Visa Recipients

  • WIJNBERG, Antoinette/Anetje
  • WIJNBERG, Isaac P A
    Age 27 | Visa #1982
  • WIJNBERG, Moses P A
    Age 46 | Visa #1981
    Age 48 | Visa #1980

About the Family

The WIJNBERG family received their visa from Aristides de Sousa Mendes in Bordeaux on June 17, 1940.

Isaac WIJNBERG crossed into Portugal. He sailed from Lisbon to New York on the vessel Quanza in August 1940. He became George WYNBERG and joined the U.S. army in 1942. He was naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 1946. His sister Antoinette/Anetje and their parents Moses and Schoontje traveled to the United Kingdom.

  • Photos
  • Artifact

Page of Sousa Mendes Visa Registry Book listing this family and others - Courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs archives, Lisbon

  • Testimonial

Testimonial excerpted from memoirs of Col. James B. Barrett

husband of Annelies KAUFMANN

In early May, the Kaufmans (a Dutch family of four) in the family Graham-Paige four-door touring sedan, accompanied by OK (Oncle Koch) in his Packard, drove south almost to the Belgian border, to a resort hotel named Anneville, not far from Breda, for their vacation. The family played tennis, rode horseback together, as was their holiday custom, and they relaxed until the fateful evening of May 9, when the radio brought reports of German troop activity at river crossings across the Maas and Rhine, and of bombings of nearby Dutch towns. Checking out hurriedly the next morning, their route towards home soon took them past a military airfield at Gilze-Rijen, home to Dutch fighter squadrons. As they approached the airfield, to their dismay they were looking at a sky filled with descending German parachutists. World War II had suddenly come to Holland on May 10, 1940...

Seeing their way home barred by invading Germans, the Kaufmans and OK had turned their cars around and sped back to the hotel, remaining overnight, while news reports made clear that immediate departure south was their only choice. Obtaining blankets and temporary provisions from the hotel, the next morning the five of them, in their two cars, headed for the Belgian border. Crossing it, they reached Gent/Ghent, where they spent the night in the cars, bundled in the hotel blankets. The second day they crossed into France and reached Rouen... When the Germans invaded France on May 14th, Anne's family and OK had reached Bordeaux.

In Bordeaux, Max contacted a vineyard owner and wine merchant, one of his suppliers (Max was a department store executive), who then provided shelter to the group in his own home while they made final plans to cross into Spain. Thanks to their business relationships with Monsieur Eichenauer, their host, he was able to provide access to funds. He also telephoned the French border authorities and learned that no automobiles could leave the country without a special permit guaranteeing their return. Since delay, with the possibility of not obtaining such approval in the end, could not be risked, he arranged with the authorities to accept temporary custody of the two cars at the border, and hold them pending their owners' return.

However, the military situation kept deteriorating, so the group next drove to St. Jean de Luz, in the southwestern corner of France, then on to the border, close by at Hendaye, where they delivered the cars into protective custody without disclosing their intent not to return. Crossing into Spain on foot, they boarded a train west to San Sebastian on the Spanish coast, stopping overnight at a hotel.

Lisbon then was full of diplomatic intrigue, competing intelligence activities, and persons and families displaced by the war, attempting to reestablish their lives. No accommodations were available in crowded Lisbon, but the authorities arranged for a hotel about 50 miles to the north, in the town of Caldas da Rainha. The town contained military barracks and a small garrison and their hotel overlooked the market square. While Max and OK commuted to Lisbon to arrange their affairs, Anne and Herb (Hans), not attending school, had time for relaxing, including visiting the beach at the coastal town of Figueira da Foz, about five miles to the west. Fortunately for Max and OK, the trip they had planned to New York facilitated booking a flight on the Pan American Clipper from Lisbon instead, while their visas had already been arranged. Moreover, in New York they had business and financial contacts.

Suddenly the fates turned against the family. Young Herb tragically contracted polio, often a death sentence in that pre-Salk vaccine era. Max somehow found a Doctor Diago Furtado in Lisbon, who had interned at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and took Herb into his care. Herb recollects riding in the ambulance south to a Lisbon hospital, his body unable to move, accompanied by his mother, having to traverse seasonal wildfires raging on both sides of the road for about 15 miles. Max had gone ahead to Lisbon with Anne, for he not only had to make preparations for admitting Herb, but also had arranged for Anne to live temporarily with a friendly family, in their spacious Lisbon apartment, where a daughter of the house would keep her company while the parents saw to Herb's care. When Max flew to New York it was with a heavy burden, but he was able to arrange entry visas for his family. At length their prayers were answered. Herb slowly recovered under the doctor's skilled care, until well enough to travel. It was almost a miracle. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Anne, in her father's absence, had assumed some of his responsibilities, especially concerning their travel to the US.

Eventually the three of them boarded ship, the Siboney, for the dangerous trip west to join Max. The voyage to America was to provide one more frightening moment when their ship, flying US colors, was stopped in mid-ocean by a German submarine. Fortunately a state of war did not yet exist between the US and Germany, so the ship was permitted to proceed and they gratefully disembarked in New York harbor on December 10, 1940.