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May 19, 1989 - Image 87

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-05-19

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

"They simply don't talk to
each other," she said. "It's
scary."
Erdstein, who stayed with
the Pissenbergers, a Catholic
family, said the trip has ex-
panded her perception of the
world.
The trip also tied in to her
personal interest in Holo-
caust studies. Erdstein tra-
veled to Poland last summer
and visited Auschwitz-
Birkenau, Treblinka and Ma-
jdanek concentration camps.
Erdstein, who makes presen-
tations about the Holocaust
for local student groups, plans
to include her trip to Vienna
in future talks.
Visiting Vienna gave Erd-
stein some idea of Viennese
culture and community, she
said.
"I know a little more about
my past and I feel more com-
fortable," she said. "But the
trip semi-satisfied my urge to
know where my- father is
from. I want to return with
my father, who has not been
back since the war."
Brian Erdstein, Rachel's
18-year-old brother, a Univer-
sity of Michigan freshman,
stayed with Franz and Karla
Seyringer and their two
children and spent some time
exploring in the Vienna
Woods. While he hiked and
biked through the coun-
tryside and mountains, he
considered that he could have
grown up in Vienna had there
been no war.
"I considered what it would
be like to live in Vienna," he
said. "Then I tried to imagine
what it would be like to be
uprooted from your home?'
He did not personally ex-
perience any anti-Semitism
but learned about its
presence in conversations
with Jews. "I found out that
it's not blatant but an at-
titude," he said.
But the trip did reaffirm his
Jewish identity. Growing up
in a Jewish community I
never felt like a member of an
oppressed people," he said.
"But I had to confront it
while I was in Vienna. I was
there because I was Jewish."
Since his return from
Vienna, Marnin Robbins, a
16-year-old junior at Corn-
munity High School in Ann
Arbor, has not thought about
much else.
"Through this trip I got to
know more about myself and
my grandfather, Berhard
Chomet," he said. Chomet left
Vienna in 1938 and lives in
Ann Arbor.
"My grandfather never told

me anything about my family
because it was too hard to
talk about," he said. "It was
very interesting to see a part
of my past:'
He enjoyed getting to know
the city — walking around
the main streets, seeing
historical sites and going to
pubs in the evenings. "It was
all really interesting and I
had an excellent time," he
said.
At the same time Robbins
imagined the difficulties of
being the Jewish minority in
a country that is 93 percent
Catholic.
Discussions about the trip
often turn to his visit to
Mauthausen, the most power-
ful part of the trip, he said.
"The 'camp looked almost
too nice," he said. "I expected
it to look rundown and dirty,
like it was years ago:'
Seeing the camp and hear-
ing tales of tragedy made
Robbins marvel at the narrow
escape of his family. "If my
grandfather had been there
one more year, he could have
ended up in Mauthausen.
That is a scary thought," he
said.
Sandy Rockind, a 17-year-
old senior at Andover High
School from Bloomfield Hills,
went to Vienna to be united
with her grandparents'
history. But she later
discovered a diplomatic and
political purpose for her visit
that she did not know
beforehand.
"Once I was in Vienna I
was told we were there to help
unite the Jews and non-Jews
of Austria and show that
Americans can get along
while still preserving their
Jewish identities," she said.
"I had a wonderful time yet I
also felt somewhat used."
Because Rockind stayed
with a Jewish family — Ruth
Marcovici and her 20-year-old
son Michael — she had the op-
portunity to experience the
Jewish community of Vienna,
she said.
"They are so tightly wound
up with themselves there is
no communication with any-
one else," she said.
Rockind saw the district in
which her grandfather,
Herbert Reinstein of Oak
Park, grew up in and hospital
where her grandmother,
Marianne Reinstein of Oak
Park, was born. The Reins-
teins left Vienna in 1938.
A high point of the trip was
meeting Karl Bauer, her
great-uncle, for the first time
last month. Bauer moved

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