Oral History

Abraham Klausner describes postwar efforts to reunite survivors

Rabbi Abraham Klausner was a US Army military chaplain. He arrived in the Dachau concentration camp in May 1945. He was attached to the 116th evacuation hospital unit and worked for about five years in displaced persons camps, assisting Jewish survivors.


The, the compulsion, or the drive, was so great that people broke out of camps and walked, traveled--there weren't any forms of transportation across Czechoslovakia, Poland, into Russia--looking for, uh, for, for fragments of families. And people came out of east Europe into Munich, and we set up a large tracing program. Besides the, the books that were published, we had a center in Munich at the Deutsches Museum first where people came from all over Europe and came asking about their family. Interesting thing was that we put a table out in the lobby, so to speak. People would come and tear the pages out of the book and we would have to feed the table with books and then we would nail the pages down so they would last a little longer. But if a person came and found no name in the, in the book, they would go over to the wall--it was a very large wall--and they'd write a note on the wall saying, for example, "I was here"--addressing it to a parent or to a child--"I've been looking for you, and I will be here or going there," so that there'd be some point at which they might be able to connect. We were very much involved in looking for children in eastern Europe. People who had left their children either with Christian friends or others wanted to find those children and so we had to set up a program for the search of children, which was haphazard but in many cases it was very effective.


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