World War II drove a wedge between members of the Dursch/Gerngross family, as it probably did for other immigrants with family still in Germany. John Eugene Dursch, my 2nd great-grandfather, was a soldier in the German Army and a metal smith by trade. He immigrated to the United States in 1882 with his wife, Maria. Their daughter Anna Matilda “Tillie” Dursch married George Gerngross and my grandfather (Clements/Klemmens aka “Pop Timmy”) was one of their five children. The Dursch grandparents and Gerngross family were all living together on Trenton Avenue in Laurel Springs, New Jersey, in 1930. My grandfather mentioned that they thought there may be Nazi Party members in the extended family, but the topic was rarely discussed. Uncle Eugene (Pop’s brother) wrote of an incident when one of Tillie’s cousins, then an engineer for Daimler Benz who had traveled to the United States to study the automotive industry, suggested that they convert their dollars to German money or even return to Germany. Tillie was indignant and did not reply. Pop Timmy served in the Pacific as a radioman on a ship during World War II and his brother George enlisted in the army. After the war ended, Tillie received a letter from her cousin asking her to send a care package. Eugene thinks that something was sent...family is family.
– Abby Newkirk