From: email@example.com (Bill Friend)
To: LabibKobti@aol.com (Fr. Labib Kobti)
My wife of 28 years is named Barbara. Her mother is Clara, one
children of Wolf and Rose. Three of the children, Clara, Kurt and Otto
(Sidney) were born in Europe. The first two in Vienna, and Otto in Italy.
The fourth child was not born until coming to the United States. The family
escaped from Austria once the Nazis took control and left for Florence,
Italy. Both Clara and Kurt's entire formal education was in Italy, and both
still can speak fluent Italian as well as German and English. The third
child, was able to complete his education in the U.S. and went on to a
college degree. The fourth child, American born, has a doctorate. Clara's
education ended with the equivalent of 9th grade.
The mother, Rose was fortunate to have had a Swiss Passport and so when
it came time to leave Italy, once Hitler had forced Mussolini to round up
the Jews, Rose and the children made it safely across the Swiss border. The
kids were put on transportation to the United States (which was still
Neutral) by themselves since there were relatives who would sponsor them in
the U.S. (whom they had never met but with whom they stayed), which was the
only way at that time to get into the U.S. in light of the restrictive
immigration policies passed by the U.S. Congress. Rose waited for Wolf to
Wolf only had a Polish passport which at the time was worth about as
much as a Confederate dollar as we say. Through some contacts, he entered
the Vatican, and was disguised in the garb of a Catholic Priest. The cover
story was that he was quite ill and needed a special operation which could
only be performed in the United States, and so he joined with Rose and after
being "smuggled" out of Italy with the help of members of the Catholic
clergy they rejoined their children in safety in the United States.
Once the U.S. entered the war, the oldest son, Kurt was drafted.
Because he spoke fluent Italian, he was placed in charge of Italian
prisoners of war at a camp in Florida. This was hardly Stalag 17, and when
we were younger, he would regale us with "war"stories. The camp really
didn't have need for fences, although it did, because the Italians weren't
going to run anywhere, given that they were fed far better than they could
have been at the time in war-torn Italy, they were completely safe from
harm, and spent the days playing bocci, cards and soccer. He even told us
how on "special evenings" they would take a bus into town to see a movie,
and visit with some very friendly females. I think the Italian prisoners
were actually upset when the war ended and they were returned home.