I don’t know how unusual this source is, but it was certainly surprising and lead to an interesting search for my Uncle Howard’s ex-wife and her ex-husband.
Howard Alvord was my mother’s youngest brother and the bad boy of the family. He disappeared from our lives in the 1950s and we never heard from him again. We heard rumors he had divorced his first wife, but nothing else. Quite a few years ago, I searched for him on the internet and found he had remarried in Las Vegas in 1994 and died in 2001. When I started my family tree, I entered the information in his profile and moved on to work on another area.
Not being Jewish, and having no known connection to the holocaust, imagine my surprise when a hint showed up for my Uncle Howard linking him to a woman in a displaced persons camp. Following the information in the hint, I found a marriage in 1957 to a Jewish refugee who had emmigrated from Europe following the war. Her name was Veronika Lorand Bab and according to her naturalization papers she emmigrated in 1949 under the Displaced Persons Act of 1948. This act assisted in the resettlement of thousands of European refugees who had been displaced from their home countries by the war. Her records indicated she had a number, A23388, tattooed on the underside of her forearm, a common practice in the concentration camps.
I was extremely curious about her and why she married my uncle. My family considered him a con man and loser, but maybe there was more to his story. From her naturalization petition, I found out she had married Werner Bab on Christmas, 1946 in Ebensee, Germany and they had a daughter born in Munich in 1947. A son was born in San Francisco in 1950. I looked for a photo of her. I thought there might have been one on her traveling papers or she might have had a passport, but no such luck. I don’t know when they divorced, but it was sometime before her naturalization petition in 1955.
Veronica’s story in Hungary, where she was born, and her experiences in a concentration camp are unknown. After she divorced my uncle Howard in 1968, she remarried and divorced again. Her third husband was also a holocaust survivor. She died in 2005 in California.
Although I didn’t find a story for Veronica, I did uncover some facts. She is one of the interviewees in the USC Shoah Foundation Visual Archive, video interviews of holocaust survivors. Although her video is private and accessible only to family members, it is indexed. I found she was confined in ghettos in both her native Hungary and in Czechoslovakia and imprisoned in death camps in Auschwitz, Krakow, and Markkleeberg. Where she met Werner is a mystery. Maybe they met in a displaced persons camp after the war. Or maybe not. How she met and married my uncle Howard is also a mystery. Veronica was wife two of four, and, like two others, they married in Las Vegas.
Werner Bab, Vera’s first husband, does have story. He was featured in a film Segments of Time- Werner Bab on DVD published by imdialog! e.V. in Germany. The press release includes an abstract. Werner was a German Jew, born in 1924. Because of the restrictive laws enacted in Germany in 1935, he was forced to go to a boarding school in Stettin. After Kristal Nicht in 1938, the school was closed and Werner returned to Berlin. In 1942 he tried to escape deportation with faked papers, but was captured at the Swiss border and transferred to Auschwitz Concentration Camp, then to Mauthausen and Ebensee. He was selected for “special treatment” (extermination), but somehow survived. Werner was liberated by the Americans at Ebensee.
He is also featured on the website for Holocaust Survivors and Victims at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Like Veronica, the USC Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive has several hours of video of him being interviewed. His interview is public and I listened to some of it. Even speaking little German, his testimony, in his own voice is very compelling.
I didn’t learn much about my Uncle Howard or his ex-wife Vera, but their history led me to another fascinating story, and a window into life in Germany in the late 1930s, the Concentration Camps and life after the war.
Response to 52 Ancestors Weekly Prompt: Unusual Source