RECONCILIATION 80 YEARS IN THE MAKING: Our client, Fran, had many relatives who endured the horrors of Europe during the second World War: most of her family was among the six million Jews who did not survive the Holocaust. Her parents—Bubbe and Zeide—were children during the war and among the few of their family to survive. Her mother, Bubbe, survived three different concentration camps and was rescued by a Red Cross worker who discovered her faint pulse as she laid among the dead. Bubbe, like many survivors, was torn from her home and never able to reclaim her familial home, land, or possessions. She never received reparations.
Fran’s parents met after the war and married in London before moving to New Haven, Connecticut to start a new life in America. They lived on Asylum Street with their young daughter, Fran, and worked next door at the New Haven Jewish Old Age Home. Through the years Bubbe and Zeide became dear friends with two of its managers, Edwin and Edith. At eight-years-old Fran asked them to be her “adopted grandparents.” They loved her as grandparents do. Fran gained a family in Edwin and Edith, and after Edith passed away, Fran was left an inheritance at the age of 23.
In just the last year, that inheritance has multiplied. Long after the war of her parents and the death of her adopted grandparents, Fran received a letter from Paul, a genealogist from Brandenburger & Davis. He wanted to know in no uncertain terms Fran’s family history. He was searching for proof of her identity. The story unfolded further: Edwin, Fran’s “adopted” grandfather, had owned a property in Austria that was stolen by the Nazi’s during the war. His family fought for it in court years ago, and the building was restored to the family. In the following decades, a real-estate agent rented and managed the property after Edwin’s family moved to America. Though over time Edwin’s family lost track of the property and nobody claimed it in their wills.
Paul was on an international search to find anyone listed in the wills of Edwin and Edith, which led him to Fran. The building was being sold and consequently, Fran was to inherit $113,000—nearly the exact sum of money for which she had been praying. Fran and her husband were searching for a place for their daughter with special needs, somewhere she could live and go to school. The need was for just about $100,000, and that provision came as the $113,000 from Edith and Edwin, whose inheritance and blessing was multiplied into another generation. Fran’s family used it all to buy and renovate a space their daughter moved into on August 30th, 2020.
It goes without saying that Fran and her family feel a tremendous sense of gratitude for the generosity of others, their broad understanding of the word family, and a special connection to those who came before them. It is no exaggeration to acknowledge this as part of the providential story of preservation of family, life, and financial capital across generations. May we remember that the Light is greater than the darkness.