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Liane Reif

Vienna, Austria

Liane's Polish-born Jewish parents were married in Vienna, where they lived in a 14-room apartment in a middle-class neighborhood near the Danube River. Liane's father, a dentist, had his office in their home.

1933-39: After Germany annexed Austria in 1938, my father was found dead, a probable suicide. In May 1939, four months before war broke out, my mother booked passage on the St. Louis, a ship bound for Cuba. But Cuban authorities turned the ship back. Along with some other refugees from the ship, my mother and brother and I disembarked in the French city of Boulogne, and were then sent south to Loudun.

1940-44: The Germans invaded France. We soon boarded a train for Limoges, which had not been taken by the Germans. At first we were housed in a stadium used for circus performances, where we slept on the rows of stone bleachers. We had hardly any food; during the course of a day my meals consisted of a little milk, boiled brown lentils, and day-old bread. Occasionally there were potatoes, or an egg. On my sixth birthday my mother brought me the nicest present I'd ever had--a peach and some dried fruit.

In 1941 the Reifs settled in New York, after relatives helped them arrange passage to the United States via Portugal. Liane later earned a doctorate in chemistry.


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