Barbara Zakon dialogue

There’s a guy I know who wrote this great biography of a man who survived the worst Holocaust experience that I know of (and I’ve known a lot of them), only to kill himself decades later. We were talking online and I told him about Barbara Zakon who is, as far as I know, the only Holocaust survivor presently featured on the Charley Project.

My friend: Strange this missing persons business. I mean strange that people can disappear like that. Looking at Barbara Zakon’s medical condition, I see she is/was diabetic, which means she would not have survived more than a few months (assuming she is/was Type 1 diabetic) witout insulin shots. If she was Type 2, the likelihood is that a heart attack would have got her. But still strange that she could disappear like that, unless foul play comes into the equation. All missing persons are tragic, at least most, but this one, after what she went through, seems particularly tragic. I was quite moved when I read your link.

My reply: As for Barbara Zakon, what seems saddest of all to me is that she is so forgotten. The NYPD missing persons site is pathetic and rarely updated. It no longer profiles old cases like hers and, as you can see, there was little enough to begin with. Online, Barbara exists only on a few private sites like mine. Someone cared enough about her to report her missing, but it’s likely that whoever that was is dead. It’s just as likely that her actual casefile within the police department is either entirely missing or contains little more information than what I have on the Charley Project site. (You’d be surprised to find out how many of those old missing persons reports were simply lost or thrown away without being solved.) And, as you say, all for a woman who went through so much. Last night I found myself looking through Yad Vashem’s database of Shoah Victims’ Names at people named Zakon, wondering if any of them were Barbara’s relatives.

I’d love to find out I’m wrong and that someone who knew and loved Barbara is still out there looking for her. A husband, perhaps. More likely a child. I wish I had more info for her. Not even a DOB, though from her picture I’d guess she was in her fifties or early sixties when she disappeared. She’d have to have been at least that old to have survived a concentration camp.

6 thoughts on “Barbara Zakon dialogue

  1. Jaime February 24, 2011 / 3:20 pm

    Too many people are just forgotten. I hope NAMUS in the coming years will make progress into the staggering number of unidentified human remains and the number of missing people in this country. The case with Billy Tillery is a great example. 1 down tens of thousands more to go.

    • Meaghan February 25, 2011 / 9:19 am

      And he was found in a town just SIXTEEN MILES away, THREE MONTHS after his disappearance, you’d think they’d put two and two together.

      • forthelost February 26, 2011 / 6:32 pm

        I kind of understand – the remains were only a skull, and they were estimated to have been there for at least nine months.

  2. Kat February 25, 2011 / 8:40 pm

    I’ve always wondered why there wasn’t greater interest in the Zakon case. It’s a perfect storm for possiblilities, and you know how the press loves a good story..that should be one. I don’t know if they will ever find her or if they are even looking, given it seems she has no contacts. How sad, to survive the Holocaust and disappear in America with no attention.

    • Meaghan February 25, 2011 / 8:44 pm

      I may not be looking in the right places. Perhaps some Jewish media in New York picked up the story.

      • Kat February 27, 2011 / 6:34 pm

        Anyone on here Jewish or NY based? Maybe someone could look and see. My own experience with East European immigrants is they talk a lot but are resistant to outside interference and coverage….she might be kind of an urban legend or story among communities of that time.

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