Survivor STORY

Alice was born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. She spent her early years in Egelsbach, Germany, but returned to Frankfurt with her family in 1938. She writes, "In 1939, I was sent to Switzerland on a Kindertransport to Kinderheim Wartheim in Heiden. My parents and sister Edith fled to France and planned to have me join them, but that became impossible after the occupation of France. I was the only survivor from my immediate family. I was brought to New York by the Joint Distribution Committee. Following a custody dispute between relatives in New York, I was asked what kind of environment I wanted to live in. After I requested a place with trees and greenery, I was sent to Atlanta." In Atlanta, Alice was assisted by the Jewish Welfare Committee. Alice worked as a cashier and clerical worker for many years and is now is a pre-school teacher.

Alice's husband, Saul, came to America from Poland right before the outbreak of the war. They met and married here in Atlanta, where Saul had a grocery business. Saul is president of the DeKalb Chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, and both he and Alice are active advocates for family members of loved ones affected by mental illness. Their son, Dr. Laurence Sherr, is Composer in Residence and Assistant Professor of Music at Kennesaw State University in metro Atlanta and is the founder and clarinetist of the klezmer band, “Oy Klezmer!”. Their son, Gilbert Sherr, is a nationally active speaker and teacher with specialties in memory and interpersonal communication, and another son, Dr. Joseph Sherr, is a mathematician and computer scientist currently employed by Bell Laboratories. Joseph and his wife Esther live in New Jersey and have a son, Ephraim. The Sherr's youngest son, Edwin Neal Sherr is deceased.
Separation from Family

There was a children's transport of 200 children and my sister couldn’t go because she was too young. She was two-and-a-half at that time. And my, the parents were not supposed to come to the train. They were supposed to take us to the orphanage and then leave us. And, but my father, I remember, came to the train. He wasn’t supposed to. I remember looking out of the train window and waving to him. And it wasn’t that sad for me, maybe for the older children it was, because it was like going on a vacation. I did not know that was the last time I would see my parents.

It was January 5th, 1939. And we were supposed to stay there for three months, kind of to get us relief from what was going on in Germany, but I stayed till 1947. Of all the children, I think I was the longest one that stayed in the children’s home. I was supposed to join my parents in France and this man came and he was going to escort me across the border. And I got as far as Zurich and the borders closed between Switzerland and France, which was very traumatic and sad for me. When I think back, it’s lucky; I wouldn’t have been alive if I would have been able to join my parents. Anyway, I never saw my parents again after January 5th.

So the social worker in New York at that place where we were staying asked me where I want to go. She didn't think it would be good for me to stay in New York, with the extreme opposite of the two uncles, so I said, "I don’t like New York, because it's dirty and there's no, everything is so close together." I lived in a town that had farms and you had to walk five minutes to get to your neighbor's. So I want trees and flowers, and so they sent me to Atlanta.

Importance of Family
Well, I think it's best to be brought up in a home in a family. It's hard in a children's home, because you don't, nothing is personal. You're just there and some of the experiences were very hard. There was never loving, there was punishing, but never loving. And with the little kids, I wouldn't let anybody come in without saying, "Good morning," or "Those are nice new shoes," or "You have a nice haircut," or "I like your dress." And it's always something nice, which I never had, you know. If it was nice it wasn't mentioned, if it was bad it was.

When Neil died and I couldn't function at home. I would write a check, and a half an hour later I would still be writing the check. And I don't know what would happen. I was depressed. But when I was with the children, it's, I don't how I did it or what, but I wouldn't be depressed, I could function normally and that helped me. Not get over it, but it helped me function, and it was good therapy.

Sol: Yeah, and the only way I would get through it...I was angry what happened to him for about a year.

Alice: Oh, more.

Sol: Well, not that big angry. I tried to turn myself around, tried to make it concrete. And, about a year later, I did, and it was, I could do that by helping other people. We have impacted a lot of people over the years.

Alice Bacharach Sherr