Harry Weichsel, a Holocaust survivor, returned to the land of his youth, Germany, for the first time in 1992 and was shocked to discover that the old synagogue in his home town, Wetter, was being used as a stable. Weichsel wrote a letter to the mayor of Wetter, suggesting a collaborative effort between Wetter and any surviving Jewish families to reclaim and restore the synagogue. Next, he learned there were no Jewish families left in Wetter, and therefore no longer a need for a synagogue. So Weichsel proposed it be turned into a cultural and learning center.
The city of Wetter agreed that restoring the synagogue was a good idea, but felt they should take on the responsibility on their own. The restoration was completed in time for 2008, when all across Germany remembrances were being held for the 70th anniversary of Kristallnacht, also known as the night of broken glass, a pogrom that took place the evening of November 9th, 1938, when the Nazis destroyed Jewish businesses and homes and sent 30,000 Jews to concentration camps.
Although he was only five years old,. Weichsel remembers the night well. His grandmother hid him under the bed, and he had to stay there all night as the Nazis ransacked Wetter. In 1941, at the age of eight, Harry Weichsel fled with his mother. The two traveled through France, war-ravaged Spain, and finally Portugal, where they were able to board a boat taking refugees and orphaned children to America.
The journey of Harry Weichsel was captured by award-winning filmmaker Micah E. Brandt, and is the subject of the documentary, Robbery of the Heart. It will be shown on Tuesday night, August 13, at 6:00 PM at the South End Library. After the screening, participants in the documentary will answer questions from the audience.
The event is free.