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Judith S.

by Rita S.




Judith was born on 23.04.1949 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. At the time of the interview she is 71 years old and lives with her husband in the city of Frankfurt in Germany. They live in an apartment building in a district near the city centre. The couple has two daughters and one grandchild. Judith has Brazilian and German citizenship.

Childhood and youth
Her father and mother were of the Jewish faith and lived in Germany during the National Socialist era. They both fled Germany in time. Her mother emigrated with her grandparents to Antwerp in 1933 and from there to Brazil in 1935, while her father emigrated to Brazil in 1935. Their parents met in Brazil. The family members of the grandfather were murdered by the National Socialists in Germany. The relatives of the
mother were able to flee in time. "My mother never wanted to set foot on German soil again".

Judith was born in Brazil, she has a brother four years older. Through contact with her grandparents she had good family relations in Brazil. Grandfather and grandmother were strictly religious, which also led to intensive contacts with the Jewish community in Brazil.

The parents spoke Portuguese with Judith, but German with each other, so Judith could understand and speak a little German.
Her mother said : "I never want to go to this country again, but the language can't help it".

Judith remembers a beautiful childhood, the contact to her mother was very good, she was a dear mother. Her father was a mentor for her, who introduced her to music and culture. She remembers that he often took her to the cinema on Saturdays, after which she ate sausages and potato salad with him. "I was always a bookworm, my father gave me many books that made a big impression on me".

Anti-Semitism and Nazi Germany was hardly a topic at home during her childhood. The parents looked more forward and what they wanted to build up. They belonged to the middle class and thus had a good, economically secure life.

Adult Time
Judith liked going to school, because she learned quickly and well, she was able to skip a class and therefore started studying early. She studied librarianship and then worked in various jobs. As part of her work in a scientific library she was able to do a three month internship in France, England and Switzerland.

After a few years of professional activity, during which she earned a lot of money, she took a break and travelled through different countries for almost three years. She lived for a total of one year in two kibbutzes in Israel and travelled in Europe through
England, France, Italy and Spain.

"I was unconcerned and not afraid, I only had good experiences". After the end of her travels Judith returned to Brazil and worked there for the time being. After some time she moved to England to do her Master's degree at the university. There she also met her current husband. After her Master's degree she went to the North-East of Brazil and taught as a lecturer at a university.

Her husband followed her to Brazil, but he did not want to settle down in Brazil. "He said, there is no Fleischwurst here" (typical German sausage).

He had trained as a teacher and had better chances in his profession in Germany. Therefore they decided to move to Germany.
This was a big problem for their family, especially for their mother. Firstly, her husband was not Jewish, secondly, he was German.

Judith came to Germany at the age of 31 and has lived in Frankfurt ever since. The move to Germany and the different mentality of the people was difficult for her at first. "The Germans always think only about performance and pension".

She initially had a doctoral scholarship, but then became pregnant with her first daughter and gave up her doctorate.four years later her second daughter was born. Her mother's love was so great that after Judith's marriage, she not only accepted her son-in-law, but also flew to Germany every year to see the family and her grandchildren.

After the birth of her daughters, Judith worked in Frankfurt, in various libraries and as an editor. She always enjoyed going to work, although she did not have as good career opportunities in Germany as she did in Brazil. "I had already made a career in Brazil".

Judith has never personally experienced anti-Semitism in Germany. However, she has begun to talk to her mother about her past experiences during her life in Germany. In these conversations she learned a lot about her mother's experiences with anti-Semitism and discrimination in her childhood and early youth.

Judith was able to stop working a little earlier. The transition was not difficult for her, as she soon started to volunteer for Brazilian literature. Thanks to her literary skills and experience as an editor, she has engaged Brazilian authors for readings, not only
in Germany, but also in Switzerland and Austria. "I enjoyed working independently, I was my own boss".

In recent years she has also been involved in voluntary work with refugees, Judith is looking after a Kurdish refugee.
Since she is doing well herself, she has the right to give something back to others. Therefore, volunteer activities as well as donations are important to her. "I feel a privileged person because I was born in a wonderful country, had a wonderful family and never experienced a war".

In her old age she is doing well, she and her husband still love each other and they are economically secure. She is very active, besides her voluntary work she takes part in cultural life, is a member of a reading club, goes hiking and does sports. She has good
friends and a varied social life.

Judith is now a grandmother, one of the daughters has a child. Both daughters live in another city, contact with the children and grandchild is good, they see each other very often. Judith lives with her husband in a good house community, there are casual meetings
and people help each other. Since they live on the 4th floor without a lift and she has some arthritis in her knee, they will soon move to another flat, which she feels very sorry about because of the good community in the house.

In her opinion, the image of older people has changed a lot, as older people are very active and enterprising, unlike before.
Judith has doubts whether the older generation can pass on meaningful insights from their experiences. "Specialist knowledge can be passed on, but not experiences, that everyone has to make for themselves".

A quote from her grandfather comes to her mind:
"He who learns from the experiences of others is a clever person".

When asked about anti-Semitism in the world, she stresses that much is repeated in
history. "I therefore have little hope that anti-Semitism will disappear in the world".
Her personal wish for the future in old age:
"first and foremost I wish for health"!