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Mr. Bastl -

My name is Hector Florin. I live in Miami, and I am a newspaper reporter.
I have been talking with Marianne Weil Sekulow about the upcoming
Weil family reunion. She told me about your participation in the reunion.

I am writing a story about the reunion for our newspaper, because you and
the family will be meeting in Fort Lauderdale next week.

Unfortunately, I know very little German, but I was wondering how well you
speak English so I can contact you.

Please write back at your earliest convenience. You can call me at the
phone number below, but perhaps it would be best for me to call you in
Waibstadt.

Marianne gave me your phone number:

Please let me know if it's okay if I can talk with you.
I look forward to it.

Sincerely,
Hector Florin
Staff Writer - The Miami Herald
2010 N.W. 150 Ave.
Pembroke Pines, FL 33028
(954) 538-7181


Zeitungsbericht

Posted on Sun, Jun. 23, 2002

Family renews ties cut by Nazis

solkon@herald.com

The little girl stares out from the sepia photo, wearing a beret and clutching her older sister's hand.

It was 1937 Germany. Before Kristallnacht, the night Nazi thugs destroyed thousands of Jewish homes, businesses, schools and synagogues. Before their father was taken off to Dachau concentration camp.

Sixty-five years later, the two sisters, Marianne Weil Sekulow and Ruth Winik, grabbed hold of each other again Saturday, this time inside an oceanside hotel in Fort Lauderdale.

The women, joined by 80 other far-flung relatives, came together this weekend to celebrate the Weil legacy.

''The emotional impact of this -- it's hard to put into words,'' said 68-year-old Sekulow of Baltimore, who spent a year and a half organizing the reunion.

The Weils trace their roots to Steinsfurt, Germany, a small town near Heidelberg.

Family patriarch Lw Weil, a cattle and horse trader, arrived in 1770 with brothers Moises and Isaac.

Some sought their fortune in Argentina.

Another famous descendant, Felix Weil, spent his sizable inheritence to open the Institute of Social Research in Frankfurt.

Then the town lost its Jewish history. Hitler had come to power.

Susie Weil Balkin remembers the moment SS troops stormed into her home. She hid under the skirt of a table.

Her grandmother had a stroke that night and died shortly afterward. There were no men at her funeral; they had all been carted away by the Nazis.

''That is the only memory I have of Germany,'' she said.

Her sons knew even less.

''Most of us, of our generation, we never heard anything about Germany,'' said Bob Balkin, 40, now living in Mexico City.

Parents didn't want to talk about what they'd lost. It was time to look ahead.

Some memories are still vague.

Today, Sekulow is working on a book to try and bridge the gap.

Also on hand at the reunion at the Doubletree Hotel: Siegfried Bastl, a German high school history teacher working on a video about the Jews from the region.

Mark Balkin, 37, of New Orleans, decided a week and a half ago to fly in for the event.

''I realized it was a one-shot deal,'' he said.

``Maybe the last chance to make the connection last.''