Utah Stories from the Beehive Archive

My Life on Three Continents: Jewish Refugees in Utah


Dublin Core


My Life on Three Continents: Jewish Refugees in Utah


Utah has become home to people of many backgrounds and cultures since the first Mormon Pioneers arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847.  What brought these people to Utah? 

The convoluted journey of one family is told in Fred Linden’s autobiography, called “A Short Story of My Life on Three Continents.”  Linden served in the German Army during World War I, and later worked as a department store manager.  When Hitler came to power in 1933, a series of anti-Semitic laws were passed.  Because Linden was Jewish, he lost his job, so started his own shop in Berlin. 

Linden lived a “quiet, undisturbed life” with his young family until the terrible night of November 9th, 1938.  That night, Hitler’s stormtroopers and other Nazi supporters looted and destroyed hundreds of Jewish businesses and synagogues.  The night became known as Kristallnacht, which translates as “night of the broken glass.”  Linden lost his shop, but luckily not his life, and soon booked passage for his family to Shanghai, China.  Shanghai was an open city and did not require a visa.  The Lindens fled Germany by boat, sailed through the Suez Canal, and eventually docked in Shanghai, where they waited out the war. 

The Lindens arrived in San Francisco in August 1947 where the United Service for New Americans helped them find a place to live.  Fred knew that the East Coast was crowded and that jobs were scarce, so he hoped to settle his family in the West.  The Salt Lake Jewish Community soon contacted the United Service to say its members could help the Lindens.  

Fred and his family arrived in Salt Lake City by train on September 26, 1947.  Fred found work at ZCMI, while his wife Ruth opened a dressmaking shop.  They are among the thousands of refugees who have been able to start new lives in Utah.


Rebecca Andersen for the Utah Humanities © 2011


Image: Ruth and Fritz Lindenstrauss in Berlin when they were married. Courtesy of Salt Lake Tribune.

See Rebecca Andersen, “Zionism in Zion: Salt Lake City’s Jewish Community and Israel, 1933-1967,” MA thesis, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, 2008, 39-40; Fred Linden, “A Short Story of My Life on Three Continents,” August, 1983, University of Utah Marriott Library Special Collections, Jewish Community Interviews, Accession 998 Box 3 Fd 1, pp. 1-5; Linden Family Papers, 1939-1995 [manuscript RG-10.172], United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Finding Aid, accessed 7/6/2011 at http://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn506451


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