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October 4, 2019

Local Connection to National History

Several dozen people came out to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter Open House of Sept. 3, 1944. Oswego City Historian Mark Slosek spoke to the audience about relations between the refugees and local residents, including the friendship his wife Patti's (nee Teifke) family struck up with their neighbors, the Kaufmann family. A photographer by trade, Branko Kaufmann returned to Oswego with his wife Kathe and their daughter Eva a year after the camp closed in 1946 and set up a photography studio. Branko offered to take a portrait photograph of Patti for her parents in celebration of her fifth birthday. The Kaufmann family moved to California in the late 1950s where Eva remains to this day, occasionally coming back to Oswego to visit friends and for special events. Slosek is pictured holding his wife Patti's childhood photograph taken by Branko Kaufmann. The Fort Ontario Emergency Refugee Shelter was the only site in the U.S. to take in refugees of the Holocaust during WWII. For many Americans, it was their first encounter with survivors and first-hand accounts of Hitler's reign of terror. For more information about Fort Ontario State Historic site, call 315-343-4711 or visit www.fortontario.com.

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