St. Louis’ remarkable stories from the Holocaust: Heiman Herbert Bremler

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Since 1979, Vida “Sister” Goldman Prince has been Chairman of the Oral Histories Project, at the St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum. The project is dedicated to recording and preserving audio interviews of not only Holocaust Survivors, but also liberators of Nazi concentration camps and other non-Jewish witnesses living in Europe during World War II.

The museum was one of the first to begin gathering oral history projects so these voices and photographs will be displayed and future generations will continue to be witnesses to this catastrophic period of world history. In partnership with the Jewish Light, The St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum is allowing us to republish a portion of these Oral Histories project as a celebration of life and a crucial part of honoring and remembering the past. Please follow the provided links to additional recordings.


A Brief Bio

Heiman Bremler was born in Berlin, Germany in 1910. He was an only child and describes his family as conservative Jews. He remembers being a young child during World War I, the “hunger year” of 1918, and the Kaiser’s abdication of the throne. He also faced occasional anti-Semitism in school, especially after the assassination of the German foreign minister, who was Jewish. Mr. Bremler finished high school and worked in his father’s clothing store.

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After Hitler came to power, more and more restrictions were placed on German Jews. Mr. Bremler witnessed the 1936 Berlin Olympics, boycotts of businesses, and other instances of abuse and humiliation. Finally in June of 1938, Mr. Bremler was able to come to the United States with the help of an uncle living in New York. He came to St. Louis shortly after arrival in the United States because he felt there were less immigrants there competing for jobs.

He worked for different furniture stores in St. Louis and St. Charles and was drafted into the army in February, 1942. He served in North Africa and Italy as an interpreter and radio monitor. After the war ended, he returned to St. Louis, got married, and found a job in civil service working as a records analyst and translator of German and French correspondence. He also became active in the St. Louis Jewish community.

Mr. Bremler remained in contact with his parents, who refused to leave Germany and later were unable to leave. In letters, they told him about Kristallnacht, the loss of their business in 1939, and how much more difficult life had become. After the United States entered the war on December 7, 1941, he was unable to contact his parents. He found out later that they were sent to Warsaw in April of 1942. They either died there, or in the death camp Treblinka.

Heiman Bremler participated in a second interview about his experiences during the 1936 Berlin Olympics. In a third interview, Mr. Bremler discussed his acquaintance with Rabbi Leo Baeck, as well as expounded on his military service. These interviews are also in the archives of the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.

Listen to Tape 1 / Side 1 of Heiman’s Oral History

Click here to listen to the additional taped recordings of Heiman’s Oral History

Discover more stories

To view the full St. Louis Kaplan Feldman Holocaust Museum Oral Histories archive, click here.