Local descendant of Holocaust survivors shares story of family's escape from Germany for the first time

Michael Wolf's great-grandparents and cousins with Herbert Liebmann

Michael Wolf was born a month before World War II ended into a Jewish family that narrowly escaped Berlin just a few years before.

“I’ve never told this story before,” he said, “[I’ve] never been asked.” He said his mother told parts of the story and he shared some of it with friends, but not publicly.

Temple Emanuel hosted a film screening last October of “Persona Non Grata,” about the life of Chiune Sugihara, a Japanese diplomat posted in Lithuania known for issuing visas to Jewish refugees against orders.

Sugihara issued over 2,000 transit visas in July and August 1940, according to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Wolf’s grandparents, Erich and Henny Liebmann, along with his uncle, Herbert, were some of the refugees given visas, Wolf explained. Some 40,000 people are estimated to have descended from the people Sugihara helped, NBC News reported in February 2016.

The Liebmanns left Berlin in September 1940 by way of the Soviet Union and Shanghai, then ending up in Ecuador, where they stayed until the war was over because the United States would not allow the ship’s passengers to enter, Wolf said.

Their escape was enabled by Sugihara continuing to issue visas at a Berlin train station after he and his family had to leave Lithuania, according to the Wolf family...

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