“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


“I’m Proud to Be a German Jew”

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.

Katharina Goos (39), hockey

Katharina, what does it mean to you that the European Maccabi Games are taking place in Berlin?

Young woman with hockey stick

Katharina (39) hockey © Jewish Museum Berlin, photo: Stephan Pramme

This is a real happening! When we heard two years ago that the Maccabi Games would come to Berlin, of course there was a lot of excitement. I had hoped that we would do the opening ceremony at the Brandenburg Gate, but unfortunately it didn’t work out. Still, getting to participate at the Olympic Stadium is fantastic. And I’m very happy that my parents can make it here this time. Because when the Games take place in other countries, your friends and family generally don’t come.

What role does representing Germany in these Games play for you?

I’m proud to be German and I’m also proud to be a German Jew. I’ve lived in a number of other countries where I was often asked, as a Jew, how can you live in Germany?  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