“For Me, Representing Germany Goes without Saying”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Rebecca Kowalski (32), hockey

Young woman with hockes stick sitting at a table

Rebecca (32) hockey © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Rebecca, what’s your feeling about the fact that a part of the European Maccabi Games will take place at Berlin’s Olympic park?

It might be disconcerting for outsiders to learn that we specifically wanted to compete at this place. There were many other possibilities: Berlin has a lot of sports facilities. But from the historical perspective it was important to show that Jewish athletics and Jewish life here in Germany were not obliterated – they’re blossoming anew. From the beginning we had the mentality of ‘Now more than ever.’ We thought, if we hold the EMG here, then we’re going to counter the Third Reich architecture of the Olympic park with our Maccabi Games.

What role does it play for you, to be part of the German delegation?  continue reading


“What Happened during the Second World War Must Never Be Forgotten”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Leonid Sawlin, 16, chess

Young man at a table with chess

Leonid (16) chess © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Leonid, why are you participating in the European Maccabi Games?

The games are really fun. I see friends from other cities, and I’m also learning because there are two grand masters here as coaches. They’re teaching me a lot. And of course I’m proud to get to take part in a European championship.

Jewish athletes were barred from the 1936 Olympics. Does that play a role for you, considering that some of the competitions this year are taking place at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium?

That’s hard to explain. Germany tries to deal with its past but at the same time, it’s not possible to make amends for what happened.  continue reading


“The European Maccabi Games in a Nazi Stadium: that sends quite a strong message”

The 14th European Maccabi Games (EMG) are taking place in Berlin from 27 July until 5 August 2015. More than 2,000 Jewish athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 sports from football to fencing to chess. To accompany the games Tamar Lewinsky and Theresia Ziehe are producing a series of portraits with interviews, introducing a new member of the German delegation from Berlin every day here on the blog. They conducted the interviews on the grounds of the TuS Maccabi in Berlin’s Grunewald where Stephan Pramme also shot the portraits.

Alex (25), table tennis

Young man with table tennis racket and ball outside at a table

Alex (25), table tennis © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

Alex, why are you participating in the European Maccabi Games?

The first time I went to a Maccabi training course, I got a little closer to my own identity. I grew up in Goslar, a small town where we were the only Jewish family. That’s why the Maccabi program offered a kind of self-discovery, and I found something like a new family there: there was a lot of Russian spoken, which especially gave me a feeling of home because I can’t travel to Russia anymore. (I have duel citizenship so I could be drafted into military service there.) And of course the competition played a role since I was very achievement-minded at the time.

The EMG are taking place in part at a place heavy with symbolism: the Olympic grounds that were erected for the 1936 games, from which Jewish athletes were barred. Does it have a special significance for you that the EMG are happening in Berlin and in particular at the Olympic stadium?  continue reading