Peter Jacobsohn's Uncle Erich and Walter Jacobsohn. They are standing in front of their first cattle truck in 1947.
April 1, 1996
Thank you for your letter of 2/6/96 regarding your research project on former citizens of Bremen. I will try to be as helpful as I can be and I wish you much success in your endeavors.
I apologize for writing in English but must do so because I am not fluent enough in German to write well.
As you know, my wife and I visited Bremen last June as part of an organized program led by Frau Meier. It was a very well-run program and we were all impressed with the courtesies extended to us.
The group of people that met in Bremen in June came from many parts of the world. Their ages ranged from 57 to 90. I was one of two individuals whose age was 57. I was born in February of 1938. My family left Bremen in August of 1938. So that tells you that when we left, I was a very young infant and my personal recollections are very minimal. I will, however, tell you what I can about my family and I will include some enclosures that should also be of help.
Let me say the outset that my parents (now deceased) had also been offered a reunion trip to Germany a few years ago and refused to go. Their recollections of an evil time in German history were still to vivid. In fact, the thought of returning made my mother physically ill and may in fact have contributed to her demise.
My father had written a short summary of his life story which will be somewhat helpful to you. I have enclosed a copy. I have also enclosed a copy of our passport, some pictures of our move to the U.S. and a document from the Red Star Line confirming reservations on the ship that took us to the U.S.
The decision to come to the United States was largely my father’s. My mother was reluctant to leave Germany. Anti-Semitism had begun to encroach on their lives and my father knew the future in Germany was not bright. Fortunately for all of us he was able to foresee the future and make arrangements to leave before it was too late. Both my parents were 27 years of age at that time.
My parents and I, who had been sponsored by an aunt and uncle of my mother, came to New York City and settled in the Bronx. We lived in a community that was home to many Jewish immigrants, mostly German. German was the predominant language among the people living in this area. As a result, I heard very little English as a young child. I remember that my parents acquired a tutor for me so that I could speak English when it was time for me to go to school.
My father worked very hard as a meat handler and butcher, a trade he had learned in Germany. He had also been a livestock dealer in Germany and it was his goal, to one day resume this occupation. My mother worked and made handicrafts which she sold.
After 10 years of hard work and saving his money, my father formed a partnership with his brother-in-law who had also come from Germany with us. The two of them moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin to start a livestock business. Wisconsin after all is “America’s Dairyland” and there were many farms and much livestock. The rest of the family stayed in New York. In about one year when my father determined that the business would be successful, he moved the family to Milwaukee. With the exception of several years of my medical training, I have been in Milwaukee ever since.
I started my elementary education in New York City and continued my education through college and dental school in Milwaukee. I am a 1962 graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry. I subsequently trained in the specialty of oral & maxillofacial surgery at Marquette University School of Dentistry.
My parents had another child about one year after they settled in the United States. He is now a urologist in private practice in Milwaukee.
As you can tell from this story, my parents were successful in rising above their difficult beginning in Germany. They had a successful business and were able to educate their children and live in a very nice home. Many of their contemporaries with similar life histories and even more tragic stories were also able to turn adversity into positive circumstances.
There is something to be learned from all of this that is applicable today. Even under the worst of conditions, with hard work and determination all things are possible.
Peter H. Jacobsohn, D. D. S.