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Description

This audio clip is from an interview with Dorothy Fleming, recorded by the Imperial War Museums on 27 March 1996. In the clip, Dorothy describes the day her father, Erich Oppenheimer, was arrested and interned.

Transcript

He had found work in Hatton Garden. And you know how it was with the internment, if they found the people in, they took them. If not, they often didn't come again. That's why a lot of the refugees who had their work would spend their day in the park.

Now, my father was working in Hatton Garden and my mother said he came home one day at lunchtime and she said she went quite pale, and said, ‘What are you doing here?’ And he said, ‘I've just come for some tools.’ And that minute the bell rang and they came and said, ‘Mr Oppenheimer, I'm afraid you have to come with us’.

And he was taken to the Isle of Man.

And just now when my mother died, I discovered all his letters from the Isle of Man. I didn't know they existed. He must have written more or less every other day, in German.

And he doesn't complain but he must have suffered terribly because to have escaped from the Nazis and then to be locked up and away from my mother and she in the Blitz, it must have been absolutely dreadful. I know they made some sort of a life for themselves and they played music and they had lectures and all sorts of things. But it must have been dreadful for him.

Dorothy Fleming - a short biography

Dorothy Fleming was born 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.

Source

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

Depository: Imperial War Museums, catalogue number: 16600.

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