Best Books about Berlin
I was asked by Ben Fox, who owns Shepherd.com – motto: “Like browsing the best bookstore in the world” – to select five of my favorite books on Berlin. Makes perfect sense since Stolen Legacy is rooted in the history of that city.
You can check out my selections and why I chose them here.
So Important! Podcast Interview
Monte Mallin – host of the podcast series So Important! – has interviewed me. In his billing for our talk, Mr Mallin writes:
This is a story of determination, commitment, and conviction, and never giving up when the cause is just. Dina’s story is an inspiration for all of us, and here it is in her own words.
Listen to our discussion here.
B’nai B’rith magazine
A feature article I wrote entitled Jewish German Fashion Industry Flourished, Then Perished Under Nazi Rule is the cover story for the Winter 2019 edition of the B’nai B’rith magazine. It is about how, beginning in the mid 1830s, Jewish German fashion designers and entrepreneurs made Berlin into a thriving hub of sophistication and glamour.
The concept of ready-to-wear clothing was invented by Jewish Berliners and by the middle of the 19th century some 100 Jewish fashion firms existed around Hausvogteiplatz in central Berlin’s Mitte district. By the 1890s a full 85% of all women’s fashion manufacturing companies had Jewish owners and “Berlin chic” enjoyed an international reputation.
By 1933, there were 2,700 Berlin-based Jewish fashion businesses – making the fashion trade, besides Paris, the largest exporter in Europe.
Uwe Westphal, author of “Fashion Metropolis Berlin: 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry”(to which I contributed a chapter), has studied the history of this once flourishing industry and what happened to it as soon as the Nazis came to power.
The central role of Jews in the German fashion industry, and how the Nazis utterly destroyed that legacy, is told in Mr. Westphal’s book. That history has been forgotten for far too long.
Anti-Semite – or not?
That is the question posed by Uwe Westphal in his piece for the Times of Israel entitled: He Helped Nazis Rob Jews: How is he ‘not an anti-Semite’?
Following the revelations contained in “Stolen Legacy” the University of Mannheim decided to change the name of the foundation and annual prize named in honor of Dr. Kurt Hamann – former chairman of the Victoria Insurance Company. Today it is called the Foundation for the Promotion of Insurance Science.
The once-secret report – commissioned by the university into the wartime role of Dr. Hamann – has now been released to the public.
Mr. Westphal’s question is spot on. The report’s author, Prof. Dr. Johannes Baehr, concluded that despite numerous instances of where Dr. Hamann “obviously had no scruples at all about doing business in which the Victoria profited from the persecution of the Jews” nevertheless “There’s no doubt [Dr. Hamann] was not an anti-Semite.”
A press release by the university at the time of taking its decision about a name change stated:
“…under Hamann’s chairmanship, the Victoria demonstrably took many properties from Jewish owners… With the change of name, the University of Mannheim would like to set an example; any person who lends his name to a prize awarded to excellent young academics should also be able to serve as an ethical role model.”
Anti-Semite or not? You decide.
Dr Kurt Hamann Foundation Renamed!
Mannheim University’s FORUM magazine interviewed me for an article entitled “An Awkward Legacy” in which I tell the story of what I discovered in the course of researching “Stolen Legacy”.
This is the culmination of many years of research into the past of Dr. Kurt Hamann – one-time head of the Victoria Insurance Company which foreclosed on my family’s property in 1937. Dr. Hamann had a foundation named in his honor at the university. The result of my investigations was to uncover his unsavory history during the Third Reich – which led to the university deciding to rename the foundation.
Read all about it.