After 55-year search, sisters reunite

August 12, 1994|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Cristel Klamann will get the birthday present of her life this morning: Lieselotte Kaffka Paschall, the tall, silver-haired sister she hasn't seen in 55 years.

Mrs. Paschall, a Pasadena resident, was only 14 when she was separated from her family at the beginning of World War II. But thanks to the Red Cross, she has found her sister and is to be re-united with her today to celebrate Frau Klamann's birthday in Franzburg, a village near Hamburg, Germany.

"I'm so thrilled," said Mrs. Paschall in a thick German accent. "It's nice to meet somebody from my family. That's very nice what the Red Cross did."

Mrs. Paschall, the second of seven children, was 14 in 1939 and the Nazis forced her to work. "That's when I lost my whole family," she said. "I had to go work on a farm. Hitler no let me stay in the house with my mother."

Things went from bad to worse when the war struck at the farm.

"The farmers, they lost everything," recalled Mrs. Paschall, 69. "The war was started, and the bombs was falling, and we ran, we ran, we ran until I lost everybody. Like you see the refugee on TV now, this was like us."

She began hiding in cornfields to save herself from the Russian military and eventually joined the German army as a cook. Later, she was captured by the American army and held prisoner for several months. After the war, she traveled across Germany, working for American families and in factories.

In 1958, she met an American soldier, Charles Paschall, and two years later, came to the United States to marry.

All the while she never gave up on finding her family.

"I was looking before, but I couldn't get nobody," she said in an interview before she left for Germany. "I wrote letters, but I never get answer back, and never came the letters back."

But last year, her son-in-law, Mike Derrickson, asked about tracing services for World War II victims when he visited a Red Cross office. He requested a search into Mrs. Paschall's family, and on Jan. 5, Mrs. Paschall's dream came true.

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