Andrea and Joanna D’Asaro and their mother Barbara Sachs D’Asaro tell the story of Barbara’s childhood in Nazi Germany, and her escape as a young girl.
Barbara was born Bärbel Sachs near Rostock, Germany on August 18, 1927. She was adopted by a Jewish couple, Erich and Johanna Sachs, who lived in Berlin.
When Hitler came to power in 1933, the Nazi regime made life increasingly difficult for Jews in Germany. As a result, Barbara’s parents bribed officials to destroy documents about her adoption, which noted that a non-Jewish child had been adopted into a Jewish family. Barbara lived a happy childhood as her parents attempted to protect her from the growing danger they faced. Despite their best efforts, Barbara was still exposed to Nazi propaganda. She experienced the rapid takeover of Nazi ideology and policies into everyday life, including schools and youth organizations.
With the escalation of persecution in Germany, Barbara’s parents decided that for their family’s safety, it would be best to leave the country. Although Barbara’s status, being non-Jewish by birth, may have been safe, her parents’ certainly was not. They were able to find two sponsors in New York City who would support them in their move to the United States.
The Sachs family arrived by ship in New York harbor in 1938 and began to build a life in New York City. Barbara attended Oberlin College in Ohio and later Cornell University. At Cornell, Barbara met her future husband Arthur D’Asaro, and they married in 1953. Barbara and Arthur had four children. Barbara used a master’s degree in Nutrition to direct health oriented classes, and Arthur used his doctorate in physics in his job at Bell Laboratories in New Jersey. Barbara’s parents had some relatives who scattered all over the world due to the Holocaust, and others who were murdered by the Nazis.
In 2017 Andrea, a teacher, helped Barbara put her family story together into a presentation for classrooms. With the help of the Holocaust Center, Barbara, Joanna, and Andrea are now part of the Speakers Bureau to share Barbara’s unique experience during World War II.