Berlin: The City I Never Lived In


In 2007 the Jewish Museum in Berlin invited me to give a public reading in the museum’s garden of the German translation of my book, Memories of a Mischling.   The evening program on June 3 opened the museum’s cultural summer.  Having practiced my German that whole spring, I read excerpts from my book in ten-minute segments.  In between, a trio of talented performers played and sang my father’s songs such as “Ein Freund, ein guter freund,” “Sigismund,” “Das gibt’s nur einmal” and others, more familiar than my father’s name, Robert Gilbert, so familiar that the audience sang along.  The evening was festive, despite weather so chilly that the 400 people in the audience were swathed in light blue blankets from the museum’s reservefor such occasions.

The heady days that followed left scarcely enough time to become at all familiar with the city itself and I felt a strong pull to return.  I was born in Berlin, but the Nazis arrived when I was an infant, so I never lived there.  But my parents’ stories throughout my growing up centered around the city of their youth, and my father’s poems were filled with longing for the places he remembered and with fears that they no longer existed.  I  vowed to go back again to see if I could find those places, and I did return to Berlin twice in 2008.

This Blog will be my attempt to report on what I found and am still discovering about Berlin, about my family, and about myself, with hopes that it will be of some interest to others.

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