Film Footage of Grenadierstraße

Excerpts from:

USHMM: RG-60.1771
      Title: Bustling Jewish life in Berlin
      Credit Line: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, gift of Peter Gessner

Robert Gessner, who shot this footage, was a US-born Jewish photographer and filmmaker who documented Jewish communities in Europe and the rise of antisemitism in the 1930s, taking photos and film footage in the US, Palestine, England, France, Germany, Poland, Lithuania, and Russia. In 1936, two years after this European trip, he published a book titled Some of My Best Friends Are Jews, warning of the Nazi threat. He was also a screenwriter and pioneered film studies, founding the Motion Picture Department at New York University in 1941, which offered the first Bachelor’s degree program in motion picture studies in the US. 

The Playlist from Our Tour

Most songs from the compilation “Vorbei… Beyond Recall”, compiled by Horst J.P. Bergmeier, Rainer E. Lotz, Ejal Jakob Eisler.

Links to Some Further Reading

  • The two most active groups now promoting Yiddish culture in Berlin are Yiddish.Berlin, of which I’m an organizing member, and Shtetl Berlin, of which I’m a big fan. Yiddish.Berlin is more focused on literature, language, and visual art, Shtetl Berlin on music. They both organize events.
  • Read more about the project to recover and compile the recordings we listened to in this 2002 Washington Post article.
  • More on the Semer Ensemble, which performed the modern covers of some of those songs, here.
  • An interview (in German) with the artist Sebéstyen Fiumei who installed the Grenadierstraße street sign about his intervention and his thoughts on public memory.
  • A number of transliterated lyrics and translations of the songs the Semer Ensemble performs, some of them on our playlist, are posted on their website.
  • Here is a bio of Pinchus Lawanda, who sang the song Lebke fort keyn Amerike, the biggest hit from the tour, which we listened to first.
  • And here is a bio of our good friend Esther Moshkovitsh, who sang the dispute duet with her husband Yankev.
  • Isaac Steinberg, the Territorialist, was a fascinating character. Here is a video of the Yiddish poet Beyle Schaechter-Gottesmann reminiscing about him and his movement. You can read his Wikipedia entry here and an article about the Frayland-Lige (Free Land League), which he co-founded, here.
  • My friend Melissa Richer’s ongoing book/film project about her family history in Berlin and Beicz, Poland is called The Last Daughter. Follow the project on Instagram @thelastdaughter_film
  • You can read about the life of Jochewed Jungermann Goldschal (whose family has Stolpersteine on the corner) here. There are also biographies in German of her and her sister Ester on the Stolpersteine Berlin website.
  • More about Fritz Mordechai Kaufmann, who compiled the songbook of Jewish folksongs including “Shlof, shlof, shlof.

Shlof, shlof, shlof

Shlof, Shlof, Shlof – Sleep, sleep, sleep

Vocal and arrangement: Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk; Clarinet: Ittai Binnun; Violin: Daniel Hoffman; Contrabass: Yehonatan Levi; recorded in Ittai Binnun Studio Jerusalem, mix/mastering: Marek Walaszek; Illustrations: cdd20

Adapted from: Die Schönsten Lieder der Ostjuden, ed. Fritz Mordechai Kaufmann. Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag, 1920. The full songbook is available online here.

The Forverts after the 1923 Pogrom