Voice/Vision Holocaust Survivor Oral History Archive

Ruth Federman - February 13, 2008

Preparing for Escape

But there was another story. My cousin who was with me, was 11, I was 13. Her name--her father's name was Czech. It's Frantisek Lederer, but in German it's Franz Lederer. So when she said the name, they looked at her, they said, "It's impossible," because a big man in the Gestapo had the same name. And later, it was really a Jewish name. So this is what I remember.

Had you heard about what was going on in Germany?


With the Jews? No?

No. No. Or maybe I didn't understood, or maybe I didn't want it. I don't know.

Did, did things change when you had non--Jewish friends? Did they treat you differently after...

No, no, they were all, the whole class was crying when I came there and, uh, and say that I am leaving. And my girlfriend, one of them died very young. But the other one, whenever I came to Prague uh, now, yes? I started after, after '90. No, no, I was even when the Communist were--I was in Prague, because my husband was the president of the International Hotel Association and there it--there was supposed to be a congress there still when the Communist were. But the congress were already at '90, after. So we went to Prague and I met my girlfriend. And from that time every year I met her, and she died and her sist...her dau...daughter wrote to me a letter. She said you, "You don't know, my mother used to tell so many stories about you, about your drawings, and about uh, what a good friend you were. You were very near." But when I met her, we were two different worlds--very different--but we still, were good friends.

At what point do you think your mother decided that she wanted you to, to leave Czechoslovakia? Did she talk to you about it?

I, I don't know. I, I, I'm telling you, the one thing was I was a little bit, uh, weak child. I was, I was very tall when I was 13, and, and very thin, and during the winter most of the time, I was, I was sick. And I said the main thing was that I shouldn't be during a war there. The food, I think. I don't think that she saw something coming--what came.

No, no one did. Um...

No, there was some clever people who left. By then you could leave if you had thousand pounds sterling, which my mother didn't have.

© Board of Regents University of Michigan-Dearborn