Thu Jan 31, 2013
Goethe Institut German Cultural Center
City, Organization, Religion, Synagogue


The Jewish-American author Alvin Gilens presents his new book “Reconciling Lives”. This book features the stories of young German volunteers sent by Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) to the US, Great Britain, Czech Republic and Israel, and the relationships they built with Holocaust survivors during a year of service.

When Alvin Gilens first learned about ARSP over twenty years ago he found a healing force that moved him deeply. Hearing the powerful stories from German volunteers about their experiences of reconciliation with survivors of Nazi Germany, he recognized that those are stories that must be told. On January 31st he will tell some of them at the Goethe-Institut San Francisco.

A panel discussion with Alvin Gilens, a former ARSP volunteer, and other guests will follow the book presentation and will explore how Germany deals with its Nazi past today, and how younger generations relate to the Holocaust.

About our guests:
Mervyn Danker was born and raised in South Africa. He is a high school teacher by profession and served as a school principal in South Africa, West Australia, and the United States for many years. Mervyn joined the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in 2008.

Alvin Gilens‘ professional life has dealt with the painful history of the Nazi era in many ways. He is best known for his interpretive photographic images of Holocaust sites and memorials as he found them years after the end of WW II. Those images have been exhibited in many museums, universities and galleries throughout the world. His acclaimed book, Discovery and Despair: the Dimensions of Dora, is a photographic and written history of the Nazi slave labor camp where the V-1 and V-2 rockets were manufactured in 1944/45.

Peter Rothen took up the position as Germany's Consul General in San Francisco in July 2009. Preceding this appointment, he spent a year at Harvard University as Fellow at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs. He has worked extensively on multilateral issues, his most recent assignment being Director for International Human Rights Policy at the Federal Foreign Office in Berlin. Previous appointments were Head of the Political Department of Germany's Permanent Representation at the United Nations' Office in Geneva/Switzerland (from 1999 – 2003), Deputy Director at the Foreign Ministry's Directorate-General for European Union Affairs (1995 – 1999). Earlier postings were in the Foreign Minister's Press Office and at the German Embassies in London/UK, Pretoria/South Africa and Prague/Czech Republic. _

Teresa Walch grew up in Zumbrota, Minnesota, and attended the College of Saint Benedict in Saint Joseph, MN. She majored in both History and German. From September 2011 to August 2012 she volunteered through Action Reconciliation Service for Peace (ARSP) in Dachau. She assisted the team at the Church of Reconciliation at the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site and worked at the Max Mannheimer Student Center and the Dachauer Forum, assisting with the preparation of materials for school groups that came to Dachau and with the "Remembrance Book" project. Teresa Walch is now studying to earn her Ph.D. in Modern European History at the University of California, San Diego.

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  1. Goethe Institut German Cultural Center
    530 Bush St, San Francisco, CA