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Yes, I'm going to ask the question Ernest Kraus, where and when were you born? I was born in Germany in a small town called Buhlertal It is located near the Rhine River in an area called the Black Forest I was born June 14, 1923 Did you have any brothers and sisters? I had one sister who was about a year older than me unfortunately she died when she was 18 years old she had some sort of blood disease I remember when she died in South America and I have a sister who is about nine years younger than me she now lives in Michigan she was born in Argentina How old is she? she was born on September 29 in 1929 in Argentina and that would be Mary? Mary, and the other sisters name was Elsie What was your father's name and do you know where he was born and when? My father's name was Albert Kraus no middle name and he was born in Germany and again in that small town of Buhlertal and I think his birthday was April 23rd in 1900 and he was born in Buhlertal? Yes, he was born in Buhlertal do you know about his family where they always from there? As far as I knows I know the history of the family that most of them were born and raised in that area I think that they later spread out to some other towns I don't know too much about about the family on my father's side except for my cousin Beatrice who still lives in Buhlertal and I met her the very first time in 1970 that was when I was there with your mom when we went over there and then that didn't have contact again until 1993 or 1994 maybe when your brother Jerry and I went over there to Germany and visit with them they came here came here to visit that would have been in 1996? yes in 1996, the Olympics in Atlanta they came there and then the following year they came here so in 1997 they came here? and they are coming again this is coming April of 1999 so I fortunately I got acquainted but the rest of the family I really don't know too much about I my aunt I met her in 1970 but she died a long time ago ago and I really don't know too much about it I intend to find out more one when they come over here and get more of the history what was your mother's name and birthplace and date Pauline Fritz, her maiden name was Fritz and she was also born in Buhlertal, Germany? to my memory she was born September 29, 1899 I knew the family grandmother I never knew my grandfather, he died when I was young there was my step grandfather who I knew in South America the family on my mother's side had moved at the same time that we did to South America and so I knew them for about the first ten or twelve years but I have not had any contact and I don't know anymore about who was left it was quite an extended family on my mother's side so there's a lot of them are still in South America? as far as I know, they all stayed there and none went back to Germany but who's left, who's alive, aunts and uncles, I have no idea I just just lost contact with them and and so I don't know so what else do you know about the grandparents? very little what did they do in South America were they farmers? farmers, in South America at least at that period in time but I suppose they are all spread out now there are probably uncles and aunt there any great-grandparents? I never met any of them So your grandparents would be be the oldest people that you can remember in your family? when you were a child yes, that's right how old were they and do you remember? my grandmother was....I never met my grandparents on my father's side if I did it would have been when I was of a child and way way beyond my memories the only thing I my grandmother on my mother's side was quite old the last time I saw her was in 1938 not really it probably was about 1936 and she was quite old then I have no idea exactly how old and so how many brothers and sisters did your mother have? I think that there was a total of seven in the family I'm not sure but there was at least three three girls probably might have been four girls I knew one of my uncles he was older than me but we were good friends back then when I was a youngster in South America when did the family leave from Germany and how many people left? my parents left in 1925 I don't know what month or anything like that this was after world war one and things were really bad in Germay wasn't that the Weimar Republic? if you had to pay an employee if you work for somebody sometimes they would have to pay you twice a day because the money would be losing value that quickly and two people would have to go out and buy the necessities of twice a day so that they could supply and so it was a bad time and that's that's one of the reasons why they left Germany and I don't know why they went to Argentina I think there probably was kind of enticement from the Argentine government for Germans and probably even other nationalities to come there they were looking for people to settle there and as a matter of fact you went there and you got a land-grant I know my parents got probably about a hundred fifty acres of land grant at that time but this was way far out in the countryside out in nowhere land just like the Old West how many people left Germany with you? well that is my sister and myself and my mother and I was only two years old were your grandparents already over there? No, everyone went around the same time I don't think we all traveled together but it was the same period of time Did everyone live on the same farm? No they had their own land and it was probably about one hour ride by horseback from our place it's quite beautiful countryside with rolling hills and a lot of sheep and cattle on them what was the name of the nearest town in Argentina? the closest town the i really don't remember what it was was it close to the sea? it was probably one days travel from Buenos Aires the province was Entre Rios there was really not a town there there was just a general store where you got your necessities it was near the area of Corrientes and Entre Rios and I don't know what it really is, something like a province of some kind Yes, we lived on the farm there started to grow wheat and peanuts and corn because we had cattle for milk and beef, and we had horses probably about 25 horses because you had to do everything, all the farm work by horse My earliest memory is probably one of when I was about four years old that I remember being way out there and the nearest neighbor was probably five miles away I remember running around and I probably rode a horse about the same time that I started to walk because it was the only means of transportation that you had in those days horseback and buggy even as a child you had to work on the farm I remember when you harvested peanuts you had to go through with the plow to loosen them up and in the dirt and then you had to go through and shake the dirt off of them and then put the piles upside down so that they could dry out and ripen up and I remember doing that when I was nine years old what was the weather like there? the weather was semi-tropical beautiful weather and never had any extensive heat or extensive cool but we did get frost once in a while in the wintertime but basically we lived outside the cattle were just outside all the time we didn't have to cut hay because grass grew the year around and there was plenty of moisture the area had an abundance of rainfall so you didn't have to worry about irrigation what did you eat most of the time? we ate a lot of vegetables because that's what we grew and then of course beef and sausage and my parents made sausage themselves and they made bacon that we smoked ourselves so we had our own chickens so you had your own eggs and just about everything you raised yourself there wasn't too much you had to go and buy except for sugar and salt and things like that that is about the only thing that we had to buy in the local market was grandpa making wine he did later? no, there was nothing to make wine with because it's not a grape area no grapes are growing in that area but there was citrus. that's what we started my dad started to the plant citrus trees of oranges and tangerines and then what stopped that actually the reason why we left the country and moved to Buenos Aires was because the locusts came I suppose you would call it a seven-year locust but there they came two or three years in a row and when they came in a swarm they darkened the sun that's how thick they were and then they come to the ground and then they march over the land and they eat everything they ate the bark off of the young citrus trees that we had planted they killed everything What what time of year did they come? was it in the summer? it seems like it was it's kind of hard to remember but I think think that it was probably in the summer they would march through an area then they would fly for a distance and then land and do the same thing they just ruined everything around there the worse thing that they did was to eat the grass and anything that you had growing we had peanuts and they were gone the ground was just bare it was naked ground when they went through there I've never seen anything like it they talk about locusts around here in the United States but i don't think they really know what locusts are what kind of chores did you do on the farm? which chores did you really hate? I did everything. I milked cows. I plowed with the horses I even rode the combine. That was behind the horse? Yes, but the combine had a seat that you sat on actually I worked a lot with the animals we had a lot of cows and we had a lot of horses so there was a lot of horseback riding I had one pony that I have been trying to think of his name he was one of my favorites I would just have to call to him when he was out in the pasture In the morning when I wanted him for something I would just call and he would come using what language would you call him with? in Spanish primarily Spanish, because that's the language I knew, although my parents both spoke German at home most of the time but they learned Spanish and of course that's all the language that I grew up with so did you go to school? there was a school nearby there was a school probably about thirty minutes horseback ride it had one room I don't even remember what the curriculum was probably it was about basic writing skills and speaking I don't remember anything sophisticated about history but you didn't learn spanish until you got there, right? Yes, I learned Spanish there and then Spanish became my primary language because I was speaking it for so long how many children were at school with you? and how many years did you go there? there was probably about 15 kids because they had to come from living out on the prairie and usually they have to come from five miles away was there a woman teacher? yes, I still remember her what was her name? that I don't remember but she was a very good very friendly, very concerning, caring and all of the children liked her I don't really know how many years I went there sometimes I went and sometimes when it was harvest time I did not go because I just had to work on the farm after the locusts came did you have any food to eat? we always had food to eat because we stored potatoes and sweet potatoes and meat we stored them outside we would dig holes in the ground and built a shed over it so they kept cool in there some of the food you could keep in there for a long period of time so you never had electricity on the farm? no not all, we had kerosene lamps and and the cooking stove was with wood there was no gas, there was no such thing as gas especially no bottled gas but her after we got destroyed two years in a row my parents decided to move to the city, Buenos Aires so when did you move there, do you remember? I've been trying to remember, maybe it was 1936 so you were 13 or 14? probably about 13 was that the first time you had ever been to the city? yes, first time how did you get there and what did you do with all the stuff on the farm? we sold what we could sell and just left the rest behind we packed up and left what about all of the other families around there? they stayed on their farms yeah I don't know if they didn't get hurt so much as we did into far as i know they were mostly in agriculture and grains and peanuts and so they didn't begin going to the citrus fruit like we did I think that we moved when it was in 1936 I don't know if there's any record sometimes I just go like to I'd like to know exactly what it was but I know that my father decided to go back to Germany was that after you moved to the city? yes, after we moved in the city where did you live in the city, an apartment? an apartment, that's all, a small one room apartment so what did you do there after living on the farm with the horses you didn't have anything to do in the apartment how long did you stay there? no, we we stayed there while my father left and and he was going to check and see because he was seriously thinking about going back to Germany and this would have been in 1937 or maybe 1936 I'm not sure but i know he went over there and he spent quite a long time over there and we lived with my mother and she worked for a German family they were quite well-to-do, the man was in a business and so she did to need work for for this family and they treated us kids just like just like we were part of the family and and then my dad came back how long was he gone, a year? I think it was close to year because he came back and he just got out in time before Hitler was taking over and the war clouds started flying and he got out of there and that was enough for him and he didn't want anything to do with Germany anymore so he had gone back to Buhlertal? yes, he had gone back to Buhlertal he got a job there and worked do you know what he was doing? no, he was working someplace and he came back and he said he had met another relative and I don't even know what and or how close that this relative in Germany they were visiting from the USA because they had migrated to the United States and so he had the he had met them over there and they were talking about the United States and how fantastic the United States was and he talked him into coming to the USA but when he came back he had to raise the money for the fares so he worked in Buenos Aires so then I got a job, and in those days in South American countries there were ten and twelve year olds and teenagers were working in a factory it was German owned which was very common there was a lot of German industry that had moved there Schukart and Simmons was the name of the factory and there was a big German industrial complex and I remember they made telephones, pay telephones and I remember working on an assembly line I was probably 12 years old how much did they pay you and in what currency? the currency of course was a peso the pay probably was about 25 centavos an hour I'm not quite sure though so we stayed there and then my father he had to have a sponsor and this relative got the necessary paperwork to sponsor us to come to the USA so when your father returned from Germany did he come to Argentina or the USA? no, he came back to Buenos Aires and he worked there for about a year what did he do for a job then? he worked in construction he was a common laborer so the decision was made that because of the lack of enough money that my father and I would travel first and my mother and two sisters by that time they stayed with a German family This German family had a small farm outside of Buenos Aires probably about an hour ride by train outside of Buenos Aires and he asked my dad to operate the farm I cannot remember what crops they raised there probably vegetables and I think they had citrus fruits so we lived out there and then through the encouragement and also probably the money I think that this German couple that my parents were working for they wanted me to go to German school which was a school about a half hour train ride away from the little farm where we lived in the morning I would get on the train and take the train and go to school and and in the evening come back home again how old were you then? I was about twelve or thirteen so I went to school there and it was a German school strictly German no Spanish. I went there about a year before we decided we were ready to come to the United States and the decision was made that my father and I would come we had a sister and family in Chicago So how did you leave Argentina? What year was it? It was in 1938 and I cannot remember what day I think I have the the ID papers here but I cannot remember exactly I think that it was in the spring of the year so did you get on a boat or what? well we got on a boat from Valparaiso we had to go across the Andes on the other side of Argentina we went there by train why did you go from there? it was cheaper from there we took the train over there and got on a ship it was not a passenger ship, it was a freighter and they they take about a dozen passengers they had enough rooms so that they could take passengers I think that you can still do that today where you can cruise with them for months very leisurely without being crowded but so that's what we did What was it like coming over the Andes on the train? It was the first time you had ever seen the Andes? the railroad that goes over there is what is called a narrow track and I remember going over that going up and up and up and up and soon we were up in the snow and then that's when you get the peak and then quickly you start down the other side so it was quite a great experience I don't remember too much and don't even remember how long it took to get over there to the ship But the boat trip from Valparaiso to New York was thirty days and of course we stopped all along the way I remember one of the stops in Lima, Peru I remember because it was so much poverty there so they let you off the boat there? and the boat would be docked loading and unloading freight and they would load up again so we would spend a day there so we walked around and it was very very depressing because of young kids sitting there and begging it was really pretty bad so I was not impressed with Lima and I guess there is still a lot of that there then you had to go through the Panama Canal? and then we went through the Panama Canal going through there was quite a good experience and go on from there we went through during the day and so was able to see everything out there with someone from one lock to another and that was your first time in real tropical weather? yes but it didn't really bother me that much I think it was the springtime of the year and then we headed to New York we stopped also see Cuba yes we stopped in Cuba and Colon which I think that was in Colombia and then a little brief stop in Panama yes in Panama and then up with a brief stop in Cuba and then on to New York we got to New York where we disembarked from there we took a train when you got off in New York, where did you land there? how did you get through immigration? did you need to go through Ellis Island? no we did not go through ellis island we just landed in new york harbor we went through immigration without any problems I don't know i don't think we stayed there you know it's kind of a really big city What was your first impression of the United States? Like today, it was very, very busy it was already a very big city I was confused And then we took the train to Chicago to my aunts At time you did not speak any English at all? I did not speak any English at all And neither did your father? no not all my aunt and her husband both spoke German but when you got to New York, it must have been very difficult for you? I don't know how we even did it fortunately some of those people understood German or Spanish because I spoke both languages in those days, I spoke both languages very fluently both read and write it for a while it was you just had to get by the best that you could so then you made it to Chicago? what did you do there then? well my father got a job in Chicago do you remember what he was doing? he was working in a hotel and restaurant in one of the big hotels

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Duration: 39 minutes and 38 seconds
Language: English
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Posted by: frybaby21 on Jan 24, 2017


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