Deborah Levine, daughter of a World War II military intelligence officer, shares first-hand stories of WW II and the Holocaust with wartime letters of her father, Aaron Levine. He was assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war. Scroll down for more info and link)
Hear the wartime love letters of Estelle Malloy, a Special Education pioneer whom Aaron married after they graduated from Harvard. Then you’ll hear the memoirs of Polish Holocaust Survivor, Leon Weisband. First, we’ll start with Aaron’s immigrant roots from the Ukraine-Latvia region. Next, we’ll see Estelle’s childhood in Bermuda in the only Jewish family to have lived on the island for 4 generations.
As my radio theater play, UNTOLD: Stories of a World War II Liberator, is in preparation for broadcast, I am reminded of the 1st time that I agreed to serve on the local Holocaust Remembrance Day Committee was painful, even after almost seventy years since the end of World War II. I agreed to assist in promoting the event beyond our Jewish community and I agreed to participate in the reading of the names of the victims. And I resigned myself to being an usher at the event, not my favorite thing. What I didn’t bargain for was a seat on the stage when I offhandedly shared that I was helping in memory of my father who was a U. S. military intelligence officer during World War II. Aaron Levine was an army translator of German and French. And by the way, he was a liberator of a labor camp.
Hear this very personal look at history from both an African-American and Jewish perspective. Don’t miss this amazing online discussion. Scroll down for the link.
In 1992, Ken Granderson, a graduate of MIT, launched his first software development company Inner-City Software, Brains in the Hood. He was committed to closing the Digital Divide by creating technology products and solutions by & for people of African descent. For a decade, he introduced Boston’s communities of color to computers and the Internet, giving local organizations and Boston’s Black newspaper an online world-class presence. Moving back to New York City, he was born in the Bedford Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, his achievements in technical design, education, and empowerment are nationally and internationally impressive. His website, BLACKFACTS, is an affiliate of the ADR. (CLICK to access)
Deborah coordinated the 1990 National Workshop on Christian Jewish RelationsIn and created her first Holocaust video in Rockford, Illinois, where she served as of the Jewish Federation’s executive director . She went on to become the Community & Media Liaison of the Tulsa Jewish Federation shortly after the OK City bombing and is the former exec. director of Chattanooga’s Jewish Federation. She carries on the work of her father who became the CFO of the American Jewish Archives. He served as a US military intelligence officer during World War II assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war. CLICK for more information about her memoir,The Liberator’s Daughter, and to hear an interview with her father about his wartime experiences.
Russian President Putin got my attention when he suggested that Jews with Russian citizenship might have interfered in the 2016 US presidential election. “Maybe they’re not even Russians,” said Putin. “Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship – even that needs to be checked.” Putin reminded me why my great grandparents made the harrowing journey from Russia and the Ukraine to the United States. My ancestors weren’t the only ones. Between 1881 and 1924, over 2.5 million East European Jews sought to escape the relentless persecution and ghettoization. The slice of history was captured in the movie Fiddler on the Roof, but while Hollywood entertained, it didn’t fully show the history of anti-Semitism in Russia and Eastern Europe, or its ongoing ripple effect.
When I heard that Holocaust Survivor Eva Schloss was speaking in Chattanooga, I seriously considered staying home. I know Holocaust stories all too well from my work in Holocaust education, the hand-typed memoirs of survivors sent to me, and my father’s World War II letters. Dad was a US military intelligence officer assigned to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war. His letters described their education into fascism and its authoritarian ultranationalism, dehumanizing minorities and suppressing opposition.
I have moved quite a lot in my life, especially in the first part of it, clocking one to three schools per year on average and as many caravans, mobile homes, flats or apartments until the age of 16. The good thing with this nomadic lifestyle is that it has forced me to be quite ruthless over the years in terms of keeping or discarding belongings.
We are now in the process of converting our attic into an adult bedroom in our family home with a view to get me a small desk for my musings and a walking wardrobe for my other half. This not a move but it almost feels like one. To do that I have to get rid of quite a lot of bits and pieces that have been accumulated since our previous move 10 years ago or so.
My Holocaust research started with SW Germany, where my relatives were rounded up. My great-aunt, Hedwig Schwarz, was the only Jew to escape deportation in Horb/Rexingen. She was handicapped before the Holocaust, fell off the transport car, and was rescued by a nameless person who took her to Marienhopital in Stuttgart, where the nuns cared for her. My sister, daughter and I visited the hospital to thank the current generation of sisters for taking care of Hedwig. They told us that Hedwig was the only Jew in the hospital, though there were some Resistance members; and they treated her with silence, because they thought that was the best medicine. Can you imagine!
Here’s a poem I wrote about echoes in Horb and a photo of Hedwig in her hospital bed, surrounded by photos of all the others who were taken. The poem was first published in Prism: An Interdisciplinary Journal for Holocaust Educators, and in Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press. 2009.
Mezuzah In Memory, Hedwig Schwarz
In the doorpost of her house, a hollow
where the mezuzah used to hang.
I press my hand against the indentation,
my way of speaking to the past.
Touch the hollow where the mezuzah
used to hang. In Horb, Nazis renamed her street
Hitlerstrasse. My way of speaking to the past
is to listen, press the old men for answers.
1941, Jews were packed into Hitlerstrasse.
Now it’s a winding picture postcard road,
Jew-free, pleasant as it seemed
before Nazis pressed my family into Judenhausen.
I press my hand against the indentation.
Over Horb, a hundred doorposts echo, hollow.
I teach a poetry workshop in SW France for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. The moment I stepped out of the car, an elderly neighbor started to talk to me about the Jews who had lived there. That part of France was a hotbed for the Jewish Resistance. Dr. Hirsch, radiologist, was taken my Mengele to work on medical experiments (he testified against Mengele at Nuremburg). His wife Berthe was taken to Auschwitz and gassed; the two children were hidden by the villagers. I met one of them, Nicole Hirsch, who is still traumatized though she’s over 80. We think we know about the Holocaust, but the individual stories still want to be told.
Loss, trauma, memory, and the impenetrable ties of family are the elements that weave together Sharon Hart-Green’s panoramic debut novel Come Back for Me (New Jewish Press). Set in the aftermath of World War II, it is a gripping story about the redemptive power of love and self-understanding.
Come Back for Me tells the story of two young Jewish characters; one is a Hungarian Holocaust survivor Artur Mandelkorn who is on a desperate quest to find his beloved sister, Manya, after they become separated during the war. Artur’s journey takes him to Israel where he falls in love with Fanny, a young woman who still bears the scars of her own tragic past in Germany.
Broken on the inside – The War Never Ended by Dutch author and journalist Simon Hammelburg is based on 1200 interviews with Holocaust survivors and their children. The book reads like a novel but is based on facts, some of which have never been revealed before, disclosing insights of the psychological aftermath of survivors as well as the post-war generations and the traumas that are passed on for over six generations.
It took me decades to write my historical memoir, The Liberator’s Daughter. Sifting through my father’s letters and diaries from World War II was both hypnotic and repulsive. As an ambitious first generation born American, he progressed from the son of a shoe peddler to a Harvard scholar before becoming a US military intelligence officer deployed to England, France, Belgium, and Germany towards the end of the war. He gathered intelligence from the populations about Nazi troop movements and activities. Post-war, his role was to interrogate Nazi prisoners of war, determining who should be prosecuted.