How to Reconstruct a Dinosaur

Excerpt from the article:


Werner Zorek’s parents managed to send him to England before the war. The rest of his family died in Auschwitz. As an adult, Werner (he later changed his name to Warren) never talked about his past. It was only after he passed away that his family realized how little they knew of his earlier life.


Michael (Warren’s son):

Two years ago I went to the Leo Baeck Institute in Manhattan.

I started going through microfilms of Jewish newspapers that were published regularly in Breslau before the war. (…) It was the last page, the one with announcements. I thought – oh well, no luck. But then I realized that the paper was dated 28th October, which means it was printed on 21st. So there was one more issue for me to check.

Michael found one more issue. The “Barmizwah” column reported:


22.10 Werner Zorek, Sohn des Herrn Alfred Zorek und seiner Ehefrau Frieda geb. Freund.

Warren’s bar mitzvah and Kristallnacht were a little more than two weeks apart. In theory, it’s possible that Warren left Breslau just after the event and that he didn’t know that his parents’ shop had been destroyed until after the war.

Jennifer and Michael knew that Warren’s parents had sent him to England before the war erupted. Nothing else.

In the interview for the Shoah Foundation, Jannice Englehart asked Warren:


What was the date that you arrived in England?


I don’t know the exact date.


But the month and the year?


Mmm…1937, I think it was probably spring. Spring of 1937.


He couldn’t have left in 1937, his bar mitzvah was in 1938!

Jennifer (Warren’s daughter):

He only told me that he was sent to England. I thought they knew someone there, maybe some family.


I remember going to a public school and that was right in the neighborhood. Then I went to something which I guess today is considered a middle school and I stayed there until… Until I went to England.

What could this moment of hesitation mean?


He told me about his move to England. His parents told him he would be safer over there.


My parents made plans to send me away as soon as possible.


We found a Kindertransport tag in the same suitcase where he kept his documents and bar mitzvah information.


Our father never used the word Kindertransport. Later I learned what it was and I figured that this was how he left Germany.

When I started watching films about it, my knees were shaking. I knew my father was there.


Translation: Aga Zano

Proofreading: Barbara Pendzich

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