Wednesday, November 23, 2011


There are many things for which I am thankful, but one in particular comes to mind.  On December 25, 1940 Anna Bianca Kohnke was born in Hilversum Holland, who later became my wife.  I am thankful, that against considerable odds, she survived the Nazi Holocaust in the Netherlands thanks to the self-sacrifice of her birth parents, Leni and Erich Kohnke (who died in Auschwitz), who turned Anneke over at 18 months of age to a Dutch Underground Resistance courier, Cora de Jong who delivered her to a Dutch family that hid Anneke from 1942-45.  Cora is pictured below at a ceremony in her honor in the Hague in August 2011. 

She was found in early 1946 by Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, who had been a family friend.  When he found Anneke in a children’s home, he reported that she was standing on a table conducting the other children in singing a song, much like her distinguished musician father had done so many times in Chemnitz, Germany at the Theater Orchestra. 

Thanks to US State Department she was granted an emergency Visa, and due to the generosity of the National Council of Jewish women, her $63.50 fare was paid to sail aboard the USS Marine Flasher, from Le Havre, France to New York in July 6, 1946.  She was met at Pier 97 by her mother’s brother Erich Leyens and sister, Greta Leyens Herzfeld, who served as her parents in New York as she was growing up in Inwood, Washington Heights. 

Sixty five years ago Anneke enjoyed her first Thanksgiving in the US with her Aunt/Mummy Greta.  It must have been a very special Thanksgiving.  Having spent years near starvation at times, it must have seemed something of a miracle to her, surrounded by a feast and people who loved her. 

I am thankful for three daughters, Andrea, Jennifer and Rebecca and a son, Peter, and seven grandchildren and especially to the people who made Anneke's life possible. 

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful that your wife survived, I have always - and still - believed that surviving Hitler and his fellow criminals is enough.
    But having children and grandchildren, that is fantastic. Really living on.
    What a sad story it became, I've seen it yesterday for the first time. Our Jewish Broadcast in the Netherlands showed it.