- Local Survivor registry
- KATHE LIPPMANN
PLACE OF BIRTH:
DATE OF BIRTH:
MAY 22, 1893
MAY 22, 1893
LOCATION(s) BEFORE THE WAR:
LOCATION(s) DURING THE WAR:
NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES
NEW YORK CITY, UNITED STATES
BIOGRAPHY BY Evelyn Rauch, granddaughter
My mother, Steffi, and my grandmother, Kathe lived in Breslau, Germany, which is now Wroclaw Poland. They had a happy life in Germany. Unfortunately, my grandfather, Ernest Lippmann died at a young age. My mother was only seven at the time. My grandmother needed to go to work, and so she took over her husband’s newly established insurance business. In order for her to get started, her husband’s wealthier friends took out large insurance policies on their lives. This act of kindness assured the success of the business and gave my grandmother the will and fortitude to continue on her own. These friends continued to be close and support each other as the situation in Germany began to deteriorate with the rise of anti-Semitism.
My grandmother realized that Hitler and the Third Reich were becoming more and more powerful, and so early on she began to make arrangements to get my mother and herself out of Germany. She had a distant cousin in America who she arranged to vouch for her and my mother. This was not an easy task because many American Jews were afraid that they would become the caretakers of these refugees and so she had to convince Abraham Goldschmidt that the situation was life or certain death and that they would not be a burden. He did agree and actually helped my family financially in the early years in America.
She applied for visas for herself and her daughter to emigrate from Germany to America but it was a cruel waiting game until their number would be called. Meanwhile my grandmother was desperate to get my mother Steffi out of Germany. She wrote letters to businesses in England to get my mother a job as a chambermaid. She was finally able to get my mother a position in a boarding house outside of London. Shortly after Kristallnacht, the night of broken glass, my mother was sent to England accompanied by an aunt, not knowing if she would ever see her mother again.
Once Steffi was in England, my courageous grandmother took a very big chance. Her friends who had now lost their businesses and some who had been thrown in jail had no money or way to get out of Germany. She cashed in the insuance policies of these friends as if they were deceased. That money went to bribe officials to get them released from jail and visas to the United States. If she had been caught, she most certainly would have been put to death, and my mother would never have seen my grandmother again.
Once in America, my grandmother and mother were reunited after several years of being apart. Kathe became the controller of one of the largest food importers in the United States. She worked until she was 86 years old and lived to 95 years of age.
Refer to Evelyn Rauch in Voices of the Descendants.
SURVIVOR INTERVIEW WITH EVELYN RAUCH
EVELYN RAUCH INTERVIEW
RELATED SURVIVORS: STEFFI MANNHEIMER, DAUGHTER
KATHE GOLDSCHMIDT LIPPMANN, MOTHER
Date: April 28, 2017
Location: Rauch Residence
Interviewer: Nancy Gorrell
Q: Describe your mother’s family background.
My mother, Steffi lived a very comfortable life before the rise of Hitler in Breslau, Germany. Her father owned an insurance business but died very young. My mother was only seven years old when she lost her father.
Q How did that affect her?
Very deeply. My mother spent most of her time with a nanny who was a great influence on her. My grandmother, was needed to go to work to support the family. Her friends helped boost the insurance business by buying large insurance policies on their lives. This got my grandmother, Kathe started.
Q: Did your mother have any siblings?
No. She was an only child.
Q: What was her schooling like?
My mother was only educated through the age of 16 when her schooling was abruptly interrupted by the deteriorating climate in Germany. Early on, her mother decided that she needed to be sent to England for her safety.
Q: Did she experience any anti-Semitism in her early growing up years?
Only later on. My mother was quite protected by her family. She went to a Jewish school.
Q: So…she didn’t mention any anti-Semitism?
No. She never talked about her early years. I only found out about her teenage years after her death.
Q: Is that what your memoir, Surviving Steffi is about?
Yes. But it is also about relationships and how keeping secrets leads to misunderstandings. It’s the whole crux of the story.
Q: Did your mom witness Kristallnacht? Did she ever talk about it?
Yes, she witnessed it, but she never talked about it. Both my grandmother and mother said, “The past is the past; we are Americas now.”
Q: When and how did your mother leave Germany?
After Kristallnacht, November 1938, my grandmother began writing letters to employers in England seeking any position possible for a 17-year old girl. She had been preparing Steffi with cooking classes and domestic classes. She placed advertisements in newspapers, and finally Steffi was offered a position as a chambermaid in England.
Q: How did your mother make her way to England?
As far as I know, she travelled with an aunt.
Q: What happened to Kathe, her mother, when Steffi left?
She was awaiting her number to be called to go to the United States. She let her daughter go to England to keep her safe because she didn’t know when their numbers would be called. The thing about my grandmother that was so amazing was that she started this process to get out of Nazi Germany before so many others did. She found a distant relative in the US who she asked to vouch for them. She got two affidavits and it was not easy. She knew that she would have to leave her mother and mother-in-law behind since she could not secure safe passage for them.
Q: What were the difficulties they encountered coming to the US?
My grandmother had to convince Abraham Goldschmidt, a distant relative of her father’s that she and Steffi would not be a burden to him or his family once they came to the US. A lot of wealthy Jews in the US were afraid that these German refugees would become a burden.
Q: What was your mother’s experience in London? Did she ever talk about being there during the war?
No, she did not. But a close friend of my grandmother who I only met after my mother and grandmother’s deaths, told me about their lives at that time. I found letters that tell a story that she was not treated well in England.
Q: Who did not treat her well?
Her first employer. When the situation deteriorated and England was afraid of a German attack, her employer, knowing that my mother was German, considered her the “enemy,” even though she was Jewish.
Q: How long was your mother in England and where did she live?
She lived at her place of work—a boarding house. She was in England approximately, a year and a half, from November 1938 to February 1940.
Q: Did she have contact with her mother during those years?
Very sporadically. She never really knew if she would see her mother again.
Q: How did your mother make her way to America?
My mother went to the American consulate in England and was absolutely elated when she finally received an affidavit to come to America. She wrote to my grandmother, who had now emigrated to the US and told her that she would travel by convoy in a couple of days knowing full well that the letter would arrive just a day or two before she arrived. My mother didn’t want to worry her mother.
Q: Do you know the story of their reunion in America?
Eva, my grandmother’s friend, told me about it. It must have been one of the most joyous days in my mother and grandmother’s life.
Q: Why was Eva so close to your grandmother and knew so much?
Eva wrote to me after my mother’s death and told me that my grandmother was one of two people she admired most. One was Eleanor Roosevelt and the other was my grandmother. When the situation in Germany deteriorated, my grandmother’s friends who took out the insurance policies to help her get started in her business were losing their jobs, being thrown into prison and becoming penniless. That is when my grandmother decided to take a big risk and cash in their insurance policies as if they were dead. But they weren’t dead, and that money saved their lives by bribing the officials to get them out of Nazi, Germany. So Eva and her family owed their lives to my grandmother. If my grandmother had been caught with this deception, she surely would have been sent to a death camp. And my mother would have never seen her mother again.
Q: Is that how you wrote your memoir, Surviving Steffi?
Yes, by Eva translating all my mother’s papers and telling me the story behind them. I also went back to Breslau several years ago, now Wroclaw, Poland to retrace my mother’s early years.
Sources and Credits:
SSBJCC Survivor Registry Interview with Evelyn Rauch, April 28, 2017, Interviewer: Nancy Gorrell; Biography, Evelyn Rauch; Digital historic and family photographs donated by Evelyn Rauch.
The SSBJCC Holocaust Memorial and Education Center gratefully acknowledges the donation of the memoir, Surviving Steffi by Evelyn Rauch and the historic documents and family photographs therein.