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Ossie Langfelder - Immigrant Stories

Oswald "Ossie" Langfelder was born in Austria in 1926 to a Lutheran mother and a Jewish father. In 1938, the family fled Nazi persecution, passing through Switzerland on their way to England. By 1940 the family emigrated to the United States, first to Chicago, but finally settling in Springfield, Illinois. Ossie finished high school there, then enlisted in the U.S. Army. His wartime experiences include occupation duty in Japan. He served as the mayor of Springfield from 1987 to 1995.

Interview Links

Feature Excerpt-Audio

Refugees Placed with Family in England Countryside

Abstract

Interview Session 01 (Audio)

Langfelder’s early life growing up in Austria

Interview Session 02 (Audio)

Fleeing Austria, life in England and Immigration to U.S.

Interview Session 03 (Audio)

Adjusting to life in the U.S. as an immigrant

Transcript


Photos

Caption
Ossie as a toddler, photographed by his mother in the winter, 1927, Vienna, Austria, on the way to a park near his home.

Where:
Vienna, Austria

When:
1927

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Photo taken April, 1939 of Ida Maier Langfelder, Ossie’s paternal grandmother (Kleine Omama), who co-owned with his paternal grandfather a shirt manufacturing company in Vienna, Austria.

Where:
Vienna, Austria

When:
April, 1939

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Berthold Langfleder, Ossie’s paternal grandfather (Opapa). The photo was taken in Vienna, Austria.

Where:
Vienna, Austria

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
August Oscar Dengler, 1875-1921. Ossie’s maternal grandfather was born in Russia, and worked as a salesman in Russia. Suspected of spying during WWI, he escaped from a Siberian prison in 1918 to return to Austria, but died shortly thereafter.

Where:
Unknown

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Maria Kranzl Dengler, 1881-1938. Ossie’s maternal grandmother. Ossie and his grandmother were very close when he was a child.

Where:
Unknown

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ruth Maria Langfelder 1900-1978. Ossie’s mother, of Austrian descent, was an anchor in Ossie and sister Edith’s life. Ruth was able to secure visas for her family and Otto’s brother, Fritz, who was released from Dachau to flee Austria prior to the war.

Where:
Unknown

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie as a toddler, on the farm outside Vienna, with favorite black doll, in the early 1930s.

Where:
Vienna

When:
Early 1930s

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie Langfelder as a young child in Vienna, Austria in the mid-1930s. This picture is on the cover of his autobiography, My Incredible Journey.

Where:
Vienna, Austria

When:
Mid-1930s

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Otto (Ossie’s father), Edith (sister), and Ossie at Schoenbrunn, at the former Kaiser’s palace . Ossie is holding a child-size walking stick.

Where:
Schoenbrunn

When:
Around 1930

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Summer living on a farm outside Vienna, with Ossie (5 yrs old), his mother Ruth, and sister, Edith, in 1931. They are pictured with a farmer’s family and his pigs, who were washed daily.

Where:
Vienna

When:
1931

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Otto, Ruth, Ossie, and Edith, vacationing at a small family cottage on the Danube River, Austria, circa 1929.

Where:
Danube River, Austria

When:
Circa 1929

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie, Ruth, and Edith on a walk in the hills near Vienna in the early 1930s.

Where:
Vienna

When:
Early 1930s

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie’s school classmates and teacher, Mr. Novak, about 1935 in Vienna where the students attended classes 5 ½ days a week with the same teacher for four years. Ossie is in lederhosen in the first row.

Where:
Vienna

When:
1935

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Otto Langfelder, Ossie’s father, pictured with the ice hockey team, the Vienna Hakoah Team, he played with from 1927-1933. Otto is in the middle of the second row.

Where:
Vienna

When:
Circa 1927-1933

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie’s father, Otto, was an excellent athlete. He’s pictured here climbing in the Swiss Alps.

Where:
Swiss Alps

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo)

Caption
Otto Langfelder’s Austrian passport issued in 1939 by the German Reich, prior to the family’s flight from Austria to Switzerland.

Where:
Austria

When:
1939

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Otto's passport, issued by Nazi officials, bore a red “J” to designate that he was of Jewish descent. The passport indicates he is traveling alone. Maria’s passport also bore the red “J” and listed the children traveling with her, but no spouse.

Where:
Unknown

When:
1939

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption
Ossie’s passport issued by the German Reich with his passport picture and required identification as they were leaving Austria to travel to Switzerland in 1939, with 60 to 90 day visas.

Where:
Austria

When:
1939

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
The plane on which the Langfelders flew from Switzerland to Croyden, London, England in May, 1939. English sponsors paid for the family’s travel to England.

Where:
Unknown

When:
May, 1939

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Fritz Langfelder (Ossie’s uncle), on the left, visiting with Ossie’s family in London at the home of their English sponsor, second on left, in May, 1939.

Where:
London

When:
May, 1939

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie rides a bike in his host family’s yard in England, circa 1939.

Where:
England

When:
1939

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Brother Cornelius in October, 1940. Soon after his arrival in England, Ossie was sent to live and attend school at St. Alyosius, Highgate, England. Br. Cornelius tutored Ossie to speak English and was a patient and valued friend.

Where:
St. Alyosius, Highgate, England

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie in his school uniform at St. Alyosius in 1940. The uniform consisted of gray shorts, a red and green blazer, and a red and green cap.

Where:
St. Alyosius, Highgate, England

When:
1940

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Edith, Kleine Omama (Ida Maier), Otto, and Ossie with an Oldsmobile after arriving in the U.S. from England in 1940. Otto’s cousin Paul found them an apartment on 72nd St. in New York City. Ossie attended school with his sister near their home.

Where:
New York

When:
1940

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
After Otto moved to Springfield, Illinois to find work, Ossie joined the Boy Scouts and collected aluminum for the war effort. He is pictured on the far right at the bottom of the poster, in an Aluminum for Defense Boys Life poster.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.)

Caption
Ossie standing far left, relaxes with other students in the office of ‘Lanphier Light’, Lanphier High School’s newspaper in the early 1940’s.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
1940's

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain

Caption
Ossie’s immigration visa issued on July 17, 1940 by the American Consulate.

Where:
United States

When:
July 17, 1940

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
The Certificate of Naturalization issued to Oswald Langfelder at Fort Sill, Oklahoma on April 28, 1945. Ossie was drafted into the Army at age 18 and had just completed basic training.

Where:
Fort Sill, Oklahoma

When:
April 28, 1945

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Private Langfelder is pictured with a fellow soldier at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma during basic training in 1945.

Where:
Ft. Sill, Oklahoma

When:
1945

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie at Regimental Headquarters, Sapporo, Japan, the northern end of the island, during the winter of 1945-46, standing near ten foot drifts of snow.

Where:
Sapporo, Japan

When:
1945-46

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Langfelder’s sleeping quarters in the barracks in Sapporo, Japan in late 1945. Ossie is second from right in the first row.

Where:
Sapporo, Japan

When:
1945

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Langfelder is hard at work in Tokyo, Japan, where he served as a Communications Specialist with the 77th Infantry Division.

Where:
Tokyo, Japan

When:
1945-46

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie in Yokohama, Japan with his Army buddy, Don Tarulli, where the cadre was stationed.

Where:
Yokohama, Japan

When:
Circa 1945-46

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie Langfelder and Midge Dunham on their wedding day, April 14, 1952 in St. Josephs Church, in Springfield, Illinois.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
April 14, 1952

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
A formal picture taken when Ossie was the Mayor of Springfield, Illinois from 1987-1995.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
Circa 1987-1995

Ownership:
This image is considered to be in the public domain.

Caption
Ossie and Marge Langfelder in a family picture with all thirteen of their children.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
Unknown

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Midge Langfelder and Ossie Langfelder relax in their Springfield home, July 2012.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
July, 2012

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo

Caption
Ossie Langfelder at home in 2012.

Where:
Springfield, Illinois

When:
2012

Ownership:
Narrator’s photo



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