1970 - 1970

Robert May

Biography

Robert was born in 1926, the youngest of three boys. For several generations, the family owned a dry goods store. A small synagogue served 12-15 Jewish families, and his father served as unofficial cantor.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, antisemitism exploded. Der Stürmer, the antisemitic Nazi tabloid, was prominently displayed about town. The neighborhood grocer would no longer sell to the family. Classmates joined the Hitler Youth, and fear became part of daily life.

By 1936, school had become intolerable, requiring Robert to leave. He moved with his Aunt Emma to Frankfurt and attended a Jewish Day School, the Philanthropin. Robert recalls Kristallnacht in Frankfurt, November 1938. He and his aunt were warned by a neighbor to get out of their apartment. While wandering the streets, the apartment was ransacked, and Robert’s school and synagogue were burned.

A month later, Robert traveled to Brighton, England, to attend a Jewish boarding school, Aryeh House. This was facilitated by the British Kindertransport, which allowed children under seventeen to enter Britain as long as they could obtain private funds to support themselves. Funding for Robert came from his Uncle Siegmund, who had previously escaped Germany to Holland. Robert recalls his relief when the train crossed the German border. In Brighton, Robert learned English and studied for his Bar Mitzvah, a milestone marked with no family.

Two days before the war started, Robert’s parents left Germany with only two suitcases. They traveled to London and made plans to come to the U.S. In August 1940, amidst U-boat attacks, Robert and his parents left England for Havana, Cuba, then New Orleans. Robert remembers standing by the ship’s lifeboats with life jackets and reciting the Sh’ma (Jewish prayer) … everyone believing they would die! Upon landing in Havana, passengers were placed in prison camps in an extortion attempt. Ultimately released, they arrived in New Orleans on September 9, 1940.

In the U.S., Robert continued his schooling, becoming a medical doctor and serving in the U.S. Air Force. He married his wife, Anita, in 1953, moved to Birmingham, and practiced obstetrics and gynecology for close to fifty years. They were blessed with three children and eight grandchildren.

Aunt Emma and Uncle Siegmund perished at Auschwitz.

Darkness Into Life

Claritas est etiam processus dynamicus, qui sequitur mutationem consuetudium lectorum. Mirum est notare quam littera gothica, quam nunc putamus parum claram, anteposuerit litterarum formas humanitatis per seacula quarta decima et quinta decima. Eodem modo typi, qui nunc nobis videntur parum clari, fiant sollemnes in futurum.

Online Exhibit

More Information

Name in US
Robert (Bob) Marcus May
Name at Birth
Robert Markus May
Parents' Name

Flora Turkheimer (1885 Münzesheim, Germany – 1986 New Orleans, LA)
and Hermann (Herman) May (1877 Camberg – 1946 New Orleans, LA)

Date of Birth - Note
February 17, 1926
Country of Birth
Germany
City of Birth
Camberg
Sibling(s) Name(s)

Paul David May (Lore Marie Baer)
(March 27, 1914 Camberg, Germany – June 23, 1980 New Orleans, LA)

Martin Moses May (Renate A. Teichmann)
(June 29, 1919 Camberg, Germany – May 24, 2008 Portland, OR)

Spouse(s) Name(s)

Anita Sara Wynne
Born July 17, 1933 Eufala, AL
Married September 6, 1953 in Bainbridge, GA

Children's Names

Harvey L. May (Cindy Cohen)
Born 1954 Birmingham, AL

Ann D. May (Gary Mollengarden )
Born 1957 Birmingham, AL

Julie A. May
Born 1959 Birmingham, AL

Religious Identity (Prewar)
Jewish
Religious Identity (Postwar)
Reform Judaism
Other Experiences

Moved to Frankfurt, Germany in 1936 to attend a Jewish day school, the Philanthropin.

January 1939 moved to Brighton, England to attend a Jewish boarding school, Aryeh House.

Year / City / Ship to US
September 9, 1940/ New Orleans, LA / SS Santa Marta
Date Moved to Alabama
1953
Alabama City of Residence
Birmingham
Dates Lived in Alabama
1953-present