Warner Silberberg was born in Germany in 1923. At the end of October 1938, 15-year-old Warner left Berlin with his parents to begin a journey that crossed three continents, leaving behind family, friends and a comfortable lifestyle. The 24-day voyage brought them to a part of the world they knew little about. For the next 10 years, Shanghai, China, would be home to the Silberbergs and 20,000 other European Jewish refugees.
Over that decade, they experienced highs and lows, from feeling relatively prosperous – despite living without a bathtub or toilet — to worrying where their next meal would come from. Life in Shanghai held many trials – poor and scarce housing, challenges finding work, and contagious like typhus and dysentery. Despite these hardships, with his German friends, Warner participated in a youth group, played soccer, learned to speak Chinese, and when there was enough money, went to American films.
The Silberbergs left Shanghai for the United States in 1949 as the Communist party took over. In the United States, Warner’s family changed their last name to Bergh. In 1956, Warner met his wife Esther, a German refugee who had escaped through the Kindertransport. The couple settled in Des Moines before retiring to Overland Park, Kansas.Learn more about Warner Bergh