In the above picture, Erica Marcus sits eating a sandwich in a South Orange, New Jersey park while waiting for the band to perform. The lead singer is a descendant of the Craster family from England.
That was four years ago. (See article from the Jewish Link of New Jersey by Sharon Mark Cohen dated August 6, 2015-the link to the article is on my website at sharonmarkcohen.com.)
As stated in the article, Erika Weinmann left her homeland in Germany on the Kindertransport (Children’s Transport) rescue effort just after Kristallnacht (the Night of Broken Glass). Now, four years since her visit to the park in South Orange, after celebrating her 95th birthday with the Americanized spelling of her given name, Erica’s son Andrew obtained her Kinderstransport records.
In an email to his siblings and me on May 8, 2019, Andrew wrote: “I am forwarding you this email and accompanying file that Filis and I received yesterday from the World Jewish Relief organization (WJR), which is responsible for the archive records of the Kindertransports to the United Kingdom.”
Along with the email, Andrew attached the link to his mother’s two-page file: https://drive.google.com/open?id=140OtQQg5IooZjXVfLM9vC95wf39sLJty
At the Garnethill Synagogue in Glasgow, Andrew met with a man who was instrumental in developing the Holocaust Archive Center at the synagogue. He recommended that Andrew write to the WJR for his mother’s file of her journey with the Kindertransport to the United Kingdom.
Andrew added more information from the WJR file, including the name Jo(e) Lurie, who signed for his mother on her arrival in Edinburgh.
With the information in hand, Andrew said he “took an Uber to the address listed on the file, took pictures of the house and then knocked on the door of the residence.
“The person who answered said that he did not know of the Lurie family. He was kind and gracious and asked if I wanted to come into the house. Given that Filis and the Uber driver were waiting in the car, I declined the invitation.”
Andrew concluded there is a high probability that his mother lived with the Lurie family in Edinburgh from the time of her arrival in December 1938 until 1940, when she went to live with the Craster family. She worked for the Crasters in Middlesbrough, northern England, until she immigrated to the United States in 1948.
After more than 70 years of living in the United States, Erica’s family has been able to secure her Kindertransport records. The letter to her son Andrew from a volunteer at the World Jewish Relief Archive (previously the Central British Fund for German Jewry) shows how they went about filling in gaps in their family history. Other Kindertransport survivors and their families may benefit from reading this information.
Imagine Andrew’s thrill and the satisfaction others may have from following his lead. The information contained in the email, which Andrew received and so kindly shared, could be groundbreaking for others.
Tanya Fox, a World Jewish Relief Archive volunteer wrote:
“Thank you for your enquiry regarding your mother. World Jewish Relief opened case files for many people who came to the United Kingdom fleeing Nazi occupied Germany and Austria before the Second World War. These records include those children who arrived on the Kindertransport and those young men who were sent to the Kitchener Camp – both of which were supported by the Central British Fund for German Jewry (previous name of World Jewish Relief). We also have files for over 700 orphaned child survivors, known as ‘The Boys’ who were brought over after the war.
“I have looked through our archives and was able to find your mother, Erica’s registration slip and very short case file. Her file states that she was formerly part of the ‘Children’s Movement’, which suggests she came to the UK on the Kindertransport. I have attached everything that I found, together with some information on the archives themselves, to this email. I hope that you find it interesting.” (See link to Erica’s file above.)
Importantly, Fox at the World Jewish Relief Archive continued:
“I don't know if you are aware, but the German government has agreed to make a compensation payment to child refugees who are still alive and came to Britain on the Kindertransport. Those who are eligible will receive a one-off payment of Euros 2,500 - approximately £2,250. Even if survivors have previously received a compensation award they will still be eligible for this payment and there is no income limit for eligible applicants.
“The forms for the compensation claims are now live on the Claims Conference website http://www.claimscon.org/what-we-do/compensation/background/kindertransport-fund/ . If you need any help completing the forms, please be in touch with Rosemary Peters or Melanie Jawett at AJR on +44 20 8385 3070.”
Asked to spread the word, Andrew did just that by including the entire email from Fox, which went on, “It would be very much appreciated if you would spread the word regarding this Archive as World Jewish Relief is intent on ensuring as many families as possible benefit from the material we hold to fill in many of the gaps they may well have in their family history.”
The Marcus family members have been dear, dear friends of ours since the mid-1960s but our history goes back much farther to roots in Roselle, New Jersey. Also, even before my husband Arnee and I met, he attended Hebrew School with three of Erica’s five children.
Andrew and my brother Stuart graduated Jefferson High School the same year, Arnee graduated from Jefferson the year Karen Marcus graduated from Battin, and Erica’s daughter Barbara and I graduated Battin High School together. I was even Barbara’s campaign manager when she ran for vice president of Battin…and won. Jefferson was the boys school in Elizabeth and Battin, the girls school (now combined and named Elizabeth High School).
Some things just take time. In this case, they were well worth the wait. We're glad that Erica’s family persevered until they found the records and that Erica, a true survivor, is still here.