It is complicated to write this email without identifying our names but I am not sure if I should do so or not. Our father left Germany in January 1939 traveling by ship to New York City by ship. He spent a few months in New York working on his English. He then moved to Augusta, Georgia where he sold used cars. He loved fast cars! From there he moved to New Orleans and was repeating an internship at a city hospital.
Dad was half Jewish. His father, a physician and medical researcher in Gottingen, Germany enlisted in the German Army. Dad's father was killed when he fell from a horse in October 1914 at the very beginning of WWI. His mother, also a physician, but not Jewish, returned to finish medical school. Grandmother left our father to be cared for with her parents, as he was only almost two years old. While in medical school, she met and married our step grandfather, also not Jewish.
In the 1930's, this stepfather was a well known surgeon and academic physician in a major academic medical center in a major city in Eastern Germany. He was able to arrange our fathers medical school course work and rotations in different locations in Europe, and thus putting off or protecting him from the Nazi's. Dad was able to complete his studies for his medical degree.
Just after Christmas of 1938 our grandmother drove with him to Hannover, Germany where he had passage on a transport ship to America.
On December 7, 1941 our father was assigned overnight and worked on Obstetrics. The next morning, December 8th, he was walking across the street with his professor discussing the cases from the overnight shift. His plan that morning was to enlist in the United States Armed Forces. As they walked out of the hospital to the food service center, they were approached by 2 FBI agents who arrested Dad as an enemy alien. Our father was transported by train to internment camps, first in Oklahoma, and then on to Fort Lincoln Internment Camp near Bismark, North Dakota. Someone had reported our father to the FBI for being German! He was on some governmnet watch list. We believe this was because he was a great communicator and spent much of his time trying to educate those American's who would listen, to the perils of the then current political climate in Germany. Our father spent the following 3 + years in this camp. He was able to assist in the camp in some medical assignments. Near the end of the war, he was paroled to the ND State Tuberculosis Sanitarium where they were desperate for physicians to care for the large TB Population.
The complete irony of the story is that our father was forced to leave Germany because he was half Jewish, and then was a prisoner of war as a German enemy of the United States.
Our mother grew up in a neighboring town, had recently completed Nursing School and finished her first job with the Air Force Training Program in Grand Forks, ND. As the war was winding down, and her job finished, she returned home and applied for and went to work at "the San" about the same time Dad started work there. Their work identity numbers only one number apart, as they were the last two employees hired that week! They courted, married, had 5 kids and eventually our father became Superentendent of the Institution.
With his large family and now at age 46, we moved to Minneapolis where he trained as a Radiologist with the VA Hospital and University of Minnesota. Our family moved several times following his training. First to Seattle where he spent two years as head of Radiology at the VA hospital while the physician who he replaced was on sabbatical in Italy. From there we moved to Minnesota where we lived and he practiced until his passing in 1975 at the age of 63. He did return to Germany to visit his Mother and 4 half siblings until after the passing of the step grandfather.
The long story I have shared brings me to our current status. Our family now consists of 23 people. 3 daughters, 2 sons, plus 2 spouses and 7 grandchildren. ( 3) of the the grandchildren married have (so 3 additional spouses) and they have 6 great grandchildren between them. I have concerns in the current political climate, that at some point in the next 3 or so years we may find the need to leave the United States. I have read recently that we are eligible for German citizenship. Any help or advise regarding this process would be appreciated.
I joined the JewishGen web site in the process of searching for our father's family. I have been successful in identifying his 3 aunts, their spouses and two dependents. From what I can find, none of his family perished in the Holocaust. The paternal siblings (3 great aunts) and great grandparents emigrated to England and New York and Philadelphia before WWII. I may have located one adult descendent of one of the aunts who lived most her adult life in England. I received one note from this gentleman, but since I responded, I have not had further response.
I am hoping to locate and connect with any in common descendants.
Karen Loeb Mhyre
Obtaining German citizenship and a German passport is fairly easy. Contact the nearest German consulate. That is what I did.
It will help if you still have your father's citizenship papers, but it still can be done.
Daniel Nussbaum II, M.D., FAAP
Retired Developmental Pediatrician
Rochester, New York
Tone can be misinterpreted in email. Please read my words with warmth, kindness, and good intentions.
Nussbaum, Katzenstein, Mannheimer and Goldschmidt; Rhina, Raboldshausen and Bad Hersfeld, Germany
Teplitzky, Bendersky and Kaszkiet; Uman, Ukraine
Rosenthal and S(c)henk(el)man; Zinkov, Ukraine
Bild and Kashlevsky; anywhere