In first person…Shared Berlin trip affords new insights into mother

My mother, Inge Jordan Schwartz, had to leave her home in Berlin in 1938 because of Hitler. In June of 1995, she returned to her homeland as a guest of the German government accompanied by my father and me. At the time she received the invitation, she was very ill but determined to make this important trip.

I had the honor of trying to keep up with her as she followed her memories around both West Berlin, where she was born, and East Berlin where she spent much of her childhood. We visited synagogues where she worshipped with her father. We found the lovely apartment building where she was born, still standing and well maintained although other buildings had been rebuilt after having been destroyed in the war. After a long train trip and many flights of stairs, we found the apartment where she grew up.

We walked the streets where she spent her childhood. We saw her school near a monument for the dead women and children. We visited the beautiful old Jewish cemetery in East Berlin, spared by the bombs, where my great-grandparents were buried.

I had the privilege of accompanying my mother to her homeland. I got to witness her determination to see everything she could possibly see, knowing that this would be her only chance to again visit the places she had to leave as a child. I had the opportunity to see another part of my mother, the child who had survived.