Origins of Tributes

With parents in Germany As child with parents in German Park

The seed of “tributes” grew in Nazi Germany where I spent my first thirteen years. Nazi youths marched regularly outside our apartment singing “Stellt Die Juden an die Wand”, (Put the Jews against the wall. In spite of the fear we felt, we were happy. We were together and comforted one another believing that this too would pass and there will come a day when we will be free, hopefully, in the United States.

I said goodbye to my family in a crowded Berlin railroad station filled with weeping parents on a lovely spring morning in May '39. I was on the Kindertransport, a program initiated by the United Kingdom, to provide temporary shelter for children from Nazi occupied countries, while their parents made arrangements to leave. In all 10,000 children were saved. I remember my mother, tears rolling down her face, saying over and over, "Sie Dir die Sterne und bete zum lieben Gott, dass es bald wieder Fruehling wird. (look at the stars and pray that spring will very soon reappear.) My father, as usual, smiled and insisted once again that no matter how frightened I was, "laechel und erzaehle Geschichten wie Dein Papa. Du kannst dass ja auch so gut. (Smile and tell stories like your Papa. You know how. )" Brother Bibi, two years younger, Und naechstes Jahr werden beide zusammen Micky Mouse Ballons in Central Park fliegen,,(Next year, we will float Micky Mouse balloons in Central Park)." Time ran out for my brother to "escape" on the Kindertransport. Suddenly we were at war.

I have asked myself many times, would I have left if I knew that I would never see them again? I still don't know. I comfort myself that they gave me so much love to work with, that I have been able to spill it into the lives of children and help create in the words of Tribute honoree, Martin Luther King Jr., "The Beloved Community," which we all long for.