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Posts Tagged ‘Frankfurt’

A year ago I took one of the most transformative journeys of my life, with 24 fellow educators, to study the Holocaust and the Jewish resistance to it, in Washington, DC, Germany, the Czech Republic, and Poland. I kept an extensive diary and took tons of photographs.  For the next several days, I have decided to go back and retrace my steps and try to process what unfolded for me. Not weighty tomes, but maybe a picture and a note from the diary.

040So here is Frankfurt. We arrived at 5am local time after a transatlantic flight. Before we even hit our hotel properly we were off on the tour. The old girl goes back a ways. For the last eight hundred years or so, there was a significant  Jewish population, decimated by the occasional pogrom but somehow bouncing back. That is until Kristallnacht, when the largest synagogues were burned to the ground. In 1933, 30,000 Jews lived in Frankfurt; in 1945, only 600 remained (you can read more here).

 

The Memorial to the Frankfurt Jews was a testament to the tens of thousands denounced and deported, by date and destination, to their deaths by their neighbors and the Nazi regime.

Memorial to the Frankfurt Jews. July 3 2013

Memorial to the Frankfurt Jews. July 3 2013

Each metal bump out has a person’s name. Shortly afterwards, we drove past the Frank House, from which the Frank family made their way to “safety” in the Netherlands, a path followed by many. You know the rest of the story. Anne Frank. We’ll connect more dots later on the tour.

 

I suppose there is a lot more to Frankfurt but we are not here long, though I do sneak out of the hotel several times to explore, solo and with like minded companions. As this trip begins, so does the wondering. You know, just the night before I heard testimony

Matt Rozell and Henry Greenbaum, Washington, DC, July 1, 2013

Matt Rozell and Henry Greenbaum, Washington, DC, July 1, 2013

of survivor Henry Greenbaum and had dinner with him and the group. He is part of the family on Geddy Lee’s mother’s side, Polish survivors who made their way to North America after the war. If you are not quite sure who Geddy Lee is, he is the bass player and vocalist for one of the most talented power trios on Earth. And he is playing Frankfurt. His mother and father met in a work camp in Poland, then Auschwitz.  His dad was liberated by the Americans at Dachau, his mom by the British at Belsen, where we are heading soon. And they returned for the 50th anniversary of the liberation in 1995, at the invitation of the Germans, with hundreds of others, walking the ground, healing some wounds.

“Dankeschön, Frankfurt!” he happily exclaims several times during the show here. How much do we read into that? Nothing, I suppose.  Though there is something magnificent about Geddy’s roots, the family history, and Rush coming to Frankfurt and just nailing it. The German fans, the lovers of the band, of the music, of Geddy… It literally brings a happy tear to my eye.

And of course the eternal question-what else did the world lose, because of the Holocaust? Unfathomable.

But here is a taste.

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