Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust
Name: Karola Frankenthal Epstein (nee Rosenfeld) (1925 – )
Birth Place: Schopfloch, Germany
Arrived in Wisconsin: 1946, Green Bay
It's always in the back of my mind that it can happen again.
Karola Frankenthal Epstein (nee Rosenfeld) was born on September 20, 1925, in Schopfloch, Germany. Her family enjoyed excellent business and social relations in this small Bavarian village. In 1936, anti-Semitic legislation by the Nazi Party forced Karola to attend a school for Jewish children in a different town. After experiencing anti-Semitism in that town, she felt unsafe. Karola convinced her parents to allow her to accompany her sister, Sofie, to the U.S to live with relatives. The two teenaged girls arrived in Chicago in August 1937.
Karola's expectations about life in America were shattered when she was forced to keep house and babysit for her relatives. In September 1938, Karola's parents immigrated to Chicago. The family worked hard to make a living. Before the war's end, Karola had finished high school and worked as a bookkeeper. She also met her first husband, Siegfried Frankenthal, a German-Jewish refugee. They met through her sister and brother-in-law, Herbert Zimmern, who were living in Green Bay. The couple married in September 1946 in Green Bay, where they established a cattle business.
From humble beginnings, Karola and her husband built a large commercial empire, which included farm real estate and four meatpacking plants. At the time of Siegfried's death in 1976, they were the fifth or sixth largest employer in Green Bay. They also raised four children, all born in Green Bay. After Siegfried's death, she married Aaron Epstein of Madison in 1979.
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 Karola's testimony and view transcript
- Childhood in Schopfloch, Bavaria
- Family life, religious and secular education
- Jewish cultural life in Schopfloch in the 1920s and 1930s
- Growing anti-Semitic legislation and behavior
- German Jews disbelief that conditions could turn so terrible
- Early reports of Dachau
- Immigration to the U.S., 1937
- Exploitation by relatives
- Social life of Jewish teenagers in Chicago
- Arrival of Karola's parents, 1938
- Religious and social life in Chicago's Jewish community
- Fate of relatives left behind
- War news in the U.S., 1939-1945
- Marriage to Siegfried Frankenthal and relocation to Green Bay, 1946
- Husband's family background
- Starting and growing a business while raising children
- Jewish community in Green Bay in the 1950s
- Anti-Semitism in Green Bay
- Children and family
- Running the family meatpacking business
- Her second marriage to Aaron Epstein, 1979
- Impressions of Madison and its Jewish community
- Activities of her children
- Jewish and Gentile friends
- American attitudes toward Jews and the Holocaust
- Social life
- Travels around Wisconsin, to Israel and Germany
- Views on American government and politics
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