Learn More about Alfred
- Podcast Listen to Freddie Traum discuss life as a refugee in Great Britain in World War II
- Echoes of Memory Read Freddie's stories
Freddie was born in Vienna, Austria into a traditional Jewish family. World War I left Freddie’s father severely crippled with arthritis and he barely left the apartment. Freddie’s mother therefore, was often out of the apartment for business. Freddie and his father spent many afternoons together where Freddie learned from his positive outlook on life and determination to overcome life’s hardships.
1933-1939 In March of 1938 Germany annexed Austria and Freddie’s life dramatically changed. Freddie and his older sister were forced to leave their public school and attend a school for Jews. Non Jewish friends joined the Hitler Youth and quickly separated themselves from Freddie, often tormenting the Jewish children with bullying and physical abuse. Jewish youth movements during the time flourished and Freddie accompanied his older sister to her Zionist youth group meetings. While Freddie’s sister, Ruth, dreamed of moving to Palestine, his parents decided it would best to keep the children together and made arrangements for both of them to go to England on the Kindertransports.
On June 20, 1939, ten year old Freddie said goodbye to his parents and left with his older sister for England. Upon arriving in London, the Traums were placed with a Christian family, the Griggs, who had two children themselves. Mr. Grigg was a locomotive driver while Mrs. Grigg took care of the home. Freddie quickly learned English and settled into a new country while still missing his parents and family back in Austria.
1940-1945 At the beginning of the war, Freddie and his school were evacuated to the country. He no longer felt he was a refugee but instead one of the many evacuees from London. Most of his experiences and encounters were positive. Freddie had many friends and volunteered to work on a local farm. Freddie and Ruth were the unwelcomed guests with a young couple. On one occasion, the couple told him that Hitler was doing the right thing. They only allowed Freddie inside the home during mealtimes and to sleep. As such, Freddie spent much of his time with his school friends outside of the home. Upon the death of Mrs. Grigg, Ruth returned to London to help Mr. Grigg with the home. When Freddie joined Ruth in 1943, he witnessed the “doodlebug” (German V-1 guided missile) and other attacks by the Germans. As news about the Holocaust surfaced, Freddie and his sister discovered that their entire family had been murdered. Freddie and his sister moved to Manchester in order to start over. There they lived within the Jewish community and gained English citizenship.
After the war, Freddie served in both the English and Israeli armies, as a tank commander and later in the Israeli merchant marine. Freddie married another Holocaust survivor, Josiane, and together they have three children. In 1963 Freddie and Josiane moved to the United States where Freddie recently retired from The Boeing Company. Freddie, Josiane, and Fanny Aizenberg, Josiane’s mother, volunteer regularly at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Freddie continues to stay in touch with the Griggs and plan regular visits and phone calls to his English family.