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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

INTERVIEWEE:         SUZAN DOLLMAN TIBOR

INTERVIEWER:         RUTH EINSTEIN

LOCATION:                ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                         NOVEMBER 17, 2002

Transcript (PDF)

Biography

Suzan Dollman Tibor was born in 1937 in Antwerp, Belgium. Her earliest memories from childhood as of being hidden in one place and another and eventually in a series of Children’s Home, all with her older sister Regine. They ended up in hiding in Grenoble, France at the end of the war, where their mother came to retrieve them.

Suzan, her sister, and her mother moved in with Suzan’s aunt and lived together with various aunts and cousins. In 1947, family that was already in the United States came and took Regine and a couple others cousin back to the US. Suzan was left with her mother who, due to her work in an old folks, was unable to care for Suzan, so she was put back in a Children’s Home. There, Suzan learned a lot about Orthodox Judaism and was visited on the weekends by her mother. 

In 1951, Suzan and her mother received papers to immigrate to the United States, where they joined Regine and family in Atlanta, GA. There, Suzan attended Grady High School where she had to learn English and adjust to life in the United States.

A year following her graduation from Grady, she married her husband Peter Roland Tibor. They were married eight years and had three children together. Peter died of cancer. Suzan has worked at Emory Hospital for thirty-three years in various departments. Suzan remains close to her three children and often has Friday meals with them and they attend the same Hadassah group.

Scope of Interview

Suzan talks about her time in the Children’s Homes and other hiding spots during her early childhood where she was cared for by resistance members, the Jewish Federation, and the French OSE [Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants]. She describes the conditions in which they lived and how, after the war, her mother found her and her sister lice-covered, shoeless, and with shaved heads. Suzan also remembers making friends in the Children’s Homes, but often being moved about so that she was never with one group of children too long.

Following the war, Suzan discusses waiting to immigrate to the United States. While her sister and some cousins were able to go in 1947 when family who had already moved came to get them, Suzan and her mother had to wait until 1951 when their papers finally went through.

Most of the rest of the interview concerns adjusting to life in the United States. Suzan was 14 when they moved, and so entered high school upon her arrival to Atlanta, GA. She recalls struggling with language and being teased by other students. It was the help of a French teacher at Grady High School that allowed her to learn English and adjust a little bit more easily.

Suzan also talks about what is important to her in life—family—and how she keeps in touch with her three children and grandchildren.

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