Wisconsin Survivors of the Holocaust Interviews
9. Postwar Life & Immigration
A survivor immigrates after nine years in Holland
Flora Bader was happy with her postwar life in Holland — But she had promised her husband years before that she would emigrate
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Interviewer: Why did you choose the U.S. then, as opposed to Israel? Because you had, well, your friend you said was going to the U.S. But you could have gone to...
"I wanted to be with my friend that I felt like a sister to.."
Interviewer: And that was okay with them?
"And they wanted to be with me because she had lost her sister and brother in a concentration camp just like I had."
Interviewer: And Joe agreed to that?
"And Joe agreed to that because we loved each other.
They [the friends] backed out at the last minute. He was given a promotion, at the Hema.
And the insecurity of America — and they read up on America. And the impression that Amsterdam had of New York — America was judged by the city of New York. It was terrible. People would kill each other in the street and step over the bodies.
The fantasies that were in Europe were not very favorable for America right after the war. Unless you were in great desperation, one did not leave your country for America. And the great desperation wasn't there in 1954 in Holland anymore.
Can you understand that? There are not many Jewish Dutch people here, are there? Why should they have to leave?
So, Josef said, 'Flory,' — in 1953 — 'You have to decide.'
I said, 'Go for a year and I come with Anneke,' and he told me, 'God had taken a child from me; I cannot leave you and Anneke alone. You have made a promise.'
I had to abide. I had made a promise.
I went with him, filled out papers.
[Her friend] backed out. I felt an icy fear in me and I knew what I had in Holland. I had lovable friends, I had my mother-in-law upstairs but I also had a very unhappy husband at times.
I did not know if that was Auschwitz, I did not know if that was envy because the Dutch people were all making, and doing very well and he felt restricted.
The time came, March 5, 1954, that we left Holland with Anneke."
Interviewer: How did you leave?
"From Amsterdam. I remember having had a black suit with pearls, and I was told — I have two pictures — I looked very elegant. [laughs]
When the ship reached the canal, which is between Dover and Dunkirken, which is the roughest part of any sea you can fare, I was laying on deck with the pearls in my own misery, never dreaming that it would be I leaving Europe after having survived for nine years after the war and taking that kind of step.
Starting all over again."
Bader Interview, Tape 7, Side 1