This interview for the Columbus Jewish Historical Society is being recorded on May 20, 2009 as part of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society’s Oral History Project and the Beth Tikvah Anniversary Project. This interview is being recorded at, 5935 N. High Street, Apt 202, the home of Eva Tinianow. My name is Helena Schlam and I am interviewing, Eva Tinianow.
Interviewer: Good Afternoon Eva
Tinianow: Good Afternoon Helena
Interviewer: It’s a pleasure to be here. How long have you lived in Columbus? And, what brought you to our city?
Tinianow: My husband and I moved here in Aug of 1997, so it’s been not quite 12 yrs ago, and what brought us is that we had lived in Shaker Heights in Cleveland. Our children had scattered every which way and it looked like none of them were ever going to come back. We were getting older so we thought we would need to be near one of them and since one was on the east coast and one was on the west coast, we chose Columbus, which was already pretty familiar to us.
Interviewer: It makes sense. Which of your children lives in Columbus and please tell us about how you come to the decision?
Tinianow: Well, our oldest son, whose name is Jerry lives here with his Sharon and two children (two sons) and Columbus, was just familiar. My mother had lived here for many years and then when she started to need some assistance we moved her to Cleveland, and she said to me at one point someday you are going to move to Columbus and she was right. We didn’t know anything about California or Texas only minimally about Boston so this just seemed the logical choice.
Interviewer: Your mother was her name also Tinianow, probably not?
Tinianow: No, no, no that’s my husbands name. Her name was Bertha Eichwald.
Interviewer: Can you spell that?
Tinianow: Oh yes, e I c h w a l d
Interviewer: Then she lived in Columbus for a while but you never did.
Tinianow: Yes, I went to school here. I went to undergraduate school and graduate school and for a while for about a year or two, I lived with her and went back to college.
Interviewer: Yes, so well since we speak about your college day’s maybe we’ll start there and go backwards to your early days.
Interviewer: You went to Ohio State?
Interviewer: What did you study?
Tinianow: My undergraduate major was in social work and group work and recreation and then I worked for a while and then I applied for graduate school and while I was waiting to get in, I worked at the library, the main library at Ohio State. Then when there was an opening in the graduate school, I got my masters degree in rehabilitation, specifically vocational rehabilitation.
Interviewer: Am I correct in assuming this is before you were married or were you already married?
Tinianow: No, this was before.
Interviewer: Well, how did you meet your husband? Did you meet him in Columbus?
Tinianow: No, I got a job in Dayton at the Goodwill industries, in Dayton, and I lived together with two other young women that I had met, that was very common in those days that we shared an apartment. There was a group at Beth Abraham in Dayton an adult singles group really and my husband jokingly always referred to it as the young adulteresses group, and that’s where we met. He was teaching in Springfield, OH but his sister and brother-in-law lived in Dayton and he would often come in for a good meal and to go the singles group meetings, so that’s how we met.
Interviewer: So what did he teach in Springfield?
Tinianow: He taught music. He was an instrumental music teacher, and performer.
Interviewer: What instrument did he perform on?
Tinianow: He performed on clarinet but he taught all instruments all band and orchestra instruments which is expected of a music teacher.
Interviewer: Well, that is very interesting; you have broad roots in Ohio.
Tinianow: Oh yes, haven’t told you yet about Zanesville.
Interviewer: Please tell us about Zanesville.
Tinianow: Well, when we moved to Ohio, which was in 1940, and my father was still living he was a physician and he settled, in fact established a practice in Zanesville, OH. He came there because we were refugees, we were from holocaust and there was an unwritten rule among refugee doctors that you didn’t cut in on someone else’s territory. In other words, if there was already a refugee doctor practicing in a certain town or city you didn’t go there you tried to find somewhere where there would be no competition and there was no competition in Zanesville so that’s where we settled and I went to high school there.
Interviewer: And you were a refugee from Germany?
Tinianow: Yes, Berlin
Interviewer: So perhaps we should go back to your early family history so we can understand your background fully. You were born in Berlin.
Interviewer: Can you tell us about your family?
Tinianow: Well, my father and mother and I had a brother who was three years older than I. Two grandmothers, my paternal and maternal grandmothers also lived in Berlin. My paternal uncle and his wife, and my maternal uncle who is not married, and we had other more other distance relatives like second cousins and so forth, but our nuclear family was small. We lived there until, I think in 1935, which would have been when I was seven years old, my father was no longer allowed to call himself a physician. His medical license was taken away, and he could only, forget what they called it, some kind of nurse practitioner sort of a thing but he couldn’t call himself a doctor and then he was not allowed to treat non-Jewish patients anymore. It was at that point I think he saw the writing on the wall. Plus, we knew several people that had left already but that’s when he started trying find a way out.
Interviewer: And, how did he make the connection to find the way out?
Tinianow: Oh my, we had no family abroad anywhere we were a small family. He took off in, I think in April or May of 1938, had closed up the practice before that already. Left behind his wife, my mother and the two children and he went first to England. In England, he met with a woman who had been in medical school with him, and she had been there for a while already and she was established. He approached her about possibly giving a Visa for us but she wasn’t able to. But he went from there he traveled to Holland where he had a cousin, a first cousin, who was living there with her husband and two children, and hoped that she might be able to help but she wasn’t able to help either. So, he went on from there to United States and he stayed here for thirty days, which was the visitors Visa. He met with other people that he knew here but that none of them where family members, they were just people, mostly fellow physicians from Berlin that had settled here.
Interviewer: He had been in medical school in Berlin?
Tinianow: In Europe, he went to medical schools to many different universities. It was a very different system from here but including to Berlin. He had been in practice there since WWI really, he had been in practice there. He was in practice in the war also, in the German army. I getting confused now, where was I?
Interviewer: I am sorry I interrupted you. You were talking about his finding someone in the United States.
Tinianow: Oh, yes, he came to the United States and there also no body here could help him so after thirty days he had to leave here. But in the mean time he had been told that there was possibly a path via Cuba to come into the United States. Instead of applying to immigrant from Germany to immigrant to the United States, you could apply, if you were living there, even though you’re not a citizen to immigrant from Cuba and come into the United States and that’s what he did. That was, I can never think of the name of the group, not Hyas, the other one …
Tinianow: Yes, the Joint Distribution Committee helped them. They had that all set up and they helped many people, I guess. They managed to find a job for him in the United States in Montgomery, Alabama. He worked there sort of as at TV sanatorium as an orderly. Of course, he couldn’t practice medicine although he had twenty five years of experience, that kept him afloat while he was looking still for a sponsor for his family. In Montgomery, he found a gentleman and his wife, I remember his name was Fred Solomon, and they sponsored us they gave the Visa for my mother, my brother, and me. Then the reason we got out was because we were not on the German quota. The German quota for Jews was never filled, there were always more spots available than they were willing to fill to bring in here, and on the Polish quota at that point 1938-39, there were no Polish Jews yet who were desperate to get out. My mother had been born in a city that was sort of on the border. When she was born there, it was part of Germany but after WWI, it reverted to Poland. There’s a whole section there that kind of kept bouncing back and forth in terms of nationality so she didn’t know a word of polish, she was put on the Polish quota. That helped us to get in together with the affidavit from Mr. Solomon.
Interviewer: An amazing story.
Tinianow: Yes, oh there’s much more.
Interviewer: Do you know the name of place where she was born?
Tinianow: Where my mother was born?
Tinianow: Oh sure, at the time she was born there was called Hohensalza, do you need me to spell it?
Tinianow: H O H E N S A L Z A, when it became Polish it was called, Inowraclaw, which I think is, I N O W R A C L A W.
Interviewer: And today is it a part of
Tinianow: It’s call Inowraclaw, its in Poland now, yes
Interviewer: I N O W R A C L A W
Tinianow: Does that look anything like Inowraclaw?
Interviewer: Yeah, that is a remarkable story
Interviewer: So I have a question, did you father need to go live in Cuba before he was able to establish himself in Alabama?
Tinianow: They couldn’t establish him. Yeah well, they needed to find a place that would take him in, and apparently in the Jewish community in Montgomery, Alabama was willing to take him in, and they found him a place where he could earn a little bit of money and they provided a place for him to stay also right there at the sanatorium.
Interviewer: How long had he been in Cuba before?
Tinianow: He wasn’t in there very long. I thought, it seemed longer to me but of course, I was a child. I think he was actually there maybe for three months before this was all arranged. My son always jokes and says since his grandfather immigrated from Cuba, does that make him Hispanic.
Interviewer: I have a question, what was life like for you and your brother and your mother in Berlin?
Tinianow: That’s a very difficult question, it was unpleasant, let’s say, it was very difficult. I don’t know how my mother did it on Kristona. Her brother was arrested and sent to a concentration camp as Oxinhousin , he somehow, somehow managed to get him out. I think it was because he had served in the Germany army in WWI gave him an out. She was left with having to close up my father’s practice, of a tiding what should go and what should not go, and having it loaded, into what they called a lift van. She did the same thing with most of our furniture. There was a limit to what we were allowed to bring. It was illegal to bring anything of value. But if you look around my home you’ll see that there are certain things of value that she managed to bring. Including, that eight foot tall clock, yes, which was made before 1800. It was my grandmother’s wedding present. An antique then so.
Interviewer: A very special family treasure
Tinianow: Yes, it still keeps perfect time. I’ve been hearing it chime since the day I was born.
Interviewer: Do you know how long you family had lived in Germany?
Tinianow: Oh my, several hundred years. I’ve been able to trace back to at least 1800 and I’m sure both German Jews lived in Germany since the 1300’s, I think.
Tinianow: Maybe even earlier. I’ve only be able to trace back as far as my grandfather and his family. I know where they lived and what they did. As my maternal grandfather, I haven’t been that lucky, I know don’t know how to spell town that’s where they lived. But, I don’t know much about his heritage and so forth I can’t go much beyond my grandparents but I know a lot about all of them.
Interviewer: It’s a rich history.
Tinianow: Yes, well its complex, that’s why I wanted to put everything down so that someday my children would know their 1st generation.
Interviewer: Yes, your husbands name Tiniano is that a Sephardic Jewish name?
Tinianow: No, their Ashkenazic his parents came from Russia, from Vinilia, and they were born there and came over here. They married and they had four children here and my husband was number three.
Interviewer: So he was born in the United States?
Tinianow: In Lima, Ohio. Yes, so we have very different backgrounds.
Interviewer: You’ve been all over Ohio.
Tinianow: Yes, well I never lived in Lima but he lived there most of his life really. He never taught anywhere outside of Ohio, several different locations in Ohio. Then when I met him he was teaching in Springfield and from there we moved, I’m pushing for it a little bit, I really didn’t want our children to grow up there, it was not very cosmopolitan. He got a job in Shaker Heights schools in Cleveland, and that’s where he taught until he retired. It was wonderful there. That’s where our children grew up.
Interviewer: Oh, that is remarkable. His father and mother had both come from Vinilia’s?
Tinianow: No, they came from different cities. They met in America, I think threw her brother, I think, I’m not sure. I don’t know to much about their history really. I know he had a brother who also lived in Lima, Ohio and they were in business together. He had another brother who was in Mexico and I think a sister, who I think never left Russia, but I don’t know much detail about them. Neither did my husband we never met them.
Interviewer: So, let us come to you being in Zanesville as a teenager. How many languages did you speak then?
Tinianow: Oh, by that time I spoke English as well as I speak now. I learned English in about six weeks. While we were living in New York, we lived in New York for a year, and during that summer, I received a scholarship at a very fine private camp in Orleans Massachusetts, on Cape Cod, and no body there spoke a word of German so after I came back after six or eights weeks there I spoke fluent English. It was learning by emersion.
Interviewer: Was it a Jewish camp?
Tinianow: No, the lady that owned it was with the Ethical Cultures School. The Ethical Culture, I think is now called Humanists, she was a teacher there.
Interviewer: So had you gone to that school and she identified you?
Tinianow: No, I went to a lot of different schools. I went to one, two, three, four schools in Germany. By the time I was eleven and came to New York, I had been in four schools. Then I went to two different schools in New York, and then came to Zanesville junior high school and high school. So, I think I counted once that I went to nine different schools by the time I’d finished high school.
Interviewer: So your last school in Germany, was it a only Jewish school?
Tinianow: Yes, oh yeah, we were not allowed to attend anything else. That law came into being even before, but I was by then, what would be the 5th grade, Dexta, and then you went to the high school. It’s a different school system. Children who stayed in public school only had eight years of schooling. They graduated at age fourteen and then they had vocational training. But if you went to a, what they say, Ganausium for the boys, that was a private school so the restrictions, the religious restrictions did not apply yet at that point. I attend there really only a few months, and then went from there to the private Jewish school, and stayed there until we left.
Tinianow: I have a very interesting experience that I would like to tell you about
Interviewer: Please do
Tinianow: I went back for a visit to Berlin, the German government, the Berlin government, invites people back, natives, when they’re seventy years old, and I went. Somebody there, that I had had a little bit of contact with said she had met somebody who said she knew my family and me. She arranged a meeting, and it was at that time an old lady, but had been a young girl who went to the same private Gisam with me, and she remembered me. We talked a little bit about what we both remembered, and then she said to me, you know, she said when you left we didn’t know what happened to you. We thought that you probably had been killed, so I didn’t know that you had survived. This was 1938, they already knew, even children knew Jews were being destroyed. That’s interesting isn’t it?
Interviewer: Very, and what did you say to her?
Tinianow: Here I am, you know (laugh)
Interviewer: That is a remarkable story
Interviewer: So, did your family speak Yiddish or no?
Tinianow: No, German Jews never spoke Yiddish. That was the Austuden. They still are called that in Berlin. Many of the Jews who live in Berlin now are Austuden. Yiddish, I never heard Yiddish until I got married (laugh).
Interviewer: So, your husband and his family spoke Yiddish.
Tinianow: Yes, yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact, he never learned to read or write in English, you could only do Yiddish. He took the Forwards, read that paper; we’re in an orthodox congregation in Lima. So, his background was very, very different from mine.
Interviewer: So, was your background in Berlin in a Reform Judaism or not at all?
Tinianow: No, no it was conservative. I saw our Temple burn on ___________ the next day as I was walking to school. Excuse me, that’s my 200 year old clock striking.
Interviewer: That must have been very traumatizing to see your synagogue burning.
Tinianow: It was yes, yes. Wait my brother was Bar Mitzvah there before he turned 13 because he turned 13 in May of 1938. His Bar Mitzvah was in March of 1938, because that was just before my father left, and my father wanted very much to be there for his son Bar Mitzvah, and the Rabbi, whose name was Ualkhim Prince, who survived and was a Rabbi in New Jersey. All the kids, all the young people were just crazy about him and this was his last class that he made Bar Mitzvah and there many boys in that class who were not quite 13. That was very unusual and at was at the Temple Fasanen.
Interviewer: How do you spell that?
Tinianow: F A S A N E N. I have all kinds of books about it with pictures of it and all that stuff. It was conservative, but the women sat upstairs, you know. It was separate. I didn’t know anybody who was reformed. I don’t think there where to many German Jews who were reformed.
Interviewer: As a young woman, a young girl did you study Hebrew?
Tinianow: No, well yes, yes I did. I had private lessons with a gentleman. My mother took us there every week. I don’t know for how long I went, not terribly long, and then I had instruction in BRETE, because we didn’t know if we were coming to America and our second possible out would have been to go to Palestine. We had a tutor who came to our apartment and gave lessons to my brother and me in BRETE. Then when we realized that we probably would be going to America the same tutor came back and taught us English. (Laugh, Laugh)
Interviewer: But, if I can back up your brother went to the synagogue for Hebrew lessons.
Tinianow: No, they didn’t do that.
Interviewer: Oh, I see
Tinianow: Well, I don’t how they prepared for the Bar Mitzvah. I think it may have been the man who lived near us who prepared him. It was a private instruction. I don’t think there was such a thing as Hebrew school and certainly not Sunday school, that was Christian, you know. It was just different, and a lot of it was within the family, a lot of instruction, so.
Interviewer: But there was no question of your connection with Judaism.
Tinianow: Oh, no, no, I was made very aware of that. I knew I couldn’t go to public school anymore and then on an went to the Sim in school. Religion was taught in the schools there, always. Hitler demanded it. It was very important to inculcate the Christian religion and when the religious class came, I was excused. I was probably the only Jewish child, certainly in my class and in the whole school. I had to get up and leave the classroom and I had to stand outside and wait until I was told that the class was over. A painful experience and I knew from a very, very young age that I was not acceptable.
Interviewer: I’m sure that was very painful but it made you very strong.
Tinianow: I hope so, here I am.
Interviewer: So, maybe we can move on to your coming to Columbus and your involvement here. You are a member of both Beth Tikvah and The Little Minyon, I understand
Tinianow: Yes, when we moved here in 1997, my husband and I joined Beth Tikvah and he was quite active. He came from a more religious background than I did, and he attended there a great deal. Frequently, he was in the Yiddish class and he went to some other groups too. We were very much involved there, and of course our son went there and our daughter-in-law and their children. And I’m still a member, but I’m not very good about going, being terribly much a participant.
Interviewer: But you enjoy some of the adult education programs, or that’s not so much your interest.
Tinianow: Not recently, no, I have so much going on in my life through the senior center, which is just about four or five blocks from here that I don’t get there. I do volunteer for the blood drive, I do that, and I do go to services occasional, but no very often. I’m not like my husband, no. (Laugh, Laugh)
Interviewer: Well, I do understand that there is a Torah, that is Legacy that I think would be
Tinianow: At The Little Minyon. Yes, the only Torah they have is called the Tinianow Torah. The Tinianow Torah was brought to America by my husband’s father, whose name was Sam, Sam Tinianow, which is also my grandson’s name, and we’re not real sure what the origin is. Instead of going to the oldest son, which is the usual route, it went to my husband who was the second oldest son, because the oldest son was not much interested, you know. My husband treasured it and when we lived in Cleveland, and we belonged to, oh good heavens what’s the name of the congregation that we belonged, I can’t remember, memory goes very quickly at my age, they used it. It’s a small torah and they used it for the children because it was light enough that the children could lift it and they read from it. It was used quite a bit, and when we moved to Columbus, we brought it with us and it was here for a long time in one or another closet in our apartment. Then we decided that it needed to be looked at. It was very old, very fragile and we took it over to, what’s was the Rabbi’s name on East Main St, orthodox, somebody in the Historical Society will know his name
Tinianow: Yes, Goldberg. And he looked at and said that it needs a lot of work, but he was willing to do it. He had the torah for about a year and a half working off and on, finding the right materials and so forth. When it was repaired, my husband gave it to our oldest son, so he has it now. They use it at the Little Minyon. I think that is the only torah that they have there. It is very old, very fragile but still treasured.
Interviewer: Well, that’s quite a legacy.
Interviewer: So when you moved to Columbus, your main Jewish involvement was through the synagogue.
Tinianow: Which time? When I came here to go to college?
Interviewer: No, no, I was thinking from Cleveland. Were you a member of Hadassah or any of the women’s groups.
Tinianow: No, I’m not a joiner of one of those groups. We did once go to the Historical Society to a meeting because the topic was going to be “Jews in Zanesville,” and, of course, that interested me. My father died in Zanesville in 1948. The Jewish Center in Columbus was just starting up when I was here in college. I did know some of the other young single Jewish women here.
Interviewer: Was there a Hillel on campus at that time?
Tinianow: There was, but I lived way over on the other side of the campus, and it just didn’t interest me very much. The emphasis was on Yiddish and eastern European Judaica. I felt very estranged from that so I didn’t participate at all. But I had Jewish friends and my mother, too, had a lot of Jewish friends. She belonged to Hadassah. She belonged to Brandeis Women and was active there.
Interviewer: Did she also belong to a synagogue?
Tinianow: No. We weren’t allowed to bring any money with us, so we started from scratch in 1940. At that time, practicing medicine was very different from the way it is now. It was very hard to build up a practice. In 1946 my father became terminally ill as a result of over-radiation. He had leukemia. And in 1948 he died, and we had no family except my mother’s brother who had come and settled in Columbus. So after she was able to sell my father’s practice, she came to Columbus and settled here. Incidentally, both my mother’s brother and my father’s brother were passengers on the St. Louis. I just sent a picture to Berlin of my father’s brother standing, looking over the railing.
Interviewer: And he was sent back?
Tinianow: Both of them were sent back, sure. One survived and one didn’t. The story about the uncle who survived, in Columbus, is also a long and interesting story.
Interviewer: Is your uncle still alive?
Tinianow: Oh, no. He was born in 1888.
Interviewer: What was your uncle’s name?
Tinianow: Martin Pommer. He was an attorney, and when they turned back, they were split up into different groups. He was sent with a group that went to Belgium, and my other uncle was sent with a group that went to Holland. The one that went to Holland was later transferred to several different camps in France, never being able to trace it. Sometime I think in 1943 he was sent to Auschwitz, where his wife also ended up. Of course, they never saw each other there. The other one, Martin, was moved from Belgium into France. When the Germans came into France, he was moved to southern France. He lived there at a labor camp. He did farm labor to help to pay for his keep there. My father was also supposed to contribute, but, of course, we had absolutely nothing. At that time I think it was HIAS – I think I have the letters somewhere that they wrote – that my father should not be expected to contribute anything, because if he did, we would be destitute. He died in 1948 and hadn’t been able to amass much money. But my mother moved to Columbus and my uncle then, for the first time, got married. He married a woman that he knew from childhood. They lived in Columbus, but, of course, he couldn’t be an attorney when switching from one nation to another. Medicine switches a lot more easily. He had a job here, in Zanesville, washing walls in the hospital. The second job was in Columbus, where he worked in a Jewish business here whose name I can’t remember. But they manufactured men’s neckties. Someone here will know who that was. He worked as a counter clerk there. He had been used to being his own boss. It didn’t work very well for him. He ended up for many years selling Avon products in the all-black neighborhood at Mt. Vernon and E. Long Street. That was his clientele, and he sold from a bicycle, because until he was 60 years old, and I taught him how to drive a car, he didn’t know how to drive a car. So he used a bicycle that we brought over here from Germany to sell Avon, and quite successfully, too. Avon Products will know his name because it was so unusual for a white man in a black neighborhood to sell it, etc. That was my Uncle Martin, a very remarkable man.
Interviewer: Was he able to come to the United States because your mother could provide a visa for him?
Tinianow: My mother didn’t have anything. We were practically destitute. When we moved to Zanesville, my father managed to get someone in Zanesville in the Jewish community to furnish the visa for my uncle. His name was Sam Waterman. I went to school with his son Joe. Sam Waterman influenced my uncle’s life. It was all very complex.
Interviewer: Did your uncle get out of France or did he come after the war?
Tinianow: No, he came before the war was over. He came out of France by way of North Africa someplace. He got on a ship. Once he had the visa, he traveled away from the Germans. He was already in a part of France that was unoccupied and, I think it was either HIAS or Joint Distribution Committee that helped him, but someone was of help to him to get over to America. Are you confused enough yet?
Interviewer: No. It is a remarkable story.
Tinianow: I’m not used to talking about it much. Most people where I live here do know that I am Jewish, but only one or two know that I am a holocaust survivor. They don’t understand. They really have no idea. Some of this may be published. They are provincial. A lot of people here have never been outside of Ohio and have never known anybody who wasn’t Christian – either Protestant or Catholic. I’m exotic except that I am haunted. It would make me uncomfortable and would make them very uncomfortable. So here I am.
Interviewer: You mentioned going back to Germany. Have you ever been back?
Tinianow: Yes, I have been back twice. The first time I went at the invitation and pre-paid trip of the Berlin government. They invited anyone who survived to age 70. When you got to your 70th birthday, you were invited there for a week in Berlin. Everything was paid for – your transport, your hotel, your meals, everything. They had wonderful programs for us to go to and took us around. There was nobody else there from Ohio. Then I went again in 2000. I wanted my children to know a little bit about their heritage. They know that their mother is kind of strange and had a very unusual background. They were very eager. So all three of my children and two daughters-in-law and two of my grandchildren went. They learned a lot. We were in the apartment where I was born, which was one of the few buildings that survived because we lived on a street where the Russians came in to Berlin and most of the buildings were destroyed. But that one was still there. I was there again a second time, later. This German woman who we had met there said that she didn’t trust the man who was in the office. She said to be careful about what you say. She said she could tell that he is Stasi – the secret police that the Soviets sent. They had not gone away yet from East Berlin. We were bussed to the Jewish community there. They lived in West Berlin in nicer sections. My father treated the proletariat. They liked him. I have a very strange background with very strange things to tell. My children know most of it, and that is important. I may go to Berlin again this year if one of my children goes with me. I can’t travel by myself anymore. I’m too old. I will be meeting at that time with the people from the Jewish Museum. They are very interested in my story. Maybe I can just give them this transcription. It will save me a lot of trouble.
Interviewer: You must still feel more comfortable in German than in English, or am I wrong?
Tinianow: No. I haven’t really spoken German since I was maybe 12 years old. I wanted desperately to get away from it. I didn’t want to hear it anymore. It was not a pleasant memory to hear German. My parents spoke with each other, but I always answered in English. It is only more recently that I started speaking a little bit of German again, but my German is not very good.
Interviewer: I’m also interested in your work. Did you work as a social worker?
Tinianow: Sort of. My background was in social work. My degree was in group work and recreation. After I graduated, I worked for a year here in Columbus at South Side Settlement House, which is still around and still very active. Then while waiting to get back into graduate school in rehabilitation, I worked at the main library and then when I came out and completed my work in rehabilitation, I worked at Goodwill Industries in Dayton, where I met my husband Ralph. Then after we were married, I worked briefly at the TB sanitarium in Springfield, OH, where we lived at first when we were married. Then I took a leave of absence for 15 years while I had three children. When my youngest one went to first grade, I went back to work in Cleveland at Highland View Hospital, which then joined with Cleveland Metro General Hospital, which is now called MetroHealth Center. I was the head of the department of vocational rehabilitation. Then I started a private practice, consulting with the federal government. I gave expert witness testimony for the Social Security Administration in their hearings before a judge of whether somebody was disabled enough so that they should not have to work anymore. Gradually that kind of grew until it became difficult for me to hold a full-time job and do that too. I was looking for something part-time and I saw an ad in the paper. I responded, and it turned out to be Jewish Vocational Service in Cleveland. So I worked with them and headed their department in working with rehab clients. We had a program there. The first year I was there we worked with Mt. Sinai Hospital and established the program there. And then I replaced myself with someone else on my staff. We also started a program at Lakewood Hospital, but that only ran for about a year. Then we set up a successful program at Bellefaire. That was very interesting, although the kids were not necessarily Jewish. It was the Jewish orphanage of Cleveland. Now they work with mostly emotionally disturbed children. I had 2.5 staff members there and got them into some part-time after school jobs and gave them lots of supervision so that nothing terrible would happen. The last few years, I did nothing but private consulting, not only with Social Security, but also with the Department of Justice in Washington in the U.S. Attorney’s Office. I traveled a bit there to different places around the country where they were having trials or hearings. Very interesting. And then when we moved here, I was 69 years old and I thought “enough.” So that was it. Then I worked for CASA here – court appointed special advocates, guardian ad litem, which means you work with abused and neglected children that are in the juvenile court system. When you are in this program, you have to go through their training, only it is not paid. You are assigned a child or several children and you are there guardian representing the juvenile court. I enjoyed that very much. I thought 69 was too young to really stay home, so I did that for almost five years. Then my husband became ill and that became my job.
Interviewer: Thank you so much for sharing all these things. We appreciate your telling us and I wonder if there is anything that you want to add that we didn’t direct ourselves to.
Tinianow: I’m exhausted just telling about it. I covered an enormous amount of things. I think many of the people who are refugees came here and experienced things. We went wherever we could find someone who would take us in. I know several people who went to Shanghai and I had other family members who went to Buenos Aires and Rio. Some went to Palestine, and I know people who went to Johannesburg in South Africa. We went anywhere we could just to survive.
Interviewer: My husband went to Switzerland.
Tinianow: That’s called ____________, black across the border he went at night and sneaked across. I don’t much like to think about it. I can understand that people today who are interested in it.
Interviewer: I’m curious because there have recently been a number of films about the holocaust. Would you avoid going to such a movie or do you ever read books about them.
Tinianow: I have a pile of books here. The movies tend to focus again on Austria, Jews from Poland and from Yugoslavia. German Jews are hardly ever mentioned because they are different. The movie here that is a German movie called “The Lives of Others” is really about the Soviet occupation in Berlin. The similarities about how people lived under the Soviets vs living under the Nazis is very interesting. There are a lot of similarities. I’ve seen films, sure.
Interviewer: Well, I thought perhaps you would want to avoid such painful past memories.
Tinianow: Well, mostly I like to correct the misconceptions that people have about what happened there and what didn’t happen there. My family died in concentration camps – my mother’s brother and his wife, my grandmother’s brother and his wife and their children and grandchildren in Holland. I didn’t keep track of how many. I am at this point the only surviving member of my family. I’ve got three kids and four grandchildren, so I am making my own family.
Interviewer: You are passing on the stories, an important link. I wonder if you ever speak to groups.
Tinianow: I never have, no.
Interviewer: Is that a preference, or have you never been asked?
Tinianow: I’ve never been asked. I know some people here who do that. They tend to make big show out of it and I can’t do that. It is too uncomfortable for me. In Germany we experienced Hitler starting in 1933. In Poland they didn’t experience it until 1940, and it was over after five years. It was twelve years in Germany. I remember very well. I think I have given you everything I could.
Interviewer: We very much appreciate your taking the time and sharing all of this with us. Do you have any questions that didn’t occur to me before I end our interview?
Tinianow: Really, I can’t think of any. Parents’ names are on the form you sent me.
Interviewer: On behalf of the Columbus Jewish Historical Society, I want to thank you for contributing to the Oral History Project. This concludes our interview.