A Jew Among the Germans
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photo of marzynski talking with germansphoto of marzynski with christoph erbsloeh

marian marzynski's  conversations with young germans
As he explains in his film, Marian Marzynski, a survivor of the Holocaust, came to Germany -- the "land of the enemy" -- to explore how a new generation is living with the crimes of its grandparents, and to see if he "can make a private peace with them" for the sake of both the young Germans and his own children back in the U.S. who are their peers. Over several years of visits and filming with the younger generation of Germans, Marzynski came to better understand how they -- and all Germans -- are wrestling with the questions of guilt, responsibility, and memory.


Johannes Schwartz
Johannes Schwartz is a German Gentile and one of the authors of Nobody Asked Us, a book written by "third generation" young Germans who have broken with their parents and grandparents over how the war and the Holocaust should be confronted. Schwartz is getting a doctorate in Jewish studies and in his spare time is a tour guide at Berlin's Jewish Museum, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind. Schwartz's discussion here with Marzynski and Marzynski's American friend Thomas Mehrel, a Jew born in Germany after World War II, centers on Schwartz's work at the museum and how to teach about the Holocaust.


Christian Staffa
A pastor, Christian Staffa has a degree in theology and works for a German Lutheran church as head of its German-Jewish reconciliation project. Its work includes conducting seminars, group sessions and sending young Germans abroad, mainly to Israel and the U.S., to visit and/or work as social workers helping elderly Jews and Holocaust survivors in order to become acquainted with Jewish communities and the Jewish religion. Christian calls himself "a two-and-a-half generation" German, but works with the third generation as a kind of older brother. Here, Staffa discusses with Marzynski and Mehrel the guilt about the war and Holocaust that is pushed from one generation to the next; whether a so-called "good guilt" can exist; and how to build bridges between Jews and Germans.


hristoph Erbsloeh
Erbsloeh, the grandson of a soldier in Hitler's Wehrmacht, faced a decision at the age of 19: mandatory military service for a year and a half or social service work. A conscientious objector, he chose social work and joined Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (Aktion Suhnezeichen Friedensdienste), a German organization committed to reaching out to victims of Nazi crimes. It is one of many human relations groups promoting opportunities for young Germans to interact with Jews and increasingly is the last chance for young Germans to meet those who lived through the war and Holocaust. Erbsloeh was partnered with a New York City Jewish social service agency, which arranged for him to conduct home visits to elderly Holocaust survivors, including Arthur Lederman, a 100-year-old Polish concert violinist too frail to leave his apartment. A budding cellist, Erbsloeh discovered that he and Lederman shared a passion for music that transcended their differences and ages and fostered the friendship that grew between them.


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posted may 31, 2005

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