inancy

Fred Chaiet-Kantoff and his daughter Sandra

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Fred Chajet / Kantoff. In 1924 Fred changed his surname from Chajet to Kantoff. His only child was Sandra.

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Prior to his marriage to Esther (mentioned in his 1924 Petition for Naturalization above, granted January 2, 1925), Fred Kantoff was engaged to one Eva Weizsman, who lived above his deli. In order to obtain the money he needed to marry Eva, in March of 1921 Fred faked a holdup which resulted in a comedy of errors wherein he shot his father, Sam. The following two articles in the Chicago Daily Tribune chronicle the story, and tell us much about Fred’s character as a young man:

Holdup B

Holdup C

Holdup A

On December 31, 1930, when he was about 32, Fred married Leila Brin, who became his third wife. (It is still unknown if Fred ever married Eva Weizsman). By that time, Fred was an insurance salesman. Sandra, born on October 1, 1931 in Chicago, was their only child. The marriage of Fred and Leila did not last long, for by 1935 when Sandra was 4 years old, the marriage began to falter and Leila left Chicago with Sandra, who was asthmatic, for Tucson AZ. Perhaps the car accident which Fred had c. June 31, 1935, and which resulted in the death of a pedestrian, played some part in Leila’s decision to leave.

June 1, 1935 Chicago Daily Trib

Item No. 2: Fred’s car accident: Chicago Daily Tribune, June 31, 1935.

Fred Kantoff’s Unique Post-WWII War Experience

As a result of the German front-line having broken through and the Soviet army occupying Lithuania for a second time in July 1944, vast masses of Lithuanian inhabitants, part of them on receiving evacuation orders, others led by the sense of self-preservation, withdrew from a second Soviet invasion. Part of them tried to get to Sweden but only some hundreds were lucky enough to reach that country. German war-ships overtook most of the fugitives, put them in jail or took them to forced labor camps. The majority of Lithuanian refugees, however, moved towards the only country within reach that was not occupied by the Soviets, namely to Germany.

Movements from one zone of occupation to the other having ceased, at war’s end there were 18,000 Lithuanians in the British Zone , 32,000 in the American, and 3,000 in the French Zone of occupation.

From 1942-45 Fred Kantoff had held the rank of Private First Class in the US Army. After the hostilities had come to a close in Germany, Fred was ordered to undertake a position in the Lithuanian Displaced Persons’ Camp in Schweinfurt, Germany as a manager. Fred’s expertise in understanding Germanic and Slavic tongues, which was the logic the Army brass followed in assigning Fred to this job, was of little use in the camp itself, because Fred did not understand Lithuanian, a Baltic language. On the other hand, the local population around the camp did speak German.

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The US Army statement above regarding Fred Kantoff’s post-WW II assignment reads:

MANAGER DISPLACED PERSONS CAMP: Managed the displaced persons camp at Schweinfurt, Germany. Was drafted from 3rd army headquarters for his fluent ability to speak German, Jewish, Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Jugoslavian and other allied tongues. Handled all personnel problems in camp and received high praise from army headquarters!! Straightened out living quarters, reunited lost families, purchased food, handled all complaints. When a new town was occupied, was first man to restore business conditions in town. Was called out night and day in emergencies. Had to display great tact and diplomacy in his job as he was the representative of the allied powers in the occupied area.

Map-of-East-and-West-Germany-with-a-seprate-map-for-Berlin

The Lithuanian DPO camp at Schweinfurt was located just to the west of Frankfurt in the American Zone of Post-WW II Germany

Fred's Commendation

Abe and Jeanette w. Fred

Abe and Jeanette with Fred

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Fred Kantoff

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Fred Kantoff at his desk: Fred was an insurance agent in Chicago

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Sandra with her father, Fred Kantoff, who was an insurance salesman for Mutual Benefit Life

On December 31, 1930, when he was about 32, Fred married Leila Brin, who became his third wife. By that time, Fred was an insurance salesman. Sandra, born on October 1, 1931 in Chicago, was their only child. The marriage of Fred and Leila did not last long, for by 1935 when Sandra was 4 years old, the marriage began to falter and Leila left Chicago with Sandra, who was asthmatic, for Tucson AZ.

During that era, Tucson was a haven for persons suffering from tuberculosis and asthma as there where no other therapies known, other than to move into an area where the air was pure. In fact, Leila boarded other asthmatic children during the four school years (September through May 1935 – 1939) she and Sandra spent in Tucson. Still married, Leila spent the summers with Fred in Chicago, but by 1937 when Sandra was six, Fred and Leila were divorced. It was then that Leila and Sandra moved in with Leila’s sister, Rose Neuman, her husband Sam, and their two children Lucille and Bill. In 1942 or 43 Rose’s family relocated to Los Angeles, but Leila and Sandra stayed behind until 1944, when they left Chicago to live with Rose’s family in Los Angeles.

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Sandra Elaine Kantoff c. 1932

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Sandra Kantoff in 1935

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Sandra (right) with a friend in Tucson, April 15 year unknown. Sandra might be carrying a present for Leila whose birthday falls on April 15th, the day the photo was taken.

Temple Emanu-El Tuscon

During their years in Tucson, Sandra and her mother attended the historic reform synagogue, Temple Emanu-El. The old structure has recently been converted into the Jewish History Museum of Tucson.

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The restored Temple Emanu-El is now the Jewish History Museum of Tucson

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Sandra Kantoff in 1941

Pratt & Sheridan Chicago

By 1941, Sandra and her mother, Leila Brin Kantoff, were living in this apartment building on the corner of Pratt & Sheridan in Chicago. They were the guests of Leila’s sister, Rose Brin Neuman and her husband Sam Neuman. When the Neumans moved to Los Angeles Sandra and her mother moved to an apartment about half way down the block.

Joyce Kilmer Elementary School

Sandra attended Joyce Kilmer Elementary School in Chicago.

Joyce Kilmer Elementary School location

Map showing the relative distance to from Sandra’s apartment on Pratt and Sheridan to Joyce Kilmer Elementary School.

Fred Kantoff with Sandy & Merrill

Fred Kantoff with his daughter, Sandra, and her husband, Merrill Bonar

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