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SPOUSE: Robert Williamson (deceased)
BIOGRAPHY: Mrs. Erna Williamson was born on a small family farm in
Germany in 1928. Her experiences of World War II span her childhood and early
adulthood and molded the rest of her life. She lost her family through war
relocations and did not find them again until after she was married. She
married an American service man, Sgt. Robert D Williamson in 1958. During World
War II she trained at being a nurse and even spent some time in a concentration
camp at Dachau. She believes she and her family were sent to Dachau
because they did business with a
Jewish storeowner in her town.
DATE: July 20, 2003
PLACE: Enterprise, Alabama
GENERAL SUBJECT OF INTERVIEW: Childhood experiences
during World War II. Education during World War II. Family life during World
War II. General knowledge of political situation.
Date processed: 5-2005
Processed By: M. Olliff
of tapes: 1
of sides: 2
of tape: 60 minutes
Topic of Discussion
Family Background: Her oldest
brother was in the war. She trained to
be a nurse. Some of her childhood was
spent in a concentration camp. She lost four brother to the war. During the war she was separated from
parents. She found them again in
1959. In 1956 she was in
Erlangen. In 1958 she married her
husband, a US soldier. In 1960 she
moved to the US.
Concentration Camp Experience: She was sent to Dachau. The
reason seems to be unknown to her, but she does remember her family doing
business with a Jewish store keeper and receiving a free pair of shoes from
the storekeeper one Christmas
Family’s association with the German military: In 1938 her father joined the
military. In 1939, he returned, but
through the fighting. She was
separated from her family.
Finding her family: She found
her family in Mehrklenburg through the American Red Cross. Mrs. Williamson reported that her family
returned to look for her, but were sent back to Mehrklenburg.
Childhood memories: Her
fondest memory is going to church. Her
worst memory is of not having enough clothes to wear.
Memories of the beginning of the war: Mrs. Williamson was 11 years old at the start of the war.
The realization of the war: One was not allowed to talk about Hitler. Or anything having to do with the political
situation. Most women and children did
not know what was going on, the government said move and everyone moved north.
Activities during the war: She
admits that there was very little time to play. Most of the time was spent working in the
fields and tending to the farm animals.
The difference between children of today and those of World War
II: Children back them did not receive
everything that they wanted. Most things were hand made.
Games and entertainment of children: Mrs. Williams admits that there were not very many toys. Toys included things such as yoyos and
balls. Games were things such as “ring
around the rosy.”
First memories after the war ended: Her most vivid memory is that of many, many soldiers.
Medical attention for the civilians during the war: There were very few doctors available. Most medical treatment was provided by
nurses or midwives.
Contributions towards the war: Mrs. Williams began to train as a nurse. She rolled bandages and cleaned surgical
The media: Most people
received the news from the newspapers. Everyone simply wanted to believethe propaganda that was
issued out by the Nazi party.
The division into sectors in Germany: Mrs. Williamson resided in what would become the American sector. This
is how she met her husband in 1956 while working in an American hospital.
Sgt. Robert D Williamson: He
was a cook for 18 years and a VIP Steward 2 years.
Wedding memories: Mrs.
Williamson admits that she had a very simple wedding with a justice of the
peace. After the wedding the car broke
down. Her family was not present at
the ceremony, since they were still lost to her.
Finding the family: Mrs.
Williamson’s family thought she was dead. Once she found them they were very excited. Her family neither agreed nor disagreed
The changes in life after having married: One is not only responsible for self. There are new rules and regulations to
follow. The exchange in currency, the
American culture, and traditions were new experiences.
The things to remember: Mrs.
Williamson feels that her children and grandchildren do not have any interest
in her experiences.