A German-Jewish emigrant returns as a liberator in 1944/45
In his frequent letters to the social pedagogue Curt Bondy—formerly the director of Groß Breesen, then living in exile in the USA—“Töpper” sketched in English his impressions of occupied Germany: “Bo,” he wrote, “if they erase Germany’s boundaries off the map nobody would be sorry here. This state, this nation has forfeited the right to exist.”
Angress also wrote how terribly worried he was that he might never again see his family alive.
During the funeral Angress saw one of the German officers, now a prisoner of war, light a cigarette in an exaggerated show of indifference. He asked him to refrain from smoking. In reply he was told that he, a mere master sergeant, lacked the rank to give an officer orders. Angress drew his gun. The officer threw down his cigarette and stomped it out.
On this day, Angress had been a soldier with the U.S. Army for exactly four years.
Angress described the liberation of Wöbbelin and the funeral for the prisoners who had died there in another letter to his good friend Curt Bondy. He enclosed with the letter his report, which he hoped would be forwarded to all of his friends and acquaintances.
Bondy went a step further. In publishing an article in the local newspaper, the Richmond Times Dispatch of 4 June 1945, he made sure the news reached the general public.
Werner T. Angress’s hopes of being reunited also with his father were not fulfilled.
Ernst Angress had been arrested on 26 April 1941 and after an odyssey through various prisons in the Netherlands and the German Reich, was finally deported to Auschwitz on 29 November 1942.
There, he was murdered on 19 January 1943, at the age of 59.
All documents and photographs:
Leo Baeck Institute (Archives, Jewish Museum Berlin), Werner Tom Angress Collection
Text and exhibit selection: Jörg Waßmer
Editor: Henriette Kolb, assistance: Lisa Schank
Translation: Jill Denton, Michael Ebmeyer
Proofreading: Julia Bosson
Photo reproduction: Jens Ziehe
Werner T. Angress,... immer etwas abseits. Jugenderinnerungen eines jüdischen Berliners 1920–1945, Berlin, 2005.
We would like to express our gratitude to the donor, Werner T. Angress.