The diary of Gerhard (Gert) Wolf
The following ten pages are an extract from a much longer diary.
In the original, the following are pages 90-99.
The original was translated for the family by Frank Mecklenburg of the Leo Baeck Institute.
These pages are reproduced here with the kind permission of Ronnie Wolf, who retains copyright.
Please click on any image below to enlarge for ease of reading
Submitted by Ronnie Wolf, for the Wolf Family, on behalf of our father
“In the Fall of 2009, I came across a postcard in my deceased Aunt Edith’s home. In 2010, I had the postcard translated. I was studying it and noticed that the original address to Kitchener Camp had been crossed out but there was a forwarding address. I Googled that address and there, staring back at me, was my dad at the age of 17! Unbelievable! Dad died in 1971 and had never spoken about his childhood.
This is when I started my exploration into dad’s past. We hadn’t discovered his Diary until a year and a half later. But by then I had done a lot of research on his stay in England and uncovered his connection to ORT.
Additionally, I had discovered that he left England for New York on May 22, 1940, three days before his 18th birthday, to join his father, mother, and two sisters. Lucky for him, otherwise several months later, he would have been considered an enemy alien and been among the 40 ORT “Old Boys” shipped off to interment camps.
In 2013 I attended a ceremony in Leeds, England, when a Historic Blue Plaque was placed on their hostel. British ORT had lots of info about the ORT Old Boys posted around the room. I had a chance to meet a few Old Boys but sadly only two remembered dad.
Dad joined the US Army Corps of Engineers (due to his ORT training) in December 1941. He was in the second wave of D-Day, and returned to New York City in December 1945. He married my mother on January 25, 1946.”
Submitted by Ronnie Wolf
A speech given by Ronnie Wolf for her father at the first meeting of US Kitchener descendants in New York in Spring 2019. The meeting was held under the careful guidance of Frank Mecklenburg of the Leo Baeck Institute
“Hello, my name is Ronnie Wolf and my husband’s name is Steve Leon.
On Aug. 27th 1939, our dad Garry Wolf, with 105 Ort School classmates and 7 instructors, some with wives, left Berlin by train for England. The atmosphere within the car was tense as they passed through Cologne, Kleve and then onto the port of Vlissingen in Holland. It was only when their ship began to sail away from the Continent that their mood became joyous and dad notes “they were finally able to exhale”.
The ship docked in Harwich and then began their journey to Kitchener Camp.
A second group of 100+ students and the rest of the faculty members were waiting to follow the next week. Unfortunately, all of the students and but one of their instructors were murdered during the war.
Because dad had gotten sick, he left Kitchener with a second group of Ort Old Boys, on December 30,1939. The Ort School was re-established in Leeds, England. There they continued their studies in welding, carpentry, electricity and plumbing.
He and several of his comrades formed The Rhythm Teddies Band and on the weekends they were paid to play music at the Jubilee Hall. This was a big deal. It made them feel important, earn money and they met girls!
Although unaware of the significance, many of the dogs we had throughout my life were called Teddy.
On May 22, 1940 dad boarded the same ship to NY as Esther and Ruth Weiner, here with us today. Let’s take a moment to think about this. That was exactly 79 years ago!
Our dad died in 1971.
But miraculously, in Aug of 2009, I discovered a postcard, in my father’s sister’s home, after she had passed away.
Neither dad nor my aunt ever spoke about their life in Berlin, other than that they were from a fine neighborhood and that they had lost 28 members of their family.
My grandfather had sent a postcard to dad at Kitchener Camp on Dec 10th 1939, the day he boarded a ship from Genoa to NY. In it he writes, “mother and sister have arrived safely in NY. Our plan is to do everything in our power to bring you to us”.
Then in 2012 we FOUND dad’s Diary from 1933-1940. Frank Mecklenberg translated it for us. In it Dad wrote about his time at Kitchener. I have submitted the 10 “Kitchener pages” to the Kitchener website.
When Frank finished translating the diary, in 2013, I contacted the British Ort. They were about to place an Historic Blue Plaque on the building that housed dad’s school. I was invited to attend and to speak at the Ceremony.
That summer I showed mom the translated diary. She informed us that she had kept a scrapbook.
Imagine, it held over 500 pages of Love Letters dating from Jan 1942-Dec 1945. Dad had written to her throughout the war, detailing his wartime activities and his dreams for their future.
Dad was in the US Army Corps of Engineers.
On DDay he wrote two letters. One before the invasion was declared and one after. His unit was in the second wave of DDay. He stayed in Europe until the end of Dec 1945.
On Jan 27, 1946 he married my mother, Elaine Biener from Flushing Queens, after having 6 dates with her before joining the Army.
Both the Diary and Love Letters have been copyrighted and submitted into the Library of Congress. It is my family’s plan to donate dad’s Diary to the Leo Baeck Center for safe keeping. Dad had a connection to Rabbi Leo Baeck. He was the Head Rabbi of my dad’s synagogue, Oranienburgerstrasse, in Berlin.