Dorianne Kurz

Dorianne Kurz

Born: 1936

Vienna, Austria

Under the rule of Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, who came to power in 1932, Jews in Austria enjoyed relative freedom and equality. For that reason, Doriane's Polish-born parents settled in Vienna, where her father ran a thriving branch of the family's multinational optical frames business.

1933-39: Dorianne was born in Vienna just two years before the Germans annexed Austria in 1938. Her family fled to the Netherlands soon after the annexation. Unlike many Austrian Jews, they went south to Maastricht on the Belgian border; Maastricht was the site of the Dutch branch of the Kurz Brothers' optical frames business. There, Dorianne attended nursery school.

1940-45: In 1940 Dorianne and her family moved to Amsterdam, but the city soon fell under German occupation. With her father already in Auschwitz, Dorianne, her mother, and her brother Freddie ended up in Bergen-Belsen in 1944. Freddie and Dorianne would remain in the barracks when the adults were marched to work. They started the day by watching the carts, drawn by inmates, that came every morning to collect the dead bodies. The rest of the day they spent speaking about food, slicing their bread rations so they could last longer, and picking the lice out of their hair.

In June 1945 Doriane was one of many inmates evacuated from the camp on cattle trains and then freed by Soviet troops. A year later, she settled in the United States.