Alice grew up in a small village in Czechoslovakia. She was the middle of three daughters in a well-to-do, close-knit family. Her parents were religious and active in the Jewish community. After the German annexation of parts of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, antisemitism became more pronounced. Alice's uncle, a businessman who had moved to Great Britain, helped her parents arrange to send Alice and her two sisters on a Kindertransport (Children's Transport) to Britain. The sisters lived in a children's home in the south of England, near the coast. They had to be evacuated from the area in 1941. Alice then attended school, graduated, and worked in a book shop in London for about a year. In 1943 or 1944, she began to work as a bilingual secretary for the Czech government-in-exile. Alice immigrated to the United States in 1948.
So we got on the train. Of course, it was very, very emotional, but all those children were in the same boat. And there was another little girl that joined us. Her name was Eva Rothberger, she was the, also 10 years old. My sister--by the way, my older sister was 15. I was just turned 14, and my younger sister was 10. Another little girl joined us, the daughter of a friend of my uncle's. Her name was Eva Rothberger, and she came with us, so there were four of us. And there were lots of children in the compartment, and we were frightened, excited. And there were other kids in the same boat, so I suppose we didn't know what to expect. But what our father told us that we were going to go through Holland and that because it was Friday night, we would get off the train and spend the Shabbat...Sabbath in, uh, Amsterdam or in the Hague, I'm not sure where we went through, but, in any case, in Holland. And so we were quite excited about that, but when we arrived in Holland on Friday evening, we were told that the Dutch authorities didn't want us to get off the train. I think they were afraid of too many refugees being dropped off on the border, in Holland. So they decided that they were not to get off the train. So instead, lots of people came to the railway station with, uh, hot chocolate and bars of chocolate and cookies and they handed these things over to us through open windows in the train. And I was very, very grateful about that. I thought it was very kind, although I was very disappointed and felt terrible that they didn't want us. That the Dutch authorities didn't want us to get off, I couldn't--I mean, that was very painful for me to think that they...these people didn't want us. I mean, I couldn't understand it, but then I was very happy that these people came and I was grateful to see these people at the train doing something for us. So I guess I consoled myself with that. Now, we crossed the--we were very frightened when we came to Germany, because we, there was an inspection. The German uniformed soldiers came on the train, all of the, uh, and they inspected our luggage. And we were frightened, and, of course, once we left Germany, we were all thrilled and cheered like crazy. We were thrilled to be out of Germany and said, "Now, we are okay, we are safe, safe."
How do oral histories differ from other primary sources such as artifacts, documents, and photographs? What can we learn from different types of primary sources?
What other source materials might be helpful to provide more historical context for this eyewitness testimony? What aspects of the history might these other source materials help reveal?
What questions does this eyewitness testimony raise for you?
What can this excerpt tell us about the challenges facing European Jews as they sought refuge in other countries?
Explore the Museum's website and Collections to learn more about the experiences of refugees.
We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.