Monthly Program: Writing “Letters to Berlin: Writings of a German Jewish Refugee”
Sunday, January 21, 2024 Monthly Program via Zoom.
“Letters to Berlin: Writings of a German Jewish Refugee“
A presentation by Peter Crane
October 31, 1933: A German Jewish refugee, Sibylle Ortmann, arrives at Dover on a cross-Channel ferry. Unwilling to remain in a school now under Nazi control, she has come to England hoping to continue her education a free country. She is fifteen years old, almost penniless, and by herself. For most of the next four years, she and her mother, who remains in Berlin, will conduct their relationship by mail.
Because neither can bring herself to discard a letter from the other, the entire correspondence survives. It documents, in the kind of detail that only diaries normally contain, the immigration experience of a young refugee at a time when no one could believe that the Nazis were the danger, to the Jews and to the peace of Europe, that the refugees said they were.
Peter Crane, who studied British history with Professor Peter Stansky as an undergraduate at Harvard in the 1960’s, spent a quarter century as a government lawyer before retiring early to devote himself to the study of history. He has spoken to conferences in Russia, Germany, England, and the United States. His edited collection of letters illuminating the German-Jewish emigration experience, Wir leben nun mal auf einem Vulkan [We are living on a volcano]
, was published by Weidle-Verlag of Bonn in 2005. This presentation is taken from an English-language version of the book, now nearing completion.
You are welcome to invite friends and colleagues to attend