When I was younger, I knew very little about my grandfather’s life in Germany and experience during the Holocaust. I knew that most of his family did not survive, including his parents and two siblings.
His older sister was born in 1908. According to records, she married her husband in 1930. He was also born in Poland. She was able to come to the United States and both are listed as living in New York on the 1940 census. They did not have any children. My grandfather first went to Columbia after the war and his brother to Israel. They both eventually came to the United States, married, and had two children. Each had a son and a daughter. My grandfather and his brother did not speak about the horrors they experienced. It was in their past, too painful to remember, and they didn’t want to upset their children. They just wanted to move on.
For a long time, I thought most of his family died during the Holocaust. Growing up, I heard about a cousin that survived; she was only four years old when her family left Germany. I finally decided to contact this cousin. That phone call led to a trip to Florida to meet her and learn there were more survivors and generations of family I did not know about.
“Yes, there were many of us that survived.”
Hilda, my grandfather’s cousin, is now 85 years old and lives in Florida. She was born in Berlin, Germany and is the youngest of four children. Hilda was only four years old when she and her family escaped Nazi Germany. Visiting her was surreal. She had so many stories, through oral history and books, that she shared with me. She has visited Berlin, where she and our family lived. Her research traces my family back to the 1830s. It connected so many missing links I thought I would never find.
It felt like my grandfather was back and his story had a voice again.
In Hilda’s possession were many books. My family is originally from Brooklyn, New York and I grew up in North Jersey. I moved to South Jersey in 2006 and couldn’t believe that I had distant cousins that settled in South Jersey after the Holocaust. Two of the books were published by Stockton University, which is only 45 minutes away from where I now live. My family’s history was at my fingertips and I was eager to learn more.
The family photos showed me what they looked like and the pages were the voices to their story.
The Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University was happy to help and share what they knew about my family. When you first walk into their center, their walls are filled with pictures of survivors interviewed for a book they published.
More voices to tell a story.
In the gallery is a picture of Phillip Goldfarb. Phillip survived the Siberian and Kazakhstan work camps. After the war, he returned to Europe looking for family. He later immigrated to the United States and settled in South Jersey. Phillip also published his brother Julius‘ diary, detailing his own experiences. The diary was found after Julius died.
Goldfarb, my grandfather’s name.
Although he is a distant cousin, I couldn’t believe I was seeing that name again and it was connected to my family. This man, his family, all connected to Hilda, who is connected to my grandfather. There were more survivors. Through their voices, I can better understand my family’s story and feel connected to my grandfather once again.
Phillip passed away in 2013 at the age of 91. Below are more resources about Phillip.
Alone No More is a video by Stockton University in 2007. Phillip is first seen at 1:20 minutes and again at 7:58 minutes.
Phillip Goldfarb, 89: ‘Worry will kill you faster than illness’ Article published in The Press of Atlantic City. By Diane D’Amico, March 5, 2011.
Goldfarb, Phillip, 91 Phillip passed away on February 13, 2013. Obituary published in The Press of Atlantic City. February 16, 2013.