Mr. Yoel Steiner (Part II)

Do you know what happened to the rest of your family?

My parents were quite wealthy. They owned two apartment houses in Vienna. Apparently they had [enough] money to support themselves. We had relatives who lived in Boston, who sent us affidavits and tickets to come to America. My grandparents and parents owned so much property that they wanted to sell it all [before we left, so] they stayed there and waited [and then] it was too late to leave. I heard from a distant cousin that they were able to hide themselves from 1939 until 1942. Years later I learned that they had perished in the Holocaust.

How were you saved?

In 1939 Rabbi Schonfeld from England was able to bring children to England. My parents put an ad in The London Times to see if someone in England would be willing to adopt two children, me and my cousin. A family from Liverpool responded to the ad and said they would accept us. My cousin and I left on the last children’s transport out of Vienna. My parents were a little bit hesitant to send us, but we wanted to go.

A wonderful couple by the name of Mr. and Mrs. Levi, a”h, met us at the train station in London and took us to Liverpool. Mr. Levi was a tailor. I attended a Jewish school in Liverpool for a few months.

Can you tell us about the years you spent away from your family and your return to Yiddishkeit?

We still corresponded by letter with our families in Vienna for a little bit longer. Until the war broke out, the Germans permitted mail to be sent to England. Then the Germans began bombing the big cities in England. The children were all sent to smaller towns so that they wouldn’t be in danger.

I was sent to the town of Chester, together with another [Jewish] boy from Liverpool. A Catholic family by the name of Angelworth took us in. They were very, very fine people. They had no children of their own and were very fond of us. We went to school there in Chester. When I turned 13 years old they gave me two shillings for my bar mitzvah. There was a shul in the town and Shabbos morning I would go to shul. This was the extent of my Jewish affiliation.

Every Pesach I went back to Liverpool and stayed with the family of the boy I lived with in Chester. One year his mother was ill and we weren’t able to go to Liverpool for Pesach. In the town of Chester there was a Jewish teacher who told us about a kibbutz that was close by and suggested that we spend Pesach on that kibbutz. That’s just what we did.

to be continued…

These survivors’ memoirs are being compiled by Project Witness.