More than 72 years ago, Jerry G. H. Lissner, Esq., established a law firm assisted by his wife, Liese Shomberg Lissner. In 1982, Michael D. Lissner, Esq. joined his parents, and the Firm was renamed Lissner & Lissner. After the death of Jerry G.H. Lissner, in 1987, the Firm became Lissner & Lissner LLP when Michael’s wife, Barbara H. Urbach Lissner, Esq., became his partner.
The Firm’s original clients were refugees who had fled Europe prior to the Holocaust. Within a few years, however, the practice expanded to provide legal services to many Survivors of the Shoa. The Firm has continued to grow, generally by word of mouth, both within and outside of the Survivor community. The backgrounds of both the Lissner and Urbach families inspire Michael and Barbara’s ongoing dedication to the refugee and Survivor populations.
Born in Berlin in 1925, Jerry Lissner was evacuated from Germany on a Kindertransport in 1939, shortly after Kristallnacht. In England, he lived in a Quaker home for refugee children and emigrated to the United States in late 1940. He returned to Europe during the war as an American GI in the Counter-Intelligence Corps where he served behind enemy lines. His accounts of his escape from Germany and his war-time experiences made a lasting impression on his children.
Michael’s maternal family, the Shombergs, sailed for the United States in August, 1939 on one of the last ships to leave Germany. Settling in Washington Heights, in northern Manhattan, Michael’s grandfather, Dr. Ernst Shomberg, devoted his medical practice to refugees who were able to leave Germany before the war, and later he cared for Survivors of the Holocaust whose health had suffered ruinously.
Barbara’s family was less fortunate. Her father, Sol Urbach, was born in 1925 in Krakow, Poland. After his family was forced into the Krakow ghetto, the SS removed Sol from the Ghetto and delivered him to Oskar Schindler to work Schindler’s Enamel Works Factory. This was a stroke of luck that Sol wouldn’t fully understand until many years later. Except for periods of internment in the concentration camps of Krakow-Plasców (run by Amon Goeth) and Gross-Rosen (run by the Ukrainian SS), Sol remained with Oskar Schindler until he was finally liberated in 1945 from the Brunlitz Concentration Camp in Czechoslovakia by the Russian Army.
Returning to Krakow, Sol began a search for his family which led him throughout Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany, before realizing that his entire family, including his mother, father, three brothers, two sisters and extended family had been murdered. Only he had survived.
Ada Birnbaum, Barbara’s mother, fled Krakow in 1939 with her family and spent much of the war in a Siberian labor camp. Following their liberation and escape from Siberia, her family settled in Germany where she and Sol met.
Today, after more than a half century of legal practice, the Firm’s client base has grown and the needs of our clients have changed. The comparatively intimate size of the Firm allows for exceptional individual attention to, and a personal relationship with, each of our clients and their specific requirements. Our assistance to many of our clients who together with their families are faced with the difficult issues surrounding aging and prolonged illness is aimed at enabling them to live with dignity in the twilight of their lives.
In 1999, as a result of our intimate involvement with Survivors and their families, as well as our deep commitment to this community, Lissner & Lissner LLP developed a unique asset protection plan called the Victim of Nazi Persecution Restitution Trusts ® by which eligible persons are able to preserve a significant portion of their assets in the event that they require long-term health care. Survivors and their families throughout the United States have benefitted from this Trust, which was considered so important and unique that information about establishing such an instrument was requested by the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as by numerous social service agencies and organizations throughout the United States and adopted by other Attorneys and agencies advocating for Survivors and their families.