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Audio visual
Atlanta, Georgia
July 2, 2008
39 pages

Renate Bial Hedges was born in Gleiwitz, Germany. Her father was Fritz and her mother was Lucie. Fritz owned a brick factory. After his death in 1929 Lucie rented the factory out for income. The family was moderately religious, keeping the Sabbath and major holidays. Renate went to a private school called the Eichendorf Oberlyzeum until the family could not longer afford it and she then attended the Carin Goering Middle School. In Carin Goering Middle School antisemitism was the order of the day, although the principal tried to keep it to a minimum. Renate and Lucie moved to Breslau, Germany in 1936/1937 to stay with Lucie's mother, Berta Ostrowski Schenkalowski. In Breslau Renate experienced Kristallnacht. During the night she and her mother hid out in a half-Jewish hotel and a friend took her grandmother in. The next morning when Renate went to school she stepped on broken glass all over the sidewalks and witnessed the New Synagogue on fire. After that, Renate and Lucie focused on getting out of Germany. Her father's brothers, Kurt and Richard, had fled Germany already. Kurt managed to get to Britain where he sponsored both Renate and Lucie to come there as domestic servants. Renate left for England on a kindertransport as a chaperone and Lucie left a short while later to become a domestic for Kurt Bial. Both escaped just before the Gestapo began threatening them about their presence in Breslau. Berta, her grandmother, had to stay behind while they worked to get her out, but to no avail. (Berta, who lost her eyesight, was eventually deported to Theresienstadt and then Treblinka where she was murdered.) In England Renate lived through the Blitz and later the V-1 rocket attacks on the capitol. They moved around England, seeking to find a place where the bombs were not falling every night, but Renate said: "The Germans followed." After the rout and evacuation of British and French soldiers from the continent at Dunkirk in May/June 1940, the British declared all foreigners living in Britian to be "enemy aliens." Kurt and her brother, Wolfgang, were arrested and sent to the Isle of Man. Renate and her mother were left alone. Kurt and Wolfgang were put on a ship and sent to Australia. She learned English while working as an au pair girl for a English woman, who refused to let her use German. As a result, Renate learned English in three months. Renate went to work in the war industry in Britain, holding very responsible jobs. After the war Renate moved to Canada where she met her husband, Robert Hedges, and they settled down. In 1996 she came to Atlanta which her daughter and her husband, where she worked until recently. Renate recalls her life in Germany, her flight to England, the war years and the fate of her family and friends, and her life in Canada and the United States.

OHC-Renate Bial Hedges

Renate Bial Hedges - Oral History Collection

81 Related Subjects

Hedges, Renate Bial

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)

Holocaust Survivors


Gliwice (Poland)

Wrocław (Poland)

Bial, Lucie Ostrowska



Bial, Fritz, -1929

Bial, Wolfgang

Bial, Kurt

Bial, Richard

Public Schools

Jewish soldiers

World War, 1939-1945

World War, 1914-1918

Ochs, Samuel M., 1886-1942

Rabbis, Female

Private Schools


Patria (ship)

Kristallnacht, 1938

Germany. Geheime Staatspolizei
National Socialism

National Socialism

Emigration and Immigration

Great Britain

Enemy Aliens (Britain)

Isle of Man

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)

Palestina Amt (Palestine Bureau)

Jewish refugees

London (England)


Hoek van Holland, Holland

Harwich, England

Rose, Alma, 1906-1944

Rose, Arnold

Music - Performances

Jewish musicians

Dunkirk, Battle of, Dunkerque, France, 1940
World War, 1939-1945

Barrage balloons

Air raids, German

Britain, Battle of, Great Britain, 1940
World War, 1939-1945

V-1 Rockets

Bradford (England)
England; Great Britain

Schenkalowski, Berta Ostrowski, -1942

Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945)--Deportations

Theresienstadt (Ghettos: Czechoslovakia)
World War, 1939-1945; Ghettos: Czechoslovakia

Treblinka (Death Camps: Poland)
Holocaust, Jewish (1939-1945); Death Camps: Poland

War Work
Civil War; World War, 1914-1918; World War, 1939-1945

Coventry, England

Sheffield, England
England; Great Britain

Leicester, England
England; Great Britain

Oadby, England
England; Great Britain

English Language--Study and Teaching--Foreign Speakers

V-E Day, 1945
World War, 1939-1945


Hedges, Robert

HMT Dunera (ship)

Internment Camps
Enemy Aliens


Newspapers; Germany

Cobb County Sheriff's Department (Marietta, Ga.)

Slawinska, Hannah Prager

World War, 1939-1945--Campaigns--France--Normandy

Camp X (Whitby, Ont.)

Heydrich, Reinhard, 1904-1942--Assassination

Hoffman, Hilda Kohn

Kohn, Ernst

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Rinzetti, Suse Kochmann

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Concentration Camps: Poland
World War, 1939-1945

Kugeltopf (Jewish cake)

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Churchill, Winston, 1874-1965

Enigma cipher system

Star of David

Operation Neptune
World War, 1939-1945

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