Cohn–Bucky–Levy tells the story of the life and suffering of a German-Jewish extended family. It describes,how well-liked neighbours became outcasts, it tells of economic success and “aryanisation”,of escape and comeback,of murder and rememberance.
Unlived lives – changed and destroyed through incomprehensible violence! What would have become of the members of the Altenburg-based extended family Cohn/Bucky/Levy? What future was taken from them by the destruction of their prosperity, the respect they enjoyed, their health and their lives? The documentary “Cohn – Bucky – Levy: Rastlos vorwärts” wants to explore these and other questions. We will show what Jewish life was like in Altenburg and comparable towns, how society reacted to Jewish migration and how the attitude at that time towards Jewish fellow citizens changed so absurdly.
Thanks to the records of the surviving family members and the countless memories of Altenburg’s residents we have the opportunity to accompany the family on a journey through the years – through times of departure, happiness and happy family life as well as through war, suffering and murder. The book is part of a bigger project, which will be realised on several platforms: as a theatre play, a film documentary and an accompanying art project. Theatre and Philharmonic Orchestra of Thuringia, television channel TV Altenburg and others will participate in the project. The author will tell the story of the family through the years; but by utilising theatre and art a fictitious story will be told, which shows how the family could have lived and worked in Altenburg had it not endured suffering and destruction. The book forms the basis, the foundation for this unique and complex project.
What is the project goal and who is the project for?
The fate of the protagonists of the book clearly shows how strongly the perceptions of a person can change over the years. Having been a decorated German soldier in 1918 and a highly respected businessman and benefactor of the town in the 1920s, Albert Levy found himself on the margins of society, barely tolerated, in the 1930s. This development forms a crucial aspect of the book. The reader will be able to witness the change in perception, and, thus, learn to understand how quickly and dramatically society adapts to a changing framework and how this affects the way people relate to each other. The reader will understand the magnitude of a town’s loss, when Jewish life disappears from it. At the same time, it will be made clear that marginalisation and persecution as well as the loss of loved family members have dramatic effects on a new life in exile, which influence subsequent generations.
“Cohn – Bucky – Levy” is not just a history book. It is not least designed to be a written commemoration of a family, which influenced life in its hometown in many ways. The book appeals to people interested in history as well as people, who would like to explore the question how it could happen (and can still happen) that formerly highly respected members of society are suddenly marginalised and persecuted.
Why would you support this project?
You will participate in a depiction of a part of German and Jewish history, and honour – in place of so many other lives – the live of the Cohn/Bucky/Levy family. The project does not just tell a family story, but shows how quickly appreciation can turn into hate and how easy it is to influence people. The book can be an incentive to investigate Jewish everyday life stories in one’s own hometown or in other cities.
How will we use the money if the project is successfully funded?
The book will be published in two languages. We plan to include German and English text in the book, which will make it accessible to the English-speaking community. The overall cost for the book project is €12,000. We envisage that the self-published book will contain numerous illustrations of various periods in the life of the family and thus make a contribution to the remembrance of the family in the public eye.
Monies raised by this campaign will be used to pay for layout, type set and printing of the book, for purchasing various picture rights as well as a obtaining a professional English translation.
Who are the people behind the project?
I am Christian Repkewitz, was born in 1980 and live in Altenburg (Thuringia). In 2004, I started to investigate Jewish life in Altenburg and the surrounding towns and villages. In 2014, I published a first documentation containing 200 stories of Jewish individuals and families from Altenburg; a significantly expanded version is currently in preparation. In 2015, I was awarded the German Jewish History Award by the Obermayer Foundation for my work.
I met members of the Cohn/Bucky/Levy family back in 2008 and have developed a friendship with them since. The history of the family has made a deep impression on me and was the catalyst to write this book.
As the book is part of a bigger project, I’d like to say a few words about the team: Bernhard Stengele (Theatre Director, Altenburg Theatre), Svea Haugwitz (Dramatic Advisor, Altenburg Theatre), Mike Langer (Managing Director, TV Altenburg), Andrea Wagner and Frank Spieth (Project Management, Altenburg) and Dr. Nikolaus Dorsch (Managing Director, Innova Sozialwerk) are members of the team that is putting together the project entitled “Cohn – Bucky – Levy”. The project will combine a theatre play, a TV documentary and my book, a.o. We are also planning an audiovisual town guide on the topic and a connected art project.