Siegbert Freiberg's Story
Before the term "Holocaust" was part of our vocabulary, a radio show
presented by the Mutual Broadcasting Company featured a survivor of Nazi terror telling
his story. The program, Reunion, was sponsored by the United Service for New
Americans, a Jewish philanthropic organization aimed at reforming the 1924
anti-immigration laws that continued to keep Jews and other Eastern Europeans from the
safe haven of America. By masking its grave mission in the guise of popular entertainment,
the organization struck the only blow it could against the Fourth Estate's stonewalling of
Third Reich abominations.
The format of Reunion, like the popular radio series Queen for a Day, was
to bring together, live on the air, people whose reconnections would hit home with
listeners. On July 6, 1947, those connections were diverse: a Sgt. Miles Riley was
reunited with his wife; one Bill Clemis of Albany, N.Y., came face-to-face with a
childhood friend from India; Ezra ("Henry Aldrich") Stone planned a reunion
party for his class from the School of Dramatic Arts in New York; and -- in a story unlike
anything heard on radio before or since -- the holocaust survivor Siegbert Freiberg was reunited with his beloved father.
In its final episode, the Yiddish Radio Project reexamines that historic
broadcast through the other end of the telescope. Our work on this program --
and on the Yiddish Radio Project as a whole -- was profoundly influenced
by our association with Freiberg, who died on April 20, 2002. We are grateful
beyond words for having known him.