Elizabeth Kaufmann

Elizabeth Kaufmann

Born: March 7, 1924

Vienna, Austria

Elizabeth's father was a journalist who covered financial and political subjects. In 1930, because of the economic crisis in Austria, her father relocated his family from Vienna to Berlin.

1933-39: In 1933 the Nazis blacklisted Elizabeth's father as an anti-fascist writer, so her family returned to Vienna. With fascism rising there, her father left, eventually making it to Paris. They were to join him, but the Reich's borders were closed to Jews. Finally, Elizabeth's mother used her jewelry to get French visas. In November 1938 they reached Paris. When war broke out in September 1939, the French interned German males as "enemy aliens," including Elizabeth's father and brother.

1940-44: In June 1940 the German army advanced towards Paris, and Elizabeth and her mother had to flee again. They joined the flow of refugees heading south on the day before the Germans invaded Paris. Her mother hitched rides; Elizabeth traveled by bicycle. They agreed to meet each day at the city hall of whatever town the ride took her to. While Elizabeth was waiting for her mother in Vendome, German planes bombed the city and strafed the highway. Elizabeth was evacuated before they could meet. She was distraught she had lost her mother, but she had to ride on.

Elizabeth's father was one of 1,000 intellectuals granted special U.S. visas. The family fled in 1942 on one of the last passenger boats to cross the Atlantic during the war.