Another remarkable find in my mother’s old photo album!

  • September 7, 2022
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Here, my mother’s sister, Betty, (4th from left) is flanked by her German friends just before she fled Nazi Germany for America in 1937. In her writings, Betty described how she got her passport.

“I was a wide-eyed fourteen-year-old, very much a country bumpkin. Everything was new and interesting. Life lay ahead of me and, if it were not for Hitler, things would have been fine.

“But I knew I would come to America sooner or later. I went to the police presidium to apply for a passport. This was a tedious, lengthy, and bureaucratic procedure. I had to go back to a certain office many times. It took months, but I finally got that passport.

“The day it arrived my mother said I needed to go to the American Consulate in Stuttgart. I mailed my passport and other papers to the office. Then, I traveled by train to Stuttgart, where my mother’s cousins picked me up at the station in the evening. My appointment was the next morning. My mother’s cousins were an elderly, lonely couple who had no children, and I was glad I didn’t have to stay with them more than one night.

“At the Consulate, I met people of all ages seeking entrance papers to the U.S., including teenagers like myself who were called in for physical examinations and short interviews. All went well except one thing – my passport was lost! This was a terrible blow. Without this document, I couldn’t leave the country. To this day, I swear it was stolen and used for illegal purposes.

“I took the afternoon train home, tired and discouraged. When I told my parents what happened, my father was not dismayed. ‘Wait,’ he said. ‘I have an idea.’ With some duplicate passport pictures, he went to the Burgermeister’s office right across the street from our house in our little town, Stockstadt am Rhein. My father told officials that he needed a children’s passport for me, never mentioning what had happened. They could not deny him. I was born in the town, and everyone knew us. The age limit for a children’s passport was sixteen, and I was only fourteen. In three days, I had a new one, very official and legal.

“I still have that passport; it was my lifeline. Without it, I could not come to the U.S., and I surely would be dead, killed in the camps like my parents.”

To learn more about my mother’s and Betty’s childhood immigration experiences:

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