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via O’Neill Hayes Funeral Home
Marianne Elisabeth Verena (Wolfensberger) Jarzombek passed away June 7, 2021 in Newport RI at the age of 95. She was the wife of the late Henry Jarzombek.
She was born in Mannheim, Germany. Her 13th birthday turned out to be Kristallnacht (November 9, 1938). As she recalled in her writings: “Walking home from school, I saw fires burning on the sidewalks in front of houses, surrounded by rings of SA men keeping people at bay, the city smelled of smoke, I saw things flying out of windows, books, paintings, furniture, anything that would feed a fire. I saw a man cry and beseech the men of the SA [Sturmabteilung: the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing] not to burn a painting that came flying down. ‘It is a German treasure,’ he cried. ‘Do not burn it, I give it to you.’ People collected around the scenes, silent and stunned.” Upon arriving home, her grandfather on her mother’s side, Ottokar Loewit, who was the director of the Mannheim street car system, confided in her that he was Jewish. Marianne’s father, Fredrick Wolfensberger, though not Jewish, was subsequently removed from his job as bank director because he refused to fire his Jewish secretary.
The family lived in fear of being deported as were so many of their Jewish neighbors and her grandparents had to frequently flee into the nearby woods for a day or so. Their bank accounts were raided and they were not allowed to use the bunker during the terrifying fire-bombing of the city. During the air raids, the family sought refuge in the basement of their flat on Elisabethstrasse 11, living in the ruins of the building. With the Allies approaching, Marianne undertook a daring journey on a stolen bicycle to a small monastery, Kloster Untermarchtal, where she met up with her father and the two were given refuge.
After the war, she met her husband, a Polish survivor of the German death camps, and they came to the US in 1949 to make a new life. The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee settled them in Memphis where they started a business in the transportation sector. They retired to Newport in the mid 1980s. Marianne loved to read and travel, and during her life amassed a sizeable library.
She is survived by her children, Monica Michelle Jarzombek Drum and Mark Michael Jarzombek, their spouses, Robert Drum and Nancy Allyn Jarzombek respectively, and two grandchildren, David Andreas Jarzombek and Elias Joseph Jarzombek.
Her burial will be held privately at Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, MA.
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