Individual Portrait – Eleanor Rolfe

Eleanor Rolfe

Eleanor Rolfe

(1930 – )
b. Hamburg, Germany

Wartime Location: Hamburg, Germany; London, England; Amsterdam, Holland; Seattle, WA

“I knew my father was in prison… All of our servants had to leave- I remember how they cried when they had to leave, they couldn’t work for us anymore. I could, at that time, feel that my life was falling apart but my mother tried to shield me as much as she could. And the worst thing was the night the Nazis came into our home and we didn’t know where my father was- he just didn’t come home. That night my mother told me that conditions were very, very dangerous. She was kind of hysterical. She didn’t know what to do and we sat and cried. Gentiles would take a risk and come and visit. It was right after the Kristallnacht and everybody was watched. I remember the broken windows. It didn’t really sink in but I was told I had to leave ‘you’re going to be where your brother is’ so that softened it, but it turned out not to be the case. I think when life is in turmoil you don’t think about it that much, you just go with the flow. One minute I lived in all the comforts of life and the next minute I was all alone. The kids on the kindertransport were all confused and wondering what happened. We weren’t really empathetic to each other. A lot of them cried and I think that’s why when we got to Holland, the Dutch people heard what was going on and reached into the train and gave us goodies… We really don’t know why the Germans allowed the kindertransport, no one has ever figured that out, but the British people, mainly the Quakers, tried to save as many German children as they could. They couldn’t get adults out, but they could get children.”

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