Individual Portrait – Irene Steinberg

Irene Steinberg

Irene Steinberg

(1929 – )

b. Frankfort, Germany

Wartime Location: Seattle, WA

“I think we are the only people I know that to come to the United States was second choice. My dad went to Israel in 1936 to make arrangements to join his parents in Jerusalem. At that time, in ’36, there were tremendous Arab riots in the streets. My dad was walking with his father, shooting started, and he schlepped my grandfather into a doorway and after the shooting stopped- this was downtown Jerusalem in a commercial area- they were the only ones alive. And so my father, with two small girls, decided not to come to Israel. Then he went to New York where he had cousins and made arrangements for us to come here. We came in 1938. When Chamberlain announced on the second day of Rosh Hashanah that he was going to Munich to make peace with Hitler, we left Frankfort a day or two later… Now, my grandfather- my mother’s father- had a huge library with floor to ceiling books. That’s all he did; he was learning and he never went outside anymore after Hitler came in. My father had papers for my grandfather to leave with us but my grandfather waved his arms at his library and said, ‘I cannot leave my books.’ My father said, “He told you, Hitler told you what he’s going to do.’ I was there. I was nine years old and I remember what my grandfather said and I cry when I remember. He said, ‘The world won’t let him’.”

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