Nearly 75 years after she boarded a train out of Nazi Germany, Maggie Furst retold her Holocaust survival story to an audience of TCU students, faculty and local community members.
Furst was the keynote speaker for this year’s Hillel Holocaust Museum on Tuesday night. This is the seventh year the student-run Jewish organization has held the event, though this is Furst’s inaugural appearance.
Furst lived in Astheim, about 150 kilometers outside Frankfurt, Germany. Her father died in 1934 leaving behind Furst, her brother and her mother.
On the night of November 9,1938, the Nazis set fire to Jewish synagogues, vandalized Jewish schools, stores and businesses and killed nearly 100 Jews. The event came to be known as Kristallnacht, meaning “night of the broken glass” in German, because of the glass shards on the streets from the vandalism.
Furst said her mother was convinced their family needed to escape.
In December 1938, the Kindertransport program began, eventually bringing 9,354 refugee Jewish children to Great Britain from Germany, Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
She and her brother were two of those children.
“In May 1939 I boarded a train headed for Holland,” said Furst. “I was convinced I was headed to the seaside to play in the sand.”
She said er mother accompanied them and was able to stay in the country because of a family connection.
During her speech, she recalled memories of struggling to stay together as a family. Her mother was not able to care for Furst and her brother, so the two children transitioned in and out of orphanages and foster care.
Furst said her and her family stayed in Britain from their arrival in 1939 until they left on a ship in April 1945 headed for America.
Furst and her brother eventually moved to Dallas, where they have lived since 1963. She has been an involved volunteer in the Dallas-Fort Worth community, specifically serving for the Dallas Holocaust Museum for the last 16 years.
Furst credits the swift reaction of her mother to her family’s survival.
“If it wasn’t for [the Kindertransport], I wouldn’t be alive.”
The museum opened Monday and will remain open to visitors until Wednesday at 4 p.m.