Stitching the Pieces

Stitching the Pieces

The letter from Paul Strnad did not mention his wife by name. The Museum was desperate to know more about the woman who created the dress designs, but the information came only in scraps.

Looking for Holocaust victims named Paul Strnad in the Yad Vashem database yielded several possibilities. One mentioned a wife named Hedvika (Hedwig), who was a “lady taylor” (sic). This bit of information was provided by their niece, Brigitte Rohaczek. Looking for more biographical details about Mrs. Rohaczek revealed that she had survived on a Kindertransport, the rescue effort that saved thousands of Jewish children by bringing them to Great Britain.

The Museum tried to locate Mrs. Rohaczek, but to no avail. A mention in a book was promising, but it failed to yield an address. Then an undergraduate from Lawrence University, Tyler Grasse, applied to be an intern at the Museum. Tyler was spending the summer in Germany and asked if he could assist the Museum while there. Museum staff asked him to look for Mrs. Rohaczek, highly doubtful that he would find new information. But in a few days, with his knowledge of German, Tyler had located Mrs. Rohaczek, and was soon traveling to interview her.

Had Tyler not applied to be an intern at Jewish Museum Milwaukee, Brigitte Rohaczek would likely not have spoken of her aunt and uncle, the jolly puppeteers, and their memory would have been lost forever.