Stripping away the past

So... the builders have now moved inside and are very carefully pealing away the many layers of wallpaper that have covered the beautiful original walls. They have also been working on the roof to replace rotten boards. 

Here are a few more photos...

Building Has Begun !

We are very excited to announce that building has started this week. Despite the snow the builders have begun work on the roof. Here are a few images.

 

Goodbye 2016.... Hello 2017 !

Happy New Year to all our supporters.

Last year was totally amazing, we achieved so much and had a lot of fun along the way....

cello+high+res.JPG
  • 3rd Annual Cleanup Day
  • First ever Cohesion Dialogue workshop with local residents and newly arrived refugees
  • Sommerfest and barbeque with ELES and Avicenna
  • Denkmal Tag tours
  • Received funds from Federal and State governments and a number of trusts and foundations
  • EVZ agreed to support our Cohesion Dialogue pilot programme
  • Publication of The House By The Lake in USA and Italy 

.... But we hope that 2017 will be even more exciting! Here are a few things we are looking forward to:

  • Starting renovations on the Lake House
  • 4th Annual Cleanup Day and 750th Anniversary celebration of Groß Glienicke
  • Completing the architectural Masterplan for the project
  • Launching our Cohesion Dialogue programme
  • Piloting our education programme
  • Another Denkmal Day tour
  • Publication of The House By The Lake book in Spain, Czech republic and Brazil
  • One hour documentary broadcast by RBB television

 

Einladung Presse- und Fototermin: Unterzeichnung Absichtsvereinbarung Alexander-Haus

Wann:              Montag, 15. August, 11.30 Uhr

Wo:                  Alexander-Haus, Am Park 2, Potsdam-Groß Glienicke

Was:                Kulturstaatssekretär Martin Gorholt unterzeichnet 

                        gemeinsam mit Potsdams Oberbürgermeister Jann Jakobs, 

                        dem Vorsitzenden des Alexander-Haus e.V., Thomas 

                        Harding und Vertretern der Studienwerke ELES und 

                        Avicenna eine Absichtserklärung zur Sanierung und 

                        Zukunft des Hauses Alexander in Groß-Glienicke.

 

Pressemitteilung

 

Landesregierung, Stadt Potsdam und private Organisationen vereinbaren langfristigen Plan für das Alexander Haus – Mittel für Restaurierung des Sommerhauses gesichert

Potsdam, 15. August 2016: Heute um 11.30 Uhr werden die Landeshauptstadt Potsdam, das Mini­sterium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur (MWFK), die Universität Potsdam, die Begabten­förderwerke Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich Studienwerk und Avicenna-Studienwerk und der Alexander-Haus e.V. die Unterzeichnung einer Absichtsverein­barung (Memorandum of Understanding) für die lang­fristigen Pläne bekanntgeben, das Alexander Haus in Groß Glienicke, Potsdam, als Centrum für Bildung und Versöhnung zu entwickeln. Aus diesem Anlass wird am Nachmittag ein Sommerfest mit Stipendiaten von ELES und Avicenna gefeiert werden.

Gleichzeitig werden das MWFK und der Alexander-Haus e.V. bekanntgeben, dass der Alexander Haus e.V. Denkmalfördermittel der Bundesregierung und des Landes Brandenburg sowie private Spenden aus Großbritannien, Deutschland und anderen Ländern einwerben konnte, die die Restau­rierung des 1927 erbauten Sommerhauses des Deutsch-Jüdischen Arztes Dr Alfred Alexander, sichern. Dies ebnet den Weg für die weitere Entwicklung des Objekts.

ELES und Avicenna, die jüngsten der von der Bundesregierung geförderten Begabtenförderwerke, planen, den Ort für ihre weit anerkannte Bildungsarbeit und den Interreligiösen Dialog zu nutzen. Sie werden mehrtägige Seminare in einem speziell neu zu errichtenden Seminartrakt mit Unter­bringung durchführen.

Die Universität Potsdam beabsichtigt, den Ort für akademische Seminare und Konferenzen zu nutzen. Die Schönheit der Lage und seine Nähe zu Berlin und Potsdam machen das Sommerhaus zu einem idealen Ort.

Der Alexander-Haus e.V. wird die Geschichte des Sommerhauses u.a. für Community Dialogue Work­shops mit neuangekommenen Flüchtlingen, Einwohnern, deutschen und britischen Juden und ande­ren nutzen und für die Öffentlichkeit zu öffnen. Ein Flüchtling soll das Haus als “artist/writer in resident” nutzen.

Kulturveranstaltungen in Kooperation mit Organisationen wie dem Groß Glienicker Kreis werden das Programm abrunden.

Die Landeshauptstadt Potsdam hat ihre Absicht bekundet, das Grundstück des Alexander Hauses in das Projekt einzubringen, das Land Brandenburg will zur Finanzierung der Kosten für den Neuen Seminartrakt beitragen.

Rabbi Prof. Walter Homolka, Direktor und Vorsitzender von ELES, sagte: „Das Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk sieht im Alexander-Haus die Perspektive für ein neues Zentrum jüdischer und interreligiö­ser Begegnung in Deutschland. Der Ort vereint auf einmalige Art und Weise die Vergangenheit und Zukunft der jüdi­schen Gemeinschaft in Deutschland. Als Institution, die die Zukunft der jüdischen Gemeinschaft in Deutschland und Europa verkörpert, ist das Alexander-Haus ein Identifikationsort, an dessen Mitgestaltung uns besonders gelegen ist.“

Hakan Tosuner, Geschäftsführer von Avicenna, sagte: "An diesem einzigartigen Ort möchten wir ei­nen besonderen Raum für jüdisch-muslimischen Dialog schaffen. Engagierte jüdische und muslimi­sche Studierende, die unverzichtbare Multiplikatoren unserer Gesellschaft sind, lernen aus der Ver­gangenheit und gestalten unsere gemeinsame Gegenwart und Zukunft. Ich bin zuversichtlich, dass von diesem Pionierprojekt wichtige Impulse in die Gesellschaft ausgehen und somit der jüdisch-muslimische Dialog auf eine andere Ebene getragen wird."

Prof. Oliver Günther, Präsident der Universität Potsdam, sagte: „Die Universität Potsdam reizt es da­ran mitzuwirken, dass der einstige Ort der Begegnungen wieder mit Leben gefüllt wird. Viele unserer Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftler sind am interreligiösen Dialog sowie am Austausch zwi­schen Religion und säkularer Wissenschaft interessiert. Vor diesem Hintergrund freuen wir uns auf fruchtbringende Kontakte zu den anderen Partnern dieser Initiative sowie zu Kolleginnen und Kollegen aus anderen Kulturkreisen.“

Martin Gorholt, Staatssekretär im Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur, sagte: „Das Alexander-Haus ist von Anbeginn, als Beispiel der Berliner Wochenendkultur, später durch die Vertrei­bung seiner jüdischen Besitzer, über den Mauerbau unmittelbar auf dem Grundstück, bis hin zur Wie­dervereinigung ein Zeuge und ein Zeugnis gesamtdeutscher Geschichte. Durch das beein­druckende Engagement der Nachfahren von Dr. Alfred Alexander und die Gewinnung lokaler und internationaler Helfer konnten erste Sicherungsmaßnahmen auf dem Grundstück erfolgen. Im Rahmen der Denkmal­hilfe will das Land die Restaurierungsmaßnahmen mit 32.000 Euro fördern. Ich freue mich, dass durch ein Zusammenwirken vieler Partner dieses Denkmal nicht nur restauriert, sondern zukünftig auch als Ort der Versöhnung und Völkerverständigung sowie für Forschung und Bildung genutzt werden soll.“

Winfried Sträter, Ortsvorsteher von Groß Glienicke, sagte: „Für Groß Glienicke ist dies ein ganz besonderer Tag. 80 Jahre nach der Flucht der Alexanders vor dem Nazi-Regime aus Deutschland gibt es eine neue Zukunft für das Alexander-Haus. Das Projekt ist ein Glücksfall für Potsdam und Groß Glienicke. Was hier im Aufbau ist, setzt über unseren lokalen Rahmen hinaus ein Zeichen: für das ge­meinsame Bemühen um Versöhnung mit einer dunklen Geschichte und die Gestaltung einer offenen, auf Verständigung bedachten Zukunft. Thomas Harding und den Nachfahren der Alexanders sind wir sehr dankbar. Wir freuen uns auf die gemeinsame Arbeit an diesem Ort!“

Thomas Harding, Vorsitzender des Alexander-Haus e.V., sagte: “Wir sind begeistert und dankbar, mit diesen außer­gewöhnlichen Partnern zusammenzuarbeiten, und tief bewegt, dass das Sommerhaus wieder ein Ort wird, an dem Menschen zusammenkommen und dieses wunderschöne Umfeld genießen können.“

 

Hintergrundinformationen:

Das Sommerhaus wurde 1927 für den prominenten jüdischen Arzt Dr. Alfred Alexander erbaut, zu dessen Patienten Albert Einstein und Marlene Dietrich zählten. Nach der Flucht der Familie 1936 lebten vier weitere Familien im Haus, darunter der Komponist Will Meisel, und die Berliner Mauer wurde durch den Garten gebaut. Das Grundstück steht seit 2005 leer. Im Jahr 2013 kamen Mitglieder der Familie Alexander mit Einwohnern von Groß Glienicke zusammen und haben den Alexander Haus e.V. gegründet. 2014 wurde das Haus in der Denk­malliste des Landes Brandenburg eingetragen als Zeugnis der bis dahin wenig erforschten Wochenend­haus­bauten der 1920er Jahre, seine geschichtliche Bedeutung als Sommerhaus des erfolgreichen jüdischen Arztes und Präsidenten der Berliner Ärztekammer Dr Alfred Alexander und dem Beginn der modernen Besiedlung von Groß Glienicke.

Die Geschichte des Sommerhauses und seiner Bewohner wurde in dem internationalen Bestseller „House by the Lake“ (Penguin Random House, 2015; deutsch als: “Sommerhaus am See”, dtv 2016) beschrieben.

Das Grundstück des Alexander Hauses soll in zwei Phasen entwickelt werden. Phase 1 ist die Restaurierung des ursprünglichen Sommerhauses. In Phase 2 soll ein Neuer Seminartrakt mit Unterbringung für ca. 60 Perso­nen errichtet werden einschließlich einer koscheren/halal Küche. Es ist beabsichtigt, die Arbeiten bis 2020 abzuschließen und bis dahin weitere Ankernutzer zu gewinnen. Das gesamte Grundstück soll in eine noch zu errichtende Stiftung eingebracht werden.

Die Bundesregierung hat am 22. Juni 2016 entschieden, das Projekt mit bis zu EUR 140.000,- aus dem Denk­malschutz-Sonderprogramm VI (BKM) zu fördern, das Land Brandenburg beteiligt sich mit EUR 32.000,-. Der Verein hat ferner bereits Spenden und Spendenzusagen in Höhe von EUR 85.000,- gesichert. Die Gesamt­kosten für die Restaurierung des Sommerhauses (ohne Seminargebäude), die denkmal­gerechte Herstellung der Außenanlagen und die Einrichtung einer Dauerausstellung schätzt der Verein auf etwa EUR 300.000,-. Ein langfristiger Nutzungs­vertrag zwischen dem Alexander-Haus e.V. und der Landeshauptstadt Potsdam soll spätestens im September abgeschlossen werden. Weitere Spenden sind dringend willkommen.

Das Ziel des Alexander-Haus e.V. ist die Restaurierung des Alexander-Hauses als Ort der Bildung und Versöh­nung. Der Verein hat derzeit ca. 30 Mitglieder und freut sich über weitere Fördermitglieder (Jahresbeitrag für Einzelpersonen 60 Euro, ermäßigt 30 Euro). Er ist als gemeinnützig anerkannt und Spenden sind in Deutschland und Großbritannien steuerlich abzugsfähig. Vorsitzender ist Thomas Harding. Das Kernteam besteht sowohl aus Mitgliedern der Familie und Bürgern aus Berlin und Groß Glienicke. Der Verein arbeitet eng mit dem Ortsbeirat und örtlichen Vereinigungen wie dem Groß Glienicker Kreis e.V. und den Neuen Nachbarschaften Groß Glie­nicke. Zum Clean-up Day 2016 sind, wie in den Vorjahren, 21 Mitglieder der Familie Harding/Alexander und mehr als 70 Groß Glienicker Bürger und Flüchtlinge zur gemeinsamen Arbeit zusammengekommen.

Das Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (ELES) ist das zwölfte Begabtenförderungswerk, das vom Bundes­ministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) unterstützt wird. ELES fördert nach den Richtlinien des BMBF besonders begabte jüdische Studierende und Promovierende mit deutscher Staatsangehörigkeit, Staats­ange­hörigkeit eines EU-Mitgliedsstaates oder dem Status eines Bildungsinländers/einer Bildungsinländerin für ihre Ausbildung an staatlichen und staatlich anerkannten Hochschulen in Deutschland, der EU und der Schweiz. Diese Förderung setzt auf das Engagement und die Selbstentfaltungsmöglichkeiten der Stipendiaten. Neben der finanziellen Förderung dient die Arbeit von ELES dem Ziel, das Verantwortungsbewusstsein und die Dialogfähig­keit seiner Stipendiaten und Stipendiatinnen zu stärken. ELES will sie ermutigen, die Zukunft mit zu gestalten.

Das Avicenna-Studienwerk ist das jüngste der staatlich geförderten Begabtenförderungswerke in Deutschland. Leistungsstarke und gesellschaftlich engagierte muslimische Studierende und Promovierende aller Fächer wer­den durch Stipendien materiell und ideell gefördert. Damit werden optimale Rahmenbedingungen für Studium, Persönlichkeitsentwicklung und berufliche Karriere geschaffen. Das Ziel ist, auf diese Weise an der Heranbil­dung verantwortungsbewusster und qualifizierter muslimischer Persönlichkeiten mitzuwirken und diese ange­messen auf Führungspositionen in Wissenschaft, Zivilgesellschaft, Wirtschaft, Kultur und Politik vorzubereiten. Das Studienwerk wird durch das Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, die Stiftung Mercator sowie private Spenden gefördert

 

 

Press Release

State Government, City of Potsdam and private organisations agree long-term plan for Alexander Haus – Funds for restoration of Lake House secured

Potsdam 15 August 2016: Today at 11:30am, the City of Potsdam, the Ministry for Science Research and Culture (MWFK), the University of Potsdam, the scholarship foundations Ernst-Ludwig-Ehrlich Studienwerk and Avicenna-Studienwerk, and the Alexander-Haus e.V. will announce the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on the long-term plans to develop the Alexander Haus in Groß Glienicke, Potsdam, as a Center of Education and Reconciliation. On this occasion a summer party will be celebrated together with students of ELES and Avicenna in the afternoon.

At the same time, the MWFK and the Alexander-Haus e.V. will announce that the Alexander-Haus e.V. has been able to secure monument protection funds from the Federal Government and the State of Brandenburg and private donations from the UK, Germany and other countries securing the restoration of the 1927 summer house of the German-Jewish physician Dr Alfred Alexander. This paves the way for the further development of the site.

ELES and Avicenna, the youngest of the scholarship foundations funded by the Federal Government, plan to use the site for their acclaimed education and interfaith work. They will hold multi-day seminars at a seminar facility with accommodation to be purpose-built at the site.

The University of Potsdam intends to use the premises for academic seminars and conferences. The beauty of the site and its proximity to Berlin and Potsdam make the Lake House an ideal venue.

The Alexander-Haus e.V. will use the history of the lake house inter alia for dialogue workshops involving newly arrived refugees, local residents, German and English Jews, and others, and to open it to the public. A refugee will also be housed as an artist or writer in resident at the house.

Cultural events in cooperation with organisations as Groß Glienicker Kreis will complete the programme.

The City of Potsdam indicated that it will contribute the land at the Alexander Haus to the project while the State of Brandenburg hopes to contribute funding to construction costs of the new seminar facility.

Rabbi Prof. Homolka, President and Director of ELES, said „The Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk regards the Alexander-Haus as a perspective for a new centre of Jewish and interfaith encounters in Germany. The place combines in a unique way the past and future of the Jewish community in Germany. As an institution, which represents the future of the Jewish community in Germany and Europe, the Alexander-Haus is a place of identification the creation of which we feel very important to be part of.

Hakan Tosuner, Director of Avicenna, said “In this unique place we want to create a special room for Jewish-Muslim dialogue. Active Jewish and Muslim students who are indispensable multipliers in our society learn from the past and create our common future. I am confident that this pioneer project will provide important impulses for society and will thus carry the Jewish-Muslim dialogue to a different leval.”

Prof. Oliver Günther, President of the University of Potsdam, said „The University of Potsdam is excited to help that the former meeting place is filled with life again. Many of our scientists are interested in inter-faith dialogue and the exchange between religion and secular science. Against this background we are looking forward to fruitful contacts with the other partners of this initiative and the colleagues from the cultural backgrounds.“

Martin Gorholt, State Secretary in the MWFK, said „The Alexander Haus has from the start been, as an example for the Berlin weekend culture, and later due to the expulsion of its Jewish owners, through the building of the Berlin Wall immediately on the site down to the reunification, a witness and testimony of German history. Thanks to the impressing efforts of the descendants of Dr Alfred Alexander and winning local and international supporters initial rescue measures could be taken on the property. In the framework of monument protection support, the State wants to support the restoration with 32.000 Euro. I am happy that, through the co-operation of many partners, this monument will not only be restored, but will in the future be used as a place of reconciliation and understanding of peoples as well as for research and education.“

Winfried Sträter, mayor of Groß Glienicke, said „This is a very special day for Groß Glienicke. 80 years after the flight of the Alexanders from the Nazi regime in Germany there is a new future for the Alexander Haus. The project is a lucky win for Potsdam and Groß Glienicke. What is being developed here is a signpost beyond our local context: for the joint efforts for reconciliation with a dark past and the creation of an open future, aimed at mutual understanding. We are very grateful to Thomas Harding and the descendants of the Alexanders. We are looking forward to the joint work at this site!“

Thomas Harding, President of Alexander-Haus e.V., said “We are delighted and grateful to be working with these extraordinary partners and profoundly moved that the Lake House will once again be a place where people can come together and enjoy these beautiful surroundings.”

 

Background information:

The Lake House was built in 1927 for the prominent Jewish physician Dr Alfred Alexander whose clients included Albert Einstein and Marlene Dietrich .After the family fled in 1936, four other families lived in the house including composer Will Meisel, and the Berlin Wall was built through the garden. The property was abandoned in 2005. In 2013, members of the Alexander family came together with the local residents of Groß Glienicke and formed the Alexander Haus e.V. In 2014, the house was registered as protected monument by the State of Brandenburg as a document of the so far little explored wooden weekend house constructions of the 1920s, its historic significance as summerhouse of the successful Jewish physician and president of the Berlin Chamber of Physicians Dr Alfred Alexander and the start of the modern settlement of Groß Glienicke.

The history of the Lake House and its inhabitants has been described in the internationally bestselling book „House by the Lake“ (Penguin Random House, 2015; German as: “Sommerhaus am See”, dtv 2016).

The site of the Alexander Haus will be developed in two phases. Phase 1 construction will result in the renovation of the original lake house. During Phase 2, a new seminar facility is planned to be built with accommodation for approx. 60 persons, including a halal/kosher kitchen. It is intended to complete works in 2020 and to win further anchor users by then. The entire premises are planned to be contributed into a foundation to be set up.

The Federal Government has decided on 22 June 2016 to support the project with funds from the Monument Protection Special Programme VI (BKM) with up to EUR 140,000, the State of Brandenburg will contribute EUR 32,000. The Verein has further secured private donations and pledges of EUR 85,000. The total costs for the restoration of the Lake House (without the New Seminar Facility), the restoration of the gardens in line with monument guidelines and the installation of a permanent exhibition are estimated by the Verein at approximately EUR 300,000. A long-term use agreement (Nutzungsvertrag) between the Alexander-Haus e.V. and the City of Potsdam is planned to be executed latest by September. Further donations are dearly welcome.

The goal of the Alexander-Haus e.V. is the restoration of the Alexander Haus as a place of education and reconciliation. Currently, the Verein has approximately 30 members (annual fee for individuals 60 Euro, reduced 30 Euro). It is an acknowledged charity with donations from Germany and the UK bring tax deductible. Its president is Thomas Harding. The core team comprises both members of the Alexander family and residents of Berlin and Groß Glienicke. The Verein closely co-operates with the local council (Ortsbeirat) and local associations such as Groß Glienicker Kreis e.V., Neue Nachbarschaften Groß Glienicke. In the 2016 Clean Day, as in previous years, 21 members of the Harding/Alexander Family and more than 70 Groß Glienicke residents and newly arrived refugees joined forces.

The Ernst Ludwig Ehrlich Studienwerk (ELES) is the 12th scholarship foundation supported by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). ELES supports in accordance with the guidelines of the BMBF highly gifted Jewish students and doctorate students of German or EU nationality or having the status of a foreign nationals with German secondary school education (Bildungs­inländer) for their education with state or state-acknowledged universities and colleges in Germany, the EU and Switzerland. This support is aimed at the engagement and self-development potential of the scholars. Besides financial support or work aims at strengthening the sense of responsibility and ability of dialogue of ELES’ scholars. ELES wants to encourage them to shape the future.

The Avicenna-Studienwerk is the youngest of the publicly funded scholarship foundations. Able and socially engaged muslim students and doctorate students of all subjects are supported by stipends financially and morally. This helps create optimal conditions for studies, development of personality and professional careers. The aim is to contribute to the development of responsible and qualified muslim personalities and prepare them adequately for leadership positions in science, civil society, economy, culture and politics. The scholarship foundation is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research, the Mercator-Foundation and private donations.

 

The Volley Ball net is up at the Alexander Haus!

In 1930s Hanns and Paul Alexander played football here, later this is where the Kühne family had barbecues. Now a volley ball net is up so that games can once again take place at the lake house. 

Thanks to Winfried and Consantine Sträter for their hard labours, Uli Borgert for help putting up with net, and Jihan and Amin David for make sure it all worked properly!

Alexander Haus receives support from UK foundations and trusts

We are extremely pleased to announce that the Alexander Haus eV has received support from a number of UK trusts and foundations. These contributions will be be used for much needed restore the Alexander Haus.

Supporters include:

  • International Charitable Fund
  • The Welton Trust
  • The Sternberg Foundation
  • E W Joseph Charitable Trust
  • Belsize Square Synagogue founders group

We wish to thank the trustees of these organisations for their belief in our project and for their generous support.

 

Work on garden begins!

So work on the garden has begun. First, a local lansd-scaper has removed all the downed branches and trunks from the garden near the lake. The job took two men more than four days, it was hard, but they did an amazing job!

 

Next, we have been working on clearing the land on the top level to make way for a volley ball court. This was the same area that Hanns and Paul used to play football in the 1920s. 

German Federal Government pledges 140,000 Euros

We are delighted to announce that the German Federal government has pledged 140,000 euros towards the restoration of the Alexander Haus. For more information click here

We are thrilled that the Alexander Haus has been recongised as a project of national importance. 

 

State of Brandenburg to contribute 32,000 Euros towards renovations

The State of Brandenburg has confirmed that they will contribute up to 32,000 euros towards the renovations of the Alexander Haus as a monument building. The funds will be released once matching monies have been raised. 

The Alexander Haus eV is delighted to hear hear this news from the Brandenburg State authorities and we look forward to continuing cooperation. 

Gift Aid available for UK donors

On 5 May 2016, the Alexander Haus eV formed an agreement with the UK registered charity Prism Gift Fund. This means that Alexander Haus is now a charitable fund under the auspices of Prism The Gift Fund (Charity No: 1099682).

From this point forward, UK tax payers can make a donation to the Alexander Haus charity via Prism and receive the benefits of the Gift Aid scheme. The funds will then be transferred to Alexander Haus' bank account in Germany.

To make a donation please go to https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/alexanderhaus

 

Belsize Square synagogue visits Alexander Haus

On 3 May 2016, thirty members of London's Belsize Square synagogue travelled to Groß Glienicke. Their visit which was led by the rabbi Stuart Altshuler was part of a three-day 'roots tour' of Berlin. 

The day started with a visit to the Alexander Haus, where they were met by the mayor Winfried Sträter and the head of the Groß Glienicke Kreis, Dieter Dargies. 

After a tour of the house and gardens, the group gathered on the terrace overlooking the lake and shared memories. One of those to speak was the grandson of Dr Alfred Alexander Peter Sussmann, who had first been at the house in 1934 as a baby. He said that at first he had been unsure about the Alexander Haus project, but now that he had visited the house and met the local residents he was very enthusiastic about restoring the property and establishing a centre for education and reconciliation. 

The visitors then visited the village church and were given a tour by Burkhard Radtke. The various pictures and artefacts were pointed out, along with the building's beautiful renovations. 

The trip ended with a tea at the village community centre. The visitors from London were joined by twenty local residents who brought delicious home-baked cakes. The event provided an opportunity for people to get to know each other, to swap stories and memories.

At the end of the day, the rabbi stood up to express his thanks to the local residents for their hospitality and grace. He invited them to visit the synagogue in London, another step in the process of reconciliation. The mayor added his thanks and expressed his delight in the project's growing success. 

Cherry Trees Blossom at Alexander Haus

Spring has come and the cherry trees are in blossom at the Alexander Haus.

At the first Clean-up Day in 2014, a cherry tree was planted as a reminder of the cherry trees that had been planted a the property in the 1920s by the Alexander family. Since then, at every subsequent Clean-up Day, another trees has been planted. 

As part of the renovations at the Alexander Haus, the intention is to cultivate an orchard of fruit trees, restoring the gardens to their original vitality and beauty.

Clean-up Day 2015

On 11 April 2015 over seventy local residents, former occupants and other concerned citizens came together for the 2nd CLEANUP DAY at the Alexander Haus in Groß Glienicke, Postdam.

During the day, the volunteers cleared the garden and the exterior of the property.  Scores of fallen trees and overgrown bushes were picked up and shredded, the pond was cleaned of debris, and weeds and vines were removed from the terrace. The original stones stairs down to the lake were uncovered, many are still in excellent condition. Astonishingly, it is now possible to see the lake from the house. 

In 1927, this enchanting summer house by the Groß Glienicke lake was built by the Jewish doctor Dr. Alfred Alexander. Dr. Alexander was head of the Berlin Chamber of Physicians (Berliner Ärztekammer). His clients included Albert Einstein, Marlene Dietrich and Max Rein- hardt. In 1936, the Alexander family fled Nazi Germany and moved to England. The house was then occupied by music publisher Will Meisel and then, after the German partition, a series of DDR families. From 1961, the Berlin Wall was built across the garden between the house and the lake.

The house is today owned by the City of Potsdam. In November 2013, the Alexander Haus eV was established by the Alexander family and members of the local community with the objective of restoring the house and creating an educational and meeting space for the public to commemorate Dr. Alexander and the history of the house and families who lived there. In 2014, the State of Brandenburg listed the house as a monument (Denkmal).

The City of Potsdam as owner supports the efforts of the Alexander Haus e.V. in its goal. Currently an agreement on the use between the City and the Verein is being established.

At 4pm the Alexander Haus associatoin held its first cultural event at the house, in association with the Groß Glienicke Kreis, with songs composed by Will Meisel and Bruno Balz performed to a crowd of over 40 people. 

Thomas Harding, President of the Alexander Haus e.V. said ‘We are delighted to be once again working with the local community of Groß Glienicke to restore the Alexander Haus and are grateful for the great support by the city, the community and the Groß Glienicker Kreis. We are very pleased that the City of Potsdam has trusted us to restore the house to its former beauty, and hopefully soon, make it available to the public. Next we have to raise the funds to pay for all the repairs!’ 

Deutschlandradio Kultur story on Belsize Square Synagogue 75th anniversary

Die Belsize Square Synagogue, einst von deutschen Juden gegründet, gilt wegen ihres Lewandowsky-Ritus als "kleine Schwester" der Berliner Synagoge in der Pestalozzistraße.

An diesem Freitagabend feiert die Synagogengemeinde Belsize Square ihr 75. Jubiläum. Aus der Empore blickt man hinunter auf die Bimah aus hellem Holz und auf die himmelblaue Decke, von der kleine Lämpchen den Thoraschrank beleuchten, der mit jüdischen Symbolen und Olivenzweigen verziert ist. Diese Londoner Synagoge erinnert an ihre Wurzeln – und die liegen in Deutschland. In einem Glasschrank bewahrt sie die berühmte Alexander-Thorarolle auf, die aus Berlin stammt. Hier sind auch farbige Glasscherben aus der Synagoge der Oranienburgerstrasse, unter den deutschen Worten "Vergesst es nie" zur Schau gestellt.

Als Magnus Davidsohn, der erste Kantor der Neuen Synagoge Fasanenstraße in Berlin 1939 nach London floh, nahm er die Noten des jüdischen Komponisten Louis Lewandowski mit, die er aus dem abgebrannten Berliner Gotteshaus gerettet hatte. Für gleichgesinnte deutsch-jüdische Flüchtlinge gründete er im Frühling 1939 zusammen mit dem Frankfurter Rabbiner Georg Salzberger in London eine neue liberale Gemeinde - in einer Privatwohnung. Zu diesem Stadthaus, heute renoviert und in einer großbürgerlichen Gegend liegend, führt Gemeindemitglied Antony Godfrey. Er ist Autor einer umfangreichen Studie über die Geschichte dieser Synagoge.

Anna Abraham and Cäcilie Bing - both Remembered

70 years ago today, Anna Abraham was murdered in Auschwitz having been deported from the Theresienstadt concentration camp.

Anna had a weekend house in Groß Glienicke. You can read about her story here.

72 years ago, Cäcilie Bing, was deported from Theresienstadt to Treblinka. 

Cäcilie Bing was Henny Alexander's aunt, she would have visited the Alexander's house in Groß Glienicke. You can read about the Alexander story here. 

Tonight candles were lit in both Berlin, Germany and Hampshire, England.

Both  Anna and Cäcilie are remembered. 

The Alexander Haus - Groß Glienecke by Eve Datnow

This is the story of the Alexander House, a small country cottage 30 minutes drive south of Berlin, Germany.

                

Our Family History

Dr Alfred Alexander was a famous doctor who lived in Berlin about 100 years ago. His patients included Albert Einstein. He is my great-great grandfather.

He had amazing parties in his apartment in Berlin. At the weekends he liked to drive out to his country house in a small town called Groß Glienicke.

 

History of the House – 1927 to today

Dr Alexander built his cottage in 1927 on the banks of a beautiful lake. My family used to go there most weekends until the late 1930s to relax, have parties and swim in the lake.

Unfortunately the Nazis came and took the house away from them just before the second world war and they came to England with nothing and asked for all their things to be sent afterwards (including the family Torah).

Over the next few years the house was used by the army and squatters and then abandoned and was becoming ruined until my cousin decided to rescue it.

 

The Clean up!

The clean up all started in the morning about two months ago. I flew out to Berlin one Friday night with my Mum, Dad and my brother and we met my cousin Thomas with his wife and daughter. We had dinner with some local people who had saved their house recently.

The next day, Saturday morning, our family and the local community all helped to clean up the house from about 10 in the morning until we were all exhausted after lunch-time.

We spent the day filling wheel-barrows with leaves and bushes and trees from the garden and masses of junk from inside the house. Me and Thomas looked through a hole in the floor and found lots of interesting things:

  • A film negative with photos of families that lived there after our family had to leave, including wedding photos that took place at the house
  • An English and a maths test; and
  • A very old newspaper from the 1950s

I also found a variety of horrible things as well, including:

  • A room full of bottles, old clothes, toys and mattresses left behind by the squatters.
  • Millions of spiders and cobwebs (that was the worst part!)
  • Woodlice
  • Shoes and socks
  • And overgrown bushes.

 A camera crew filmed the clean-up. That was one of my favourite parts!

 When we had finished cleaning up, I helped to plant a cherry tree in the garden where there used to be a cherry orchard. Next time I go back I hope it will have grown and there might be some cherries on it that I can eat.

At the end of the day Mum was so hot and tired she jumped into the freezing lake to cool down. We worked out that she was the first member of our family to swim in the lake for about 70 years!

 

Today and the future for the house

Today we are trying to turn the house into a museum so other families can learn about the history of the house.