Separated by War, Father and Son Reconnect

Eric Lamet and his wife, Judith. i i

Eric Lamet and his wife, Judith. StoryCorps hide caption

itoggle caption StoryCorps
Eric Lamet and his wife, Judith.

Eric Lamet and his wife, Judith.

StoryCorps

A Painful Memory

Though Eric Lamet's immediate family fled to Italy during World War II, many of his relatives were captured by the Nazis and lost in the Holocaust. One of them was Eric's grandmother, Hudel Brandwein, who died at Theresienstadt, a concentration camp, in the fall of 1942.

When Nazi Germany annexed Austria 70 years ago this week, Eric Lamet's family, who was Jewish, fled to Italy. They became separated from his father and had no contact with him throughout World War II.

After the war, in 1946, an Italian court declared his father legally dead. Lamet's mother met another man and started a relationship.

"Shortly thereafter, we got a postcard that my father was alive and that he was in a displaced persons camp in Austria," Lamet says.

Lamet, then 16, was attending college in a town near Florence, Italy, when his father came to visit. "I was very excited ... I had not seen my dad in eight years."

He waited at the railroad station for his father, who "was a very dapper man. He always dressed in a double-breasted suit, his hair was perfectly combed. He always had a kerchief in his jacket."

When the train arrived and the passengers got off, "there was nobody there that even resembled my dad," Lamet says.

"Eventually, somebody called out my name. He was the only one on the platform at that time. There was a broken man walking with a limp and a cane, certainly not well-dressed." His suit was two or three sizes too large.

"I was emotionally totally destroyed when I saw my dad," Lamet says.

For two hours, the father and son spoke, sitting on a bench in the rail station. Lamet remembers only that his father asked him how he was doing and about his wife's new husband.

Lamet's father eventually emigrated to Palestine, "and I did not see my dad for 28 years."

A day after learning his father was very sick, Lamet flew to see him.

"My father didn't know I was coming because I didn't tell anybody I was going," Lamet says. "But as I entered the door of the hospital room, he was the only one there. He recognized me immediately and called out my name."

Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.

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