Mündliche Geschichtsreihe / Oral History Series

We are inviting individuals from our community to share their life’s stories and dialogue with participants. Meetings are facilitated by Dr. Marion Gerlind. Order and pre-pay for tickets below. (PayPal fees *) for more information and reservations, email Marion or call (510) 430-2673. To review the Oral History ARCHIVE of previous speakers and topics, click here.

RSVP required. Suggested donations: GICS Members: $10 • General Public: $15-20 (no one turned away for lack of funds)


The Oral History Series is a project of the Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to the teaching and promotion of German Cultural Studies. We invite members from our community to share their life’s stories and dialogue with the audience, promoting cross-cultural understanding. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent of the law. Visit our donations page, at www.gerlindinstitute.org for more information on donations.
  Saturday September 26, 2020 •  Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies • via ZOOM

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 shelter-in-place order in California, as of March 21, 2020, we have moved our in-person Oral History events to ZOOM. If you have any questions, or concerns, please contact JB at info@gerlindinstitute.org

Michael E. Willis: How I got to the Altenheim:  An American/German Journey
Satuday September 26, 2020 • 7 p.m. PST •  via ZOOM •  Suggested donations: GICS members: $10 •  General Public: $15-20 (no one turned away for lack of funds)

Michael and his wife, Iris Alberts, in Alameda, 2018
Michael and his wife, Iris Alberts, in Alameda, 2018

It begins in 1966 at Roosevelt High School, when I took German from Frau Westphalinger, in the German part of segregated St. Louis. Since I couldn’t speak any foreign language, it was either French or German.  I flipped a coin and glücklicherweise, German won the toss. Stories came out of that interesting time!

After high school, and on to college, Washington University in St. Louis to study architecture, and I needed a foreign language, so I kept the German.  Herr Mainschein introduced me to Wolfgang Borchert’s Die Physiker and others.

No more German connections until 1980, when I came to Berkeley to teach one semester in architecture. It was on that trip that I met my future bride, Iris-Christa Alberts, a wonderful person from a village called Scheuerfeld in Rheinland-Pfalz. We married in 1982. And I started traveling to Berlin in 1984. In 1987, there was our Sophia. At some point, we moved to Oakland, from San Francisco, and a few years after that, we brought Sophia to various German schools, from Menlo Park to Berkeley, and finally to Oakland at the Altenheim. And that’s where the saga gets interesting.

To hear more, including poetry and music, I’ll see you on 26 September!

Michael’s presentation will be in both English and German.

RSVP by September 22, 2020 • This will be a ZOOM meeting
Suggested donations: GICS members: $10 •  General Public: $15-20 
(no one turned away for lack of funds)





Support Our Oral History Series!

Annegret Ogden
Annegret Ogden
Monica Clyde at EGC
audience at Dr. Monica Clyde's presentation

2019 marks the twelfth anniversary of the GICS Oral History Series, which has become the touchstone of our community programs. It grew from Dr. Gerlind’s passion for interviewing Holocaust survivors whose stories were at risk of being lost. Inspired by their lives, the Gerlind Institute continues to bring unforgettable speakers from in and outside our Bay Area community. We have witnessed their voices and stories, and have been transformed. We are incredibly grateful to every speaker, co-sponsor, and audience participant from the past ten years!

Through the dedicated volunteer work of the Gerlind Institute's team, especially JB, Loren Norman, and many others, GICS has hosted 43 Oral Histories since 2007—no small feat for a grassroots organization such as ours, which relies completely on community support!

Despite all the work that goes into organizing each event, admission remains accessible, as we want everyone to participate. No one is turned away for lack of funds. The Series is primarily funded through income from the GICS teaching program, memberships, and donations. With the generosity of volunteers, participants and speakers—many of whom have donated their honoraria—we have been able to sustain our Series.

We are calling on you, our community, to support your Series through your generosity, as we hope you benefit directly, or indirectly, through Gerlind Institute’s educational services.  Please help secure our Oral History Series' sustainability by becoming a GICS member in 2019. Visit www.gerlindinstitute.org/membership.html, or click here. You can also make a tax-deductible donation. Visit www.gerlindinstitute.org/donate.html, or click here.

Your act of generosity, whether large or small, will build fiscal stability and enable us to create more unique programming.

We will apply your donation to the costs of upcoming events.

We are grateful for any amount you are kindly willing to give and your continued support as a GICS community member! We look forward to welcoming you to an upcoming event!

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