tape side are marked: (no Side 2). Documents may be printed or downloaded at no cost. See Rights and Permissions


Listen to Eva's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Family background and childhood
  • The Jewish community in Kopenick, Germany
  • German anti-Semitism in the mid 1930s
  • Difficulties finding work due to prejudice
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 1, Side 2
  • Terror raids by the police
  • Kristallnacht
  • Attempts to escape Germany in the late 1930s
  • Eva's courtship and marriage
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 2, Side 1
  • Unsuccessful attempts to emigrate in the late 1930s
  • Increasing anti-Semitism
  • Family moves to Berlin
  • Doing forced labor, 1940-1943
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 112.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 2, Side 2
  • Eluding the Gestapo in Berlin
  • Deutschkrons go into hiding
  • Life underground in the heart of the Third Reich
  • Helpers and sympathizers
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.8 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 3, Side 1
  • Life in Berlin, 1943-1945
  • Accounts of near capture
  • Bombing raids force repeated moves around suburbs
  • Eva clarifies the sequence of hiding places around Berlin
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 3, Side 2
  • Chaos in Berlin as war ends, 1945
  • Deutschkrons move to Borkheide
  • Encounters with liberating Russians and Americans
  • Deutschkrons return to a devastated Berlin after the war
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 4, Side 1
  • Eva reviews her 1930s experiences again
  • Attacks by SS and private citizens
  • Nazi persecution and forced labor, 1939-1943
  • Eva's outlook on life during these persecutions
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 4, Side 2
  • Immigration to the U.S., 1948
  • Establishing a clothing business in Madison
  • Early stores and business associates
  • The Madison Jewish community
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.0 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 5, Side 1
  • Business ventures in Madison
  • Eva returns to discussion of years underground
  • Mental and physical toll of hiding
  • People who assisted them while hiding
Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 5, Side 2
  • Cousin Erich Deutschkron
  • Postwar years in Berlin, 1945-1947
  • Pregnancy in postwar Berlin
  • Difficulties immigrating to the U.S.
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.5 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 6, Side 1
  • Help from Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society
  • Intense interrogation by U.S. officials
  • Difficult sea voyage
  • First impressions of New York and Wisconsin
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.9 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 6, Side 2
  • Family and work life in New York
  • Move to Madison, November 1948
  • Kindness and prejudice in Madison
  • Madison's Jewish community in the 1940s and 1950s
Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.5 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 7, Side 1
  • Family's business and social life in Madison
  • American politics and culture
  • Parenting, children's marriages
  • Americans' ignorance of and reactions to the Holocaust
Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 12.9 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)
Tape 7, Side 2
  • Trips to Berlin in 1955 and 1978
  • Trip to Israel, 1970
  • Attitudes toward American politics and culture
  • Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
Download Audio (MP3, 29 minutes, 13.4 MB) View Transcript Page (PDF, 619 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by Jean Loeb Lettofsky during two sessions at the Deutschkron home on September 3 and 5, 1980. These sessions lasted three and four hours respectively.

    Eva requested that the names of individuals associated with her life in hiding not be publicized for a fifteen-year period. The names were deleted from the tapes and from the transcripts.

    The interview does not proceed in strict chronological order. Eva frequently admits confusion about specific dates and times. Nevertheless, her interview is rich with details about surviving within the very heart of the Nazi political machine.


Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Sep 3, 1980; Sep 5, 1980
  • Interview Location: Deutschkron home, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Jean Loeb Lettofsky
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 7 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 2 interviews, total approximately 7 hours
  • Transcript Length: 133 pages
  • Rights and Permissions: Any document may be printed or downloaded to a computer or portable device at no cost for nonprofit educational use by teachers, students and researchers. Nothing may be reproduced in any format for commercial purposes without prior permission.

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