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

"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

The Story that Just Keeps on Ticking – Eva Baruch’s!

Many of you know my cousin Eva Baruch’s story, from my film and the many posts I’ve written about her, along with many of the people who were part of her life. But for those of you who don’t know her story, here’s a brief synopsis: She was a cousin of mine whose life reads like a movie script, because of her numerous cliffhanger escapes, and the circumstances surrounding them. During the mid 1930s in pre-WWII Berlin, Eva had become … Read More

Who Were The Shanghai Twelve?

Shanghai in 1939: International Enclave of Foreign Intrigue!   The “Shanghai Twelve”! That’s what I named a group of very talented European refugees who escaped from China only days before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. But who were they? And how and why were they able to escape from Shanghai just before December 7, 1941? As it turns out, I discovered them while researching my cousin Eva’s own narrow escape from that port in China just days before the Japanese shut it down. That was the … Read More

Eva Baruch, Actress, Activist or Spy: Chap. 4 – Who, What, Where & How!

I was trying to finish my film, “For the Life of Me”, while facing a deadline only a few months away. And it was a “biggie”- our first screening for a live audience, at the International Conference of Jewish Genealogical Societies . But with only a short time remaining I had decided not to include Eva’s story, for lack of both information and enough film to cover what little I did have. Help was Near! Then my friend, Bob Sallin came … Read More

Eva Baruch, Actress, Activist or Spy – Part 3

Melbourne and Back to Berlin In Chapter 2, after producing two anti-Nazi radio plays, a now pregnant Eva has to escape from Shanghai with her cohorts, and spend the rest of the war in Australia. In 1946, a year after the Japanese surrendered and the war was over, Eva was able to reunite with her actress mother, Kaete Horsten and bring her to Australia. During the war, Kaete occasionally found roles in the Shanghai theater. She’d been living alone for … Read More

Eva Baruch – Actress, Activist or Spy: Chapter 2

Shanghai to Melbourne In Chapter 1 we discussed Eva’s work in the Shanghai Theater, her work with British Ministry of Information (BMI), and her anti Nazi radio shows. As an open city, Shanghai had among its many nationalities a large German contingent, many of whom were pro Nazi. This included a network of Gestapo agents. In October, 1941, only weeks before war broke out in the Pacific, Eva produced two anti-Nazi  radio plays. The first was called”Wien, Maerz 1938″ (Vienna, … Read More

Eva Baruch – Actress, Activist or Spy: Chap. 1

Berlin to Shanghai When the full story of my cousin Eva Baruch’s life was finally revealed to me, it played like the old movie serials, where the heroine always got caught in a life-threatening situation at the end of the current chapter, only to escape at the beginning of the next one. That’s how Eva lived much of her life. But let’s go back to the beginning. It was in 1999 when I first became curious about my family’s history. … Read More