Suse Katz (1926-2001)
Suse Katz was born on August 23, 1926 to Adolf and Betty Grombacher in Ludwigshafen, Germany. She had one brother, Gerd, who was three years older than her. In 1935 her parents obtained affidavits from relatives living in Chicago that allowed the family to travel to the States. They boarded a ship in December of 1935 and arrived in Chicago via New York City in early 1936. They moved in with Suse’s father’s aunt and four cousins.
Though the children had permanent resident visas, their parents were only here on visitor’s visas. They stayed for just over two months before having to travel back to Germany. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and died in 1938. Their father was able to travel to Chicago one last time as a visitor, in 1939. Unable to stay, he went back to Germany soon after the war began. He and most of the rest of his family would be sent to Gurs, an internment and prisoner of war camp in France, where he would die of typhoid fever. Most of the family who survived Gurs were transported to Auschwitz, where nearly all of them would perish.
Suse and her brother attended school in Chicago and generally recalled a happy and comfortable life. After graduating from high school, Suse enrolled at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she majored in sociology. She met her husband, Mike, on a blind date at the university, and they married in Chicago in 1948. Soon after marrying both Suse and Mike found work with the US State Department in Switzerland where they lived until returning to Chicago in 1951. Shortly thereafter they moved to Portland, where they would spend the rest of their lives. They had a son in 1953 and a daughter in 1956.