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Joseph Klinghoffer

Joseph Klinghoffer recalls a conversation with his employer while working under a false identity.

Joseph Klinghoffer was born on January 14, 1903 in Radautz, Romania. His mother’s name was Regina Rivka. His father’s name was Leon and he ran a small finance business. Joseph grew up in a middle class home with reformed Jewish parents.  

Growing up, Joseph attended a Jewish Gymnasium in Lwow. He graduated in 1922 and went on to attend the University of Vienna where he studied German literature and language as a major and minored in English literature. In 1926 he received his Magisterium, M.A. From there and accepted a permanent teaching position in Tomashov, Poland.  

As a young intellectual in Vienna, Joseph kept in strong touch with his Jewish identity although he was immersed intellectually in the western culture. At some point the Polish National Press found out that he was Jewish and pounced on this and for weeks publishing article after article stating: ‘What nonsense it was to appoint a Jew to such a high position in the province. He brings in specially speakers to denigrate the greatest poet of the Polish nation by pointing out his Jewish descent and poisons the souls of the Polish youth that he is supposed to educate.’ 

In 1941, Germany occupied the country and immediately, Jewish people were forced to wear armbands and many proletarian Ukrainians started to be violent. In November of that year, Joseph managed to get false papers for his family and they went to Warsaw where they pretended to be Polish Catholics. In Warsaw, Joseph worked as a tutor in the underground Polish school system.  

In 1945, Joseph was liberated by the Red Army. Following liberation, Joseph managed to become the Administrative Director of the DP hospital in Salzburg. He applied for immigration to Canada in 1947 and arrived in Halifax in 1948.  

Joseph Klinghoffer

The following weeks article after article appeared to tell the Polish people of Lublin, what nonsense it was to appoint a Jew to the high position in their province