This is May 4, 1997. This is Naomi Schottenstein with the Columbus Jewish Historical Society. I’m at my home, 48 S. Drexel Avenue in Bexley and I’m interviewing my husband Bernie Schottenstein. Bernie, tell us who you were named after.
Schottenstein: I was named after my father’s uncle whose name was Bernard
Schottenstein. He died in 1923.
Interviewer: Okay. And where were you born?
Schottenstein: Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: And what’s the date of your birth?
Schottenstein: November 5, 1924.
Interviewer: Can you tell us anything about how you, how long ago you can
start tracing your family history?
Schottenstein: Tracing my family history, my father’s uncle Jake
Schottenstein came here to Columbus in 1888. He owned the Columbus Cycle bicycle
company that my father worked at as a salesman when he was a real young man.
They were located on Long Street downtown.
Interviewer: Well that’s a long time ago. Tell us Bernie how long have you
been in Columbus, Ohio?
Schottenstein: Since November 5, 1924, 72 years.
Interviewer: Since the day of your birth? Do you remember some of the
shopkeepers’ names from your youth, you know, like delis and butchers and
bakeries, so forth? What were some of their names? And maybe you can tell us
where these stores were located too.
Schottenstein: I remember Old Man Schiff who used to sell chickens and he
used to deliver chickens to the houses. He lived on Parsons Avenue right near
Interviewer: Is that where he lived or is that where his store was?
Schottenstein: That’s where he lived.
Schottenstein: He lived and his shop was there at the same place.
Schottenstein: And then you had Brier’s and Center’s kosher markets
located near the synagogue on Fulton Street and on Mound Street.
Interviewer: Brier’s and . . . .
Interviewer: Uh huh. And those were the butcher shops?
Interviewer: What about delis?
Schottenstein: I don’t remember anything about a deli.
Interviewer: Well there were some. How about bakeries?
Schottenstein: Bakeries, we used Ruben’s on Fulton Street, the bakery.
Interviewer: What about Schwartz’s Bakery? Do you remember Schwartz’s?
Schottenstein: Yes Schwartz’s used to be on Mound Street, Willie Schwartz.
He had a bakery. Mount and I believe Washington.
Interviewer: Okay. Can you tell us a little bit about how your family’s
background, how your parents made a living?
Schottenstein: My father made a living as a, before the Depression years he
had a clothing store. And after the Depression calmed down, he made a living by
selling sweepers door-to-door. He made a living by selling insurance
door-to-door. He had a little grocery store on Fornof Road in Oklahoma Addition
and then he started to sell, and then he also had a little store where he sold
appliances and tires and things at 1837 Parsons Avenue and he sold used
Interviewer: And then how did that develop? Did that develop into a bigger
Schottenstein: That developed into Steelton Furniture and to Leonard’s
Furniture Company after the war.
Interviewer: And who all worked there?
Schottenstein: My brothers and I and . . . .
Interviewer: Who are your brothers? Which brothers worked there?
Schottenstein: Leonard and Irving and myself and my father and my mother.
Interviewer: And so that, then after Steelton Furniture, what, how did your
business develop into . . . .
Schottenstein: Real estate. We opened up Wyandotte Communities.
Interviewer: What was your first Wyandotte location?
Schottenstein: It was on Oakland Park on Cleveland Avenue.
Interviewer: Then was that what it was called, Oakland Park?
Schottenstein: Yes, Oakland.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And then after Oakland Park?
Schottenstein: You had different Wyandottes, you had Wyandotte Square, you
had Wyandotte . . . . .
Interviewer: Where was this Wyandotte Square located?
Schottenstein: On 161 and Busch Boulevard.
Interviewer: Okay and then after that?
Schottenstein: Then you had Wyandotte East out in the east side of Columbus.
Interviewer: On what street?
Schottenstein: Near Fairway Boulevard.
Interviewer: And Main Street?
Schottenstein: Main Street. And then you had some more Wyandottes up on 161
north on North Busch Boulevard. And then we built in Indianapolis.
Interviewer: And those were all Wyandotte communities?
Schottenstein: Yes, it was the trade name?
Interviewer: Who else was involved in Wyandotte communities?
Schottenstein: Leonard Schottenstein, Mel Schottenstein, Irving Schottenstein
Interviewer: Okay now three of those were brothers and Mel was . . . .
Schottenstein: Two were brothers.
Interviewer: You had Irving, Bernie and Leonard, three brothers?
Schottenstein: And Mel was a cousin.
Interviewer: And Mel was a first cousin?
Interviewer: Okay. Do you remember what synagogue your family has always
Schottenstein: When we were real young, we belonged to the Ahavas Sholom on
Donaldson Avenue and Washington.
Interviewer: That was Ahavas Sholom, is that right?
Schottenstein: Yes. And it was next to the Agudas Achim.
Interviewer: And then after that?
Schottenstein: After that I joined Agudas Achim in 1950.
Interviewer: At its present location?
Schottenstein: At its present location.
Interviewer: On Broad and Roosevelt?
Interviewer: Broad and Roosevelt. Okay. When you were younger, do you
remember your grandparents?
Schottenstein: Yes I remember my grandfather very well, Herschel.
Interviewer: Herschel Schottenstein?
Interviewer: That’s your father’s father?
Schottenstein: Uh huh.
Interviewer: So what do you remember about him?
Schottenstein: Remember that he lived on Fulton Street and he had a beard,
one eye, very strict and he would have all his grandchildren there to learn to daven
and to learn to read . . . .
Interviewer: . . . . Hebrew?
Schottenstein: in Hebrew and everyone took their turn and if you missed a
word you had to say an extra paragraph and he was retired and that’s what I
remember about him was his . . . .
Interviewer: But was he loving? Did you have love . . . .
Schottenstein: I respected him?
Interviewer: You respected him?
Interviewer: And your cousins also went to him to . . . .
Schottenstein: That’s right.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I think I remember you at times saying that he walked
with a cane?
Interviewer: But you don’t remember his first wife?
Schottenstein: His first wife Sarah died in 1913.
Interviewer: Okay. And then who did he marry after that?
Schottenstein: I remember her but I can’t think of her name. She was, his
second wife had two other children, Beryl Schottenstein and Rose Jarvis.
Interviewer: Rose Jarvis?
Schottenstein: Rose Jarvis. And I remember her very well as a very nice lady,
my grandmother. Ann I think was her name.
Interviewer: Okay. I think you’re right.
Schottenstein: She was a very nice lady and I remember her giving us water
Interviewer: So she was kind?
Interviewer: Now Rose Jarvis was not your father’s half-sister. She was
already born to Ann, is that correct?
Schottenstein: That’s correct.
Interviewer: But Beryl was the half brother . . . .
Interviewer: of your father?
Schottenstein: Uh huh.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you remember how your grandfather made a living?
Schottenstein: He used to sell shoes out of a wagon, horse wagon.
Interviewer: Horse and buggy?
Interviewer: And then went around to homes or stores.
Schottenstein: On the street.
Interviewer: To different homes? That was before the days of department
stores, is that correct?
Schottenstein: He would go up and down the street with his wagon, selling
shoes. That’s all I remember.
Interviewer: Okay. Can you tell us the names of your brothers and sisters?
Why don’t we start with Leonard and tell us who he’s married to and how big
of a family and where they, where he lived, and then go on down and tell us
about all your siblings.
Schottenstein: Leonard is my older brother. His wife’s name is Ellen. I
believe he has five children.
Interviewer: And he lives in?
Schottenstein: Oh in Columbus, Ohio.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: My other, then there’s Shirley Cohen who’s married to
Albert Cohen who lives in Miami, Florida and she has two sons and a daughter.
Interviewer: And Albert was originally from Columbus?
Schottenstein: He’s a doctor in Miami, Florida. And then you have Elaine
who lived in Columbus, who now lives in L.A. and she has a son and three
daughters. And then there’s my brother Irving who lives in Columbus, Ohio. His
wife’s name is Frankie and they had three sons who all live here in Columbus
and a daughter.
Interviewer: I think the daughter lives in Cincinnati.
Schottenstein: Probably, that’s right.
Interviewer: She’s married . . . .
Schottenstein: Then you have my sister Miriam who’s married to Bernard
Yenkin. They both live here in Columbus and they have three daughters and one
boy, Jonathan who lives in the Chicago area.
Interviewer: . . . .
Schottenstein: And then you have my sister Phyllis who works in D.C., who is
not married. And then you have my brother Morris Schottenstein who lives in
Columbus and he has two children. Then we have my sister Rosalie Schottenstein
who is the youngest who lives in Columbus, Ohio and she had three children.
Interviewer: Two sons and a daughter?
Interviewer: Can you remember some of your other, I’m sure you can, you
have a lot of relatives. Who are some of the other relatives you might remember,
you know, especially your father’s family ’cause they live here in Columbus.
Schottenstein: The relatives that you had from my father’s, from E. L.’s
family . . . .
Interviewer: Who was E.L.?
Schottenstein: E. L. Schottenstein’s family was my uncle.
Interviewer: That was your father’s brother?
Schottenstein: Yes that was my father’s brother. He has one son living in
Columbus by the name of Saul Schottenstein who is our contemporary and he has a
daughter who lived in Cincinnati. These are cousins from my time who are my age.
Interviewer: And who were E. L.’s other children who are deceased?
Schottenstein: He had Leon, Alvin and Jerry.
Interviewer: Okay and can you tell us about some of your father’s other
brothers and their children?
Schottenstein: He had one living brother who’s Ben Schottenstein who was
the youngest who is still living and he lives in Cincinnati, Ohio. He’s the
only one left of that family.
Interviewer: How many were in your father’s, how many siblings did your
Schottenstein: He had one sister who was Goldie Ruben.
Interviewer: Who was Harry?
Schottenstein: He was my father’s brother.
Interviewer: Was Harry your father’s twin brother?
Schottenstein: Yes, he was Harry Schottenstein. Then you had Abe
Schottenstein who is deceased and he was the father of Mel Schottenstein, Eddie
Schottenstein and Shirley. And he had Beryl Schottenstein who retired and lives
in Israel and he has a daughter and a son who now lives in Israel. He also had
Eugene Schottenstein who is deceased who lived in Cincinnati and who has family
in the Cincinnati area. And then E. L. Schotten- stein, I think I mentioned his
Interviewer: Let’s go back to Goldie. Goldie Ruben was your father’s only
sister. Who were her children?
Schottenstein: Her children were Alvin, Saul and Bernard Ruben and Sylvia
Ruben who is now married to Murray Ebner.
Interviewer: Okay. I know they’re a very large family and they’re very
well known in Columbus and some of them have been interviewed so I’m sure we’ll
get some more information as we go along. I think we’ll talk about Uncle Harry
a little bit. Harry was your dad’s identical twin brother, is that correct?
Schottenstein: That’s correct.
Interviewer: And who are Harry’s children?
Schottenstein: He had a daughter by the name of Sylvia.
Interviewer: What’s her last name, Rosenberg?
Schottenstein: And a son Lewis, a son Joseph and he had another son in
Interviewer: Okay. What was the relationship with your dad and Harry? Can you
tell us a little bit about that?
Schottenstein: They were in business together, they grew up together and they
were inseparable. If you saw one, you saw the other.
Interviewer: So they had business to do, huh, business relations also?
Interviewer: What kind of business were they in? What did they have together?
Schottenstein: They were in the furniture business originally, with my father
for a long time.
Interviewer: And also?
Schottenstein: And they also were in the bar business in 1932. When
prohibition went off they owned a bar called Steelton Bar on Parsons Avenue.
Interviewer: If I remember, they accumulated some property together through
Interviewer: Uh huh. It was a big thing about them collecting rent,
maintaining those properties in the south end.
Interviewer: Okay, Bernie, let’s go into your education. What do you
remember about, where did you go to elementary school and so forth?
Schottenstein: Went to elementary school to Reeb Avenue and Fornof. Went to
two elementary schools and to Heyl Avenue on Whittier Street.
Interviewer: Okay. And what about junior high?
Schottenstein: Went to Roosevelt Junior High and from Roosevelt Junior High I
went to South High School.
Interviewer: Okay. When did you graduate South High School?
Schottenstein: I did not spend my last year in South High School. I left in
my junior year to serve in the Army so I technically graduated when I came back.
Interviewer: When you came back from the service?
Schottenstein: Yeah. I got a war diploma.
Interviewer: Uh huh. That’s World War II?
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you remember any particular illnesses that your
family, anybody in your family might have had as youngsters? Do you remember how
that was taken care of?
Schottenstein: My sister Elaine had Diphtheria. I had Scarlet Fever and
Chicken Pox and . . . . but you were quarantined in your house at the time.
Interviewer: So they kept you locked up pretty much, huh?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And measles, etc.
Interviewer: How did your family handle holidays and synagogue activities?
Schottenstein: We lived a long way, for a long time, from the synagogue. We
lived on South Parsons Avenue which was quite a distance away from synagogues.
My father and mother were very Orthodox. They had people come in and turn on the
lights and everything. When we started going to the synagogue was when we moved
to Carpenter Street or Fulton Street. When we lived on Fulton Street for a
while, then we used to go to the, then we walked to the synagogue. But when we
lived on Parsons Avenue, Fornof Road, it was too far to go.
Interviewer: Uh huh. I was remiss back a little bit when we were talking
about grandparents. We talked about your father’s side of the family and if I
remember your father was from a family of nine. Is that correct?
Schottenstein: I believe so.
Interviewer: Yeah he had eight brothers and the one sister, Goldie Ruben.
What about your mother’s siblings? How big of a family did she come from?
Schottenstein: She come from a large family from Toledo, Silverman family.
Interviewer: Okay. Were there nine also in her family?
Schottenstein: I believe so.
Interviewer: Yeah I think there were seven sisters and two brothers.
Schottenstein: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And, what do you remember about your mother’s parents?
Schottenstein: My grandfather was a rabbi.
Interviewer: What was his name?
Schottenstein: Moishe Silverman.
Interviewer: And he lived in Toledo?
Schottenstein: He . . . . He was a very Orthodox rabbi, highly respected in
the community and we used to go there in the summertime and spend time at the
house on State Street where they lived. And he was a very strict and observant
man. He died in 1932.
Interviewer: So you remember him?
Interviewer: What was your grandmother’s, do you remember your grandmother’s
Schottenstein: Bluma Silverman. ‘Cause my grandmother, the last time I saw
her was in 1943 when she come down to Columbus to wish me goodbye when I was
going in the Army.
Interviewer: So she was in touch with her grandchildren?
Interviewer: Can you tell us about some of your mother’s sisters and
brothers? I know we had a lot of close ties as our family was growing up. Can
you tell us a little . . . .
Schottenstein: We had an Aunt Fannie who was married to Reverend Sam Shapiro
that was very close to my father. They lived in Dayton and Lancaster, different
places. Aunt Fannie died about three or four years ago in her early 90s.
Interviewer: Was she the oldest in your mother’s family?
Schottenstein: She was the oldest. And then you had Freda who was a Goldberg
who was married to Harry Goldberg who was very close to our family, to my
Interviewer: She moved here to Columbus, didn’t she and Harry?
Schottenstein: Yeah, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And then you had Dora who was like a second mother to us.
Interviewer: What was Dora’s last name?
Schottenstein: Dora Abrams. And she was like a second mother to us and very
close. It was just like having two mothers. And she was a fantastic lady and I
never will forget her. Then you had Eunice who was married to Rabbi Katz and
they both, Rabbi Katz and Aunt Eunice passed away about a year ago I believe in
New York and both are buried in Israel. Then you had Ettie who Naomi and I both
saw in Israel and we visited with her. And she was married to Rabbi Sam Stollman
from the Stollman family from Detroit and they both passed away in Israel. Then
you had Manuel which is one of her brothers who lived in Dayton and his second
wife is still living, Dorothy.
Interviewer: Who was his first wife?
Schottenstein: A Liss. I don’t remember her first name.
Interviewer: She was from the Liss family?
Schottenstein: Family. Then you had the other brother.
Schottenstein: Sam who lived in Dayton and his wife is deceased and Sam is
deceased. And then you had Aunt Dinah who we saw very little of, who lived in
California and who we met much later in life in the 50s for the first time.
Interviewer: So they’re, your mother’s whole family is deceased now?
Interviewer: I know we had a lot of family get-togethers when our children
were growing up so we did get to know, you know, all this family. Okay. What do
you recall about the Great Depression?
Schottenstein: The Great Depression? You had no food and you froze to death
and you had no heat and it wasn’t very pleasant.
Interviewer: Particularly hard with a large family, wasn’t it?
Schottenstein: It was hard, very . . . . and very hard. No one had anything.
There was no help from the government, no help from nothing. So you did the best
you could do.
Interviewer: Everybody struggled.
Schottenstein: That’s right.
Interviewer: How, what’s your earliest recollection of working or earning a
Schottenstein: When I was six-seven years old.
Interviewer: Doing what?
Schottenstein: My first job was opening the door of a brothel. Well it’s
Interviewer: What about collecting milk bottles?
Schottenstein: And I used to collect milk bottles and sell them for a few
cents a piece.
Interviewer: Milk bottles at that time were glass bottles . . . .
Schottenstein: Yes, uh huh.
Interviewer: and you turned them in for deposit money?
Schottenstein: Uh huh. And I used to go with my father all the time.
Interviewer: To? Where did you go with your father?
Schottenstein: When he went out to sell sweepers or he went out to sell
insurance or, and I used to work with him on the truck when he used to deliver
furniture. The car had a trailer and he used to put the furniture in the trailer
and I used to go with him.
Interviewer: And you worked in the store as a young man too, didn’t you?
Schottenstein: Right. And then I used to work on weekends at a freight
company unloading freight cars from one freight car to the other, at the New
York Central freight yard in downtown Columbus.
Interviewer: Did you work for Schiff, the man who sold kosher chickens?
Schottenstein: Yeah I delivered chickens for him.
Interviewer: He sold kosher chickens, huh?
Schottenstein: Yeah, uh huh.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: I used to deliver chickens in the truck. I was about 10-11
Interviewer: Were you involved in any kind of athletic . . . .
Schottenstein: Yeah I played football in high school, wrestled and track.
Interviewer: So you had some accomplishments there. I know the important part
of your life was the military service. Can you give us a picture of how you got
into the military, how that all happened, about what year it was and, you know,
what happened after that.
Schottenstein: I gave up my high school deferment and I went in the Army in
1943, in January of 1943.
Interviewer: I know you enlisted with your brother, who is now your
brother-in-law Albert Cohen.
Schottenstein: Albert was in the same draft line I was. He was in front of me
and we were standing side-by-side and he went in the Navy and I went in the
Interviewer: Okay. I know your military service was a long and very
treacherous time of your life and important time. Can you give us a rundown on
what you remember? I know you remembered a lot about the military. Can you kind
of start at the beginning where you first were trained and where you were
stationed and so forth?
Schottenstein: Basic training was Fort Meade, Maryland. I was with the
Highland State Troopers in their combat battalion. We were stationed at Fort
Meade. We did our basic training there.
Interviewer: How long were you there?
Schottenstein: Thirteen weeks. And from then it was all field training after
that. From there we went up to Vermont, took training in the mountains. Went
back to Tennessee, took training in field maneuvers in Tennessee. Then we went
down to Camp Rucker, Alabama to practice swamp assault training.
Interviewer: Camp Rucker?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And then we went back up to Tennessee again to practice some
more maneuvers and we shipped out of Rucker, Alabama to go to Europe.
Interviewer: When was that?
Schottenstein: I think it was around June, 1943.
Interviewer: So how long of training did you have before you were shipped
Schottenstein: Eleven months.
Interviewer: And World War II was, we were in the depths of World War II?
Schottenstein: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And where were you shipped to?
Schottenstein: We went to England, got our equipment and our guns and
ammunition and then we landed in Normandie. We took part in the Omaha Landing.
When we landed in Normandie, we went over the side of the ship and the fighting
was less than 20 miles from the ocean.
Interviewer: What was it like when you went over the side of the ship? What
Schottenstein: We went over. It was like we’d been trained to do. There was
a battleship firing broadside not far from us. Our first night was spent in the
field that they had artillery battalion firing all the entire night.
Interviewer: So you went into the water and then got on to . . . .
Schottenstein: Went into a boat.
Interviewer: Oh went into a boat?
Schottenstein: Yeah, landing craft and then landed on the beach.
Interviewer: And there was firing the whole time?
Interviewer: And how long were you in that location?
Schottenstein: I don’t know. We moved out within a day or so.
Interviewer: And where did you go from there?
Schottenstein: Went into combat.
Interviewer: Can you tell us something about that?
Schottenstein: Well we went into the hedgerow country.
Interviewer: What is hedgerow country?
Schottenstein: Hedgerows were a part of Normandie where the fields were lined
with big rows of hedges and the mounds of dirt could be 10 or 13 feet high.
Interviewer: So was that protection or was that . . . .
Schottenstein: That was protection for the German.
Schottenstein: That was the hedgerow fighting. And then we took part, I was
in the Third Army and we took part in the entire action, all of the Third Army.
Interviewer: And what was that action?
Schottenstein: It was fighting, it was combat, it was bombings, killing
Interviewer: What locations were you in with the Third Army and who were you
Schottenstein: When I was in, I had five campaigns with the Third Army. I
went from Omaha to Austria. It went through the whole course of the war. We were
in, the Third Army was commanded by General Patton and we were under the 12th
Corps and the 20th Corps, mostly the 20th Corps which was
Lieutenant General Walton Walker.
Interviewer: And how long was that period of time from when you landed in
Omaha to what was the finalization of your fighting career?
Schottenstein: Close to 300 days.
Interviewer: And did that include the Battle of the Bulge?
Schottenstein: It included everything. It included Normandie, Ardennes. That
includes every campaign, major campaign.
Interviewer: Now the Battle of the Bulge was a pretty fearsome time. I know
you’ve given me a lot of descriptions about the number of people that were
killed at that time. Can you give us some information about that?
Schottenstein: Well all I can say is, this General Eisenhower was the chief
driver, said the same, that if you want to describe the war, what the term
really means, the Battle of the Bulge was the most active description of the
living hell there ever was.
Interviewer: I know, were you in a tank at all Bernie? Did you fight in a
tank or . . . .
Schottenstein: I was a combat engineer. I rode on tanks. I walked behind
tanks. I blew up bridges.
Interviewer: What about bridges that you built? Do you remember any bridges?
Schottenstein: We built pontoon bridges and bailey bridges which are ones
that were temporary for crossing. They were not permanent.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So they just enabled the troops to cross over?
Schottenstein: Immediately, yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: The armor.
Interviewer: So three hundred and some days, that’s almost a whole year of
constant battle. Can you tell us, I know you told me about some of the
discomfort you went through like having to wear the same clothes and not having
opportunity to shower or shave. Can you give us a little bit of that
Schottenstein: Well when you’re in combat you have nowhere to take a bath
or take a shower or shave or anything else. You could go a month without
Interviewer: What about the weather? What was the weather like then? What
kind of . . . .
Schottenstein: Cold, it was winter weather. In the Battle of the Bulge and in
wintertime it was freezing. Snow was knee deep. It was one of the worst winters
of the century.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about the culmination of the fighting, Bernie,
when you came upon concentration camps? I guess that’s pretty much the
culmination of the Battle of the Bulge.
Schottenstein: No the concentration camp was way after the Battle of the
Interviewer: Okay. Can you fill me in on that then?
Schottenstein: That was in Germany. We just ran right into it. It was in our
path. The camp called Ordoff.
Interviewer: Camp Ordoff?
Schottenstein: Yes, I mean we didn’t know it was there. We ran right into
it. That was in Germany way after the Bulge.
Interviewer: Was your mission to liberate Ordoff, Camp Ordoff?
Schottenstein: No, no, we just ran right into it. It was in our path.
Interviewer: Okay we’re going to stop for a moment here. Okay, we’re
continuing now. You came upon the path of Camp Ordoff. Can you tell us what
happened then? What did you see and, that wasn’t your mission, to come to Camp
Ordoff? Is that correct?
Schottenstein: No it was basically what it was. We were moving into position
into the lines and we were fighting from town to town. Ordoff was just the first
camp captured by the Americans, or liberated, either term you want to use, that
they really knew what was going on.
Interviewer: In terms of concentration . . . .
Schottenstein: Concentration camps and also a very large prisoner of war camp
for Russians. It was not, we did not know it was there. It fell right into our
path. It was in the line of our objective and it fell right into our path. In
other words we ran into it.
Interviewer: Uh huh. So what did you see when you got to it?
Schottenstein: When I was there I didn’t even know what it was. I spent
about an hour there or so. But I do remember what they called “the hangman’s
noose” and they had a body of a girl that was in this rack and the dogs
were ripping at her body. And I saw the people who lived there, the people who
had had “H”, people who had “C” on their clothes.
Interviewer: H stood for . . . .
Schottenstein: Hebrew. C stood for Catholic. P stood for Protestant. And I
remember asking someone in broken German or Yiddish, what H meant and he didn’t
answer. And a friend of mine who is now deceased who was Polish and he spoke to
the man in Polish and some of the inmates of the camp told us that he was a Jew
only because Hitler told him he was a Jew.
Interviewer: So he didn’t live a Jewish life then?
Schottenstein: No . . . .
Interviewer: Somebody in his family obviously was Jewish . . . .
Schottenstein: Obviously was Jewish.
Interviewer: And that identified him?
Schottenstein: Yeah, as Jewish. And then also many years later, from our
combat book, they had pictures of this camp and the battalion combat
photographer took pictures of the superintendent being stomped to death by the
inmates of the camp. I have that in my battalion combat book. And also what I
saw there was bodies of Russian soldiers stacked four or five high nailed to
wooden crosses on the ground probably stretching for a quarter of a mile or
further. In fact probably spent about an hour there.
Interviewer: Well it must have been more than overwhelming, wasn’t it,
Schottenstein: It was indescribable, man’s inhumanity to man and what went
on but I was not really surprised ’cause being in combat, I’d seen a lot of
people die. But I didn’t fully realize what I saw until a couple of days
later, the impact of really what it was. And it was horrible that people would
do that to other people.
Interviewer: Yeah, it’s something that we’re still trying to educate our
younger generations. It’s just hard to imagine that so much suffering went on.
Schottenstein: Well you must realize too that a lot of suffering had been
going on but the world at that time was in tremendous suffering. . . . .
Interviewer: What was the suffering from . . . .
Schottenstein: Killing, the war. I imagine over 16,000,000 civilians died
during the Second World War from bombings and cities being wiped out, being
killed by the Germans like so many Russians were killed, were killed for no
Interviewer: Well all of this was, what we can look back and say, you know,
there’s no sensible reason for sure. After Ordoff where did you travel, where
did you go to?
Schottenstein: I don’t really remember. We were still fighting on until the
Interviewer: And when the war ended?
Schottenstein: We got sent back to France and I was assigned to another
battalion going to the Pacific. I was scheduled to make a landing on the beaches
of the Pacific. We were being shipped out of Marseilles, France.
Interviewer: So the war was not over yet in the Pacific?
Interviewer: Uh huh. Do you remember at the time when the war ended, where
were you and what was your reaction?
Schottenstein: Marseilles, France. Had no reaction. It was over with.
Interviewer: You had no reaction at all about the war ending?
Schottenstein: May 12 the war was over. Are you talking about oh, in Austria,
or are you talking about . . . .
Interviewer: World War II in Germany, Bernie, when the war ended.
Schottenstein: That was May 12. We were still fighting after that. We were
still rounding up the S.S. troopers from the hills in Austria for about
two-three weeks after that or rounding up stragglers. But the war was over with.
I mean, you weren’t getting shot at any more.
Interviewer: But you were still anticipating the possibility of going to
fight in the war with Japan?
Schottenstein: I did not know I was going to Japan until we got sent back to
Reims, France and then they were picking combat troops to fill out battalions
that were going to the Pacific.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: They were shipping a million men from combat soldiers from
Europe to the Pacific.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And I was assigned to an amphibious assault brigade.
Interviewer: Bernie, how did, were you able to get any communication from
your family at all during the time that you were in Europe?
Schottenstein: Just letters.
Interviewer: You did get some letters?
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: My sisters wrote me, my father wrote me, my mother wrote me.
Interviewer: Okay when you came back, you came back by ship, is that correct?
Interviewer: And you went over on a ship?
Interviewer: Okay. When you came back where did you go?
Schottenstein: Newport News, Virginia I think.
Interviewer: And do you know how long you were there?
Schottenstein: About three days.
Interviewer: And then were you shipped home or where were you . . . .
Schottenstein: We were shipped to Hershey, Pennsylvania for discharge.
Interviewer: And then you were discharged after that?
Schottenstein: Yeah. After that and then I took a train home.
Interviewer: Okay. And when you came home did you start working right away or
did you go to school or what did you do when you first came home? Probably took
you a few days to readjust.
Schottenstein: Well when I first come home I come home on a Friday night,
knocked on the door and they were having a Friday night dinner. The family didn’t
know I was coming home. They knew I was in the States but they didn’t know
when I would be coming home. And I attended some classes at OSU and I went to
work for my father.
Interviewer: In the furniture . . . .
Schottenstein: In the furniture store.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. And are you still working?
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us about when you, I know you told us about Wyandotte
Communities but before that you worked in the furniture store with your fathers
and brothers and Wyandotte Communities. Now when was Wyandotte sold, the
Wyandotte Com- munities?
Schottenstein: About 12-13 years ago.
Interviewer: And then what happened after the Wyandotte Communities were
Schottenstein: I did some things. I went in the real estate business. I
developed Market-Mohawk apartments.
Interviewer: Yeah tell us about what all you did.
Schottenstein: I did Farmer’s Home projects.
Interviewer: You built Market-Mohawk which is what, which is . . . .
Schottenstein: It’s an apartment complex downtown Columbus.
Interviewer: Let me just stop you on that. What was significant about
Schottenstein: Because it was one of the first housing units built in the
Schottenstein: It made the New York Times, made a half
page in the New York Times. And I’ve built quite a few of
Farmer’s Home, assisted living projects for senior citizens in different
Interviewer: What cities did you build in?
Schottenstein: Washington Court House, Bellefontaine, Pataskala and Sidney.
Interviewer: Okay. So assisted living and what other, what about the
Sycamores? Can you tell us about that?
Schottenstein: The Sycamores were minor, 16-units of very unusual condos
built outside the German Village area and were sold off during construction and
Interviewer: Those were condo units, is that right?
Schottenstein: Right, uh huh.
Interviewer: Three-story condos. That was unique too, wasn’t it?
Schottenstein: Yes ’cause of the . . . . style and the structure of it.
Interviewer: They were kind of big city . . . .
Interviewer: . . . . And what project is going on now that you’re involved
Schottenstein: Bicentennial Plaza which is being built down along the river.
Interviewer: Across from Bicentennial Park?
Schottenstein: . . . . Yeah.
Interviewer: Uh huh. And what is that construction?
Schottenstein: It’s office buildings and apartments and parking garages.
Interviewer: We’re coming to the end of Side A on this tape so I’m going
to stop and turn this over so just hang on with us here. Okay we’re on Side B
of this tape and we were talking about your project downtown, Bicentennial
Plaza. Is there anything else now that you’re involved with?
Interviewer: Okay. And so you’re content just to kind of be in the office
with your sons Harley and Larry?
Schottenstein: Uh huh.
Interviewer: And tell us what Larry’s doing now.
Schottenstein: Larry is, set up a company called Buyer’s Agent that he’s
Interviewer: What is unique about Buyer’s Agent?
Schottenstein: Well it’s a company that just represents buyers.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And then we’re looking at doing some other type work for tax
Interviewer: Is that what Harley’s involved with?
Schottenstein: Harley’s involved with Farmers Home projects.
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And we’re looking at doing some other things which I don’t
feel like talking about at the present time.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Let’s get on record when you and I met and how we got
. . . .
Schottenstein: Well Thelma and Boots, Thelma Zisenwine convinced Boots Nutis,
I stopped to visit with them and they, one lived in Canton and one lived in
Akron and they asked me to drive them home and I took them home and they
introduced me to you.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Yeah, Thelma Swartz (Nutis) was working at the Jewish
Center in Akron and Thelma Zisenwine was working at the Jewish Center in Canton
and I think they both came home for holidays and you came here in Columbus to
their home and visited and took Thelma back to Canton. Thelma came to live at my
home in Canton, Ohio at that time and I guess we dated for a short time and . .
Schottenstein: Got married a year later.
Interviewer: Got married. We met in April, we were engaged in October and
were married in February of 1949. How old were you when we got married Bernie?
Schottenstein: Twenty-four years old.
Interviewer: Right. Okay. Tell us, let’s put on record the homes that we
have lived in. What was our first home?
Schottenstein: Our first home was 1510 South High Street that was owned by my
uncle and my mother and father lived there when they got married.
Interviewer: It was owned by your Uncle Harry?
Schottenstein: Yes. Then we lived at 1199 S. 22nd Street. That was still
owned by the Taxon family that were relatives. And then we built the house at
307 S. Harding that we lived there 30-some years in.
Interviewer: Yeah. Do you remember what we paid for that lot on S. Harding,
307 S. Harding?
Interviewer: $2,500 and how much do you think it cost us to build that house?
Interviewer: And we lived there about 35 years. And we live now?
Schottenstein: At 48 S. Drexel.
Interviewer: We bought this house about 12 years ago.
Interviewer: Uh huh. Okay. For the record, let’s go to who our children
are, starting with the oldest.
Schottenstein: Our daughter, Beryl Schottenstein who lives in Chicago. I have
another daughter Sheri Dollin who lives in Phoenix. She has three little girls,
Mya, Tera and Jessica. Sheri’s husband’s name is Michael. He teaches school
and he teaches landscaping at ASU and he also is a landscape designer. I have
another son Larry Schottenstein who has two little boys. His wife’s is Amy
Meizlish. And he has Ari and a son Benjamin and then I have an older son, Harlan
Schottenstein, who has a son Noah and a daughter Reva. Our two sons live in
Columbus near us and the girls live out of town. Seven grandchildren in all.
Interviewer: And just to add to the record, I might say that Beryl was born
in 1951, Harlan was born in 1953, Sheri in 1956 and Larry in 1960. What are some
of the things you remember about raising the children Bernie, about, you know,
what we did in terms of family vacations?
Schottenstein: We took vacations together. We had dinner every night
together. We had Friday night dinner together. I would come home from work and
always have dinner at home. We spent a lot of time with the children. We went to
high school and school affairs with the children and we were very close with the
Interviewer: Can you remember some of the vacations we took with the kids?
Schottenstein: Toronto, Florida, Tennessee, the Civil War battlefield, Cedar
Point. We took a lot of trips with the kids.
Interviewer: We did some family visits with them as well too with our family
and your family. We did do a lot of those kinds of visits. Can you remember some
of the trips and tell us, I know you can remember. Can you tell us about some of
the trips that you and I have taken?
Schottenstein: Yeah we’ve taken a lot of trips. We went to Europe together.
We’ve made trips to Jerusalem, to, over to Israel together. We took a couple
of trips to England together. We’ve been to trips together to Canada and to
Interviewer: Canadian Rockies.
Schottenstein: Canadian Rockies. Been to Montreal with the kids. We’ve been
to New Orleans. Been to a lot of trips together. Gatlinburg, Tennessee.
Interviewer: Yeah, a lot of trips when the children were young had to do with
the Civil War and they remember those events a lot. And we did have a lot of
family trips. Tell us about our family reunions, when that started, your family
Schottenstein: The family reunions started after my father died.
Interviewer: What year did your father die?
Schottenstein: 1984. Oh and we wanted to make sure to do something for my
father who was close to his children, to have reunions.
Interviewer: How often?
Schottenstein: Every other year. And we thought it was best to have that and
this way the family would always be together and always would remember my
Interviewer: Where were these reunions held?
Schottenstein: Here, the family reunions were held here in the city of
Interviewer: Uh huh.
Schottenstein: And this is the first year we won’t have one because other
people have other activities and they couldn’t arrange a time or date. So this
is the first year that they will skip. But it was always nice having them
because the kids, the children who could come in do come in and they see each
other and they really don’t become strangers.
Interviewer: Okay. Tell us about where we belong, what synagogue we belong to
Schottenstein: We belong to the Agudas Achim on Broad Street. Rabbi Ciner is
the rabbi there.
Schottenstein: Been there since 1952 I believe.
Interviewer: Been there for a long time. Well I think I’m going to wind up
this interview at this time and I know a lot of the information that we have
probably will be repeated with some other interviews because we’ll be
interviewing some other family members and it’s not easy to talk about your
own family and so Bernie and I wanted this interview to have for the record as
well. And we’re going to sign off at this point and I want to thank Bernie for
his patience and letting me interview him. Thank you.
* * *
This is Naomi. Just to add to this interview, I might point out a couple of
things that we probably…some of many things we’ve overlooked but just for the
record, my sister-in-law Ellen’s maiden name…Ellen married Leonard the oldest
brother, her maiden name was Schlezinger and she’s from here in Columbus. My
sister-in-law Frankie who’s married to Irving, her maiden name was Polster and
Irving and Frankie live here in Columbus. My brother-in-law Morris, who’s
married to Roz Kirkle and he’s divorced. My sister-in-law Elaine who was
married to Michael Karr, they’re divorced. My sister-in-law Miriam is married
to Bernard Yenkin. Phyllis never was married. Rosalie is divorced from Jimmy
Miller. They lived in Dayton but Rosalie resumed her name Schottenstein after
her divorce. My sister-in-law Shirley is married, I think we mentioned this
before, to Albert Cohen who’s originally from Columbus. My maiden name, and I’m
from Canton, Ohio, my name was Gendel, G-E-N-D-E-L and our family lived in
Canton all our life. And I think that pretty much covers our family background
and this is the end of the tape. Thank you.
* * *
Transcribed by Honey Abramson
Proofread by Marvin Bonowitz
Corrected by Bernie/Naomi Schottenstein
Edited by Peggy Kaplan