08/19/2014 06:00 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

My Dad's Missing Pen Pal

My dad often discussed his German pen pal. He met her in 1935 when she was a foreign exchange student at Frankford High School in Philadelphia. I found this photo in his belongings after he passed. On the back was written "Lisa Goldberg 1935." I recognize my dad in the photo, so I can only assume the young girl is Lisa.


The story he told me was how they kept in contact after she returned to Germany. For him, it was to learn German, for her to learn English. One day the letters just stopped. While in German during the World War II, he tried to locate her, but no one would tell him where she could be found. He was lead to believe that she and her family were possible victims of the Holocaust. Since she never tried to contact him, their mutual friends or her host family after the war, he believed that this is what occurred.

I recently came across one of the letters Lisa wrote to my Dad.



I felt I needed to post it in this blog. To me it represents a teenager eager to learn English from her American pen pal. She was taking ski trips, meeting new friends and looking forward to more books. Little did she realize the terror of what was to come.

My friend recently told me how his father escaped from Germany via the Kindertransport. His grandparents were also lucky enough to escape. I know the Holocaust impacted so many lives and there are still survivors alive today. This is the closest I have been touched by it. It has had a profound effect on me that I find hard to put into words.