My Grandfather

Erwin Stiebel was a German Jew who fought WWI for Germany. He was born in Fulda and believed that German civilization (including literature and the arts) were the pinnacle of human civilization. However, in the 1920s anti-Semitism and the fascist movement drove him to emigrate to neighboring Switzerland where he and his family survived WWII. Like some people today, he needed to channel his despair and emotions into a positive cause. He bought some land in Israel in the 1930s and donated it to a nascent Zionist organization for Jewish children orphaned by the wars. In 1951 this became Kibutz Kiriath Yearim, which still exists today. My brother recently discovered a fundraising letter from Jan. 17th 1947, which demonstrates renewed efforts to fund the project, called “Jugendalijah”. It had been stifled during WWII.

Out of despair, some extraordinary activist projects can be born. Perhaps this is an example for many of us in present times.

David Posnett MD, East Hampton, NY 11937

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About D. Posnett MD

Emeritus Prof. of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College
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4 Responses to My Grandfather

  1. jtmarlinnyc says:

    Many Americans feel our country has been hijacked by people who are driven by ideology. We have some of same fears of citizens in World War II countries that the Nazis overran. It is useful to reexamine how people reacted and what kinds of organization and responses were effective.

  2. John Hooker says:

    Lovely piece, David. There’s an underlying message here: we are all in one way or another influenced by our past. You are giving just as your grandfather did. Yet the influence is not always positive. The challenge is to be able to break the chain when the influence needs a correction. For a country it’s no different. Learning from the past is a constant challenge.

  3. Judith says:

    David Posnett and his “merry band of Resistance Warriors ” are the reason I am so encouraged about the state of our nation. The fact that over 7,000 such local groups have sprung into life in such a short period of time, the fact that hundreds of thousands of marchers all over the world responded to a call from 2 unknown & inexperienced women to march on Washington (or locally) for Women’s Rights: this phenomena cannot and will not be ignored. They say, loud and clear: America is an Idea that we are not ready to give up on. America is an idea that the World will not give up on. I am proud of my country: we made a mistake, a big one, but we are going to make it right again. God bless you all! You give me so much hope!

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