Grapevine: People can change

A round-up of news from around the country.

Germans take part in a mass Nazi rally in the Berlin Sports Palace in June 1943 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Germans take part in a mass Nazi rally in the Berlin Sports Palace in June 1943
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
■ JEWS ARE always fascinated by stories of Germans who are so revolted by the fact that their parents or grandparents or both were active Nazis that they do almost anything to atone. The son of Martin Bormann became a Catholic priest. The son of another Nazi heads the International Christian Embassy in Jerusalem.
Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger went even further: he converted to Judaism, came to Israel, and joined the IDF. Today he lives in Miami, where he practices medicine and is an active member of the American Jewish Committee. His story, that of the son of a highly decorated German tank commander living in the shadow of the Third Reich, has been told in book and film, and invariably attracts large audiences.
This coming Saturday night, February 18, he will be the guest of the New Synagogue at 7 McDonald Street, Netanya, where he will speak of his life and his belief that people can change, regardless of their upbringing. He is an example of one who did.
■ ALSO ON a Nazi-oriented track is the film A German Life, being screened as part of Austrian Film Week in Cinematheques in Tel Aviv on February 22, Haifa, Jerusalem and Sderot on February 23, Holon on February 27 and in Herzliya on March 8.
Serving as stenographer for Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, Brunhilde Pomsel got closer than most to the Nazi center of power. From 1942 on, she worked closely with Hitler’s chief agitator and seducer of the masses. Her personal journey into the past leads to the disturbing question: How reliable is my own moral compass? Pomsel died this year on January 27 at the age of 106. Before working for Goebbels, she worked simultaneously for a Jewish lawyer and a right-wing nationalist. After the fall of Berlin, she was imprisoned for five years by the Soviets, but after her release in 1950 she got a job with German broadcasting and remained there until her retirement in 1971.
On her 100th birthday, she publicly spoke out against Goebbels. The film, based on a 30-hour interview with her, was shown at the Munich Film Festival last year. Shortly before her death, Pomsel disclosed that she had been in love with a Jewish man named Gottfried Kirchbach and had planned to escape with him from Germany. Kirchbach went to Amsterdam, where she visited him frequently until it became too dangerous to do so. She became pregnant by him and aborted the child on the advice of a doctor because she had a serious lung condition and the ordeal of giving birth might have killed her.
■ THE CONTRIBUTION of the late Gloria Mound to the study of the descendants of Jews exiled from Spain and to those who were forcibly converted, will be noted at a memorial marking the 30th day since her death. The commemoration will be held on Thursday March 2, at 7 p.m. in the at MacDonald Street New Synagogue in Netanya.
■ ENTHRALLING ENGLISH-speaking audiences around the world, Melanie Phillips, the forthright British journalist, author and public commentator who now lives in Israel, will be the guest speaker at an event organized by the Israel Britain and the Commonwealth Association at the Daniel Hotel, Herzliya Pituah on March 22, at 6 p.m. Phillips has written for The Jerusalem Post and is eagerly read even by people who do not share her political views.
■ TANGO LOVERS know that there’s a huge difference between the regular ballroom tango of two forward and one back and the tempestuous Argentine tango. To see it at its best, save the dates April 12 to 15 when Tango Buenos Aires, featuring an all-star dance troupe, will present one of the most sensuous, dynamic and elegant performances of the tango that you will ever see. It will keep you on the edge of your seat at the Suzanne Dellal Center for Dance.
■ CHILDREN’S TELEVISION star Michal Haktana (Little Michal) and her children Yuli, nine, and Leo, eight, have been signed up to lead the Nimrod and More shoe campaign as part of the company’s responsibility to the community project to persuade more youngsters to forfeit their time in front of the computer screen or playing with their cell phones or tablets in favor of exercise. The campaign slogan is “Let’s Move,” or in Hebrew “Bo Nazuz.” The campaign will be launched on Sunday, February 19 at the Jaffa studio of photographer Ron Kedmi, one of Israel’s leading fashion photographers.