Naperville students reconnect women who fled Nazis in 1938
Girls struck up friendship on Germany-U.S. trip but lost touch for 73 years
By Mick Swasko, Tribune Reporter
It was a brief email that rekindled an equally short childhood friendship 73 years ago.
“I have thought of you often and am so thankful that you found me,” Gerda “Gertie” Frumkin wrote from Seattle on April 28. “Can’t wait until we speak together.”
Signed “with love,” the email made its way to 86-year-old Edith Westerfeld in Skokie.
It was the determination — and technological prowess — of an eighth-grade class at Naperville’s Madison Junior High School that made the message possible. Frumkin’s greeting was the first time she had been in contact with Westerfeld since they had spent about two weeks together in 1938 while escaping Nazi Germany.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you,” Westerfeld told the eighth-graders Friday at a reception in her honor. Her daughter, Fern Schumer Chapman of Lake Bluff, described the reunion as a “dream come true.”