Note regarding comments

I love comments. I enjoy debate. I welcome both praise and thoughtful criticism. However, I've had to change comments-permissions to require self-identification. No more anonymous messages, please!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mourning Micha

     Rarely has the beloved son or daughter of a White Rose protagonist touched lives and protected the verity of history as did Michael Probst. Not yet three years old when Freisler pronounced his father guilty, “Micha” is best known to us as the little boy riding atop his daddy’s shoulders. A daddy laughing, smiling, a daddy at home in his native Bavaria. A daddy, who – for the moment at least – focused on Herta and his babies, leaving thoughts of resistance for another day.
     Michael Probst admitted that he spent the better part of his youth, perhaps even his young adulthood, attempting to get out from under that famous father’s shadow. Christoph Probst’s untimely death made him larger than life. Known for his backbone and integrity, Christoph Probst the hero dwarfed Christoph Probst, the flawed human being. For Michael and his brother Vincent, that birthright inspired both awe and frustration.

"I am the son of Christoph Probst..."

The Legacy of the White Rose

     In 1976 when my Aunt Angelika died, I read my father’s letters for the first time. They had been in the estate of his sister. My father’s letters to my mother had burned in Lermoos, and the letters with political content had been destroyed out of fear of imprisonment under kinship laws in 1943.
     For the first time, my father became close to me. I appreciated him in his being, saw him live his short life. And now I recognized how many portrayals of the White Rose did him an injustice, yes, how

Monday, March 29, 2010

Calling all students of Omer Bartov

     Last week, the Shoah Foundation sponsored an "international academic forum" on the use of its visual history archive. As part of that conference, Dr. Omer Bartov (Brown University) lectured on reconstructing the Holocaust from below.
     Since this topic shares the same foundation as our own work, I took good notes!
     Bartov notes that generally, those who lived in Europe between 1933 and 1945 tend to be classified as victims, perpetrators, or bystanders. Black and white. Defined as one of the three, period.
     He argues that "testimonies" ~ such as those found in the Shoah Foundation's video archives ~ must be integrated into Holocaust history with validity equalling that of more traditional, "historical"

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Heart Nuns

     Mumble-mumble years ago as an eighteen-year-old fresh out of high school, I traveled to Europe basically alone. The world was not nearly as violent a place then as it is now, but it was not as safe as we like to remember either.
     Baader-Meinhof still terrorized German cities. A year earlier, Palestinian guerrillas had marred "Mark Spitz's" Olympics. The student uprisings of the 1960s, which we now know were over and done with by the Summer of 1973, threatened to re-erupt, as the war in Vietnam dragged on. And on.
     If all that were not enough, Richard Nixon's Watergate saga had grabbed the U.S. by the throat and bred distrust across the country. Distrust which showed up in Europe as disdain. Among Europeans unaware that Willy Brandt's own version of Watergate, the Guillaume Affair, was about to unfold.

Friday, February 19, 2010

The new Sophie Scholl biography

     I have only seen "hype" surrounding the new Sophie bio. And remain terribly unimpressed.
     Above all else, I am truly tired of the money-making machine that is "Scholl" in Germany. From early postwar days, the Scholls learned how to turn their children, siblings, and cousins into Big Dollars, milking the McCloy/Marshall Fund for millions of dollars. Hiding behind Hans and Sophie Scholl to mask their own Nazi pasts.
     I will NOT be impressed with any Scholl biography - whether written by German, American, or Israeli, unless and until someone actually demands ~ and I mean DEMANDS ~ total, unfettered, complete access to the thousands of Scholl documents that remain censored and off limits at IfZ headquarters in Munich.
     And unless and until that same courageous biographer goes one step further and searches for archives that reveal the financial transactions involved when Scholls moved to the great house on Muensterplatz, where a Jewish family had lived prior to Kristallnacht.

Friday, January 22, 2010

New synagogue in Ulm

Following up on news in our last newsletter: The design of the new synagogue in Ulm has been approved. City fathers, together with Germany's Jewish community, unanimously chose a simple, stark concept, Bauhaus in nature, although not directly referred to as such.
This article contains a couple of pictures, along with (German-language) description of reasons for choosing this particular style.
While generally good news, I was reminded of two ongoing struggles for Germany's Jewish community. First, it was a foregone conclusion that this had to be an Orthodox shul. So women may not worship in the level depicted here, which is reserved for men only.
And this, in the country where progressive Judaism was born...
Second, some of the feedback from Ulmers about this synagogue reflects disturbing trends. Instead of celebrating rebirth of a lost community, a few idiots are saying things like, Does this now mean we have to tolerate construction of a mosque?
Let's hope this is a case of two steps FORWARD and one step back, and that the new synagogue and JCC will bring the city renewed understanding and a big dose of tolerance.