B.W. & Alfhild Huebsch

Before getting into the story of how B.W. and Alfhild met, it is interesting to note that B.W. was in Europe when WWI started! He left the U.S. on 7/7/14, WWI started 7/28/14, and on 8/15/14 he got an emergency passport from the US Consulate in Leipzig for "protection," intending to return to the US "within six months. An encyclopedia article about B.W. explains, "In 1914...Huebsch had begun to make annual summer trips to Europe so that he could vacation and personally interact with potential authors." B.W. himself wrote of this trip, "1914 resulted in such a net-gain in friends and experiences as to effect my subsequent course considerably."

As his grandson Rand recalled, B.W. was on Henry Ford's famous "Peace Ship" along with many other prominent Americans. The Jewish pacifist Rosika Schwimmer gave Ford the idea for this expedition. She was a good friend of the Huebsches (her papers in the NY Public Library include photographs of Alhild and her son Erik, Rand's father), though it's unclear whether Rosika and B.W.'s friendship pre-dated the trip (and was perhaps the reason why B.W. participated) or arose from it. (At the time Rand told me this story, I expressed surprise that such a virulent anti-Semite as Ford would have Jews on his mission. Many trace Ford's anti-Semitism to WWI, especially to this expedition, which made him look quite foolish in the press. He later claimed that a Jewish passenger on the Peace Ship (possibly the journalist Herman Bernstein) told him that the Jews, as in the German-Jewish bankers, started the war.)

39 year-old B.W. played more than a passing role in the mission. An article in American Heritage magazine explains, "Following Ford's instructions, a committee had been set up 'for the management of the trip and policies.' It consisted of Jones, Aked, Huebsch, Frederick Holt (Ford's representative), Judge Lindsey, Mrs. Lloyd, Mrs. Fels, and Plantiff, with Lochner as secretary." Was it this leadership role that gave B.W. the opportunity to get to know the expedition's accomplished translator, Alfhild Lamm, a 28 year-old Jew born to a Swedish father & German mother who was educated at the London School of Economics and worked as a factory inspector? For while the Peace Ship expedition failed utterly in ending the war, it succeeded in finding him a wife! How exactly they connected during this trip is lost to history, but B.W.'s time in Europe far outlasted the Peace Ship's mission, as he stayed until early March, though his fellow delegates returned mid-January.

Rand says that Alfhild and B.W. remained in contact through WWI. The war ended on 11/11/18, B.W. applied for a passport on 6/9/19 (approved 7/17/19), and sailed to Europe sometime later that summer to be reunited at last with Alfhild.

I cannot find the records from this trip or the return voyage. Presumably it was a success, because the next record I can find has Alfhild, now 32, sailing on her own to NYC in April 1920 to visit her "friend Olof Lamm."

She departed NYC on 6/14/20 to return to Sweden (source: her 1920 passport, see below). Since I can't find that ship record, I don't know whether she returned alone or with B.W., but it's clear that they were both together in Sweden by mid-September 1920 for their wedding!

Their wedding announcement appeared in The New York Times on the same day. Shortly thereafter, they returned to the US as a married couple in Oct. 1920.

There are many, many more ship records for each of them. A cursory review suggests that they traveled back to Europe annually, though not always together, interupted only by WWII. Some of the articles linked above suggest that B.W.'s annual trips were for work purposes; Alfhild's were clearly to visit her family in Sweden. She was the only one of her four sisters and brother to have kids, and her family had a lovely country estate 30 mi. outside of Stockholm, remembered fondly by Rand, that she must have enjoyed visiting (possibly located in Ekenäs, Vadsbro, Flen, Sweden?) (click here for more on Sweden's Jewish community). Here are Alfhild's passports and dates for her first two trips back home post-marriage, both taken without B.W.

To close one other, less happy loop, Rand told me that he believed B.W. was cremated in London after he passed away. He was correct.