By Deana Mesa, Greater Los Angeles chapter, American Red Cross
Monday, January 11, 2010 — As a journalist, Kastle Waserman devoted her career to gathering information and searching for the truth about others. However, when it came to her own family history, she knew very little.

Benjamin Waserman and his daughter, Kastle, who conducted searches for family members through the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center.
Benjamin Waserman and his daughter, Kastle, who conducted searches for family members through the American Red Cross Holocaust and War Victims Tracing Center.

Waserman’s father, Benjamin, was captured in 1943 by the Nazis after his own father was murdered. Just 13 at the time, Benjamin, along with his mother and brother, was sent to the concentration camp Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia. After being liberated in 1945, he came to America to start over.

“He didn’t really talk about it all that much when I was a child,” Kastle said. “It wasn’t until later in life that I started to ask questions.”

Embarking on a deeply personal journey, Kastle turned to the Red Cross Holocaust and War Victim’s Tracing Center, which conducts searches free-of-charge on family members missing or killed during Holocaust.

Hoping to “fill in the missing links,” Kastle gave the Red Cross eight family names. After some time, caseworkers at the Greater Los Angeles chapter were able to provide her some information about all of them.

One was her father’s cousin Sigmund. “We had always assumed the worst,” Kastle said, “but he survived.”

Sigmund, now 83, had relocated to Paris. “I immediately called my father and we started crying. That information alone was so joyful to find out,” she recalled.

The cousins have since talked to each other on the telephone and hope to have a face-to-face reunion one day.

“Knowing that he had children and lived a good life…we would have never known this if it wasn’t for the Red Cross tracing services,” she added.

Every piece of news helps Benjamin Waserman further heal and gives Kastle a better understanding of what her father went through.

The tracing center utilizes the combined resources from a worldwide network of Red Cross and Red Crescent societies, as well as museums, archives and international organizations, such as Yad Vashem, Israel’s main Holocaust remembrance center.

The Greater Los Angeles chapter conducted 146 international tracing searches last year on behalf of Holocaust survivors, as well as people separated by current international disasters or armed conflict. Nationwide, the American Red Cross reconnected 864 families by locating missing loved ones during the same period.

To learn more about tracing services or ways you can volunteer to reconnect separated families, visit the Restoring Family Links section of the American Red Cross Web site.