Terry Moses Freudenthal

Nashville, Tennessee

Born: 1929, Wolfenbüttel, Germany

Refugee: Wolfenbüttel, Germany

“My father tried to talk to several Jewish people in Wolfenbüttel itself to say, ‘Get out, do what you can to get out as fast as you can,’ and everybody still felt that ‘Oh, this can’t happen to us. It’s just temporary, it’s going to pass,’ but it didn’t.”

Teresa Moses grew up in a very traditional Jewish home. Terry, as Teresa was known, first encountered anti-Semitism when she was not allowed to start school at the age of six; the German government said that it was because she was underweight. When she did attend, she was the only Jewish child, and the other students called her names and threw stones at her. After her father, a successful shoe store owner, was arrested several times on false charges, the family decided to sell their store and leave for America. On August 31, 1938, the family left Germany and went to live in New York with relatives. Her family was on the last ship that would allow you to take your personal belongings with you, so they took all of their household goods. It took them 10 days to cross over to America. There were many differences between America and Germany, beginning with their first meal, which she said was an embarrassment to her father. “They served corn on the cob, and in Germany, the only thing you do with corn is to feed it to the pigs, the hogs, and the geese and he was insulted because he felt, ‘We’re not that undernourished that they have to stuff us with corn.’  …and then we realized afterwards that this was a vegetable that was very, very popular here in America.”

Terry’s parents both found work, but it was menial labor. Terry and her sister had to take on many adult responsibilities around the home, because their parents had to work such long hours. The Moses family lived in Washington Heights in Manhattan, and there were many other German Jews who lived there, too.

Terry met her husband in Washington Heights, but they immediately moved to Nashville where his cousin, Ernest, lived. Her husband had become a naturalized American citizen, because he worked with the United States Army Intelligence unit.

Terry said she has had no desire to go back to her hometown. She was afraid that when she saw older Germans, she would wonder what they did to the Jewish people during the war. Yet she believes that it is important that people remember the past. “I think it’s important for us to keep remembering what has happened so it would not happen again. Unfortunately, as we read the newspaper, we are aware of similar situations all over the world. And that humanity is so cruel against each other is just unbelievable, but it really hasn’t stopped. …we still have the hatred that’s been there, and when there is just a little bit of hatred, it can develop into what happened in Germany.”