Letters from the Blaues Haus

Breisach, March 25, 2005

Dear Members and Friends,

It is time for another update about the recent activities in the Blue House! On March 2, we were happy to welcome Ruth Weiss for a reading and lecture at the House. Mrs. Weiss was born in Fürth, and as a child emigrated to South Africa to escape Nazi terror. She became an outspoken anti-Apartheid activist in the years following the war, and went on to become a respected journalist and novelist. Mrs. Weiss spoke to two school classes about her experience as a child in Germany in the 1930s, and at the public event in the evening she displayed her vast knowledge of European Jewish history, and spoke of her political actions in Africa. It was a great opportunity to get to know Mrs. Weiss and hear her story.

The visit from Mrs. Weiss was made possible by Brian Tafesse, a member of the Förderverein. Mr. Tafesse was born in Ethiopia and has lived in Germany for the past eighteen years. He and Mrs. Weiss became acquainted through their activism work, and it was his idea and influence that brought her to us.

Ruth Weiss's visit was one part in a thematic series here at the Blue House. We are currently researching the German Jews who fled to the African continent. One Breisach family, Heinrich and Sophie Levi and their two sons with families emigrated to Rhodesia (today Zimbabwe) in 1938. As part of my work for the Blue House, I am putting together a portfolio with the story of the Levis for our archive. I recently traveled to London, where I met Heinz Levi, the son of Alfred Levi of Breisach, and brother of Ellen Levi Sternberg. We spoke about his experience emigrating from Germany to Rhodesia, and how this move affected the lives of the people in his family. It was fascinating to learn about the dramatic changes, and it has been both exciting and touching to get to know the Levi Family's story so intimately.

Additionally, we have had visits from more school classes in the region, and hope that even more will come in the next months. We are busy preparing a Pesach lesson-plan to follow up on the popular Chanukah lesson from December. Another new lesson is about the Hebrew Alef-Bet, which will prove useful when the students begin working in the Jewish Cemetery in Mackenheim, Alsace in the coming weeks.

Many warm greetings from Breisach!


Sharyn Elise Jackson