Bill Braun




Bill Braun, was born Wilhelm Braun, in Vienna, Austria in 1921 to an Orthodox Jewish family. Strongly attached to his native city, he was reluctant to leave, even after he was accepted on a Kindertransport (children's transport) to England.

Right before World War II began, he finally went to London, where he was placed with other refugee children in a seaman's hostel used for temporary housing. The group later was sent to live in an old abandoned castle in Abergele, Wales, without heat, light and indoor plumbing.

Nonetheless, they found comfort in each other, had kosher food and a rabbi who led them in prayer and study. Later, the British classified Bill as an enemy alien and sent him and others to the Isle of Man, where he lived in an abandoned hotel surrounded by barbed wire.

Finally, he was shipped to Canada, where he stayed in a variety of camps, winding up in an old fort near Montreal. The camp had a school organized by the YMCA where they had lots of books; lectures by Jewish intellectuals who were interned there and even kosher food. By August 1942, Bill was able to leave the camp and went to work in a steel factory in Toronto. After the war ended in 1945, Bill entered the University of Toronto, where he received a Ph.D. in German literature. After teaching in Atlanta, he came to the University of Rochester in 1956 as an assistant professor of German literature.

Biography written by: Barbara Appelbaum
Photograph by Louis Ouzer