Joanne's reflections from Berlin

Here I am finally with some quiet time [at our house swap in Berlin], after Lani and Bill have left for Copenhagen and my friend Gina and her daughter have also departed.  I'm still very low from this lousy viral infection that hit me 19 days ago after my second visit to Budapest's most glorious bathhouse (photos to follow).  

This city is amazing.  To feel the history at every turn, and to see and learn about changing neighborhoods, to see the vibrant creative communities, the crazy club scene, talk about old and new immigrant issues, to see the tolerance out there, like graffiti and signs saying, 'immigrants welcome' yesterday in east Kruetzberg.  As I hung out at the Turkish market, swaying to the tunes of a Mayan Hip Hop band, and taking in the stalls, I was reminded of my love of the east Jerusalem markets, and markets in general.   This one ranks:  people from everywhere, and people loving who and what others are and have to offer.  As I meandered, I got the hit that had maybe been coming:  we really, really should rent an apt here for a while and all of us hang. 

Twyla, if your plans come to be, the Max Plank Institute in two years, some of us should be here too.  Dan, I can so see you here.  I think it should be sooner rather than later, as the healthcare is an issue, as I've discovered.  I would have to apply for German national healthcare [to be eligible for benefits even with citizenship].

Meeting Donna was a joy.  She is moving forward with her book, no publisher yet, and would love our contribution.  She sees it as contributing to educating and providing history about how the citizenship law works, and has been changed.  She feels it could help build the argument for a change, i.e. Eliminating the arbitrary date, eliminating split decisions within families.  At the same time she feels this will be a way off, with a new Chancellor.  She sees it and believes it's important as part of the overall changing face of the country, the acceptance and move toward greater diversity.  She confirms that the law was not about reaching out to Jewish community, or reparations or the like.  She has data on number who have reclaimed citizenship under Article 116 since 2000 (when records became public) but did not tell me.  Says the Israeli population is ~15-20K now.

As for individual cases like ours, she suggests that others have hired an attorney.  She offered her attorney, who could see if there might be anything in our case that is compelling and be enough to allow for Dan/Walt to become citizens.  I told her of Twyla's interest, and she said she is happy to introduce her attorney to you, Twyla, if you are coming to Berlin next month.  At the same time, I am meeting all kinds of people who are living, studying, working here, who don't have citizenship.  It is very exciting to think of you here, Twyla.  Feels like a fit.  I encourage you to contact Donna.  So easy going, and informative and involved.

Dan, Walt: I have a few of my own family history questions and is there something you want me to do next two days to shed light on anything? Do we have death record of Betty and Isaak?  Couldn't remember why we believe she died in Auschwitz? Was she deported from Schluterstasse 12?  Or did she sell the house (was Isaak long dead?).  Did we think about doing a Stolpersteine block? I am going inside the house tomorrow morning! I will take what you gave me, Dan, and take photos of course. Any questions outstanding about Herman's grave:  I may go to cemetery on Friday.

Walt, a funny little story that was not funny at the time.  Bill got taken by a sheister outside the currency exchange at Prague train station.  Nice and simple, gave the guy 40 euro for some Check Republic currency.  Handed it to me; it didn't work in the ticket machine; showed it to agent who said, 'not Check money, from Belarus.'  So Walt, on your next visit back to do family history on the Tulbowitz clan, you've got some cash...

Going to take short walk, maybe you will get this, and we can write more before I go to bed in 2-3 hours.  Love from Helga's beautiful Charlottenberg,

Jo