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Twins steven and marion hess pose for portrait photo in their fancy Urker costumes.

The Hess Twins

It was somewhere around 2016 when I’d been exploring the story of my uncle, Paul Rehfisch, his family and his fate in the hands of the Nazis, Bergen-Belsen, and ultimately “the Lost Transport”. It was during this time that I found a guy online who had been on the same train with his family. But unfortunately he could not remember much about it because he had been so young at the time. But after a couple emails back and forth, I lost track of him.

Now, skip ahead to 2021. It was Sunday morning, March 7th. I was sitting comfortably in my living room, reading the Sunday edition of the L.A. Times. On the front page in column #1 was a story by one of my favorite columnists, Steve Lopez. But what caught my eye was the title, “Twins’ Photo Unlocks Holocaust Mystery”. I jumped to page 8, and found the rest of it . . . a full page dedicated to the remainder of the story. It included a cute picture of two young kids – a boy and girl who turned out to be twins – dressed in adorable costumes.

Two older men wearing winter coats and knit caps place white roses near stepping stone plaques marking persons taken fro their homes by Nazis in the 1930s.

Bark’s Report: Pogrom/Kristallnacht Commemoration

In 1938, the Nazis harassed Jewish families all over Germany, including the small city of Wittstock. Today, anti-Semitic sentiments have returned. In contrast, a good 60 participants took a stand at a Wittstock pogrom commemoration. Journalist Christian Bark follows up on a November 9, 2023 commemoration of the 1938 Kristallnacht AKA “Night of Broken Glass” AKA pogram.

Exterior view of grand berlin department store, h joseph and company, in the 1930s.

A New Look at “Diary of a Department Store”

This is new information about what actually happened when the Nazis “Aryanized” the Berlin Department Store founded in 1900 by my grand uncle, “Sally” Rehfisch, and his partner, Hermann Joseph. More details about the people involved, before, during and after the war, in this update of my 2019 post, “Diary of a Department Store”.

Five 10 cm square bronze colored metal plaques embedded in cement in a grid, each engraved with a single person taken away by nazi soldiers during world war two.

Stolpersteine

The German artist Gunter Demnig, who originated the idea of the commemorative stepping stones, remembers the victims of the Nazis by installing memorial brass plaques on the pavement in front of their last known address. He cites the Talmud saying that “a person is only forgotten when his or her name is forgotten.” The Stolpersteine in front of the buildings brings back to memory the people who once lived here. Almost every “stone” begins with HERE LIVED . . . One “stone.” One name. One person.

Line drawing illustration movie cameraman and sound recordist on set.

My Brilliant Career –The Beginnings

— an excerpt from my Steady Ender essays — The summer after college graduation, I was faced with getting a job. I had turned down a high school teaching assignment in a New Jersey farm area. That NYC skyline called out to me ever since I could remember, and I had to go for it. “It” was the unknown. My resume was verbal. If there was any opportunity at all, my approach was, “What are you looking for?” I had … Read More

Tourists climb the very steep steps of Plaza de la Pirámide de la Luna, at Teotihuacan, Mexico.

Mexico and the Torticos Man

Mexico and the Torticos Man Or Buzz and the Pyramids This all happened way back in the day when I was producing TV commercials. While I got some pretty bizarre requests from clients, this one remains at the top of the heap. Torticos was a brand of corn chips, much like Fritos or Doritos. But before I started putting this story together, I tried to find out if the brand still existed, since I’d never heard of it either before, … Read More

Older gentleman embraces two ladies, all three dressed for going out.

Tribute to TC

A Tale of Two Careers Tim Considine, my long time friend and film making partner, passed away on March 3, 2022. Tim was 81 years old. Nevertheless it really came as a shock because we just had lunch together, after a long hiatus. But what made it even sadder, we both thought the hiatus was finally over, and had been talking about our next lunch. Tim was always TC and I was always PV. It was from the fondly remembered … Read More

Paragraph 175 and the Pink Triangle

What Did They Have In Common? In Poland, no one writes about the tragic fate of homosexuals during the Nazi era. Nothing has been published about the thousands of Polish homosexuals who became death camp victims. Ordinary embarrassment is the reason that scholars remain silent about Nazism’s homosexual victims. Robert Biedroń, “Nazism’s Pink Hell” Holocaust remembrance is a time each year when we pay homage to the 6 million Jews who were murdered by the Nazis between 1933 and the end … Read More

Some Adventures in Mexico – Kool Shooting

The year was 1984. I was Exec. Producer for a production company in Hollywood. Like all good adventures this one began with a phone call. It was from a mid-west advertising agency whose  producer was calling me. A nice guy by the name of Chuck Bauer, with whom I’d worked on previous jobs. He wanted me to bid on a package of TV commercials for their client, Kool Cigarettes, which were slated to run in Mexico, as well as Latin … Read More

Portrait of five members of the Rehfisch family, including a young Lily Rehfisch

Wittstock, Kristallnacht and the Rehfisch Family

Last fall I received a flyer from Amilie, my friend in Berlin, as a reminder that the 9th of November is the day to commemorate Kristallnacht. One could also consider it the beginning of the Holocaust. It is Amelie who continues to be an incredible source of historical information about my family and my relatives.  In keeping with the 80th anniversary of that horrendous night, the flyer she sent was focused specifically on its observation in the small town of … Read More

Mort n’ Curley

Following the Paths of Two Extremely Talented High School Kids I was two years behind both Mort and Curley when I entered North Hollywood High School. They were both seniors while I was just beginning the 10th grade. But it didn’t take long before I learned about these two very talented individuals. Mort Subotnick played the clarinet and Curley Williams the piano. While I never got to know them personally, I always assumed that they were friends since they shared … Read More

Ilonka’s Story – The Sequel

Ilonka Venier Alexander’s first story appeared very soon after I began my blog. She found one of my early posts; the one about discovering my own Jewish family, which prompted her to contact me as a kindred soul. Ilonka and I have stayed in touch over the years while she began writing primarily about the world of her renowned grandfather. Since then she’s had three books published and is now working on a fourth. Recently she asked me to help … Read More