|GICS Oral History Archive
Journeys with Rilke • Dr.
Daniel Joseph Polikoff
|Daniel Polikoff. Photo: Irene Young
“Over the course
of twenty-five years, Rainer Maria Rilke has been
for me both a spiritual guide and poetic mentor. I'll
share various aspects of my life and work with modernity's
Orphic poet. I'll read excerpts of Rue Rilke,
the creative non-fiction account of my formative Rilke
pilgrimage in the summer of 1993, and speak about
the following decades I spent as a Rilke scholar and
translator. I’ll share poems from my rendition
of Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus (2015) and a
few of my own that owe a clear debt to the master’s
and Rilke scholar Daniel
Joseph Polikoff has published
six books of poetry,
and creative non-fiction.
Daniel earned his Ph.D.
in Comparative Literature
from Cornell University
and his Diploma in Waldorf
Education from Steiner
College; he has taught
literature in both Waldorf
high schools and Bay
area graduate programs.
He has shared his passion
for Rilke in a wide variety
of venues in the United
States and abroad. A
native of Chicago, he
has lived with his German
wife Monika and family
in the San Francisco
Bay area since 1999.
Religion and Identity
An exploration of what makes us
who we are–and what makes someone else ‘the
“We are all
shaped by the predominant culture of the places we
come from. Religion often is a part of that culture,
and it shapes us more than we might think or acknowledge.
I will talk about my upbringing in a ‘mixed’ family
(Roman Catholic and Lutheran) in Germany, the religious
traditions that are important to many Germans, even
though many among them think church is not relevant
anymore, and different forms of ‘identity crises’ people
face as they are displaced or are confronted with
a different religious culture (as happens right now
with the influx of Muslim refugees in Germany). Whether
you consider yourself religious or not, you are invited
to ponder for yourself: how does my upbringing shape
my expectations–and fears?”
Sie studierte evangelische
Theologie in Bethel/Bielefeld,
machte 1996 ihr
Examen. Nach einem
in der Landeskirche
Oldenburg zog sie
Ende 1997 mit ihrem
ersten Mann und
zwei Kindern in
die San Francsico
Bay Area. Sie wurde
hier als Pastorin
in America 2002
ordiniert und hat
Gemeinden in der
Bay Area geleitet.
Seit 2014 ist sie
Pastorin an der
in San Francisco,
wo sie entdeckt
hat, daß unsere
Wurzeln einen größeren
uns haben, als wir
Weidmann was born and raised
in Delmenhorst in Northern
Germany. She studied Protestant
Theology at three different
Göttingen and Münster.
She graduated in 1996 and
started a pastoral residency
program in the Synod of Oldenburg.
In late 1997, she moved with
her first husband and two
young children to the San
Francisco Bay Area. She was
ordained as a pastor of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church
in America in 2002. Since
she has served several congregations
in the Bay Area. Since July
2014, she has been pastor
of St. Matthew's Lutheran
Church in San Francisco, a
predominantly German speaking
church. Here she has discovered
that her being German has
influenced her more than she
would have thought….
Erlenwein, Ph.D., And Saw The Heaven
Open (Und sah die Himmel offen)
Spirituality here and beyond religion. Narratives, voices, contemplations
presents a fascinating approach
toward the complex dynamics
between spirituality, religion,
and society. His book And
saw the heaven open is
programmatic: prominent German,
US American and international
voices share their views,
especially Simone Weil und
Raimon Panikkar. Far reaching
dimensions of spiritual experience,
beyond mainstream stereotypes,
are hereby reflected, concerning
their profound meaning for
a secularized Western mind.
Erlenwein, Ph.D., is
a sociopsychologist and
from Germany. His integral
approach combines Jungian
meditation and body mind
work with dance, ritual
and role-playing in the
context of sacred text
hermeneutics and contemplation
of different religious
His spiritual insight
and life has been deeply
inspired by his decades-long
travels to India, Africa
and now the U.S.
Fretter • Wie ich
zur deutschen Sprache gekommen bin | How I came to the German Language
January 24, 2014
Born in Berkeley, CA, in 1940,
Travis studied French and German in Berkeley High
School and later added Italian at UC Berkeley.
He spent his Junior year at the interpreters'
school with these trilingual studies in Geneva,
where his Swiss roommate taught him some Swiss
German. Travis married Phyllis in 1962 in Berkeley
and graduated one year later. He joined the Army
to avoid being drafted for Viet Nam, and went
to “Intelligence School.” In 1964,
he was transferred to Munich where he and Phyllis
spent 22 months, living in an apartment and wearing
civilian clothes to his office, becoming immersed
in German language and culture.
“My ability in German
made it possible for me to travel with my
captain to Vienna (with false papers, as
army people were not allowed to work in Austria,
which is neutral). I was in the intelligence
service, so I met many German people in my
work, some of which was under cover.”
After release from the military
in 1966, Travis and Phyllis settled in Frankfurt/Main,
Sachsenhausen, and in April 1971 they returned
to Berkeley, where Travis became a Hausmann (house
husband), while Phyllis worked for a Swiss Bank.
In 1975, he switched with Phyllis, who bore their
second daughter. Travis began selling and soon
“I started legal
winemaking in 1977, and got a nice mention
in the Chronicle by Herb Caen. Phyllis
got cancer, but soldiered on. With my
father's help, we moved to the hills
in Berkeley. In 1979 we did a tour of
friends and vineyards in France, and
we knew Phyllis' days were numbered.
Phyllis died in March of 1980. I continued
in the wine sales business, and making
wine, moving across the street from
where we had lived in 1971, next to
the winery. It took a long time to feel
cheerful again and it came slowly. My
girls went to Montessori school in Berkeley
and then to public schools.”
Peterson • Ethiopia
October 11, 2014
1954 Ingrid’s German mother, who worked for the Ministry of Foreign
affairs in Bonn, was given an assignment to go to Africa and work at the German
Consulate either in Angola or Ethiopia. Shechose Angola, where she met her
Portuguese husband and stayed for over 30 years. Ingrid was born and raised
in Angola, West Africa, and grew up in Luanda, Angola until she was 16. Summers
were spent in Germany with her grandmother in a small village not far from
Lake Constance. In 1975, due to the unrest caused by the civil war in Angola,
which prevented Ingrid from finishing high school, she came to the United
States, finished high school in New York, and moved to Santa Barbara to attend
University of California, Santa Barbara, where she achieved her Ph.D. in Physics.
After completing her Ph.D., she moved to Germany as a Member of the Technical
Staff at the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Physics in Stuttgart. Her
mother had returned to Germany with her brother, and so it was a wonderful
family reunion. After three years in Stuttgart, Ingrid returned to California
as an Adjunct Assistant Professor at University of California, Los Angeles.
left academia for a very successful career in Silicon Valley, and subsequently
refocused her career in areas that are meaningful to her. Currently she is
Business Development Program Manager for the Physical Biosciences Division
at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, which focuses on energy, environment,
health and bio manufacturing.
Although she grew up in the
tropics, Ingrid loves the mountains and many of the sports associated with
being in their environment. She is passionate about children’s education
in Africa and Himalayan countries and often travels to volunteer for those
and I: Vom Mauerblümchen zur Weltstadtpflanze:
Ingrid Veit: August 16, 2014
bleibt eine/einer am selben Ort sitzen, und die ganze
Welt um eine/ einen herum verändert sich. Bleibe
ich unberührt oder ändere ich mich mit?
Wie geht das vor sich? Welchen Anteil habe ich selbst
an der Veränderung?”
Ingrid kam 1971 auf einer Klassenreise
nach Berlin. Wie viele Jugendliche war sie von der StudentInnenbewegung
(German student movement of 1968) und Lebendigkeit der
Stadt fasziniert. Deshalb zog sie 1972 ganz nach Berlin,
anderthalb Monate nach ihrer Volljährigkeit, um
Mathematik und Wirtschaftswissenschaften (Economic Sciences),
später auch Geographie, zu studieren.
Sie war in einem Dorf in Schleswig-Holstein
in der Nähe von Hamburg aufgewachsen, wohin ihre
Eltern nach dem II. Weltkrieg aus Stettin (heute: Sczeczin)
bzw. Posen (Poznan) in Polen geflohen waren. Der Enge,
aber auch dem Halt des Elternhauses entkommen, suchte
und fand sie Kontakt zur politischen Bewegung in West-Berlin.
Sie balancierte die Mathematik mit politischen Aktivitäten
und fand darin eine neue Struktur, die ihr Orientierung
und Sicherheit gab.
Wie unter einem Brennglas erhitzten
sich die Gemüter der Menschen in der Mauerstadt
(West-)Berlin an Themen, die zeitgeschichtlich die Öffentlichkeit
bewegten—sei es die Teilung Deutschlands, der
Kalte Krieg, Vietnamkrieg, Sozialismus und Demokratie,
Atomkraft oder der Erhalt des Friedens. Bis heute ist
Ingrid ein Mensch, der an politischen Themen interessiert
ist, wenngleich sie besonders in der Studienzeit selbst
Anfang der 80er Jahre legte sie
ihre Staatsexamina ab, zuerst arbeitete sie als Dozentin
für Mathematik am Studienkolleg für ausländische
Studierende der FU Berlin, seit 1990 als Lehrerin an
Brennpunktschulen in Berlin-Neukölln. 2007 wurde
sie wegen burnout pensioniert. Ihre Krankheit animierte
sie 2003, sich mit Jin
Shin Jyutsu (JSJ) zu befassen. Sie gibt noch Privatunterricht
in Mathematik, arbeitet jetzt hauptsächlich als
JSJ-Praktikerin und JSJ-Selbsthilfe-Lehrerin. (Flier
Berlin and I: From Wallflower
to Metropolitan Plant
“Sometimes one remains
immobile in a place and sees the world around
one changing. Do I remain unchanged or do I change,
too? How does that happen? Do I take an active
part in this change?”
Ingrid first visited Berlin
in 1971 during a school trip. As many young people
at that time, the German student movement of the
1968 Generation and the vibrancy of the city fascinated
her. As soon as she reached the age of majority,
which was 21, she moved to Berlin to study Mathematics
and Economic Sciences, later also Geography.
She grew up in a small village
in Schleswig-Holstein, near Hamburg, where her parents
had fled to from Stettin (Sczeczin) and Posen (Poznan/Poland)
after World War II. Escaping the constriction, but
also the security of her family home, she searched
for and found a home in the political movement in
West Berlin. She balanced Mathematics with her political
activism, and in that way, she created a new structure,
which gave her orientation and the security she was
As in a crucible, the walled
city, West Berlin, people heatedly discussed topics,
which moved the public discourse of the time: the
Cold War, Vietnam, socialism and democracy, the anti-nuclear
and peace movements. Still today, Ingrid is a person
very interested in politics, especially after her
In the 1980s she became a teacher
and first taught Math to foreign students at the
Free University, Berlin. In 1990, she was tenured
at inner city schools in Berlin Neukölln. In
2007, she retired due to burnout. During her illness
she learned Jin Shin Jyutsu (JSJ). She still gives
private Math lessons, but primarily works as JSJ-practitioner and
self-help teacher. (Download
the flier) Ingrid’s
presentation will be in German.
Ayten Mutlu Saray, May 11, 2014
What is the meaning of foreign,
being “the stranger” in German-speaking
countries like Switzerland and Germany?
You can never
have arrived when once you were displaced. The displacement
is the source of fictional biography, you are not only
the translator of your biography, but also the storyteller.
More and more your own biography becomes something strange
to you, as if it is not your life, but the life of someone
else, someone you don’t know, you never saw, you
never met… s/he is far and near at the same time.
became fiction, fiction became your reality. That is
what it is to be “the
stranger” in German-speaking countries. Your person
is visible but your life, that which was one time real,
German Center at the Altenheim, the Consulate
General of Switzerland, San Francisco, AATG
Language Association of Northern California,
and the Gerlind
Institute for Cultural Studies.
I belong to a generation of
filmmakers who are divided
between the two worlds of
the occidental and the oriental.
The two worlds thrive within
me, continually dividing
and fracturing into ever
finer and more complex pieces.
The experience is at times
painful, then again healing,
often disruptive but also
My long years of visual art
and filmaking between the
real and real/fictional has
brought me closer to the
interface where Evil fights
with Good. I may have decided
either for Good, or for Evil,
but also worked toward a
mental/real state in which
we all find ourselves. From
this real/fictional state
I drew Hope. This Hope arises
through an open process of
film aesthetics altercation.
I was helped by my own personal
biography. I saw in my own
biography how reality was
mixed with the fictional
so that I sometimes no longer
knew what was real and what
was fictitious. Therefore,
to experiment with reality
and fiction is not only a
cinematic aesthetic, but
seeing these two mixes in
my personal biography has
honed my creative awareness.
My two parts, the occidental
and the oriental, bring elements
for more tolerance, and reconciliation,
in what I see as a message
for the future of our world
today. I felt the only possibility
to share this experience
was through art, where not
only do I address these subjects,
but also have the courage
to admit the issues of the
reality, yes, it is just
there where the art begins.
Art begins there, where the
author is no longer her/himself,
but an integral element of
her/his piece’s theme
and the artistic challenge.
In addition to this personal
fate, which has led to the
development of my affection
for writing and realizing
pictures, I see in visual
creation a certain autonomy
of being, which in turn,
without being part of the
whole, cannot exist. Because
it is only through art, I
believe, that we can expand
tolerance, justice, and understanding
of otherness and individuality.
Continuing in the artistic
tradition of world-observation,
visual creation is a poetic
reflection on the human condition,
belonging to which, the right
to exist and human dignity
have become the focus of
artistic awareness in our
My works are about:
- interdisciplinary humanities
- digital humanities
- poetry/the word
- visual cultures/film-photography
The Real and the Fictional-Reality
as a form of existence in
which a message for Reconciliation
arises and is a proof of
the Vitality of the culture.
Culture belongs not only
to an ethnic group, or a
nation. It is through the
medium of Biography that
such people as I can show
the dynamic and diverse life
Displaced biographies are
metaphors for our time, which
separates people further
and further from each other,
and where more and more hatred
is nourished in people. Displaced
biographies can be used to
counteract, and dispel that
hate. These biographies are
carriers of Freedom, not
of the vanquished, the victim,
or the disadvantaged.
~ Ayten Mutlu Saray
Dr. Alexander Feng |
Sunday, March 23, 2014
Born in Guangzhou (Canton), China, Dr. Alex Feng is the son of Elizabeth Bruckman and Wei Ren Feng. His parents met in Berlin when his father was studying for his doctorate in International Law and then changed to Philosophy.
Elizabeth was the oldest of two daughters and met Wei Ren after she earned a degree in business administration and was working. The unique relationship of this German woman and Chinese man in the 1940s created a nurturing and provocative environment for their son.
Elizabeth and Wei Ren left Germany for China, then Taiwan, and eventually, during the Cultural Revolution, to the United States. Dr. Alex Feng was immersed in Daoism from childhood through his father's teachings and was taught languages, culture and music by his Mother. He was trained by his father, Dr. Wei Ren Feng, well-known scholar and spiritual leader who is descended from a long lineage of Daoist philosophers, scholars and healers. The elder Dr. Feng, Grand Master Feng, and his extensive lineage of masters tutored Master Alex Feng who was ordained in the family tradition of Zhi Daoism in the 1970s. Elizabeth was a linguist and a healer who worked as a docent for Chinese cultural sites.
Dr. Alex Feng completed his doctorate in Traditional Chinese Medicine and extensive study in the martial arts. He opened Zhi Dao Guan, the Taoist Center in 1972 as a realization of his and his father's dream of a center for the physical, healing and spiritual arts.
Dr. Feng will talk about the life and accomplishments of his Mother and share his perspective on this interesting couple and family.
Building a Civil Society in San Francisco: the German
Contribution, 1850 to World War I
Dr. Monica Clyde | January 26, 2014
|Bavarian Brewing Company,
German speakers were the second largest ethnic group
to make their home in San Francisco and the Bay Area beginning with
the Gold Rush. They came from separate political entities that became,
in 1871, part of a united Germany. A number of these early German
arrivals had left Germany as a result of the failed revolution of
1848. They saw no future for themselves in Germany after the
failure of the democratic movement. They tended to be highly educated
professionals who brought their expertise and considerable leadership
skills to their new country. Some of these immigrants became highly
respected leaders of the German community in the city in which they
made a new home. Who were those early German-speaking arrivals and
what did they contribute to the emerging city by the Bay? How did
they make a living in the early chaotic and often lawless city? It
is a compelling story that took a dramatic turn with the start of
World War I.
Clyde was born in Düsseldorf Germany and came to the
United States at the age of sixteen. She has lived in the Bay
Area since 1962 when she began in the doctoral program in German
at the University of California. After receiving her Ph.D. she
taught German at numerous colleges in the Bay Area and was Director
for Faculty Development at Saint Mary’s College before
her retirement. She is co-author of the college level German
textbook, Deutsch: Na klar!, which is widely used throughout
the United States and Canada, as well as some countries abroad.
Monica is a member of the Institute for Historical
Study, a group of scholars located mostly in the Bay Area. Her association
with this group led to her researching the history of Germans coming
to California at the time of the Gold Rush. Her article on the subject
has just been published by the SF Museum and Historical Society magazine The
Argonaut. She is currently President of the Board of Directors
of the German School of the East Bay, a member of both the Excelsior
German Center and the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies.
This event is cosponsored by the Excelsior German
Annegret Ogden, Made in Germany
Sunday, September 29, 2013
Annegret Ogden experienced VE-Day as a child in Germany. At the University
in Munich, she met her American husband, a fellow student, and accompanied
him to Berkeley, CA. Now retired from her work as a librarian at the
University of California, she has written for The Californians,
and is the author of The Great American Housewife. She was
a founder of The Kensington Ladies’ Erotica Society and her
stories have appeared in their three books: Ladies’ Own Erotica; Look
Homeward, Erotica; and, Sex, Death and Other Distractions.
She lives with her husband of 55 years in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Printed in a limited edition by Arion Press
in San Francisco, the novel is also available as an e-book on
Amazon. The first two chapters are available as “free
sample.” If you are interested in borrowing, and reading,
the book before the event, please contact Marion.
Praise for Made in Germany
Ogden's bravely provocative novel shows us what life may have
been like as an "Aryan" child in Nazi Germany, then as a wife
and mother in Berkeley in the 1960's – one of several settings
where personal and complex echoes of the Holocaust follow her
adult heroine. ~Alison Owings, author of Frauen: German Women
Recall the Third Reich
From Germany's Third Reich to Berkeley's counter-culture,
this fascinating family saga explores intricate entanglements
between a German woman and Jewish one, between their secrets,
and among their children. Read the first line and you know you’re
in for a gripping story. ~ Mary Felstiner, historian and author of To Paint
Her Life: Charlotte Salomon in the Nazi Era.
Along with one of the all-time grabbers of an opening scene, Ogden
gives readers both valuable social history and a rollicking story.
Straight from post-War Germany, with survival skills acquired during
a childhood under Hitler, her narrator Brigitte becomes a faculty
wife at UC Berkeley. Her eventful and often funny trajectory over
thirty years is a look back at the social upheaval of those times.
~ Cyra McFadden, author of The Serial and Rain or
Annegret Ogden addresses an important theme
in Twentieth Century history. She made me aware of something
I have not ever thought about, the mixed reactions of all parties
in wartime Germany, and I am almost ashamed of that fact. After
my riding to and then through the “village” of Dachau and then into
the camp--- after all that---I had fixed, anchored, in my mind the
assurance that all Germans knew about everything. Ogden’s book
hit me hard with the notion of truth being varied, and of various
depths of not just knowledge, but depths and variations of willingness
to know or, more important, willingness to respond. Ogden’s
novel totally possesses the reader. I ended up wanting to embrace
every character, no matter what their past and present appearance
or attitude. ~ Chester Aaron, author of novels including Symptoms
of Terminal Passion. As a soldier in the US Army, he participated
in the liberation of Dachau.
Markland • www.bridge-markland.de
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Foto: Vera Hofmann
Bridge Markland, a performer from Berlin (*1961 in Berlin - West), is a
virtuosa of role-play and transformation. She is an artist who effortlessly crosses all boundaries
between sub- and high-culture, dance, theatre, cabaret, performance, puppetry and erotic-art.
Her specialty are transgender-performances in which the audience can experience the change
of woman to man (or vice versa). She is a pioneer of drag and gender performance in Germany
and has organized Drag King events, tours and festivals from 1994 - 2002.
Other focus points of her work are lip-synced one woman shows with role
change, puppets and pop music of classic German plays: J.W. Goethe’s Faust 1 as “faust
in the box” (available for booking in English or German), Friedrich Schiller’s The
Robbers as “robbers in the box” (available for booking in English or German)
and several others; collaborations with artists of various genres – music, theatre,
dance, performance, children’s theatre; performer with several companies, such as “Dances
For Non/Fictional Bodies” with Jess Curtis Gravity, San Francisco/Berlin 2010/2011,
aufBruch prison theatre company, Berlin 2011, and others; site-specific dance improvisations
and audience interactions.
Bridge Markland has performed her numerous short and long productions to
great acclaim in Germany, Europe, USA, Canada and Australia. She gives accessible, fun, and
provocative talks about her life and work, which emphasize the development of her transgender
work. The audience will hear fascinating details about the origin of her performances and
have the opportunity for Q & A afterwards.
California Goes Bella!
Dr. Marion Gerlind
Donna Haus, Bad Oldesloe, Germany • Saturday,
February 16, 2013
Introducing the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies with a slideshow
of the Institute’s programs and Marion Gerlind and Birgit Mahner’s trip to
the Canyon lands of the USA, in 2012.
Vorstellung des Institutes for Cultural Studies/Oakland, USA, mit Fotoshow
und Canyons der USA. Durch den Abend führen Dr. Marion Gerlind, Gründerin und
Direktorin des Institutes, und Birgit Mahner - Bella Donna -
Ein Haus von Frauen e.V.
Presenters: Marion Gerlind, Executive Director; JB, Technical
Director; Jennifer Hilfer, Teacher and former intern.
Moderator: Birgit Mahner, Bella Donna Haus.
The Past is Present:
Memory Paintings by Romani Artist Ceija Stojka
Michaela Grobbel, Ph.D., Associate Professor • Saturday, January
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Sonoma State University
Ceija Stojka "Wintertime"
Ceija Stojka "Sunflowers"
Many people don’t know very much about the Roma, who are Europe's
largest minority and have been living in different European countries for hundreds of years
yet have not been treated as equal citizens. Although they had to suffer from Nazi persecution,
like the Jews and other targeted groups, the story of the Romani Holocaust remains largely
untold. Only in the recent past have individual Roma come forward to share their history and
culture with the non-Roma--as an attempt to undo harmful stereotypes and make themselves more
understood by the majority culture.
Michaela will discuss paintings by Romani artist Ceija Stojka from Vienna
(Austria) that give us a glimpse into a culture that is largely invisible to most-Roma. The
paintings remember and tell stories about the artist’s life as a traveling child, her
ordeals in three Nazi concentration camps, and her life after 1945 to the present. Reflective
comments by the artist about her paintings as well as her poetry shed light onto an ethnic
group that has enriched European culture in many different ways.
Visual art offers an important platform for Roma, like Ceija Stojka, to
work through their history of persecution and to raise awareness about their people who still
experience discrimination and even suffer violent attacks against them in some countries today.
Stojka's unique artwork significantly enhances her published autobiographies (in German only),
so that we are presented with a form of autobiography that includes different kinds of visual
art and narration. This form of 'story-telling' reminds us that the past influences the present,
and that it can be painfully present. But it also serves as a reminder to be aware of this
relationship between past and present so that we can work towards a better future—one
in which we all reach out to each other, respect each other's differences, and learn to understand
and appreciate them.
Photos courtesy of Dr. Michaela Grobbel
Michaela Grobbel is Associate Professor of German at Sonoma State. Her
book Enacting Past and Present: The Memory Theaters of Djuna Barnes, Ingeborg Bachmann,
and Marguerite Duras (2004), in which she develops her theory of a “feminist art
of memory,” shows her interest in the relationship of memory and performance in women’s
autobiographical literature. She has extended this research into cultural studies, particularly
ethnic minority studies, focusing on literature and theater by Roma in German-speaking countries.
Publications include “The “Mischling” as a Trope for a New German-Jewish
Identity? The Figure of the Girl in Ilse Aichinger’s Die grössere Hoffnung and
Margarethe von Trotta’s Rosenstrasse” (Pacific Coast Philology Nov.
2009: 70-92), “Haunted by History: Ghosts and ‘Ghosting’ in Elfriede Jelinek’s Stecken,
Stab und Stangl” in Elfriede Jelinek: Writing Woman, Nation, and Identity (eds.
Matthias Piccolruaz Konzett and Margarete Lamb-Faffelberger, Rutherford,
NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2007), or “Contemporary Romany Autobiography as Performance” (German Quarterly 76.2:
140-54, 2003). Her research has been supported by grants sponsored by the National Endowment
for the Humanities, Fulbright, and the American Association of Teachers of German, and other
Poetry reading with
Sunday, November 11, 2012
elana levy, reading from her book, Legacies
and Heresies with blessings, published in 2012.
Silence is her practice, with a month in silence each year for the
past decade. elana loves learning german and hebrew, poetry and mysticism, cosmology
and deep politics.
elana taught math at Onondaga Community College, Syracuse, New York,
for twenty years. Her daughter, plants, avocados, redwood trees, mist, moon, numbers,
ocean, speaking out, edginess, organic produce, and prisms bring her great joy.
“elana levy bangs on the door of my heart, and
I have to open it. Her poems don't give me a choice. She bears witness to the
suffering of our world, and makes me pay attention. Her passion — for
peace, for language, for plants and people — is contagious.”
~ Susan Moon, long-time editor and writer . Her latest
book is, This is Getting Old, Shambala Press.
Unterwegs: Ein deutsches
Woman: Growing Up
Black in Germany)
Reading by Ika Hügel-Marshall
Followed by the documentary by Dr. Dagmar Schultz.
The filmmaker will be present.
Audre Lorde - The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992
|courtesy of Ika Hügel-Marshall
Ika Hügel-Marshall will
read from her autobiography, Daheim
Unterwegs: Ein deutsches Leben (Invisible
Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany), prior to a screening of the new film, Audre
Lorde - The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992, by Dr. Dagmar Schultz. This is part of the
& Beyond Film Festival, presented by the Goethe-Institut San
Francisco. The bilingual reading is co-sponsored by the American Association of
Teachers of German (AATG), the Foreign Language Association of Northern California (FLANC),
and the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies (GICS).
Ika Hügel-Marshall was
born in Germany in 1947 to a white German mother and an Afro-American father. Initially,
she grew up with her mother, but from her sixth to her fifteenth year of life she was
raised—as many Afro-German children of her generation—in a children's home.
Only at the age of 39 she met other Afro-Germans and was involved in setting up the “Initiative
of Black Germans” (ISD). In 1993, she found her
father in Chicago and met him and his family—a most profound experience.
Ika Hügel-Marshall has a degree in social pedagogics. She is teaching
gender studies and psychological counseling at the Alice-Salomon-Fachhochschule für Sozialarbeit
und Sozialpädagogik in Berlin. Trained as a counselor, she is counseling primarily intercultural
teams and bi-national couples. From 1990 until 2002, she worked as media spokeswoman for the
Orlanda Women’s Press in Berlin. Ika Hügel-Marshall has published various articles
on anti-racist consciousness raising and is co-editor of the book Entfernte Verbindungen:
Rassismus, Antisemitismus und Klassenunterdrückung (Orlanda Verlag, 1993). The new
English edition of Invisible Woman is available from Peter
In 1996, Ika Hügel-Marshall received the Audre Lorde Literary Award
for the completion of Invisible Woman. She has given numerous readings in Germany,
Austria, and the USA. She is also an artist and has designed book covers and exhibited her
drawings and wood sculptures. Download
the 2012 tour schedule.
|Photo courtesy of Dr. Dagmar Schultz
Lorde - the Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 (http://www.audrelorde-theberlinyears.com)
documents Audre Lorde's influence on the German political and cultural scene during
a decade of profound social change, a decade that brought about the fall of the
Berlin Wall and the re-unification of East and West Germany. This chronicles an
untold chapter of Lorde’s life: her empowerment of Afro-German women, as she
challenged white women to acknowledge the significance of their white privilege
and to deal with difference in constructive ways.
The film explores the importance of Lorde’s legacy as she encouraged
Afro-Germans—who at that time had no name for themselves—to make themselves
visible within a culture that until then had kept them isolated and silent. Supported
by Lorde’s example and instruction, Afro-German women began to write their history
and their stories and to form political networks on behalf of Black people in Germany.
As a result authors such as May Ayim, Katharina Oguntoye and Ika Hügel-Marshall
published their works.
Audre Lorde - The Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 outlines Lorde’s
contributions to the German discourse on racism, xenophobia, antisemitism, classism,
and homophobia within the Black movement and the Black and white women’s movement,
a discourse alive and growing today. This documentary contains previously unreleased
audiovisual material from director Dagmar Schultz’s personal archive, including
stunning images of Audre Lorde off stage. With testimony from Lorde’s colleagues,
students and friends, this film documents Lorde’s lasting legacy in Germany.” (Dr.
Dagmar Schultz, from Audre
Lorde - the Berlin Years 1984 to 1992 web site)
Peace on Cancer
: An ecological paradigm for a better understanding and treatment of cancer
|Photo courtesy of Dr. Bachmann
Michael H. Bachmann, M.D., Sc.D. • Saturday,
July 28, 2012
Dr. Bachmann received his M.D. from the J. Gutenberg University in
Mainz, Germany, and his doctorate in virology from Harvard School of Public Health in
Boston. He is currently working as a research scientist at Stanford University on the
molecular genetics of tumor immune escape and transplant tolerance.
SUMMARY: Chances are that you and your loved ones have been touched
by cancer during the last five decades that the “War on Cancer” has been going
on for. Still, mortality rates have changed only insignificantly for the majority of cancer
types while incidence rates for a number of cancers have continued to grow. In fact, cancer
is, and has been for a long time, the second most common cause of death in the developed world
after cardiovascular disease. One in two men and one in three women born after 1985 will suffer
cancer in their lifetime, from which one in six will die.
To understand this failure of contemporary treatment approaches and arrive
at a better understanding of cancer we will look into its molecular biology, analyze the history
of cancer research, question the philosophical views and economic and political motives behind
modern approaches to the disease, and investigate why diagnosis and treatment are overemphasized
over prevention. All this will be placed against the background of current economic, political,
and environmental developments that are tightly involved in the genesis of cancer as a public
health problem. From there, we will inquire whether a different paradigm that comes from thermodynamics,
systems biology, ecology and sustainable design could provide a more appropriate view of cancer,
and discuss what it might take to implement such a paradigm to reduce the suffering of cancer
patients around the world.
a Strong Community: das BELLA DONNA HAUS
Oral History with Birgit Mahner, Saturday, May 26, 2012
|Photos courtesy of Birgit Mahner
I live in a small town between Hamburg and Lübeck, northern Germany.
There are a lot of citizens active in initiatives and nonprofit organizations, and I
work for “BELLA DONNA—ein Haus von Frauen e.V.” Our nonprofit
bought an old industrial building in 2002 and renovated it to become a cultural center—a
women’s building for all people. The success of this unique project is possible
because of a strong, solid community of women in Bad Oldesloe. I will talk about BELLA
DONNA HAUS and show pictures. My presentation will be in English.
Additionally, I’d like to introduce myself. I was born and raised
in northern Germany. After my graduation from Gymnasium, I studied adult education,
psychology, and sociology at Hamburg University. In 1988 my daughter Simone was born.
As a single mother, I have worked since 1995 in social psychiatry. In the summer of 2010
my daughter became ill with leukemia and died shortly afterward. A stable community of
friends helps me immensely to live with this terrible loss.
From Germany and Back Again in Three Generations:
|Photo courtesy, Dr. Miriam Zimmerman
|Photo courtesy, Leah Sharp
Sunday, March 25, 2012
Dr. Miriam L. Zimmerman chaired for ten years the Communication Department
at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, CA, where she introduced and continues to teach
a course on the Holocaust. In 2004, she became a German citizen, permitted because Dr. Werner
Loewenstein, her father, of blessed memory, lost his citizenship per the Nuremberg Laws. He
graduated in the last year Jews were permitted to graduate from medical school and immigrated
to the United States in 1937. Although all things German were verboten in her home
including the beautiful German language, Miriam sees her German heritage as positive and relationships
with Germans essential. There is so much to learn from one another, to teach and to heal.
One of her dreams is to tell her family story to German schoolchildren in Germany, auf
Leah Z. Sharp is an adjunct professor of
physics at the California State University, East Bay. Until their return to the Bay Area last
summer, for the previous five years, she and her husband lived in Munich, where she worked
on her Ph.D. at the Technische Universität München. During that time, and with much
encouragement from her mother, Miriam, she became a German citizen, a right returned to children
and grandchildren of Germans who were revoked of their citizenship in 1935. She experienced
a Munich and a Germany perhaps unrecognizable to her grandfather who studied medicine at the
University of Munich in the early 1930’s.
|Dr. Werner Loewenstein
Photo courtesy, Dr. Miriam Zimmerman
The Jewish Post published an article by Dr. Miriam Zimmerman. Download
the article here.
An oral history spanning three generations of
German-Jewish-Americans, it is the story of Werner
Loewenstein’s impact on the lives of his descendants.
But this is not just another Holocaust story of victimization and redemption. It is a story
of human courage that transformed the legacy of horror into an imperative to make the world
a better place, one relationship at a time. In discussing Berlin’s newest Holocaust
memorial, Hon. Rolf Schütte, former Consul General of Germany in San Francisco, pointed
out, “Most countries celebrate the best of its past; Germany celebrates the worst.” Dr.
Loewenstein is of the generation which experienced the worst. Today, Germany has much about
which to be proud. With the passing of the only generation who can recount first-hand stories
of the Third Reich, Miriam's story is one of healing and forgiveness, while Leah's experience
living in modern Germany provides evidence for mutual understanding and cooperation among
Oral History with Leticia
|Photo courtesy of Leticia Andreas-Wolf
January 16, 2012
My birthplace is Dresden, Germany, year 1965. Despite growing up for my
first 10 years in the old East behind the Iron Curtain, my childhood was rather happy and
carefree. A dramatic event in 1974 changed the life of my parents and me forever. In 1975,
we were forced (but not un-welcomed) to leave East Germany for West Germany, and settled in
Braunschweig for the next 4 years, then in Wunstorf near Hannover.
When I was 16, my parents sent me to the U.S. as an exchange student for
1 year, which I spent in Shillington, PA. Upon returning to Germany in 1982, I entered a vocational
school for the next 2 years and became a State Licensed Foreign Language Correspondent. Then
the work life began, as an administrator. In 1991, I gave up everything save few memorabilia,
and immigrated to the U.S. Living in Los Angeles for 14 years, I studied music at Los Angeles
City College, then transferred to UCLA and received my B. A. in Ethnomusicology in 2000.
Eventually, changes needed to happen, and I moved to Northern California
in 2005, where I still live in the East Bay today. In 2007, began to teach German part-time “accidentally.”
Upon one of several visits back to Germany, I visited Dresden for the first
time again in 2007, after I had not been there in 21 years. This was the begin of a new, emotional,
everlasting, deep love for my birth city and ancestry. Now, I visit Dresden every time I am
in Germany. My talk at Mündliche Geschichtsreihe will include life as I remember
it as a child in the Old East; my birth city, and later the new life in West Germany; immigration
to the U.S., and how being an immigrant made me become closer to my homeland and birth city
than ever before.
History and Poetry Reading with Angelika Quirk
23 October, 2011
Photo courtesy of Angelika Quirk
Angelika Quirk was born during World War II, in Hamburg, Germany. Her childhood
was spent in this metropolis, a city flattened by war and ravaged by hunger. German culture,
along with the Angst of post-war experiences and working through the trauma of the
Holocaust, impacts her poetry.
At 18 Angelika immigrated to the United States and later graduated from
U.C. Berkeley with a B.A. in German literature. She currently teaches German in Marin County,
where she is also the principal of the German Saturday School.
Angelika has written and published poetry since 1990. Her new book After
Sirens, published by Conflux Press in 2011, tells stories of her life in poetic forms.
“Let my splintered past / rename the present / before the crows‘ descent.”
Angelika will read in English and German from her book, After
Sirens, interweaving historical and personal aspects of her life in German.
|“Soul of an Immigrant,” Oral
History with Dr. Berta Maria
August 28, 2011
Photo: Naim Hasan
Dr. Berta Maria Hines is a trained physician in Family Medicine, which she
practiced for many years. As she began her spiritual path, her clinical practice in medicine
began to change, leading her to the field of Complementary Medicine. This includes Healing
Energy for people and animals, Life Intuitive sessions and Blessings for Home and Business.
Dr. Hines’ heritage is German, Czech, and African-American. She
was born in Kempten and part of her life grew up in Augsburg, Germany. She was always fascinated
by the stories shared by her grandmother, mother, and godmother. She experienced different
tales of survival during and after WWII through her own reading and research. Having left
Germany as a child, then returning as an adult, she came to better understand German culture,
as well as the belief systems practiced by her family. Dr. Hines loves speaking from her heart
about her own life journey and growing up in a multi-racial and bi-lingual home. Her presentation
will be in English. Download Dr. Hines's short story, Oma’s
From Dr. Hines: “The soul of an immigrant” is a
phrase coined by the famous director Elia Kazan. He is most noted for the films On the Waterfront and A
Streetcar Named Desire. In observing the documentary on his life, he felt
that he still had the soul of his native Anatolian Greek roots. He rarely smiled
but when he did there was this amazing light that shone.
This phrase “the soul of an immigrant” resonated with
me and I have taken it a step further. I believe the energy of our experiences,
beliefs, thoughts and actions are “inherited” from one generation to the next, especially from mother
to child. The circumstances of a child’s conception and birth obviously have physiological
influences but also emotional and thus effecting their destiny.
Any generation which has suffered much grief and experienced much guilt passes these
emotions onto their offspring. Once they have been able to transmute the energy of these
experiences on a spiritual level, they are able to co-create their own destiny.
I will discuss my fascinating and at times challenging life as a multi-racial
and multi-lingual young woman, who inherited the experiences of two mothers; one Czech and
the other German and two African-American fathers. I will share the journey of my life as
a Healer and Lightworker. The extraordinary past of the German nation and its efforts to regain
dignity and to accept Self-forgiveness as well as forgiveness by others, is an important gift
of healing which the world must finally acknowledge.
Sunday, May 15, 2011
|Photo courtesty of Susanne Batzdorff
Edith Stein was Susanne Batzdorff’s aunt, her mother’s younger
sister. Edith was a renowned philosopher, lectured all over Europe and wrote many books and
articles. She converted to Catholicism and in 1933 entered a Carmelite convent in Cologne,
Germany. Edith was transferred to Holland after Kristallnacht, because the Cologne Carmel
felt that both the community and Edith would be safer, if she left Germany. When the Germans
conquered Holland, both she and her older sister Rosa, who had joined her in Holland, were
deported to Auschwitz and gassed. Edith Stein was canonized by Pope John Paul II in Oct. 1998
and later named a Patroness of Europe. Her many literary works are now being published in
26 volumes and many of them have appeared in English translation. Susanne will tell you more
of the dramatic story of her Aunt Edith and her impact on her Jewish family. She will also
read from her book, Aunt Edith: The Jewish Heritage of a Catholic Saint.
|Edith Stein, Carmel of Echt,
Netherlands, ca. 1940
Susanne Batzdorff was born in Breslau, Germany, in 1921. Her parents, Hans
and Erna Biberstein were both medical doctors, her father a dermatologist and her mother an
obstetrician and gynecologist. In 1933 Hitler came to power in Germany and National Socialism
became in effect the state religion. State-sponsored persecution of Jews began.
In the summer of 1938 Susanne’s parents lost their medical licenses
and thus their livelihood. They decided to leave Germany for the U. S. Her father got a teaching
position at Columbia University, and on the strength of that could apply for non-quota visas
for his family. Thus her mother, her brother and she could leave for America in February 1939.
Six months after arrival in the U. S. she entered Brooklyn College, majored in English, and
graduated summa cum laude in 1943.
In 1944, she got a degree in Library Science from Pratt Institute and in
1947 an MA in English Literature from Columbia University. She worked as a librarian in college,
medical, public and Judaic libraries. She contributed articles to periodicals, including NY
Times, America, Moment Magazine, edited and contributed to several volumes by and about St.
Edith Stein, translated several of her works originally published in German, published 2 volumes
of poetry and 4 dramatic readings relating to the Holocaust and Aunt Edith: The Jewish
Heritage of a Catholic Saint.
She has been happily married to Alfred Batzdorff, for 67 years. They have
three sons, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. After her talk on Edith Stein,
Susanne will tell you how she and her parents and brother emigrated from Nazi Germany and
rebuilt their life in America.
Holocaust Survivors Reclaim Their Mother Tongue and Cultural Heritage
Sunday, February 13, 2011
Spend a special afternoon with three extraordinary people who escaped the
Holocaust via the Kindertransport to England. Rita Goldhor from
Vienna, Leo Mark Horovitz from Frankfurt a.M., and Ralph
Samuel from Dresden will speak about their lives and complex relationships to their first
language, German, and its cultural environment. All three now reside in the San Francisco
East Bay area. They will dialogue with one another and the audience.
History Telling Evening with Elana Levy
22. Januar, 2011
elana levy reads from the work of the poet Rose Ausländer,
in the original German, and then her English translations.
elana has translated Rose Ausländer’s poetry with the assistance of Anna
Maria Begemann and more recently, Dr. Marion Gerlind.
Rose Ausländer lived from 1901 – 1988, spanning WW
I and WW II. Her poems, particularly those written after her experience as a European
Jew during WW II, speak with a spare, strong, life-affirming voice. Rose Ausländer’s
unique poetry is well-known in Europe, but not in the United States of America.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
I am the daughter of a German mother and an Indian father,
and was born in Dresden, in what was then East Germany. My birthday, October
7th, was also the Tag der Republik, and according my mother I was born
just as a marching band went by the hospital.
My mother had petitioned to emigrate out of East Germany
soon after the wall was built, since my father lived and worked in the West. It
took about 11 years before we were allowed to do so which is when we immigrated
into India. I was one year old. I was fortunate that my parents spoke German at
home, which allowed me to grow up bi-lingual. Although I learned and heard the local
language (Kannada) around me all the time, I cannot speak it.
After high school I wanted to find out if living in Germany
would be good for me, and moved to Breisach, close to Freiburg, to go to school.
I finished up my Lehre as a Hotelfachfrau, which was only challenging
because I now had to study all my material in German. I enjoyed my time in the little
town, made some good friends, enjoyed a little too much beer, wine, Neuersuesser,
and Flammekuchen, and unfortunately got to see the racist side of the people
as well. Both my siblings had moved to America, which then became the next step
in the journey. I moved here, where I am truly an immigrant, in a country of immigrants.
I found a community of South Asian LGBT folks, who provided me a safe and welcoming
space to come out to myself, family and community. I live in Oakland, with my life-partner
and little doggie.
Saturday, Juli 24, 2010
I was born in Berkeley in 1974. My parents are both Swiss and
my father had a research assistant position at UC Berkeley. When I was about three
years old, we returned to Switzerland, where I grew up and went to school. After
college I decided to become a professional musician. I play the piano and the organ
and graduated in both instruments as a soloist. When I finished the conservatory
I was about 29 years old.
During the following years my life developed in a way that made
me feel more and more separated from who I am and how I want to live my life. I
felt clearly that I had to follow my inner voice more than I ever had before. I
decided to take a sabbatical year and that’s the reason why I am here right
now…. I plan to stay here for at least half a year, to practice the piano,
to create my own music, and, first of all, to find myself a little more.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
I was born in Geilenkirchen, Germany, in 1981. My mother is German
and my father immigrated from Antigua (West Indies) to the US at the young age of
13. He joined the military and was stationed at my birthplace where he met my mother.
I am an Afro-German and growing up in Germany on and off military
bases was difficult at times. I was reminded that I was different both by my German
and American families and societies. Being fluent in both the German and English
language have aided in my successful journey through school, work and play in both
countries. In Germany I received my Fachabitur in Business and Financial Administration,
and completed an apprenticeship as a Financial Clerk.
In 2003 I was unemployed and couldn't get in to any other public
German schools so decided to move to Nebraska and stayed there for 4 years. Since
November 2007 I have been living in Oakland, California, and look forward to telling
you about my 29-year journey.
Saturday, March 26, 2010
Born in 1981, I was raised by my mother and grandmother in a little
village in northern Bavaria. I am of German and Arab descent and, at the age of
5, I was introduced to my second home country and family.
My childhood was good but tough, growing up as the “foreign
child” of an unmarried mother in a village which was, back then, still frowned
upon. Consequently, I have learned the hard way, both in and outside my family.
Pursuing a career in translating, in 2000, I graduated from language
school as a Foreign Language Correspondent. Besides German, I am fluent in English
and have a basic knowledge of Spanish, Italian, and a little Arabic. Besides my
training as a Foreign Language Correspondent, I also completed a three-year apprenticeship
as an Administrative Assistant, and also interned for three months at a local company.
However, my passion has always been learning other languages and I pursue that passion
up to this day.
In 2005, I left my little village to move to the United States.
After spending one month in New Jersey and six months in Seattle as an au pair,
I moved to the Bay Area in fall of 2005. Quitting my job as an au pair, I started
to build a life by myself experiencing the good, the bad and the ugly.
I am only 28 years old, but nonetheless I am looking forward
to sharing my life story with you.
the Heart: Healing the Wounds of the Holocaust and WWII
February 20, 7-9:30 PM
|Photo by Ross Payson, courtesy of Jewish Federation of
Greater Santa Barbara
Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont 94610
Cosponsored by the Gerlind
Institute for Cultural Studies
Community Synagogue's Middle East Peace Committee presents an evening with
two extraordinary women in conversation. They grew up only about 200 miles
from each other. Yet, they lived worlds apart. One, Maria Segal
is a Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivor. The other, Dr. Ursula Mahlendorf,
is a Silesian-German, and a former member of the Hitler Youth. Please join
us as they dialogue about their very different childhoods and share excerpts
from their memoirs. (Maria's Story: Childhood Memories of The Holocaust by
Maria Segal; The Shame of Survival: Working Through a Nazi Childhood,
by Dr. Ursula Mahlendorf.) The two women have co-presented before through the
Greater Santa Barbara Jewish Federation. Here are some thoughts about their
…working together with Maria…has
been the most meaningful experience…. …we saw that
we can be helpful to each other and to the
people who listen to us. ~Dr. Ursula Mahlendorf
[We] share a lot of the same things. We both…encountered hardships
during and after the war…. It is important that we respect each
other and learn to forgive. ~Maria Segal
[Both women serve] as role models for making positive
choices in the face of adversity. ~ Dr. Elizabeth Wolfson,
Director, Jewish Family Service of Greater Santa Barbara
Frieda Gordon Dilloo
Saturday, January 23, 2010
I was born in 1939 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in southern Germany.
For the first 7 years of my life my family lived in Namlos, a small, remote village
high in the Tyrolean Alps. 13 houses, a dangerous road, not a single motorized vehicle
in the village. By age six, I knew all about avalanches and haying, but little about
life in the big city. Food was scarce anyway, but especially at the end of the War.
But at least I didn’t have to run into bomb shelters every night like so many
of my age-mates had to do if they lived in the cities.
In 1946 I moved with my mother and 2 younger brothers to Munich,
which had been heavily bombed. There I lived until I was a young adult. In the Fifties
I was an exchange student in Green Bay, Wisconsin, and I graduated from a Catholic
high school there. My fate was sealed – I was focused on America, like so
many young people in that era and in 1963 I returned to the US and worked as a teaching
assistant at the German Department at UCLA, where I got an MA. I married an American
and became an American citizen.
I have had various and varied careers, most recently I have been
working as a freelance technical translator from English to German and vice versa.
Currently I am focusing more on providing German lessons to adults at all levels.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
I was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1927, and I am Jewish.
At the time of the Anschluss (annexation) of Austria by Germany I was not yet
12 years old, so there was much I did not understand about the political situation.
I have never been to Germany - except passing through on a train to Holland
in March 1939, on my way to England as a Kindertransport child.
I lived in England, largely in foster homes and hostels,
until 1945, when I came to the United States, to eventually be reunited with
my parents who had fled to Shanghai, and had to wait another two years from
the end of WWII to be allowed to enter the United States. Their boat from the
Far East landed in San Francisco, and thus we all ended up on the West Coast,
where I have lived since 1948. My husband Sidney (a refugee from Brooklyn as
he likes to call himself) and I have now been married for 60 years and still
live in the same house in San Leandro, where we have lived since November 1949.
Too much moving around when I was young, I guess!
When people, hearing my accent, ask me where I am from, I
tell them I am from San Leandro. That's easier than telling them the long story
of how I got here, but I'll be happy (?) to share my story on October 24th.
Perhaps "happy" is not quite the right word for how one feels in
reviewing the past, but perhaps this will become part of the discussion.
August 22, 2009
I was born in Dresden, Germany in 1931 and in 1939 was sent alone
on a Kindertransport to England to escape the Holocaust. I was educated in England
including the University of London, School of Economics and at age 27 immigrated
to the United States.
Since retirement, I have been on the Speakers Bureau of the Holocaust
Center of Northern California speaking about the Holocaust and my experiences at
Bay Area schools. I regularly speak to public and parochial schools, to single classes
and general assemblies of 250 kids.
In October 2007, the Erste Bürgermeister invited me back
to Dresden on an official visit. This was my first trip back in 15 years. Suzanne,
my eldest daughter, accompanied me and the visit was a great success.
In Spring 2008, I spent three months in Heidelberg taking German
lessons and getting to know the country. In Spring 2009, I returned to Heidelberg
for two months and had the opportunity of speaking to students and adults in Heidelberg
|Performing the Doofe Fischlied: Gar, Jenny,
Peter, Marion, JB…and fish
Let’s sing together – Lasst
Sunday, July 19, 2009, Joaquin Miller Park
The Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies enjoyed its first German
music afternoon. A great way of deepening your knowledge of German is to sing and
listen to German songs! Besides, singing is fun and we all had the opportunity to
come together and enjoy our amazing Gerlind Institute community! For this event,
Jenny Hilfer prepared some German songs to perform on her guitar by famous German
songwriters and bands such as Hannes Wader, Reinhard Mey, Nena, Xavier Naidoo, Rosenstolz,
and many others.
zur 2. und 3. Welle der Frauenbewegung in Deutschland
26. Juni 2009
I see myself as part of the Second Wave women’s movement in Germany and I
have worked individually and collectively toward social justice.
Growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s just outside of Hamburg,
Germany, sexism was so blatant in my environment that resistance to women’s
oppression seemed like a natural response. My parents were both refugees from the
East after World War II and belonged to the working class; I was the youngest of
three daughters. The last hope my father had that his family name would be carried
on was lost because I was born a girl. As long as I can remember, I refused to behave
like a typical girl and was often mistaken for a boy in my appearance and manners.
As a teenager, I rejected the diminutive term Fräulein and
called myself Frau to assert my womanness. Attention to language has been
an integral part of my life as language creates and reflects sociopolitical realities.
Around 1980 I joined the Grün-alternative Liste [Green
Party] in Hamburg where I participated in a women’s committee developing a
comprehensive anti-discrimination program for women. During the 1980s, I studied
Protestant Theology and comparative religions at universities in Hamburg, Berlin,
and Edinburgh, fighting the limits of patriarchal concepts of the divine, and soon
focusing on feminist theology. In the mid-80s, I participated in an all female East-West
Berliner theology students’ group, dialoguing across the Berlin Wall. My research
on the horrors of the European witch hunt (= women hunt) compelled me to abandon
theology and come out as a creative writer.
In 1988, I developed my first language seminar, called “Wer
meint, sie ist mit wer gemeint, die irrt sich” and initiated the
founding of the writers’ group Mörderinnen des Schweigens [Murderers
of Silence]in Hamburg. With Sabine Grünberg, Petra and Verena Meyer, I
co-authored Sirenen [Sirens], a collection of poems concerned with breaking
the silence about violence against girls and women (1990). We toured Germany
with popular readings and dramatic performances from the book. In 1992, I co-authored Sprachgewaltige
Frauen [Speak Out Powerful Women], a hand- and workbook, promoting gender-inclusive,
nonracist German language use. With co-authors Maren Reiche, Rita Hanakova,
and Antje Kurz, I read from and discussed Sprachgewaltige Frauen in
women’s communities in Germany. During that time, I facilitated numerous
workshops and groups ranging from intensive creative writing seminars to feminist
linguistics classes. I also taught immigrant women German and supported their
acculturation, celebrating women’s diversity. As an immigrant to the
United States myself, I have continued my work as an educator, leading to the
founding, and directing, of the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies in Oakland,
but that’s another story…
I grew up in the southwest of Germany in a small village
named Klingenmünster which is in Rhineland-Palatinate. I am the third
of six children. I am very glad that I can say that my parents never limited
me or my siblings in any way. We had all the freedom we needed to be and to
become ourselves. However, as I got older, I felt that inequalities rule our
world and that I as a young woman struggle with this society in so many aspects.
When I moved to Mainz in order to start my studies at the University, I realized
that I am truly committed to women’s empowerment and that I want to become
an active part of it. I started to join the University’s Women’s
Library and we, a group of young lesbian and feminist women, started to organize
for example the very first lesbian march at the Christopher Street Day in Frankfurt,
created an organization for the support of women’s literature, and established
an association for young lesbians, so that young women find a way to socialize.
For nearly six months I worked at the Frauenlandhaus in Charlottenberg
which is one of the few women’s only places in Germany. It was in Charlottenberg
when I first got to know women of the Second Wave and I realized that I am
not a post-feminism feminist. I am a part of the Third Wave.
Being born in 1985, I often get the impression that many in my
generation are not conscious about feminism at all. Having in mind that all those
main goals such as equal education, right to vote, right to work, right to abortion
already have been achieved, people tend to assume that women are equal to men (so-called
gender mainstreaming). Many inequalities are not as obvious anymore. However, they
are subtle and thus even more dangerous because those inequalities cause misconceptions.
Because of the alleged negative connotation the term feminist now carries, many
people in my generation refuse to call themselves feminists. I realize that the
Third Wave rather emphasizes the deconstruction of gender than the significance
of being a woman in the 21st century. Why are especially so many young women in
such a refusal when it comes to feminism although they would agree with every single
of feminist principles when I ask them?
Marion and I are connected through our struggle for women’s
equality in general and particularly in using gender-inclusive and non-racist language
as tools for change.
Wine Tasting Seminar: Wines of Germany
co-sponsored by the Excelsior German Center •
7. Juni 2009
Dear wine lovers:
I would like to invite you for an afternoon of discovery
and enjoyment. Tasting wines from different parts of the world, I came to the
conclusion that there is no more versatile and more enjoyable grape than Riesling,
and no better place to experience that varietal than Germany. My love and admiration
for German wines prompted me to share the best of German wines with you.
For our first event I would like for you to experience
different styles of German wines—from completely dry to liquid dessert
in a glass. There will be a short informative lecture (in English) about the
history of German wines and details about individual wines that we will pour
as well as their producers. Small appetizers and artisanal cheeses will complement
Sincerely, Anatoly Volokh
25. April 2009
Leo Mark Horovitz was born in 1928, Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
He now lives in Albany, California.
“I am Jewish. I left Germany via a Kindertransport in March
1939. I lived with an uncle's family in London from March 1939 through August 1939.
I was then evacuated to Saint Albans, Herts., UK. where I lived with 5 different
families. My parents also escaped to London and I lived with them starting in 1942.
In 1944 I was evacuated again - to South Wales. After leaving High School in London
I worked in various engineering jobs in the UK. In 1955 I emigrated to Canada where
I lived and worked in Toronto, Ont. In 1957 I moved to the US and attended graduate
school in Physics at U.C. Berkeley. I worked at Lawrence Berkeley Lab. from 1958
through 1981. I worked as an engineer in Silicon Valley from 1982 through 2003.
I am currently working in a software start-up company. I was married for 23 years
and have two children and 5 grandchildren.
I like to play…. I like adventure and exploration. I sometimes
do clowning…. I go to Burning Man. I attend Rhythm Society events. I like
to learn new things. I love to travel. In recent years I have spent time in Ecuador,
Peru, Brazil – mostly in the jungle. I visit and stay at a castle in Scotland
where I am the official Court Jester. I completed a three-year training program
for shamanic practitioners. I make collages. I am a member of The MenZs Circle of
San Francisco. I swim often. I have been active with the Pachamama Alliance. I like
I do not intend April 25th to be a 'lecture', but an interactive
conversation—concerning the value and purpose of German/Jewish dialog in 2009.
I will give a very brief outline of my life history, answer any questions about
that and focus on what I/we can accomplish together now!”
Memorial Lecture : Hiding in the Open: A Holocaust Memoir
Sabina S. Zimering, M.D., Author, Speaker
San Francisco State University
Click here for
an article by Kari Christensen, Staff Writer of the Xpress, the student newspaper
at San Francisco State University
Hiding in the
Open: A Holocaust Memoir by Sabina S. Zimering, M.D., was published
by North Star Press of St. Cloud Inc. The illustrated paperback ($14.95,
ISBN: 0-8739-171-1) is available at bookstores and
at the lecture.
grew up in Poland and was 16 when World War II broke out. After three years
of arrests, hunger and typhus in the Jewish ghetto, the deportation to the
gas chambers of Treblinka began. In the middle of the night she and her sister
Helka escaped. Danka and Mala, their childhood friends, gave them false IDs.
Despite many close calls posing as Catholic Poles, they worked in a hotel for
high-ranking officers in Nazi Germany until the American Army liberated them
April 27, 1945.
When the war
ended, Zimering studied medicine in Munich. After graduating
she immigrated to Minneapolis where she married, raised
a family and practiced medicine for 42 years. Now Sabina tells her riveting
story to schools, colleges, churches, synagogues and various groups both locally
and nationally. Newspapers, radio and TV stations have interviewed her. Minnesota
Medicine published two of her essays and the Society
for the Blind presented her memoir as a Radio Talking Book.Dr.
Zimering participates in the annual Holocaust program
at the Jungle Theater in Minneapolis. In 2004, the History
Theatre in St. Paul presented, with great success, Hiding in the
Open, on their stage.
program was supported by the Ingrid Tauber Philanthropic
Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the
Peninsula, Marin & Sonoma
of History and Jewish
Studies Program, San Francisco State University; San
Francisco Hillel; Gerlind
Institute for Cultural Studies; DRAGA
“Over the years, I have seen, heard and read
a lot about the Holocaust. Sabina Zimering’s Hiding in the
Open is a very powerful and moving piece of work. I couldn’t
put it down.” ~ Joel Coen, Director
of the movie Fargo
of Daheim Unterwegs (Invisible
Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany)
Berkeley, February 16th, 2007
was born in Germany in 1947 to a white German mother and an Afro-American father.
Initially, she grew up with her mother, but from her sixth to her fifteenth
year of life she was raised—as many Afro-German children of her generation
- in a children's home. After finishing school, she studied social pedagogics
and then worked with children and young people. Later she became the media
spokeswoman for the Orlanda Women's Press. Only at the age of 39 she met other
Afro-Germans and was involved in setting up the "Initiative of Black Germans"
(ISD). In 1993, she found her father in Chicago and met
him and his family—a most profound experience.
will read from her autobiographical book Invisible Woman. Growing Up Black
in Germany and engage in a discussion on her life and the situation of
Black Germans. (www.ika-huegel-marshall.de)