Perseverance in Research or the Importance of Good Spelling


One of the leads that I have not found an answer to in my research has been how my grandfather was able to get a falsified passport that helped to save his family. What my mother has told me is that someone who my grandfather did business with in Switzerland somehow obtained two dozen copies of this passport, which claimed that Heinz Lichtenstern was a Paraguayan citizen, and sent them to Amsterdam. One of the passports got through the Nazi mail censors and that passport meant that my grandfather was excused from a transport to Auschwitz.

My mother has always been satisfied with that amount of information, but I have more questions. Who was this man? Did he buy the passport from the consulate directly? Was the passport a forgery? Did the authorities ever get back to him when the other copies were intercepted in the mail? Was he frightened? Did he ever know that he saved my grandfather’s life?

My mother knows his last name and that is all. She has told me what it is, but I had no idea how to spell it. Mom tended to spell it one way – with an ‘i’. But every time I searched for that name on the internet I came up empty-handed.

Yesterday I was looking through my grandmother’s photo album for the hundredth time since I started this project, and I found a very important clue. There were three small snapshots. Each one was just about two square inches. And written above them in blue ballpoint ink on black paper, hardly legible, is the name of this man’s daughter. Now I have his last name with the correct spelling. There is no ‘i’. It is spelled with a ‘y’.

Back to the internet and scouring through many genealogy sites, I found him! I found him, and I found living relatives! They have pictures posted which look very similar to the ones in my grandmother’s album, and, the piece de resistance, the family tree says that the father, the man I have been looking for was a non-ferrous metals buyer – the same as my grandfather!

Now I just need to write a letter to the family with all my questions.

Published by K Heidi Fishman


8 thoughts on “Perseverance in Research or the Importance of Good Spelling

  1. The fact that your father’s helper was a non-ferrous metals buyer in Switzerland is possibly not a coincidence but a pattern. I am thinking of my father’s cousin (jewish of course) who fled to Switzerland and was a non-ferrous metals buyer there. He was the one who cared for transmitting letters, money and food packages. The combination of Switzerland as the place to be for exchanges between german-occupied countries and the rest of the world added to the international network of a non-ferrous buyer was precious. Those men were the right people at the right spot.


  2. Hello, the man who arranged the (false) passports was my grandfather. As I met Margret and Heinz several times, in Leidschendam where my grandparents were living and once or twice in Amsterdam, I remember several related stories. Here and there the facts are a bit different than you suggested. As I am not so keen of sharing my private life on twitter, FB or whatsoever you can alsays contact me by mail.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Henny van den Berg – van Krieken:
      I would love to talk to you. I know I don’t have the information 100% correct. Can you please send me your contact information at my private e-mail:

      We can follow up from there in a more private mode.
      Looking forward to learning more,
      Heidi Fishman


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