In Memoriam Hedwig Brenner • September 27, 1918 – January 23, 2017

A Tribute to Hedwig “Hedy” Brenner by Gabriele Weissmann

Today I was informed by a good friend of Hedwig’s, Christel Wollman-Fiedler, a photographer and author from Berlin, that our 98-year old Hedwig Brenner, our “Doyenne”, our “Grande Dame”, passed away last night after a short struggle between life and death.

She was a wonderful person, with a strong and lively personality, interested in other people’s lives. She had a fantastic memory, remembering her years in Czernowitz and knew at least half the population.  She could list hundreds of names, who they were and what they had been doing…

Christel, who has spent every year visiting Hedwig, staying with her for one month each time, discussing with her, helping and opening a window to the future.. She published a few pamphlets  and wrote about her in “Die Stimme” and was notably the person who recommended Hedwig for the esteemed German and  Austrian Medals of Honour a few years ago. And all this so late in Hedwig’s life.

During the war, with enormous courage, which only youth and determination can have, Hedwig went to the German Kommandatur in Czernowitz and asked to speak to the Kommandant.  By an incredible coincidence, the Kommandant had studied in Prague at the same time as Hedwig’s husband, and had known him! She thus achieved the release of her husband.  A courageous and beautiful story which she loved to tell.

Hedwig spent many years of her later life, writing several books – about her life, about Czernowitz and about the many people she met during her long existence…. And then she began writing biographies of Jewish women in …painting, architecture, etc. A huge task and she did it wonderfully. We can be so proud of her.

Up to the last few weeks, she loved talking, was interested in a multitude of things and her most recent book, “Jewish Women in Music and Dance” has just been published. She spent the last years of her life with difficult hearing and seeing, but in spite of this, worked continuously to finish this, not her last project. She intended to start a new one on Jewish actresses. She was full of life, loved to entertain, especially persons with Czernowitz ties, made her famous Czernowitz Schmettentorte,  and even as recently as yesterday posted a comment on our Czernowitz list. There is still so much to tell about her.  What a big loss to our Czernowitz community!

Thank you to Gabriele Weissmann for this fitting testament.

The burial – Cemetery field of Joshua (formerly C.smir), Cypress Gate, block: Q1, Line 8, Place: 4B

Jakub and Marcela: “One really couldn’t guess that she will depart this life so soon. Only last Thursday we sent her an email with our photo. Our sincere condolences to her family and friends. With best wishes and gratitude for meeting Hedwig. [Jakub and Marcela , who volunteered in 2016 at the Czernowitz Jewish Cemetery, took this photo and in Haifa just a few weeks ago. Thank you, both Jakub and Marcela, for sharing it with us and thank you, Christian Herrmann, for forwarding it to me. Edgar Hauster]

Meine Gedanken sind bei Hedy by Christel Wollmann-Fiedler
Zum Tod von Hedwig Brenner aus Czernowitz

So manche Nacht kramten wir in Kisten und Kästen in alten Fotos und Dokumenten. Kaum zu glauben, was es da alles zu sehen gab. Erinnerungen gab es bei Hedy viele und erzählen war ihre Leidenschaft. Ich habe in den Jahren in der Silver Street in Haifa ihre jüdische Czernowitzer Familie, die Eltern die Großelter, die Großmutter aus dem Leipziger Zirkus und viele andere in Galizien, Wien, der Schweiz und London, kennengelernt, selbst auf die lange Schiffsreise der Großeltern nach Indien 1885 nahm sie mich gedanklich mit. Sie wuchsen mir alle ans Herz, als gehörten sie zu mir. Durch Czernowitz begleitete ich Hedy in ihrer Kindheit und Jugend, konnte ihrer Begeisterung für die einst multikulturelle Stadt nicht widerstehen. Mental hat sie diese Stadt, diese Heimat, Ihre Lebensliebe am Pruth in der Bukowina, nie verlassen, auch nie verstanden, dass sie sich verändert hat im Laufe der vielen Jahrzehnte.
Verwandte und Freunde verschwanden in den 1940iger Jahren in dem eisigen Winter Sibiriens, erfroren oder wurden erschossen, andere starben ein Jahr später in Transnistrien. 1945 floh sie mit ihrem Mann ins Erdölgebiet nach Rumänien. Vor über dreißig Jahren konnten sie mit Kind und Kegel ins Gelobte Land Israel ausreisen. Rentner waren sie und ihr Mann bereits. Hedy akzeptierte das Leben, wie es ihr begegnet war mit allen Höhen und Tiefen und dem erfahrenen Leid.
Gefordert und ermuntert hat sie mich, nicht nur meine Freundin wurde sie, eine mütterliche Freundin war sie mir in den Jahren. Fast täglich telefonierten oder skypten wir, oft nach Mitternacht. Neues und Wichtiges gab es immer. Alljährlich bildeten wir eine Wohngemeinschaft in ihren kleinen vier Wänden in Neve Sha‘anan auf einem der hundert Hügel in Haifa. Unser mehrwöchiges Zusammenleben wurde oft strapaziös, Hedys Schwerhörigkeit tat ihr Nötiges, immer waren die Nächte zu kurz, die Gespräche sehr lang. Essays schrieb sie bereits in Rumänien, Familienbücher und die Lexika über jüdische Künstlerinnen entstanden in Israel. Das Finden von Künstlerinnen in der weiten Welt war ihre Begeisterung, die Korrespondenz und die Telefonate mit ihnen ebenso. Jeder, der sie kennenlernte bewunderte diesen alten Menschen, diese umwerfende Persönlichkeit, diese großzügige disziplinierte Frau.
In der winzigen Sitzecke neben der Küche saßen wir oft wie die Heringe beim Essen. Bekocht wurden wir alle von ihr, bekamen die Wiener Schnitzel, den Totsch, und die Mehlspeis‘. Die Schmettentorte, wie bei ihr zu Hause in Czernowitz, war der Höhepunkt. Besucher aus der gesamten Welt campierten für ein, zwei Nächte in ihrer kleinen Wohnung, oft lernte sie diese Gäste erst kennen, wenn sie bereits an die Tür klopften.
In meinem Berliner Zuhause empfing sie ihre Gäste, die von weit angereist waren, um sie wiederzusehen oder sie kennenzulernen. Selbst aus den USA und aus Südamerika kamen sie, aus Frankreich, der Schweiz und anderswoher. Mit Ihrer Lebendigkeit und ihrem großartigen Gedächtnis verführte uns Hedy bis zuletzt.
Ihre beiden Söhne und ihre drei Enkelsöhne liebte sie über alles, Pauls Tod vor drei Jahren hat sie nie überwunden. Adam, der kleine Urenkel in Tel Aviv, wurde ihre übergroße Freude.
Heute früh verabschiedete sie sich kurz und bündig mit achtundneunzig Jahren, ohne Aufhebens von dieser Welt, die sie sehr liebte. Haifa ohne Hedy ist nicht mehr mein Haifa. Ihre Leidenschaft zum Leben ist mir ein Vermächtnis geworden.

Christel Wollmann-Fiedler
Berlin, 23. Januar 2017

Thanks the few of you that could come on such a short notice to my mother’s funeral., and all for your kind words about her. My mother was not only the best mother I could have desired, she was my role model and hero. I learned from my father WHAT to do in life, but I learned from my mother HOW to do it. And it never failed me. She leaves me with a huge emptiness that I will struggle to fill. But knowing her, she would have wanted for everyone that knew her to grieve a while, and then live their life.
I was so lucky to be able to see her and care for her the last few days before she passed. Just 2 days before this sad moment, I had published an optimistic post on LinkedIn, including the last picture of us together: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/talk-motivation-michael-brenner?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

She lived a full life, long in years, events, and turns, good and bad, and she showed her independence, grace and dignity when most are fading away. She lived and died on her own terms. And what more can one ask?

Thanks again, be healthy and happy,

Hedi’s son, Michael

My dear Mom (98 and counting) challenged me again. She just published her 12th book! Talk about motivation. She will forever be my hero.

Documentary by Oana Giurgiu: Aliyah Dada

▶︎Full movie, uncut and in English◀︎

Libra Film: Following 130 years of the emigration of Romanian Jews towards the Holy Land, both history of East Europe and Israel will be revealed, in a light, colourful film depicting history in human stories and collages, as a tribute to Tristan Tzara – born in the same town from where first Jews emigrated to Palestine in 1882.

In the same time we will discover all absurdities and contradictions in the relationship between Romanians and Jews: Romanians were responsible for some of the cruelest pogroms during the Second World War, but still Romania had the largest Jewish surviving population at the end of the war, after USSR. Communist regimes were trading this population with Israel, and Ceausescu made even a step forward requesting cash payment per person, but same Ceausescu was the one convincing Egypt to sign the peace with Israel.

In Israel, the population from Romania became the country’s fourth largest group, but they always stayed in the shadow, sometimes hiding their origins, even though important personalities emerged from that community, even though they have brought important elements to their new country; the Israeli anthem and national dance “hora” are both inspired of the Romanian folklore, to mention just that.

Today, a return to democracy in Romania has attracted many Israeli investors, almost the same number as the former Jewish community that is slowly vanishing. In Israel, a museum of Romanian Jewry will be built, in the first settlement made by them in Rosh Pina. But will their memory be carried on by the new generations?

Documentary by Radu Gabrea: Jews for Sale

  ▶︎Full movie, Hebrew subtitled!◀︎

ASTRA FILM Director’s / Curator’s Statement:
The film approaches an unusual subject – “the largest citizen sale operation ever employed by a European state”. In 1974, a Romanian passenger carrying a diplomatic passport boarded from the Zürich airport with the destination Bucharest. Upon arrival in Bucharest, he noticed that one of his suitcases was missing. It was a suitcase handed over by an old acquaintance shortly before his departure. The diplomat was General M., a commander in the General Office of Foreign Intelligence, the Securitate’s espionage division. The suitcase contained one million dollars designed to facilitate the emigration to Israel for a certain number of Jews. This is just one episode in the history of the human trafficking operations organized by the Romanian communist state: the sale of Jew Romanian citizens to Israel.

Memorials in Israel

Several cemeteries in Israel include memorials to the holocaust often related to individual towns or regions of Europe. A number of years ago, I visited such a memorial to the Jewish community of Radautz, Bukovina.

Harry Bolner visited two other memorials in the Haifa Cemetery, shown here (Dorohoi-Radautz-Transnistria Memorial – photo supplied by Harry Bolner via Merle Kastner):


Nearby, one can also find a memorial to the Pogrom in Iasi:

Thank you to Harry Bolner for taking the two photos above and sharing them with us.

Merle Kastner has done extensive work documenting burials in the Jewish Cemeteries of Montreal.  A memorial to the holocaust in Bukovina can be found there at the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery (photo courtesy of Merle Kastner):

Jewish Women in Music and Dance

Editorial Notice: http://www.hartung-gorre.de/Brenner_VI.htm
Amazon: https://goo.gl/D5gg8p

Excerpt from the preface by Rita Calabrese: “[…] Dieser Band VI und hoffentlich nicht letzter ist der Musik und dem Tanz gewidmet. Nicht nur Stars wie Barbra Streisand, Amy Winehouse und Bette Midler sind zusammen mit Sängerinnen aus vielen Zeiten zu finden, sondern auch Pianistinnen und Violinistinnen zusammen mit Komponistinnen, die in Fanny Mendelssohn ihre Vorläuferin hatten, sowie auch Dirigentinnen. Auffallend ist die lange Liste der Künstlerinnen, die ein tragisches Ende in Auschwitz-Birkenau und anderen KZs gefunden haben, darunter die Pianistinnen Mathilde Borgenicht und Leopoldine Oppenheimer, die Violinistin Alma Rose, die Nichte Gustav Mahlers. Andere hingegen haben dank der Musik überleben können, wie Esther Bejarano und Fania Fenelon, die über das Orchester in Auschwitz geschrieben haben, Yvette Assaeler, Grete Klingsberg, Rachel Knobler und andere. Zu erwähnen ist auch Lin Jaldati, die während der Deportation Anne Frank kennengelernt hatte. Als eine der ersten hat sie die jiddische Musik in der DDR bekannt gemacht. Noch etwas zu diesem wertvollen Werk muss man hervorheben, und zwar die verdienstvolle Verfasserin. Geboren im k.u.k. Czernowitz, das später rumänisch wurde und längst zur Ukraine gehört, ist Hedwig Brenner über politische, geschichtliche und sprachliche Grenzen nach Israel gekommen, wohin sie das kostbare Erbe der deutschsprachigen jüdischen Kultur mitgenommen und einen neuen Anfang als Schriftstellerin gewagt hat.Im Hebräischen heißt Leben Chajim und ist Plural. Wie kaum eine andere zeigt Hedi Brenner die Vielfalt und Unschätzbarkeit der menschlichen Existenz, und dafür danken wir.”

Hedwig Brenner in April 2014

The ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative

The ESJF European Jewish Cemeteries Initiative was set up as a German-based non-profit organization in early 2015 with the core objective of protecting and preserving Jewish cemetery sites across the European continent through delineation of cemetery boundaries and the construction of cemetery walls and locking gates.

Funded in 2015 through a pilot grant of 1,000,000 euros from the government of the Federal Republic of Germany, the ESJF is now working on some 30 individual protection projects in four European countries. 33 cemeteries were completed in 2015, i. e. 9,888 meters of fencing; over 60 sites were completed by the end of 2016, that is 11,876 meters of fencing.

Read more at: http://esjf-cemeteries.org/

The Radautz Vital Records Index Database 1857 – 1929

During the summer of 2016, I traveled to Rădăuţi, Romania, and visited the Archives in the Town Hall. After some negotiations and with a little bit of luck, I was given permission to photograph Jewish vital records for the Rădăuţi, Solca, and Vicov communities of Bukovina; see my blog posting “Books of Seven Seals in Rădăuți and Suceava”. The first database resulting from these efforts is The Radautz Marriage Index Database.

http://www.reisch-family.net/SevenSealsLukePHP/SevenSealsMarriages.html

Every society enlarges itself through marriages. When you are tracing your family history, this information can offer one of the most common missing links – a maiden name. All marriage records include the full names of the bride and groom as well as  the marriage date and other additional information, such as the names and birthplaces of each individual’s parents. As part ONE of an ongoing project – birth & death records will come soon – The Radautz Marriage Index Database is a rich web resource for Jewish heritage in Bukovina. It contains over 3,000 properly indexed marriage records for the period 1870-1929. Copies of family marriage records are freely available upon request.

http://www.reisch-family.net/SevenSealsRadautzDeathIndex/SearchForm.html

NEW: Even if final, but not trivial at all, death records are among the most important of all vital records. Death Indices typically contain the birth date of a person, date of death, cause of death and other details that are helpful in genealogical and historical research. As part TWO of our ongoing project, The Radautz Death Index Database is a rich web resource for Jewish heritage in Bukovina. It contains over 7,500 properly indexed death records for the period 1857-1929; some data refer back to births as early as the middle of the 18th century. Copies of family death records are freely available upon request.

Whether you are looking for an ancestor or trying to find a lost classmate, these records can provide a link to vital information and point you toward important clues. The free search provided by The Radautz Vital Records Index Database 1857-1929 can jumpstart your research project. Please check it out and let us have your comments…!

bukovina.records@gmail.com

Our thanks go to Martina Lelgemann, who took care of the transcription, and to Bruce Reisch, who developed The Radautz Marriages search engine and website. Lucas Reisch provided php search engine expertise.