- Ilse Lichtenstein (later Meyer) is the daughter of Meinhard and Kaethe Lichtenstein. She was born February 24, 1923 in Volkmarsen, a town of about 6000 people in central Germany. She had an older brother, Arthur, born on May 7, 1920 and a younger sister, Inge, born on February 4, 1930. Meinhard operated a tailoring workshop with five employees from their house, and Kaethe assisted him and cared for the children and home. Though the children attended the local public Catholic school, they also received Jewish education one afternoon a week. Meinhard, who was quite knowledgeable, read the Torah in the town's synagogue and gave his children extra Jewish education on Saturday afternoons.
In May 1938, Arthur left Germany and immigrated to America where he found work as a tailor. The rest of the family hoped to emigrate as well. On January 4, 1939 Ilse and Inge joined a Kindertransport that left nearby Kassel for the Netherlands. The trip took twelve hours, and as the oldest member of the transport, Ilse helped care for the younger children. After initial processing, Ilse and Inge went to a camp in Bergen aan See where they stayed for three months. The group was later moved to Ons Boschhious bi Driebergen and then to a cloister on Achterkloster in Rotterdam. In addition to secular education, the children received vocational instruction as well as Hebrew lessons to prepare them for immigration to Palestine. Inge stayed together with Ilse until September 1939. In September, Inge was sent to live with a Jewish foster family in Blydorp, a suburb of Rotterdam. Meanwhile, Arthur tried to secure affidavits to bring the family to the United States. He succeeded in sending one to Ilse, but was unable to secure visas for the rest of the family. Arthur enlisted in the American army on August 20, 1941 and spent the war serving in the Aleution Islands. Ilse left Holland on April 4, 1940 on board the Volendam and arrived in New York on April 16. She found work as a domestic and later in a meat processing plant. The following month, Germany invaded The Netherlands. Inge's foster parents decided that it was no longer safe to keep her and sent her home to her parents in Volkmarsen. No longer permitted to attend German public school, Inge commuted daily to Kassel to attend the Jewish school. Inge, Meinhard, and Kaethe were later deported on June 1, 1942 to Sobibor and murdered within three hours of their arrival on June 3. Once in the United States, Ilse met a childhood friend, Meinhard Meyer, who had emigrated from Kassel Germany in January 1938. His sister, Berthe, had been on the Kindertransport and in the children's homes together with Ilse. Berthe's parents arrived in Holland on May 7, 1940 to pick her up to bring her to America. They had tickets on the Volendam, which was scheduled to sail on May 10. However, the evening before they sailed, Germany invaded Holland and they were not allowed to leave. In February 1943, Bertha and her parents were sent to Westerbork. On May 25, 1943 they were deported to Sobibor where they were killed three days later. In June 1943, Meinhard was drafted into the American Army and sent to the Pacific theater. He returned home in February 1945. Ilse and Meinhard married in 1955.