Personal Testimony #1
Today, we are beginning a process of informing our readers of personal testimonies of refugees whose lives were saved, either by finding refuge in Haiti or by the sheer fact of being in possession of a Haitian passport.
The following is a fascinating and inspiring story we received from Chile, about the meaning of a passport in one man’s life.
A Moving Testimony by a Chilean Son about His Father Who Had a Haitian Passport
Before arriving in Chile, my father Hans Erich Emden, was the general manager of his family company in Hungary called Corvin Aruhaz the main department store of Hungary based in Budapest. The German conglomerate was called Karsdat, KDW in Berlin and Emden Soehne in Hamburg, a big retail concern. My grandfather, Max Emden died in June 1940 and my father, his son, tried to save their assets in Switzerland. These included: Brissago Islands in Ticino, bank accounts, property near Ascona (including today’s Patriziales golf course), numerous artworks today in possession of the Max Buerhle foundation in Zuerich (a German Nazi weapons manufacturer protected by the Swiss). In addition, there are previously owned prestigious art collections that have been denied a return to their original owners. (For Juan Carlos Emden’s story about trying to recover his family’s previously owned art collections, click HERE)
He lost his German citizenship and he tried to get a hold of some connection to his mother’s papers in order to become a Chilean resident. My paternal grandmother, Anita Gertrud Sternberg was born in Valparaiso, Chile. The Swiss refused to give him Swiss nationality, which my grandfather Max Emden held for monetary reasons vs. humanitarian. He decided to get a Haitian passport to be able to move around, which actually helped a lot. Unfortunately, after the war, the Germans questioned German restitution because he traveled with a Haitian passport. He managed to go to Brazil from Lisbon in 1941 and tried to start a business there. He later immigrated to Argentina and finally to Chile because he met my mother, Maria Ximena Blumer in Argentina, a Chilean citizen coming back from school in France and England.
Regrettably, in Brazil, my father Hans Erich, faced deportation and was held in prison until they checked the correctness of the Chilean papers, because that was his end of the road.
I know that my Dad Hans Erich only wanted to be an identifiable person from any country on earth he might have to go to. The Haitian solution was one which he could buy allowing him to have a passport. My understanding is, he never planned to go to Haiti and he never was requested to give any explanations to anybody, neither in Switzerland nor in evil Germany. Thus, his Haiti passport was a kind of lifeboat reality.
Below is Juan Carlos Emden’s father Hans Erich Emden’s Haitian passport cover.
Pictures of Juam Carlos Emden and his grandaughter can be seen in Photo Gallery Part 1
Juan Carlos Emden’s story about trying to recover his family’s previously owned art collections
Will victims of the greatest Nazi theft finally get a fair hearing? – Times of Israel – 12/27/13
Germany will not return war-era paintings to Emdens
Jerusalem Post – 12/18/13
Heir seeks Monet painting’s return
Times of Israel – 11/3/12
Former Jewish Owners Demand Return of Monet Masterpiece
Arutz Sheva – 11/1/12
A Nazi Inheritance for German Museums: Jewish Heirs Want Their Art Back – Spiegel Online – 11/8/06
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