As we mentioned earlier in the blog, we were blessed that Ron and Becky from the Holocaust Museum located us and introduced us to the refugee files from the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC). Most of what you have seen so far came from these files and was supplemented by what we found in Sarah’s grandmother’s apartment. One of the pieces of this journey that Sarah and I continue to share is the way we have been amazed at all the stories we have encountered along the way that are fascinating and whether in small or large ways, have engaged Opa’s story. Part of my research for the project has been to look into any name that came up in Opa’s letters. I’ve done some spotlights on some of the people representing schools looking for refugees. Another set of names that have come up are other refugees the AFSC were seeking to help. In many cases, the refugee workers were constantly trying to help a large number of students to get settled somehow in the area.
Most research begins by googling and searching the internet. Sometimes, that proves fruitful, other times it doesn’t. But with these other refugees, they, like Opa, have their files with the AFSC. I will take a week soon to share the stories of some of the refugees whose names you have seen in Opa’s files. I want to give you a part 1 spotlight on one of these names: Jan Rosenbach. I want to share a little about Jan as his story intersects Opa’s in this moment of history because Jan is being considered for McPherson, like Opa is. Tomorrow, Sarah will share a few letters from Jan’s file as the AFSC works to place him. Sarah and I thought it might be neat to see the way Charlotte is working for Opa and his unique situation and at the same time, is working for Jan in his unique situation. So, I wanted to share what I learned about Jan up to this point to frame the letters and then later, I can give you a “Part 2” of the spotlight to tell you what happens to Jan later.
Jan was born in Czechoslovakia on September 1st, 1921. His father was Jewish and his mother, Anna Lorene Rosenbach, born in Moravia, was Aryan. They were involved in the Fellowship of Reconciliation in Czechoslovakia. His father, Franticek Rosenbach, was a state police counselor or inspector. In correspondence, it says he “died suddenly” on March 16, 1939, Jan’s final year of school. Another letter says he “died of nerve-shock when the German troops entered Prague”. This was when the F.O.R. in Czechoslovakia began helping Jan leave to go to the U.S. In Jan’s file are many letters from the Fellowship working to get him out and settled at a school.