Louis and Johanna “Hanna” Adelsheimer Silbermann raised four children in the small town of Lemforde, Germany. In 1934, Louis Silbermann received a phone call from the Gestapo, summoning him to their headquarters. “He died right there,” his daughter Marga Silbermann Randall later recalled in an interview with the Pittsburgh Press. “He just dropped dead with the phone in his hand. I was sitting on a stool in front of him.” Soon, Johanna Silbermann moved into a small apartment and took a job as a housekeeper. Her older children, sons Manfred and Herbert, and daughter Hilda, left Lemforde to train for work in other cities. The youngest, Marga Silbermann (1930-2005), was sent to live with her grandparents Gustav and Emma Adelsheimer and her aunt Paula Adelsheimer in the tiny town Schermbeck, near Dusseldorf.
The Silbermann and Adelsheimer families faced increasing discrimination under the Nuremberg laws. Manfred Silbermann, the oldest brother, escaped to England. Herbert “Herbie” Silberman (c.1921-2000), who spelled his named differently than his sister, was forced to leave school in 1934. In 1938, while working as a butcher, he was temporarily sent to the Dachau concentration camp. His uncle helped him obtain a visa to England in 1939. En route, his immigration papers were stolen, and officials sent Herbie to Australia on a ship carrying German prisoners of war.
Following several years securing the necessary paperwork and a dangerous journey through France, Spain and Portugal, Johanna Silbermann and her daughters arrived in the United States in 1941. The family settled in Pittsburgh, where Johanna’s brother-in-law and sister Nathan and Bertha Adelsheimer Kann had settled after immigrating several years earlier. The remaining members of the Adelsheimer, Kann and Silbermann families died in the Holocaust.
After working as a butcher for the Australian Army, Herbie joined his family in Pittsburgh about 1946. He owned a meat market on the North Side until he married Marianne Silberberg, whose parents owned a bakery in Squirrel Hill. Herbie and flowing water casino later took over the business which they ran until 1981.
Marga Silbermann married Jordan Randall. They had three children and became involved in the Jewish community of the South Hills. She was a member of Women’s American ORT and the Friendship Club, an organization formed by German-speaking Jewish refugees before the war, where she met fellow member Ernest Nachman.
In 1981, Marga Silbermann Randall returned to her native Germany, visiting Lemforde and Schermbeck. The trip inspired her to devote the rest of her life to increasing awareness about the Holocaust. She made numerous trips to Germany over the years and spoke to students both in Germany and in Pittsburgh about her experiences. In 2004, she used ashes collected from the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp, where her aunt Paula had been killed, to dedicate the Holocaust Memorial garden at Temple Emanuel in Mt. Lebanon.