Marianne Salinger was born in Berlin, Germany in 1923 and moved to New York with her family when she was 15. Fleeing from the Nazis, her family first moved to England, then to Philadelphia, and then to Kew Gardens in Queens, New York. Salinger lived in Kew Gardens for the largest portion of her life. She remembers how initially, Kew Gardens was filled with immigrants, primarily Jewish immigrants, but became more Hispanic and Russian over time. She moved to the Bronx in 2016.
Salinger did not know that she was Jewish until she was nine years old and considered herself and her family German. She experienced antisemistism growing up in Nazi Germany including an antisemitic incident with a classmate. Because of Nazi policies, Salinger was forced to attend Jewish school and began learning about Jewish traditions, holidays, and customs. Additionally, she was a swimmer and was considered for the Olympic Games while in school. Life in Nazi Germany got more restrictive as time continued for Salinger and her family. Salinger remembers November 10th, Kristallnacht, being the turning point in Nazi Germany and her school collapsing. Because of their fear from the Nazis Salinger’s family hid out in their home and sold their belongings until they were safe to leave for Holland and then England. They stayed in England until their American visas arrived and they were able to travel to America via boat. They arrived in 1939. Despite living very well-off in Germany with maids and a governess, Salinger’s family had very little after immigrating to America and struggled with both the English language and their finances. She attended Richmond Hill and Cooper Union for school where she studied decorative art. After graduating from school she opened her own studio and made a living as an artist.
After WWII ended Salinger moved to Paris, France for two years to take care of the children in her family whose parents had been killed in the war. Within her family Salinger suspects that they lost around 40 people in the Holocaust. After immigrating to America Salinger’s parents separated and moved to different parts of the country so she became isolated from them. After moving back to America from France Salinger became more involved in the Kew Gardens Synagogue and was an active member of the synagogue for many years although she mentions not feeling appreciated by the other members. In addition to being active in synagogue, Salinger also enjoyed the opera and ice skating. She reflects on the world today and how it has changed from when she was young.
Kew Gardens, Kristallnacht, World War Two, Yiddish, French, Holocaust, Immigration, Race, School, Richmond Hill, Cooper Union, Art, Restitution, England, Germany
Maier Garcia, Sophia, "Salinger, Marianne" (2023). Bronx Jewish History Project. 23.