Entertainment Holocaust Remembrance: Avitall Gerstetter's "Remembrance Box"

Holocaust Remembrance: Avitall Gerstetter’s “Remembrance Box”

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“We will call out your name” is written on the small box that I take from the white box. We’ll call your name. She is lying on my lap, white tissue paper, blue ribbon around me. A scene as solemn as opening a birthday present from an attentive relative.

But this moment represents the end of a short life. Because Avitall Gerstetters Remembrance box was created in memory of the individual Jewish victims of the Shoa, which we know under the name “Six Million”. In my Remembrance box I find a white satin ribbon with the following embroidered in blue thread:

May 20, 1936 * Beta Loewy * 1943

My first thought when looking at the commemorative ribbon is: a child of all people. A hard to bear idea if you know how her life ended. Deported, murdered at the age of seven. Torn out of life to be mentally reborn today. Two of the five lovingly drawn people on the lid, holding hands, stand with their backs to the world. They have eyes that I have to imagine and fates that I can only imagine. I wonder if the turquoise green color of the box was chosen deliberately. It reminds me of a lake, the bottom of which we will not experience unless we have the courage to dive in, to penetrate its still surface. For Beta, I would like to dive in, remember for a time their very personal fate from six million.

Dehumanization ends in murder. However, it began 81 years ago to destroy uniqueness. From January 1939, Jews had to adopt the additional first names Sara and Israel, provided their existing names were not considered to be typically Jewish. So Edith, Moritz, Manfred, Rita and Heinrich became Sara and Israel. The National Socialists turned 500,000 Jewish individuals into nameless heaps as we know them from Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Sobibor – a heap of shoes, a heap of suitcases, a heap of glasses, teeth and teddy bears. Through the Remembrance box If destiny is unraveled for us, six million become six million individuals, their names will be proclaimed.

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The memory of the little girl, born in 1936, deported in 1943, is on my thighs. They shiver when I read the few lines about Beta, the daughter of Johannes and Ana. She lived in Berlin-Charlottenburg and was murdered in the name of the delusion of a Jew-free millennium. The Federal Archives noted that Beta was deported to Auschwitz on June 23, 1943. Compare the search results from Yad Vashem with those of the digital commemorative book of the German Federal Archives. 17 pages Löwy, Loewy and Loevy from Israel, seven pages from Germany. I scan the alphabetical lists of names of both archives. Adolf Ludwig Abraham Löwy, Alma Löwy, Anna Thekla Löwy, Beatris Löwy and keep on beating with my heart Beta Ester Bete Löwy stand.

No more remains of her. We don’t know more about Beta, which was maybe blonde, maybe brunette, maybe red-haired. That’s why I imagine it. In a tweed coat, as she paints chalk boxes on the pavement in front of the entrance to her apartment building somewhere in Charlottenburg. Her buckled shoes click on the stone, her braids rock when she jumps, and she eats sausages with potatoes in the evening. In my memory Beta lives again, Beta lives on. I try not to think about the day of the deportation, to leave the child innocent and free in my head. Because of my way of remembering, I also have the power to look ahead.

“Everyone a person like you and me”

The box comes with a letter, which I only read after doing my research on little Beta Löwy. In it Avitall Gerstetter writes, among other things: “None of them should be forgotten, everyone a person like you and me”. She also asks us to remind the person on the memorial tape several times a day. Routine is difficult for me, even for the smallest tasks, I write notes on my cell phone. Avitall’s request feels like a burden to me at first. But in the afternoon when I arrive in Berlin-Charlottenburg, my eyes look at the floor. I move from stumbling stone to stumbling stone, which are close together in the area around Meyerinckplatz. I encounter the memory of Martha Röttgen and Jenny Auguste Flörsheim, whose brass plates are polished that day. The national commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was only a few hours ago. But I don’t find Beta, a stone for Beta and her parents.

I hear the CD, which is also part of this memory journey. Avitall Gerstetter’s bright singing voice sounds and I am automatically moved. Because the woman who became known throughout Germany as a cantor is a trained soprano. And I also hear this professionalism, this dedication in the song “I walk through Theresienstadt”.

I turn sad and weary

it is so difficult for me:

Theresienstadt, Theresienstadt,

when suffering will end,

when are we free again?

I turn sad and weary

it is so difficult for me:

Theresienstadt, Theresienstadt,

when suffering will end,

when are we free again?

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Portrait of Geraldine Schwarz (journalist) 25/05/2019 © Basso CANNARSA / Opale via Leemage / ddp + subject to a fee +++

It is said that it would be silent for eleven years to keep a minute’s silence for every Shoan victim. Sometimes I imagine this number on the way to the office to understand the gap that the Shoa has left in Europe. When, like last time on January 27th, I drive from Prenzlauer Berg to Kreuzberg, crowded between tired, sweating or aftershave-smelling people in the subway, I make every face disappear. Dissolve women, men and children into thin air until I remain alone in a deserted city and curse the silence.

Once Berlin and about twice Cologne, my hometown, are a total of six million. A number that, as I was once again able to learn on social media as part of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, shows how a sword of Damocles hangs over Germany’s carefree happiness. It looks threatening and anonymous because it is incomprehensible to the inner eye. For mine too – although I always remember Karl, Mina, Moritz and Hermann when I remembered. My ancestors from castles on the Moselle.

Mina, Hermann, Moritz, Karl

A cattle dealer, a mother, two sons. Deported in 1941, deported in 1942, deported “unknown”, all murdered. So it is in the database of Yad Vashem. My great-grandfather submitted their names in 1977 and received a memorial sheet, the truthful information of which he confirmed with his signature. So my personal memory of the victims of Shoa is the constant contrast between my own family and the nameless rest of human destinies. Mina, Hermann, Moritz and Karl from Burgen an der Mosel, in my mind, are faced with millions of Jews from Poland, Galicia, Hungary, Austria and Germany, whose CVs I will never know until day X. With Beta from Berlin, the girl on the tape, the memory of an individual fate joined the victims of my family. I will call out her name, And I’m grateful to Avitall for that.

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