My Oma was born in 1926 in Offenburg, a small city on the border of Germany and France. She immigrated to America in 1938, and originally settled in Philadelphia. We don’t know so much about her life in Germany, but shortly before her death, she told me a story about her grandmother’s piano: 

My Oma would walk to her grandmother’s house, across a small bridge over a small river. Her grandmother had a piano, and she taught my Oma to play. Oma loved her grandmother and she loved that house, and she loved to play the piano there. In November 1938, Kristallnacht, my Oma’s father was arrested by the Germans, and was taken to Dachau. We think that because of the family’s wealth, he was able to buy his way out of Dachau, and his family’s way to America. The family came to America with three large trunks – the piano in one of them, a gift from my great-great grandmother to my Oma. My Oma, with her mother and father, left Germany in December, but my Oma’s grandmother remained in Germany. We aren’t sure what happened to her. 

My Oma continued to play piano. Until her death, she volunteered as a music therapist at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California, and she spoke often about the great joy this work brought her. She passed a passion for music onto her children as well – my father is a professional opera singer, and my in my uncle’s living room is the piano that once sat at my Oma’s grandma’s house. 

Place(s): Germany; United States
Year: 1938

– Anna Kalm

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant