Issuu on Google+

S E C T I O N 2 Community Stories about people and events in the community. AL SO INSIDE C A LE N DA R 24 |R E A L E S TAT E ■ March 14, 2012 25 |C L AS S I F I E D S 33 One more step toward ‘never again’ Couple’s legacy project focuses on Haiti’s role in saving Jewish refugees during World War II By Renee Batti Almanac News Editor T his is a story with two beginnings. The first has shadings of a dark fairy tale, or a bad dream. Once upon a time, a small boy fled Germany with his family, leaving behind most of their possessions. The boy was far too young to know the reason for that quickly arranged journey across an ocean to a strange new land, or understand that the passage would mean that he, his parents, and his sister would escape extermination in camps Michelle Le Clockwise from above: Bill Mohr; Harriet Mohr; 4-year-old Bill on the ship from Haiti to New York; and a family picnic in the late 1940s, of which Bill (standing) writes: “What joy and relief for everyone to be together in New York after Kristallnacht, my father’s experience in Dachau, (Aunt) Elsbeth’s capture in Amsterdam and years in Auschwitz, my immediate family’s 10 months in Haiti and my Aunt Hilde, Uncle Max and grandparents’ separation from all of us in Portugal. I ... think the smiles and lightness say everything and more than I could ever express in words.” crowded with fellow Jews. And young Bill was also too young to retain much in his memory of the 10 months he subsequently lived in Haiti, a country that opened its proverbial arms to Europe’s refugees fleeing Hitler’s Nazi forces. Details of that welcoming land are hazy at best for Bill Mohr some 72 years later. But the January 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti created fresh, vivid, and painful new images of the tiny nation he called home as a child of 4. Sitting in their home in the Allied Arts neighborhood of Menlo Park, Bill and his wife, Harriet Mohr, watched the TV news detailing massive efforts launched by domestic and international rescue teams to find and aid earthquake victims. Among the scenes unfolding on the screen, one image provided some relief to the couple’s distress: a medical team from Israel rescuing and treating injured Haitians. That powerful image — of Jews from a faraway country coming to the aid of the Haitian people seven decades after Haiti helped to save desperate Jewish refugees — represented the completion of a circle, and was the spark for a new pursuit for the Mohrs. And so begins the story anew. A new life project “Haiti was not on our minds — ever — until the earthquake,” Ms. Mohr said during a recent interview. In the quake’s aftermath, however, they couldn’t get it out of their minds. So, determined to collect information about the period when JewContinued on page 23 March 14, 2012 N The Almanac N21

The Almanac 03.14.2012 - Section 2

Related publications