Welcome to the blog about my book, “Looking for the Glassmaker’s Son.” Here you will find excerpts and images from the upcoming memoir about my father, Robert Cooper (née Kupfer), a Holocaust survivor who immigrated to the United States in 1937.
On Oct. 15, 1937, my father crossed the border from Kehl, in the southwest corner of Germany, into Strasbourg, France. Five days later he boarded the SS Bremen in Cherbourg for the five–day voyage across the Atlantic to New York.
My parents were both Ashkenazi Jews who grew up in not-particularly-religious homes, but that’s pretty much where their similarities ended. My father grew up in a world of big houses, fancy cars, and vacations at fashionable resorts. My mother, on the other hand, was the product of a tight-knit middle-class family. She had lived with her parents in the same house her entire life.
Once or twice a year Dad took the family to New York for a weekend matinee.
I grew up in the first-floor flat of my grandmother’s house on Willow Street in New Haven. It was a neighborhood of stout, three-story shingled houses a mile or so from the ivy-covered neo-Gothic halls of Yale University. It was a tight-knit community of immigrant families, mostly Italian, Irish, and Jewish.
In May 2015, 72 years after my grandfather’s murder, I boarded an intercity bus in Prague for the 40-mile trip northwest to Terezín.
Everything about New York was bigger, faster, louder, messier. Dad was different, too. At home my mother ruled with unchallenged supremacy, but here in the Big City, Dad was in command.
At the turn of the 20th century, The Kupfers were one of the largest producers of sheet and mirror glass in Bavaria and Bohemia.
My grandfather Otto Kupfer was deported to Theresienstadt on August 18, 1942.
My father married into a family of powerful, strong-willed women.