Frieda Piepsch Sondland
An haute couture designer, Frieda Sondland, used her creative skills to survive the Holocaust. Born in Berlin, Germany, in 1921, she married Gunther Sondland when she was sixteen and a half years old. When she was seventeen and pregnant with her first child, Frieda and her parents were forced to leave Germany for South America. Frieda supported herself and her daughter by working as a clothing designer in Montevideo, Uruguay. Eight years later, Gunther joined them. Frieda and Gunther moved to Seattle in 1953 to reunite with Gunther's family, who had emigrated there after the war. In Seattle, Frieda worked in the alterations department for both John Doyle Bishop and Frederick and Nelson until she and Gunther opened their dry cleaning and alterations business in West Seattle. In 1957, their son, Gordon, was born. Since arriving in the United States, Frieda has become a beloved and active member of Seattle's Jewish community.
Frieda discusses her family's heritage and religious background, childhood in Germany, siblings, and education. She tells the story of meeting and marrying her husband at sixteen and fleeing Nazi Germany to South America a year later while pregnant with her first child. She describes raising her child on her own for eight years until her husband, Gunther, was able to join her in Uraguay. Frieda details the family's eventual move to Seattle, living on Capitol Hill, volunteering, starting their dry cleaning business, and becoming part of the Jewish community on Mercer Island. Finally, Frieda reflects on parenting, aging, and having grandchildren. Other topics include the Nazi movement, antisemitism, and Hashomer Hatzair.
How to cite this page
Oral History of Frieda Piepsch Sondland. Interviewed by Roz Bornstein. 1 May 2001, 17 May 2001. Jewish Women's Archive. (Viewed on December 11, 2023) <https://jwa.org/oralhistories/sondland-frieda>.
Oral History of Frieda Piepsch Sondland by the Jewish Women's Archive is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at https://jwa.org/contact/OralHistory.