Schiffres family in Lisbon and after

Schiffres family in Lisbon and after

The Schiffres family reached Lisbon about five weeks after the Ringel family. Their experiences were similar. Lines at South American embassies, no help from the U.S. Irwin joined with many refugee children attending a makeshift school where every language was spoken. Though he would stay just six months in Lisbon, departing earlier than the Ringels who stayed nine months, he was able to pick up a fair bit of Portuguese, as did Helga.

The Schiffres family was able to ship out of Lisbon on the basis of an immigration visa from Ecuador, exactly the same as the Ringels. He adds a new bit of information about the Ecuador visa, that it required a $1000 deposit that would be refunded on arrival in Ecuador. Since neither the Schiffres or Ringels planned to go to Ecuador, the deposit would be forfeited.

Their voyage, normally a six-day trip, took 15 days, says Schiffres. They stopped several days in Bermuda waiting for the all-clear to proceed to New York. The Schiffres' accommodations were in the ship's hold about the S.S. Serpa Pinto. The Ringel trip aboard the S.S. Guine also took 15 days, so we can reasonably conclude that they also were held in Bermuda. Schiffres quoted form a autobiographical essay he wrote in junior high school a few years later: "Finally after 15 days at sea, we saw the statue that all free loving people like to see, the Statue of Liberty."

At Ellis Island, just as with the Ringels, members of the Schiffres family were held at Ellis Island while awaiting for a relative affidavit to be produced. Schiffres does not have detailed memories of Ellis Island. Unlike with the Ringels, after acquiring a family affidavit, the Schiffres were able to stay in the U.S. on six-month visitor visas, which they renewed several times before one day taking to train to Detroit and crossing the border to Canada to receive legal immigration visas. This trip is analogous to the Ringel family's detour to Cuba before re-entering the U.S.

The Schiffres family settled on the Upper West Side, as did the Ringels. Irwin attended Joan of Arc high school and excelled there, as Helga did at Julia Richmond. He went on to City College, where he became active in student government. Then he went to Harvard Law and moved into a legal career that culminated in his position at the time of the interview as the chief editor of the legal journal Jurisprudence. He and his wife Mimi had two children and five grandchildren.

Since regrettably I have only met Irwin Schiffres posthumously, I hope to make contact with one of his children to see if he has left more useful information.