Recently, Joe Boyle, historian and TPS Educator, shared the above photograph and accompanying story with our director at TLCPL, Jason Kucsma.
In the course of diligently researching Toledo servicemembers who lost their lives in World War II, Joe came across the story and sacrifice of Stephen Mosbacher, who’d been awarded a Silver Star for his extraordinary service. The photo, circa 1943-44, shows Stephen along with his mother Rose and sister Marianne, taken by the father of the family, Dr. Emil Mosbacher. They are smiling and posed outside the Main Library with the memorial plaque to Toledo Central High School.
According to Joe, the Mosbacher family fled Nazi Germany in October of 1938, just weeks before Kristallnacht. Dr. Mosbacher had practiced as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Nuremberg where his expertise was such that even Nazi officers entrusted him with the care of their wives. Over the years of Nazi rule, Dr. Mosbacher was periodically warned of anticipated violence, to help keep him and his family safe. Although they weren’t warned just before their departure, their flight to the United States allowed their family some more time together. After arriving in the United States, they briefly lived in New York, then Dr. Mosbacher established a medical practice in West Toledo.
At the time of the photo, Stephen was an engineering student at the University of Toledo and just about to join the Army. He had gotten into a program for bright young men to become officers and get some college education for their service. Joe recounts Stephen’s experience:
“In the middle of this program, a couple of officers he doesn’t know approach him to see if he’s willing to stay enlisted in return for an interesting job. He gets recruited as one of the “Ritchie
Boys,” a group of German Jewish men recruited for their language and cultural skills to serve as intel/co-intel men…”
While working his way through the same parts of Germany he and his family had escaped six years earlier, Stephen was killed as he and two other men were trying to save a fourth.
“He’s buried in Margarten, Netherlands, where he’d stayed with a local family months earlier. That family ends up tending his grave, and he’s one of the original “Margarten Boys,” whose
families began a unique program of caring for American war graves.”
As a researcher and soon to be published author, Joe’s account of his discovery of Stephen’s story is also a fascinating one. He reached out to Stephen’s surviving nieces using information found in Marianne’s obituary and was able to get in touch with them, initially through Facebook. Imagine his surprise when they shared this image with him, showing a building behind them where he’s spent enormous amounts of his own time researching. Joe describes it best in his own words:
“The picture really spoke to me on so many levels. First, it was a photo placing them in a place that still exists in Toledo. I imagined them enjoying the inside of the library much as we do today. Second, the joy on their faces was something I could only imagine – these folks who had been through so much, here on the library lawn, in what was a safe and wonderful place. Finally, it made me feel personally rooted and connected to them – the sense of permanence the library has, the idea that I really have shared at least this one place, and one experience with a young man who has really become a hero to me over the past five years.”
We retell this story with the deepest gratitude to the Mosbacher Family and to Joe, for sharing his experience with us.
Our online collection of World War II clippings of veterans is constantly growing! The original collection in entirety is housed in the Local History and Genealogy Department at Main Library in multiple card catalog drawers. It is an index of cards and newspaper clippings of Toledo and Toledo area soldiers. It is organized by the last name of the soldier and may include a clipping from a local newspaper, direct a researcher to a different card within the index, or only list a discharge date. This amazing resource is where Joe formerly sent his students to work on their assigned soldier projects.
Visit our department and/or check out our online collection.