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Elfreda (Elfriede) Fuchs

Elfriede Fuchs describes Kristallnacht, the November pogrom, in Graz, Austria.

Elfriede Fuchs was born in 1923 in Graz, Austria. Elfriede, or Elfi as her friends called her, witnessed the devastation of the Kristallnacht pogrom in her hometown. On the second night of the pogrom her father was arrested and deported to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. He was released in January 1939 as the family was able to secure tickets for passage to Shanghai, China.

Elfi’s father never discussed what he experienced in Dachau, but he returned in poor health and his incarceration affected the family deeply. During his detention in Dachau, Elfi’s mother suffered a nervous breakdown. The family arranged for Eli’s two younger brothers, Walter and Ernst, to be sent to an orphanage in Vienna. They were to be cared for until Elfi’s parents could arrange for their passage to Sweden.

In March 1939, Elfi traveled to Vienna to take part in a preparatory course to immigrate to British Mandate Palestine. Later that month, Elfi left Austria to live on a kibbutz. In September 1939, her parents and two brothers joined her by traveling on a ship to Haifa. Life on the kibbutz was very different from what the family was familiar with, but they had escaped the Nazi persecution.

Elfi eventually married a Jewish man from South Africa and moved there. Later, Elfi, her husband Manfred and their two sons immigrated to Canada from South Africa. They settled in Vancouver and were reunited with her two brothers. Elfi never spoke about her experiences living under Nazism for many years, and the family never received any compensation for the losses they suffered.

Elfriede Fuchs died in 2015 and her full testimony is part of the Canadian Collection of Holocaust survivor testimonies. It is preserved in the USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive and accessible through the Ekstein Library.

Elfreda (Elfriede) Fuchs

I remember that I shook, I couldn’t stop shaking. I was standing on that window sill, but I couldn’t stop shaking.