Herb DeLevie.
Herb DeLevie

Name: Herb DeLevie (1934 – 1989)

Birth Place: Rheine, Germany

Arrived in Wisconsin: 1950, Madison

Everybody was going to die and the death was not going to be pleasant.

Herb DeLevie


Herb DeLevie was born in Rheine, Germany, on May 7, 1934. His mother was German and his father was Dutch. His father's family had practiced the traditions of Sephardic Judaism for centuries. After witnessing rising anti-Semitism in Germany, the DeLevie family moved to Stadtskanaal, Holland, in 1936 to escape the growing sanctions against Jews.

In late 1940, Herb's father, a prominent business owner, went into hiding. Six months later, 7-year-old Herb, his mother, and 11-year-old sister joined him. Over the next four years, they hid in one room of a small farmhouse on the outŹskirts of Stadtskanaal with a large group of relatives and friends. To keep occupied, young Herb read more than 3,000 books brought by the Dutch Underground.

After liberation by a Canadian army unit in 1945, the DeLevies returned to their home. The senior DeLevie resumed his business and the family made plans to immigrate to the U.S. They left Holland in December 1949. The family resided with relatives in New York City until late spring 1950, when they arrived in Madison, Wisconsin.

Herb graduated from West High School in 1951 and enrolled in the University of Wisconsin. A chance encounter with Frank Lloyd Wright resulted in Herb's acceptance at Taliesin in May 1953, where he remained for two years. He joined the Army shortly thereafter and was sent to Korea. After his discharge, Herb settled in Los Angeles, where he worked as an architect, teacher, clothing designer, and cook, and married. His first marriage ended in divorce in 1964.

In June 1964, he married Monica Freund-Fasslicht in Los Angeles. He soon returned to Wisconsin because his father was ill. He set up shop as an architect in Madison, where his sons were born in 1968 and 1971. His second wife died in 1975 and two years later he married again. In 1976, Herb formed the Madison architectural firm of DeLevie and Associates, which he ran until his death from a brain tumor in 1989.

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 Herb's testimony and view transcript

Tape 1, Side 1
  • Early childhood and family background
  • Family relocates to Holland
  • School and Jewish culture in Stadtskanaal
  • Stadtskanaal countryside

Download Audio (MP3, 25 minutes, 11.6 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 1, Side 2
  • Rising anti-Semitism and the German invasion
  • Family's decision to go into hiding
  • Role of the Dutch Underground
  • Nazis search for Herb's father

Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.1 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 2, Side 1 (no Side 2)
  • Hiding with the Drente family, 1941-1945
  • Community surroundings
  • Physical arrangements in hiding
  • Concealing many people in one room

Download Audio (MP3, 16 minutes, 7.72 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 3, Side 1
  • Security from German inspection
  • Boredom, depression, and mental breakdowns
  • Scarcity of food and the need for constant silence
  • Support from the Dutch Underground

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.4 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 3, Side 2
  • Religious practices while in hiding
  • Close calls with German soldiers
  • Germans kill Dutch Underground supporters
  • Liberation by Canadian troops

Download Audio (MP3, 26 minutes, 12.2 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 4, Side 1 (no Side 2)
  • Postwar life in Holland
  • Herb's hospitalization for malnutrition and weakness
  • Reprisals against Nazi sympathizers
  • Recognition of the partisans who protected his family

Download Audio (MP3, 25 minutes, 11.7 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 5, Side 1
  • Immigration to the U.S., December 1949
  • Madison Jewish community's treatment of the family
  • Acts of kindness from new neighbors
  • Herb's high school and college years in Madison

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 5, Side 2
  • More on Herb's University of Wisconsin years
  • Training under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin
  • Korean War service
  • First marriage in California

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.3 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 6, Side 1
  • Herb's second marriage and return to Madison
  • Establishing an architectural firm
  • Third marriage and family life in Madison
  • Contact with other survivors

Download Audio (MP3, 27 minutes, 12.5 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

Tape 6, Side 2
  • Herb's reflections on American politics and culture
  • Anti-Semitism in the U.S.
  • Depictions of the Holocaust in American media
  • Herb contrasts his experience with Anne Frank's

Download Audio (MP3, 28 minutes, 13.0 MB)

View Transcript Page (PDF, 406 KB)

About the Interview Process

  • The interview was conducted by Sara Leuchter during three sessions at DeLevie and Associates on March 11, 13, and 20, 1980. The first session lasted 75 minutes; the second, an hour and a half; and the last, two hours.

    Although he was somewhat reticent during the first two sessions, Herb opened up considerably during the last. His gruff exterior concealed a sensitive and philosophical man. Though short, the interview is invaluable for DeLevie's frankness and ability to express how much his experiences shaped the way he lived his life. It also records a child's-eye view of the Holocaust and can be compared with the diary of Anne Frank (with whom he contrasts himself on Tape 6, Side 2.)

Audio and Transcript Details

  • Interview Dates: Mar 11, 1980; Mar 13, 1980; Mar 20, 1980
  • Interview Location: DeLevie and Associates, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Interviewer: Archivist Sara Leuchter
  • Original Sound Recording Format: 6 qty. 60-minute audio cassette tapes
  • Length of Interviews: 3 interviews, total approximately 4.5 hours
  • Transcript Length: 87 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.