3 William Moore Davis (American artist, 1829–1920) Girl Reading by a Tree c 1875
Girl reading by a tree – as any girl anywhere in the world.

They met each other in 1928.

She was sitting in the park in Leipzig reading a book under a tree, which she would often do on weekends when she didn’t have school. Sarah was 17 years old and about to graduate and head off to university in August. That is if she would be accepted. Being Jewish and a girl were two obstacles that were against her not to mention the fact that she came from a poor family and would need financial assistance.

As she sat looking away from her book and daydreaming, Frank walked over and introduced himself.

“You are David’s sister?” He asked with his clear blue eyes, his quick smile and his straight dark hair.

“Yes and you are Frank.” She said blushing. She had dark brown hair, dark eyes and light skin with scattered freckles.

“Yes, I am. There is a Cafe around the corner and I need a cup of coffee – would you care to join me?”

“I don’t know if David would be happy with that; or my parents for that matter.”

“What about you? How would you feel about it?”

“Well, I do like coffee…”

As they walked through the streets of their hometown, they discussed their futures and what they wanted out of life.

“I am going to be a Doctor and help heal the world.” Frank exclaimed.

“What kind of Doctor?”

“I want to try and find cures to the sicknesses which cause too many lives to be cut short. My father died when I was 4 years old if I could help others live longer or help them heal from sicknesses – that’s what I want to do. My grandfather always tells me we must make the world a better place – this world is out of place with any sort of morality.”

“How about you? How is your morality?” She asked him with a sly smile.

“My morality?”

“Yes your morality. What are your feelings on this country and where its headed?”

“Where its headed? Should I be honest with you?”

“Always be honest with me – I am not a child and I am not one to live in fear of the truth.”

“Very well, I think freedom is in trouble. I think as Jews we are in trouble. That’s why I am leaving to New York, in America.”

“When are you leaving?”

“As soon as we get the approval – hopefully within the next six months.”

“Its quite obvious that we, as Jews are in trouble over here. But don’t you think that our country will prevail? Good over evil?”

“I used to feel that way – until I read ‘Mein Kampf’ which was written by someone who calls himself superior. How can one person call himself superior?”

“People who have been defeated in a war, suffered economic disasters and have no unifying cause…”

“Will point their fingers and blame another people – this unifies them.”

“Hatred can be an reason for a broken nation to unite. But do you really think that Germans would let that happen?”

“I don’t know anything; I just know that I am leaving as soon as possible.”

“Hmm..well, I was starting to like you Mr. Lubinsky.”

With that he blushed and looked away. “You never know what tomorrow will bring.”

They saw each other for the next two months and when her father approached him one evening there was no hesitation.

“I love your daughter and I want to marry her – I would like your permission.”

“Frank, we like you as well – have you discussed this with Sarah?”

“Yes of course I have. I have even acquired passage to America for myself and for another person.”

“America? Are you serious? You think I am going to let you take my daughter to America?”

“What is here for any Jews? There are rumors of forcing us to give up our businesses, our homes, our possessions.”

“That will pass; as soon as they get rid of Hitler it will pass.”

“I don’t know…”

“First get married – wait a year and see how things turn out, OK?”

With that they shook hands and exchange a hug. Sarah waltzed into the room and they were wed within the next month.

It was in the summer of 1929 when the unrest became violent with the Communist government losing ground and German favor to the Nazis. The 1929 German Referendum gave the Nazi’s and Hitler more recognition and a stage to promote their nationalistic agenda.

In November of 1929; Sarah realized that she had missed her last menstrual cycle. When she went to the Doctor and it was confirmed that she was pregnant – she went directly to Frank who was in class at the time. But on the way there was a Anti -Communist Pro Nazi demonstration being held. When she tried to walk around them she was stopped asked outright if she was Jewish.

“Yes I am Jewish.” She said without missing a beat.

She was then spat upon, thrown around from one protester to another, fell on the ground and groped. Until several students pulled her away from the protesters she was in fear of being raped, beaten or killed.

She ran back to their apartment and waited for Frank to get home.

When he did he realized that she had been the Jewish girl who was beaten up.

“Oh…” He ran to her and held her close to him.

“Lets leave, lets go to America.”

Fifty years later – Beverly Hills, California. 

A year before the Simon Wiesenthal Center opened in Los Angeles. One of the main donors to this organization was Sarah Lubin the widow of Frank Lubin, the late Chief of Surgery and Neurology of Mount Sinai hospital.

Dr. Lubin had developed a unique way to treat malignant brain tumors which had led to a new and effective way to treat and cure cancer. No more lives would end prematurely due to a lack of a treatment for this insidious disease.

Upon his death in a plane crash as he was traveling back from London in 1974 the hospital was renamed the Frank Lubin Hospital.

Sara mourned for her husband for a year and when their daughter, Lillian, was proposed to by her boyfriend, Joseph Gabai, the son of a Persian diamond importer – she stood up, walked to her draw and pulled out the ring that Frank had given her right before they boarded the Ship from Germany to the United States.

December 1929 – Leipzig, Germany

“The Doctor said I could get pregnant again, that this was a miscarriage nothing more. That the bleeding will stop and we will be able to try once again…”

“You see, before you know it this will be a forgotten memory and we will have a home full of children running around.”

“I don’t know if I want to bring in a child to this world. We live in a cruel world and I do not want any child of ours being forced to submit to a Nazi.”

“Lets take it one day at a time, Sarah, lets start with getting healthy again.”

“I want to leave Europe, I want to leave this place…”

“We will – as soon as the papers arrive we will get out of here. The semester is ending soon, as soon as it does I will do my best to get us out.”

In January of 1930 a Pro-Nazi songwriter was shot by a government official after an argument with his landlady. Horst Wessle had written a Pro-Nazi song – while Horst was in the hospital dying; Joseph Goebbels promoted the song as the Nazi anthem and when Horst died proclaimed him a martyr for the party.

It was a week later that Sara gave Frank an ultimatum – she would be going to America with or without him.

March 1930 – Hamburg, Germany

As they boarded the Levianthan which would take them across the sea to America, Frank stopped Sarah from walking up the ramp to the ship and told her, “I love you my Sarah. My mother gave me this ring to give to you. As my wife I want you to wear this and to always remember that no matter where we are or our situation – our love will be bound around us as these two rings are bound upon our fingers. He placed his father’s ring on his finger. They boarded the ship, turned around and had one last look at the country they once believed to be the greatest country in the history of the world.

They rode steerage – which means they were on the bottom level of the ship. They were crowded and forced to sleep on the floor. There were not enough toilets, most went into buckets that were passed around. Diseases were spread, people died and bodies were thrown overboard to avoid additional diseases.

Westernland steerage passengers-01
Picture of passengers traveling Steerage to America early 1900’s

The storms were rough and sea sickness was the norm. The stink of death, shit, vomit and urine was mixed in with the smell of rotten food, dead rats and disease. Frank and Sarah survived and expressed gratitude for not having any children to bring upon the voyage. It was when they spotted the Statue of Liberty in the distance that they felt secure in the fact that they had survived and were about to be living in New York, America.

November 1938 – Essex Street New York City

After 3 years of commuting from Lower Manhattan to his school on 168th street Frank was able to get a room for himself and Sarah in a house on Audubon Avenue and 170th Street. For Sarah it meant a shorter commute to her job at the Sears and Roebuck Store in the Bronx. It also meant that Frank was getting noticed by his Professors.

On November 24, 1938 Sarah and Frank were invited to eat by the Dean and his family to celebrate the first Thanksgiving as proclaimed by President Roosevelt.

“In the time of our fortune it is fitting that we offer prayers for unfortunate people in other lands who are in dire distress at this our Thanksgiving Season. Let us remember them in our families and our churches when, on the day appointed, we offer our thanks to Almighty God. May we by our way of living merit the continuance of His goodness.”

Uncle Sam stands tall over Columbus Circle 1938

A couple of weeks earlier there was disturbing news out of Germany. Pogroms were being held across Germany and Austria – destroying Jewish businesses and Jewish lives. Sarah and Frank were not in a celebratory mood but partook in the festivities to try and be grateful for being away from the violence and destruction. Before they went to the Thanksgiving Meal they went to Columbus Circle to watch a giant Uncle Sam standing 75 feet tall above the crowd.

She had to look away because all she could think about was the dark shadow that was being cast upon her home, her family and her friends. She spied an old man walking with a stick muttering to himself in some language she could not understand. A young child held onto her mothers hand while her father paid for roasted peanuts from a street vendor. She thought about her Grandfather,was he even still alive? Did her grandmother still play the piano to the children? Did they even have the piano anymore? An Italian man with a long mustache was selling balloons and a lady was selling baked potatoes from a pushcart.

She thought about her family and began to cry. Frank took her hand and walked her towards the park. He looked into her eyes and told her that she needed to look forward.

“Leipzig is gone, we are in New York…Hitler will be trampled upon by this giant, Uncle Sam. You will see – Uncle Sam will come to the rescue and we will all be together again.”

She didn’t believe him, couldn’t believe him and wouldn’t accept that her family and all she had once known and loved were no more. “The park, the color of the sky right before a storm, the smell of the chimney smoke rising as the winter raged on and on. The Neues Theater in Leipzig…that would never be destroyed.” On the night of December 3rd 1943 the theater along with every other theater in Leipzig would be destroyed – not to mention there were no longer any Jewish families there – just the smoke with the stink of burned flesh staining the air and forever destroying any sense of her life as it once was.

Leipzig after air raid on December 3 1943

To Be Continued