GICS Oral History Archive
        Daniel Polikoff Pastorin Kerstin Weidmann
Peter Erlenwein photo Travis Fetter Ingird Peterson Ingrid Veit Alexander Feng
Monica Clyde Annegret Ogden Bridge Markland Dr. Marion Gerlind Dr. Michaela Grobbel Elana Levy
Ika Huegel-Marshall Michael Bachmann Birgit Mahner Dr. Miriam Zimmermann Leah Sharp Dr. Werner Loewenstein
Leticia Andreas-Wolf Angelika Quirk Dr. Berta Maria Hines Susanne Batzdorff Community Roundtable
Elana Levy Madhuri Anji Bernhard Ruchti Cinthia James Toahna Meier Ralph Samuelson
Frieda Gordon Dilloo Rita Goldhor Leo Mark Horovitz Wine Seminar Sabrina Zimmering Kia Hügel-Marshall
Daniel Polikoff
Daniel Polikoff. Photo: Irene Young
Journeys with Rilke • Dr. Daniel Joseph Polikoff
April 2016

“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 shining example.”

Author and Rilke scholar Daniel Joseph Polikoff has published six books of poetry, translation, criticism, 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.

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Religion and Identity
An exploration of what makes us who we are–and what makes someone else ‘the other’
January 2016

“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?”

Kerstin Weidmann stammt aus Delmenhorst in Norddeutschland. Sie studierte evangelische Theologie in Bethel/Bielefeld, Göttingen und Münster und machte 1996 ihr erstes theologisches Examen. Nach einem Gemeindevikariat 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 der Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 2002 ordiniert und hat seitdem mehrere Gemeinden in der Bay Area geleitet. Seit 2014 ist sie Pastorin an der deutschsprachigen St. Matthäusgemeinde in San Francisco, wo sie entdeckt hat, daß unsere Wurzeln einen größeren Einfluß auf uns haben, als wir manchmal meinen...

Kerstin Weidmann was born and raised in Delmenhorst in Northern Germany. She studied Protestant Theology at three different seminaries: Bethel/Bielefeld, 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….

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Peter Erlenwein, Ph.D., And Saw The Heaven Open (Und sah die Himmel offen) Spirituality here and beyond religion. Narratives, voices, contemplations
September 2015

Peter Erlenwein photoPeter Erlenwein 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.

Peter Erlenwein, Ph.D., is a sociopsychologist and transpersonal therapist from Germany. His integral approach combines Jungian archetypal psychology, meditation and body mind work with dance, ritual and role-playing in the context of sacred text hermeneutics and contemplation of different religious traditions (Hagio-drama). His spiritual insight and life has been deeply inspired by his decades-long travels to India, Africa and now the U.S.

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Travis Fretter • Wie ich zur deutschen Sprache gekommen bin | How I came to the German Language
January 24, 2014

Travis FetterBorn 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 making wine:

“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.”

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Ingrid Peterson • Ethiopia Rising
October 11, 2014

In 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.

Ethiopia RisingIngrid 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 causes.

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Berlin and I: Vom Mauerblümchen zur Weltstadtpflanze:
Ingrid Veit: August 16, 2014

“Manchmal 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 aktiv war.

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 zum Herunterladen)

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 missing.

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 student activism.

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.

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Invisible Life
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.
Reality 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, becomes invisible.

Cosponsors: Excelsior German Center at the Altenheim, the Consulate General of Switzerland, San Francisco, AATG NorCal, Foreign Language Association of Northern California, and the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies.


Artist's Statement

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 loving.
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 time.
My works are about:

- interdisciplinary humanities
- digital humanities
- poetry/the word
- diversity
- visual cultures/film-photography and language

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 of culture.
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

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My German Mother’s Story
Dr. Alexander Feng | Sunday, March 23, 2014

Alexander FengBorn 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.

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Building a Civil Society in San Francisco: the German Contribution, 1850 to World War I
Dr. Monica Clyde | January 26, 2014

Bavarian Brewing Company, circa 1850

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.

Monica ClydeMonica 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 Center.

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Annegret Ogden, Made in Germany
Sunday, September 29, 2013

Annegret Ogden

Photo: Ruth Smilan

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

Made in GermanyAnnegret 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 Shine

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.

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Bridge 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.


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Dr. Marion Gerlind bella donna haus
California Goes Bella!
Dr. Marion Gerlind
Bella 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.

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The Past is Present: Memory Paintings by Romani Artist Ceija Stojka
Michaela Grobbel, Ph.D., Associate Professor • Saturday, January 26, 2013
Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, Sonoma State University

Ceija Stojka "Wintertime"
Ceija Stojka "Wintertime"
Ceija Stojka "Sunflowers"
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.

Dr. Michaela Grobbel
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 organizations.

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Poetry reading with elana levy
Sunday, November 11, 2012

Elana Levy

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.

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Daheim Unterwegs: Ein deutsches Leben (Invisible 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

Ika Huegel-Marshall
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 17th Berlin & 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 Lang Publishing.

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.


Audre Lorde
Photo courtesy of Dr. Dagmar Schultz

Audre 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)

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Michael Bachmann, M.D., Sc.D.
Photo courtesy of Dr. Bachmann
Peace on Cancer : An ecological paradigm for a better understanding and treatment of cancer
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.

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Growing a Strong Community: das BELLA DONNA HAUS
Oral History with Birgit Mahner, Saturday, May 26, 2012

Birgit Mahner
Photos courtesy of Birgit Mahner
Bella Donna Haus

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.

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Dr. Miriam Zimmerman
Photo courtesy, Dr. Miriam Zimmerman
Dr. Leah Sharp
Photo courtesy, Leah Sharp
From Germany and Back Again in Three Generations:
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 Deutsch.

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
Dr. Werner Loewenstein
Photo courtesy, Dr. Miriam Zimmerman

Program
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 future generations.

The Jewish Post published an article by Dr. Miriam Zimmerman. Download the article here.
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Leticia Andreas-Wolf
Photo courtesy of Leticia Andreas-Wolf
Oral History with Leticia Andrea-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.

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Oral History and Poetry Reading with Angelika Quirk
23 October, 2011

Angelika Quirk

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.”
~After Sirens

Angelika will read in English and German from her book, After Sirens, interweaving historical and personal aspects of her life in German.

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“Soul of an Immigrant,” Oral History with Dr. Berta Maria Hines
August 28, 2011
Dr. Berta Hines

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 Hands.


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.

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Susanne Batzdorff
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 S
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.

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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.

J-Weekly
Original article from the J-Weekly
Follow-up article from the J-Weekly
Original listing on the German Consulate web site

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Elana Levy Oral 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.

Rose Ausländer
Rose Ausländer
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Madhuri Anji
Saturday, September 25, 2010

Madhuri AnjiI 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.

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Bernhard Ruchti
Saturday, Juli 24, 2010

Bernhard RuchI 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.

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Cinthia James
Saturday, May 22, 2010

Cinthia JamesI 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.

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Toahna Meier
Saturday, March 26, 2010

Toahna MeierBorn 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.

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Opening the Heart: Healing the Wounds of the Holocaust and WWII
February 20, 7-9:30 PM

Kehila
Photo by Ross Payson, courtesy of Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara

Kehilla Community Synagogue, 1300 Grand Avenue, Piedmont 94610
Cosponsored by the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies

Kehilla 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 work together:

…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

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Frieda Gordon Dilloo
Photo by Cathy Cade
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.

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Rita Goldhor
Saturday, October 24, 2009

Rita GoldhorI 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.

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Ralph SamuelRalph Samuel
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 and Dresden.

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class
Performing the Doofe Fischlied: Gar, Jenny,
Peter, Marion, JB…and fish

Let’s sing together – Lasst uns zusammen singen!
Sunday, July 19, 2009, Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland

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.

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Geschichtsabend zur 2. und 3. Welle der Frauenbewegung in Deutschland
26. Juni 2009

Marion:
MarionI 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…

Jenny:
JennyI 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.

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Exselsior German Center

Wine Tasting Seminar: Wines of Germany
co-sponsored by the Excelsior German Center •  7. Juni 2009

Anatoly Volokh

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 your experience.

Sincerely, Anatoly Volokh

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Leo Mark Horovitz
25. April 2009

Leo Mark HorovitzLeo 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 to write.

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!”

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Holocaust 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.

Sabina ZimmeringSabina Zimering 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.

This program was supported by the Ingrid Tauber Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin & Sonoma Counties; Department of History and Jewish Studies Program, San Francisco State University; San Francisco Hillel; Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies; DRAGA design

    “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

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Ika Hügel-Marshall, author of Daheim Unterwegs (Invisible Woman: Growing Up Black in Germany)
Berkeley, February 16th, 2007

Ika Huegel-Marshall

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. 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.

Ika Hügel-Marshall 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)

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