Saturday, May 30, 2015

Spotlight: Manfred Lange

If you remember in the documents, when Luther Harshbarger first asks about refugees for McPherson, three names are given (see the letter from May 27 & June 9): Tom Doeppner (Opa), Jan Rosenbach, and Manfred Lange. Charlotte doesn't seem to have much info on Manfred, so Jan and Tom become the two top runners for the spot.

With other refugees, I found family members or more info. Manfred's file is vague and consists of mostly inquiries from his mother's sister. Here is what I could discern about Manfred based on his file from the AFSC:

Alfred (Manfred) Lange was born in Danzig (an independent city-state that is now located in Poland). Manfred’s mother, Lydia, was divorced from Manfred’s father and married Walter Neumann. Walter was Jewish and emigrated to the U.S. earlier than his family and ended up in New York working as a dentist on a visitor’s visa. Manfred and his mother were seeking passage to America, and as Aryans, should have no trouble. In fact, in a letter from Charlotte Salmon to Robert Spivak, she says that if any student should be able to get over, his was the best situation. Lydia had a sister in Wilmington, and of course her husband in NY, who was working hard to get them over. Supposedly, Manfred was accepted to Antioch College as well. Manfred and his mother left Danzig for Poland on April 1, 1939. While they are there, Warsaw was attacked, they were imprisoned and lost all their personal belongings. It seems that he didn't make it out of the country in time to take advantage of his college acceptance. The German invasion erased all possibilities of immigration. 

They somehow end up in Berlin. Manfred was forced into the German army until 1942. They released him to study medicine, but apparently he ended up in a concentration camp at some point, which he supposedly escaped before the war ended (this is all based on his aunt's information given after the war in his file). His mother and he end up in Hamburg by 1946. Manfred at this point says he is studying medicine and his mother is ill from malnutrition.  

Based on the file, the information trail seems to end here. Surprisingly, even though Manfred had the best chance to get over based on his background, he does not make it over and others who had a slim chance, got over and were able to make a life for themselves. As far as Manfred's story, it is pretty choppy and some of the facts don't seem to make sense. Hopefully, down the road, I can give you a better understanding of the story and maybe find a family member who might shed some light on his journey. 

Manfred's story shows how all the refugees were racing against time and on borrowed luck.

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