This interactive book, comprised of photographs and stories, is my personal exploration of the complex relationship between Jews and Germany; Germans and Jews; Israelis and Germans; Jewish Germans; and non-Jewish Germans.
Between 1988 and 1996, while working on other projects, I visited old age homes for German Jews in Jerusalem and their social clubs in Tel Aviv; I sat on sofas in apartments near Belsize Square Synagogue in London and on the patios of suburban homes in the San Fernando Valley. I also visited houses, schools, government buildings, former concentration camps, and Jewish community offices throughout Germany.
In 1995 in New York, I spent an afternoon in the soon-to-close offices of Aufbau, the German language newspaper founded by German Jews who fled the country in the 1930s (the publication, in a different guise, has been resurrected).
I even accompanied a group of young Germans as they traveled to Poland to clean up a Jewish cemetery, much to the surprise, and bemusement, of the last elderly Jews still living there. Those gnarled old Jews, all in their mid-eighties, had been born in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and tried to regale the young Germans with stories that sounded as if they came from Joseph Roth, the writer of bittersweet Habsburg nostalgia. The Germans, all of whom had Nazis for parents or grandparents, wanted to talk about the Third Reich. For an entire evening, the two groups spoke past each other—the young Germans didn’t quite understand what the Jews were referring to. The old Jews had had quite enough of the Third Reich.
This interactive book, We Lost Our Home; We Lost Our Childhood, is not about history; it is about what history did to the people I photographed and interviewed.