The Book's Back-Story
Margit died in November 1995. On Mother’s Day 1996 Angie decided she would write her mother’s story as she knew it at that time. Her notes about what she knew took up less than one type-written page.
In 2011 Angie, along with her husband, Tom, and German cousin, Wolfgang Grosch, visited the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp where Margit was sent after being arrested by the Gestapo. The archives there produced her mother's Camp ID number and records. The records revealed that Margit was in the Ravensbrück camp for approximately three weeks before she was transferred to Neuengamme Concentration Camp, which was headquartered near Hamburg, Germany. Angie was surprised by this new revelation, which reinforced just how little she knew about her mother’s experience. This set off a five-year research project to discover all she could about her mother's war-time imprisonment.
Angie and Tom returned to Europe for several weeks at a time in 2014 and 2016. Angie consulted with the archivists at the Jewish Temple Service office in Vienna and the City of Vienna archives. She walked the "Augarten Brücke", the bridge from which her grandmother, Frieda, jumped to her death in 1930, eight months after Margit was born. She found Frieda's grave site in the Jewish Cemetery in Vienna. There were visits to Holocaust Museums in Vienna and Berlin. Angie took many express trains, local trains and buses to visit the Concentration Camps Margit may have been at. At the Neuengamme Camp Memorial site she met with Director Dr. Reimer Moller, who after examining the postcard Margit had written in 1945, steered her to the Saltzgitter/Watenstedt. sub-camp, where Margit, along with hundreds of other prisoners, was a slave laborer in Nazi munitions factories. Angie and Tom arrived by rail to the Salzgitter area, but, on foot with travel bags and backpacks, they became lost in the multi-city industrial complex. The low point came when Angie discovered she left her backpack containing all her valuables and documents on a local bus that had just departed with a load of high school students. But, with help from a couple other students, she recovered her backpack without loss. Running out of time and energy, Angie and Tom commandeered a taxi cab driver who helped them search the nearby countryside for any sign of the former Nazi sub-camp. Finally, along a roadside next to a mining property, they found the obelisk marking the spot of the former women's Watenstedt sub-camp (see photo on Home Page).
During the 2014 hunt for the Watenstedt sub-camp, Angie learned of a German organization that runs the associated Salzgitter/Drütte memorial site, and established contact with Elke Zacharias, the Director. However, out of time and travel budget, it wasn't until April 2016 that she and Tom returned to meet Elke and learn the story of the Waenstedt sub-camp, the frantic evacuation of prisoners near the end of WWII, and the final death march to Malchow, Germany. During that trip Angie and another daughter of a camp survivor were honored guests at the annual memorial service held at the factory every April 11. She and Angie led a procession over a bridge to the former Nazi war factory building which still exists, and is a modern steel factory today. They both laid a dozen white roses at the memorial site with numerous other bouquets of flowers laid by factory management, workers and local dignitaries.
One missing piece of the puzzle was what happened to Margit's mother's Jewish family after 1930. Since there had been no contact with or even a hint of descendants, Angie feared the entire family may have perished during the War. In November 2015 Angie traveled to Washington, DC to visit the United States Jewish Holocaust Museum and see if any information could be found concerning Margit's Jewish family. The museum reference coordinator looked at the vast bank of computer information available to her, searching for family names. She pulled up a picture of Margit's grandmother and certificate of death from the Israeli Yad Vashem site. The certificate, which was written entirely in Hebrew and translated by the museum archivist, indicated that a daughter provided the information for the document in about 1985. Through a series of telephone calls and emails, Angie established contact with her long-lost Jewish family 86 years after separation. Finally, Angie and Tom met some of this family in Stockholm in April 2016.
The details of all these events are provided in the book.
Angie Osborne on the German Bahn charts her many destinations along the journey of discovery for this book.
An old photograph of the Augarten Brücke - Augarten Bridge - over the Danube Canal in Vienna from which Angie's grandmother, Frieda, jumped, committing suicide in 1930. This image is the backdrop of this web site.