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.

1918 portrait of five members of the Rehfisch family, including a young Lily Rehfisch, and a second, modern-day photo of Pete Vanlaw.

What is a Christian Bark?

A german journalist connects with Pete Vanlaw to publish an article about commemoration of the 1938 Kristallnacht in the town of Wittstock, Germany.

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.

Collage of eight photos from early 20th century, groups of people either dressed up for winter outings or wearing bathing costumes at waterfront.

For The Life of Me – The Backstory

All the trials and tribulations that led up to the actual creation of “For the Life of Me”.

Margot rehfisch ca 1929

Diary of a Department Store: The Nachmann-Joseph-David Connection

Author’s Note: Also see my follow-up to this post, A New Look at “Diary of a Department Store”. For those of you who are new to my Blog, most of my stories are based on the research I originally did for my film, “For the Life of Me”, or new information that resulted from it. But now much of it come from the posts on my Blog. Most recently they’ve been about my Mother’s side of the family. Her maiden … Read More

"Stopersteine" honoring the memory of Gerhard and Hedwig Rehfisch, my grand aunt and her son.

Serendipity – What does it mean?

A quest for info on my grandfather’s fourth brother, Gerhard Rehfisch, took a dozen years to show results: Amelie, of Berlin, stumbled across a single Stolpersteine — or “stumbling stone” in English, and put it together with my search request from 2006 still online . . . talk about serendipity!

Rendezvous in Hannover

This is dedicated to my dear friend, the late Ralph Hirsch1, who was so instrumental in helping me research my family. Ralph and I met on the Internet through the JewishGen web site. He quickly became my “go to guy” in my newfound interest in genealogy; primarily to learn about my family – the family I never knew. But that’s another story.2 But Our First Rendezvous is in Berlin It was 2005 when my wife and I were in Berlin at … Read More

What Does it Mean to be a Jew? Part #1

“JEW” was a word I often heard from other kids, but rarely from my parents.  For any of you reading this, I have to clarify the title since it only relates to me. That’s because it wasn’t until I reached the ripe old age of 52 that I discovered I was a Jew. But then WHY, you ask, is this bit of self-evaluation and revelation even here? It was the result of an exercise that my “What’s the Story” guru, Stacie Chaiken, asked me to write as a … Read More