July 23, 2012

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Summer 2012 Update

This was a very exciting spring. On May 4th I was invited to speak at the Scandinavian Cultural Club in Santa Cruz sponsored and invited by Duane Adams and Jeanne Shada. A considerable number of members with guests attended the talk. A lively Q&A followed with many interesting questions. My friend, Karin Stahl, accompanied me once again and learned about her parents’ Norwegian cultural background and history. On Saturday morning we were driven to San Francisco where we spent two days at the Norway Day Festival, Fort Mason Center. I was invited to be the featured speaker for both days. My speech was introduced by the Consul General, Sten Arne Rosnes, who was very generous with his comments. A number of people attended. I was fortunate that my close friend, Carla Danziger, the editor of my book, was also present promoting/selling her book Hidden Falls which is a wonderful Norwegian/American mystery and page-turner. Together we shared a booth which was visited by a number of people and sales were brisk. The Festival was well run, exciting and the merchandise was quite impressive. People were friendly and interested and altogether the visit to San Francisco was memorable.

 

 

March 5, 2012

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Thanks To Scandinavia

I have been invited to join the Board of the organization Thanks to Scandinavia which I accepted. I feel that this will allow me to focus on obtaining information on how to educate the general public on efforts to alleviate the increased anti-Semitism in Europe.
TTS was founded by Danish entertainer Victor Borge and New York attorney Richard Netter in 1963. Thanks To Scandinavia provides dozens of scholarships for students from Scandinavia and Bulgaria each year in gratitude for the heroic rescue and protection of Jews in Europe during the Second World War.

TTS goals:

- Telling the inspiring story of how Scandinavians protected thousands of their Jewish neighbors during the Holocaust years.
- Granting educational scholarships to students, medical professionals, and teachers in continued gratitude and friendship.
- Building bridges of friendship among Scandinavians, Americans, and Jews worldwide that are vibrant today and into the future.

Thanks To Scandinavia is an institute of America Jewish Committee.

 

March 5, 2012

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Los Angeles Book Tour, November 2011

In November of 2011 I had the pleasure of going on a four-event, four-day book tour on the outskirts of Los Angeles. The events took place at the California Lutheran University, California State University, Northridge, Heritage Pointe Senior Living and the Sons of Norway Norseman 91 Lodge. If anyone is impressed by this program in four days I have to admit that I was accompanied, guided, driven, and generally kept out of trouble by my close friend, Karin Arntzen Stahl who took this opportunity to also renew her Norwegian family roots. She is the master of the pictures that you can view below.

 

March 5, 2012

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The Spielberg Jewish Film Archive – Adventure In Freedom

This video is from the early 1950s. It deals with Norway being the first country in the world which was willing to accept Holocaust survivors who were ill and not able to work, i.e. suffering from tuberculosis or other incapacitating medical situations which necessitated disability and medical care for at least one member of each family. My father, Marcus Levin, was part of a small commission of Norwegian government representatives who traveled to various camps in Austria and Italy to help select these so-called “minus” refugees. No words can describe my reaction when I opened this video and saw brief yet live footage of my father in the process of interviewing the candidates slated for a new life in Norway.

 

October 9, 2011

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Book Event at the American Embassy in Norway

On September 18 I was invited to attend a book club event at the American Embassy in Norway hosted by Eleanor White, the wife of the American Ambassador to Norway, Barry White. The book club consists of spouses of most of the various ambassadors to Norway. Most of the women were previously unfamiliar with the history of Norway and the Holocaust and the interest was great. Conversation was animated and lasted for close to two hours. From left to right: Eleanor White, Dr. Leif Levin (Irenes brother), Irene Levin Berman and Jane Loeffler (a guest from the U.S. State Department visiting the Whites).

In addition Eleanor White, the wife of the American Ambassador to Norway and the host at the book club at the American Embassy, was kind enough to forward the following comment:

 

“This is a story that should be disseminated much more broadly in Norway, and most particularly in the schools. As in many countries that were involved in World War II, the older generations in Norway have seemed reluctant to talk about those difficult years, and the role that some in Norway may have played in causing the tiny Jewish community to either flee (mostly to Sweden) or be sent to Nazi concentration camps. You are accomplishing a great deal by making sure that this story is not lost to history.”

 

August 5, 2011

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Summer 2011 Update

I wrote an article for Thanks To Scandinavia during a trip to Norway which included a cruise on Hurtigruten, a very well known Norwegian Coast Cruise this June, which took me from Bergen to Kirkenes, one of the Northern most points, past the Arctic Circle. It gave me an opportunity to focus on all three of my identities, Norwegian, Jewish and American. View the article here.

This picture was taken in June 2011 when my brother and I attempted to retrace our escape route to Sweden in 1942. The sign reflects that we are about to leave Norway and cross over onto Swedish soil (The International Border to the Country of Sweden). I have chosen to include this relatively official sign because it brought my thoughts back to the day in November 1942 when our little group must have passed this sign or another similar sign when we finally reached our destination.

 

April 14, 2011

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Interview on News Channel 8

Here is a video of my recent interview on News Channel 8: