Joseph Findling (1928-2019)
Joseph Findling was born in Cologne, Germany on June 21, 1928 to Etla and Wolf David Findling. He and his four siblings was raised in an observant family, each attending a Jewish school until 1938 when all the Jewish children in his school were expelled. In October 1938, Joseph’s father was deported to Poland and Joseph began laying plans to get the rest of his family to safety. On December 25, 1938, Joseph, along with his two brothers, two sisters, and his mother boarded a train to Brussels. The plan was for Joseph and his older siblings to continue past the German border, leaving his mother and their infant sister behind in order to fool the Germans into thinking the children would return to Cologne, rather than flee. The children did make it, and later their baby sister was smuggled across the border as well. In 1942 their mother was deported to Auschwitz where she was killed.
Once in Belgium the children were all placed in different foster homes or orphanages. When Germany invaded in 1940, all of the orphanages fled. Joseph’s orphanage were part of a group that fled to France. The children were moved from village to village before finally settling in a small village in the Pyrenees. In the summer of 1941, Joseph procured the necessary documents to allow him and his brothers to flee to the United States. With the help of HIAS, they boarded a ship in Lisbon and landed in New York in late September of 1941. The boys were sent to a foster home in Detroit. Their sisters arrived in the United States in 1947.