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This audio clip is from an interview with Dorothy Fleming, recorded by the Imperial War Museums on 27 March 1996. In the clip, Dorothy discusses life in Vienna after the Anschluss.


And I remember the change after the Anschluss, when mealtimes began to be much more sombre, because to begin with they tried not to discuss what was going on in front of the children—as you do —but as time went on it got so bad, that I remember the laughing and the jokes stopping, and the discussions were all about permits and visas, and people who'd been able to get out, and those who hadn't.

And of course, things changed dramatically at school, because after the Anschluss, suddenly those of us in the class who were Jewish were kept separate from the others - "You sit over there, you're Jewish, nobody has to talk to you." And I remember many of the girls joining the BDM, the Bund Deutscher Mädchen, which is like the Hitler Youth for girls, and I remember what they wore, including the three-quarter length white socks, and I have to say to this day I have a dislike for three-quarter length white socks, although I'm not neurotic about it and my children wore them the same as everybody else, but I don't feel comfortable about them.

And I have a very, very strong memory of that time, which I always relate to people because it made a—it had a big influence on me. I remember the teacher telling the children that we have a new regime now, and you'll have noticed that things are different, and I want you to promise me that you will come and tell me if you hear your parents or any of their friends, or your brothers and sisters, saying anything nasty about this new regime that we have; you are to come and report to me. So, what she was doing, she was encouraging the children to tell on their parents, as we say, and I found at age 10, that that was intolerable, and at age 67, I still find it intolerable!

And when I was training teachers, every year group that I worked with, I invariably told them "You must do what you think is right, you must work out what you think is right and stick with that, not just what they, out there, are telling you".

Dorothy Fleming - a short biography.

Dorothy Fleming was born Dora Oppenheimer in Vienna, Austria in 1928. She lived in a large flat in the fifth district of Vienna with her father who was an optician, her mother and younger sister. Their life was full and happy. They enjoyed opera, ice-skating and music. Dorothy attended the local Kindergarten and then primary school in Vienna.

When Dorothy was ten years old, Nazi-Germany took control of Austria in what was known as the Anschluss. After the Anschluss life changed dramatically for Dorothy and her family. Soon she was unable to go to her normal school. And after the Kristallnacht, her father lost his two optician shops. Left with no other choice, her parents arranged for Dorothy and her sister to travel to Britain on a Kindertransport promising that they would follow later.

After travelling to Britain, Dorothy lived in Leeds with her foster parents. Eventually, her parents were able to join Dorothy and her sister, and they lived in London in a small flat with other refugees. Dorothy had an uncle in South Wales who had set up a factory on the Treforest Trading Estate and she spent some time living with him. After a period when her father was interned on the Isle of Man, eventually her whole family were able to settle in Cardiff. Her father also worked on the Treforest Trading Estate making optical goods for the war. In Cardiff, Dorothy attended Howell's School. Later she went to university in Bath and became a teacher.


IWM, Fleming, Dorothy (Oral History) [accessed 24 November 2021]

Depository: Imperial War Museums, catalogue number: 16600.

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