Bay (bei) mir bistu sheyn – I hate this!

Memorial Disappeared Jewish Community Altona

This is the Memorial of the Disappeared Jewish Community of the Altona district – a holocaust memorial in Hamburg.  

It stands as a stain that hides parts of Altona’s beautiful city hall, as a stain on this city.

When created in 1989, the Hamburg senate sent a picture to my grandmother in Tel-Aviv since her family is partially a part of the Altona Jewish community. 

She answered: “I hate this!”.
Naja, art wasn’t our strong part of the family.

I visited the place today and saw a new graffiti. This stone is a magnet for graffiti – so much presence and empty like a blackboard.

I didn’t understand what’s written, and sure, kids who don’t understand the symbolic meaning of this stone sprayed nonsense. 


But surprise. The text sprayed “Bay mir bistu sheyn” is a song in Yiddish.  

The song was written in 1932 by a Jewish immigrant to the USA. The twist is that this song was a smash hit in Nazi Germany, under the Germanized title “bei mir bist du schön”. But there is more:

During WW2, an unusual exception to this ban occurred: Noticing that radio audiences wished to hear American jazz, the Nazis decided to exploit such music for their propaganda efforts. Accordingly, Charlie and his Orchestra — a Nazi-sponsored German propaganda swing ensemble derisively nicknamed “Goebbels’ band” — recorded a state-approved anti-Semitic and anti-Bolshevik version of “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön.” Nazi broadcasters played this version in occupied countries. This Nazi propaganda version of the song was entitled “Anthem of the International Brotherhood of Bolsheviks” and has been credited by scholar Élise Petit with increasing anti-Semitic sentiment amid the Holocaust. (From Wikipedia).

Here is where graffiti precisely in the right place, left a clue for a fantastic history lesson. 


My experience with dog adoption in Germany

Or: Welcome home, Motek!

On the day my beloved dog Schwitsi passed away, I immediately started to plan, how I let another dog adopt me.

Schwitsi was my companion for 13 years. She came with me to Germany, it was her, me and the luggage.

First night in Germany, after the flight

After her death – the empty house, the empty heart, the missing part of the pack, the resources I have to give, the love and good life I can, and wish to provide, the unconditional love I know I will get, all made it very clear, life without a dog are something I can’t bare.

Two months later, the journey began.

Now, in Israel, there are too many stray dogs that end up in shelters. So many are in shelters that every month, hundreds of them are put to sleep, because there is not enough space for all of them.

When one wishes to adopt a dog, one goes to the nearest shelter, picks a dog, signs some papers and leaves with a four-legs-pack-of-joy.

The situation in Germany is far more complex. To put it short: There are no dogs for adoption in Germany. Almost.
When you go to a shelter in Germany, you can find the “dangerous” races, the old and the sick. These, one day, when I’ll have my farm – I will adopt them all. But the current situation allows me to adopt small dogs. I prefer mixed, for not supporting breeding.

This situation of not having stray dogs in Germany, is a good thing. It indicates an educated society: People don’t throw their dogs to the street. People castrate/spay. People won’t adopt dogs without knowing that they can handle it in the next 15 years.

The above does not reflect on 100% or the people – of course. Every group of people on this planet, got their fare share of idiots.

Buying a dog is not an option. It is a horrible thing to do, while you have so many dogs without a home in the world, to pay someone to breed dogs, mass production, just because it looks like it is out of a fashion magazine. Horrible.

Back to the shelters situation:
Each Saturday, a long line of people is standing outside the shelters – families, couples, old people – rushing in when the gate is opened, just to discover around 5 dogs, and maybe to get lucky and adopt one of them, if it fits a city-house.

There are two main shelters in Hamburg – in both, the same situation. The shelters outside, usually update their website, and you just see that there are no dogs there.

When you do find a dog to adopt in a shelter, then starts the process: There will be a visit to your house, to determinate that it fits the dog. Then your details will be sent to the veterinary service to check if you have a past of cruelty to animals. Then (in the main shelter in Hamburg for example), you need to come five times to the shelter, and demonstrate walking with the dog, to determinate if the two of you are getting along. Finally, singing a contract, and having another visit in 6 months past the adoption.

Then, after around three to five weeks, you can take the dog home.
If you found one.

But there there is another angle to it – most of the dogs in the shelters, are not from Germany. I will come to this later.

So what most people do?

There are many stray dogs around Europe. German organisations are co-managing most of the big shelters around east Europe, mainly Romania. Dogs are delivered from Spain, Hungaria, Poland…

There are three main courses:

The way most of the people do, is to browse pictures of dogs on internet websites. These dogs are in shelters in the origin countries.
Once you pick a dog, and you fill the form, pay etc – the dog is being delivered to you, mostly in a truck with many others, from the country of origin.

I knew that I cannot adopt a dog without meeting him! Picking a dog on an internet catalog?

** idea – Tindog. (searched – already exists).

The second way to adopt is: Dogs that are being delivered to the shelters in Germany. As described above – very little amount, and they immediately get adopted. Since the shelters almost never get “German” dogs, and since they do get budgets per tail, and since there is such a demand – they just import dogs from other countries.

The middle way: foster home. The dogs are sent to Germany to temporal families , then, their picture is being published on ebay, and then you can come and meet the dog first. The process is a bit shorter, since an association is involved here, exactly as with the shelter.

Adopting a dog from ebay, from a family, that their dog just had babies, or in some horrible cases, they cannot take care of him.

So number 3 is how it went. I found a wonderful dog on ebay, drove 3 hours to the north to see him, just to discover that he is sick.

The current situation in Europe is, that most of the dogs are from Romania. And there, diseases are spreading, the conditions are really bad, and breeders for mixed dogs are abusing the situation of German associations paying to save dogs (same situation in Poland).

The biggest shelter in Romania, co-managed by a German organisation, holds around 5000 dogs.

By law, they have to be checked before coming to Germany, but with the doctors there, it is more problematic.
Also, some people just go there, take dogs to Germany and offer them on ebay, earning some Euros, but not as professional associations, and the treatment is as it sounds.

When asked about the medical situation of the dog I wanted to adopt, I got an answer:

“The dog deserves someone who is not questioning him and is sure that wants him sick or not”.

Come the fuck on.

Then I found another dog, drove two hours to Hannover, fall in love, had a horrible experience with the organisation that brought her to Germany, but kept in mind the goal – to bring her to her new home.

And this is how we got Motek, the Hungarian dog.
She was found in the streets of a south Hungarian town, brought to a shelter there, picked by a German association, brought to a foster home next to Hannover, lived there for few weeks with other dogs, got a cold on the way, got medical treatment, and then, finally, found her final, loving home in Hamburg.

It was her first shower. First bed that she is allowed to sleep on. First eating without fighting over the food. First own toys (as the first days, playing with a toy, looking to the sides that no one is taking it from her, and crying).
She brought back the love, the happiness, the noise and life into my house that Schwitsi left empty.

It was a hard process, but it was worth it.

It was a frustrating process, but It indicates a good situation – almost no stray dogs in Germany, people standing in line to adopt. After all, it is all for the dogs.

It was indeed worth it.

Adopt a dog! Have a better life!

Motek, on our first date
Motek, in her new home

This is my experience, and my learning. I am sure that it can be different to other people, in other areas in Germany, or in the eastern countries I’ve mentioned. Adopt a dog!

Replacing a live front-end legacy code – The bottom to top migration strategy

This article is written about work done in 2016 – and the technoloigies mentioned match the time:

Here’s the deal – A company has an existing product with outdated technology, an old legacy code which is unmaintainable and unextendable, essentially, written with old technology. The company in question understands that it’s time to move forward, catching up with the present day and time.

Unlike the usual method of rewriting an entire product from scratch (top to bottom), there is a better way. This includes building a new front-end feature and immediately using it within the old legacy product. This methodology works even when the technologies are light years away from each other.

I used to work for a company like that. Before I started working there, their initial starting point included an old product which was an auto-generated HTML code out of a java backend, also known as “Automagically generated JS, CSS, and HTML”. This happens to be a front-end developer’s true horror.

This company decided to rewrite its product from scratch, with all new technology (Javascript and a Python API). They recruited developers, product specialists, used the best resources, and meeting hours. This was the first time that this company had a big front-end project ahead of them.

During the following year, they had an old legacy product that was live. It was making money but had minimum resources for maintenance, and no new features whatsoever.

On the other side of the development department, a new pile of fresh code and architecture was just beginning to be written. Unfortunately, it piled up and laid there without anyone knowing about the product or its users. The feature set wasn’t that big, but because this product was supposed to replace an already live product, no one could cut the scope of its features.

After more than a year, the freshly written code and architecture failed to reach its deadline, and there was no end in the horizon.

The project was canceled.

So there we were, with a year’s worth of development time and fresh code, but none that was usable. We had a product that was not maintainable and a business that needed to keep working and growing.

We all wondered, how could we all solve this horrible problem? What would have been the best way to make up for this lost project before us? How could we revive our motivation and bring back trust to the front-end department in the company?

I was called on to find a solution – and thankfully, did. The solution focused on the business. For a developer that always wanted the cutting-edge technology to be written from scratch – it was a difficult solution to understand, at the beginning.

The idea  was to reach goals in a better way:

The solution included giving the company the possibility to maintain and add features to its old applications. And, in such a way that also took the company forward in the direction of having a full new front-end application as needed. The solution enabled us to transparently transition from an old product to a new and cutting-edge front-end product.

Unlike the original method that was used which included rewriting the whole product from scratch (i.e. from top to bottom), the new method  was from bottom to top. I determined that we could build a new front-end feature and immediately use it, and we could make a profit and learn from it.

This also enabled us to stop at any point, and to shift resources at any time, without any loss. This was because every new feature was already in production, and embedded in the old application, but separated and detached from it.

This solution undertook important calculations and measurements:  

  1. Time / Resources
  2. Risks
  3. Scope
  4. Technical limitations

Technical Problem:

In all actuality, the legacy product was very limited from a UI perspective. We were bounded only by the UI elements and functionality that it provides. And, it is not a front-end friendly framework at all – it is a closed product.

Even worst –  it was mixed in with badly implemented JS code, on top of old product, which “helped” overcome the above problem in the past, this layer can be called: the hacks layer.

It was unscalable for code/feature extension, and since each update is global, it can easily break style and functionality.

We must keep developing the money-maker products, and we cannot merely rewrite it.

When addressing a migration from an old technology to another, we developers always think about a total new re-write. But if you are able, technically, to isolate your new code, components, and UI elements – you can do the re-write in a much more efficient way.

Infrastructure preparation:

On top of all feature requests, we must implement a few front-end infrastructure features:

The idea of this preparation job is to offer a set of front-end tools for easier maintenance, deployment, and development:

  • E2E tests (wooha, Selenium)
  • SASS compiling
  • Minifier / Concatenator
  • Angular
  • Bower

Now to the real work:


We chose Angular.

Most importantly, the new code must be encapsulated, and most importantly, we must not rely on the DOM.

We found Angular the most encapsulated framework, allowing us to separate our JS code and HTML from the old container.

Each component must contain an angular view and have the ng-application root. We don’t want Angular to waste resources on listening to the whole DOM (and conflicts with the legacy lib). We encapsulated the page too small Angular apps.


Style separation: The Style lib

The style we came up with was the most complicated part.

CSS is inherited. There is no easy way to encapsulate an element from a CSS rule that applies to this selector (There is one way, but it is not supported by any IE, and we could use other tricks, that looked hacky).

So, we have an old framework, with a big pile of CSS, and with various rules that select tags, classes, states, and most importantly – deep rules, such as:

body form label input [type-text]{}

There is no way to write generic rules that can predict and override them.

Also – When we write a new feature, we cannot determine what overrides what. There is an option to check in the development tools, but this is a very long process, especially for each rule.

The solution was a separate UI lib. We generated two CSS files: The old Lib.css and the newLib.css.*
On our portal, we included both files.
On a separate static HTML page, we included only the newLib.css file.

When a new feature is being built, or an existing feature is being rebuilt, we must first build it inside the static HTML. Thus, creating it’s CSS rules in a clean, isolated environment.

At this stage, we know that the independent style we included on the page will work when we remove the oldLib.css file.

As for the rules from oldLib.css that are overriding the newly created rules (some !important or deep nesting rules from the legacy code that we cannot remove), they were minimal in numbers and got their special overridden section at the end of newLib.css

Once the oldLib.css file is removed, we can then remove the sections. We will then have an immediate working product, with minimum need to adjust and fix.


As for the time spent writing these lines, many of its features were overridden, and many new features were built, all with a new front-end code. They are all live, which immediately allows the company to earn money from the invested time they spent.

In this case, the old legacy product is maintained again, it is also extendable, and one day, it will get rid of the old code easily because of this separation.

What we created allows us to change resources without any problem whatsoever. No waiting on code that will never see the light of day or make any money.

And, on the developer side, we are able to do cutting-edge technology, using the tools that we would have used in a complete rewrite project. But, now we have an even better, harder, and more complicated task. This challenges us more and helps us to find solutions that other developers who use frameworks out of the box don’t need to deal with. It forces us to need a better developer, better learning processes, and a great backup and belief from the company management that this is achievable.

The above solution gives us the possibility to maintain and add features in such a way that will also take us forward in the direction of having a full new front-end product, in its old automagically generated front-end. It also enables us to have a transparent transition of the old product, to a new cutting-edge front-end product, which is miraculous.

* not the real names of the files

Saint Petersburg and the Siege of Leningrad

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of

When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the summer of 1941, a German army surrounded the city of Leningrad (today’s Saint Petersburg) in an extended siege.

The siege lasted nearly 900 days and resulted in the deaths of more than 1 million civilians.

During the siege, the city established supply lines from the Soviet interior and evacuated many citizens, often using a hazardous “ice and water road” across Lake Ladoga. In January 1943, the Red Army finally managed to break that siege.

I arrived in Saint Petersburg for a vacation and took one day to see the battle areas, and the most important “road of life” – a path that kept the city alive during these almost three horrible years.

My tour guide was Alexander from Histours. Alexander drove me in his car, and for almost 9 hours, we visited the main locations that formed the story of the siege and its breaking.

Armed with maps, photos and deep knowledge of the area and the people, Alexander took me through the road of life, to the battle that broke the siege through Neva River that starts at Lake Ladoga and ends in the Gulf of Finland, in Saint Petersburg.

The road of life:

The road of life was used to evacuate people from the city and bring supplies in. In the map, the gray color is the control area of the Nazis.

Road of Life. November-December 1941
Germash19 – the crossing marks with red.

This memorial is for kids. A young girl gives her sister a phone book, so she will be able to write a diary (normal notebooks were hard to get).

On these stones are the pages where she writes the death dates of her family. Each page indicates the dead (mother, dad, grandmother…) the time and date of death.

Pages from a little girls diary, describing the death of her family.

With these stones, we follow a young girl’s life during the siege, while all her family is fading away, one by one.

Following the road of life, we climb a hill that was used as a hospital. Here, mass graves of the wounded that died later, the women of war and all other forgotten brave ones, who did not die on the battlefield.

Original road of life

For the women of war

The main part of the road of life was the crossing of Lake Ladoga, which is frozen most of the year.

The crossing was done with trucks, with ice in any condition – many did not finish the journey.

Here is the memorial in the exact point where the trucks went down to the ice and started crossing the lake.

The memorial symbolizes the breaking of the siege.

After crossing the lake, a train was used to transfer the supply into the city.

Without the Chinese people.

Later, a bridge was built. The Germans kept bombing it, and the Russians fixed it. The Germans did not try to fight hard against the road of life since they were sure it was a waste of resources for the Red Army and the city wouldn’t survive with this small means of transportation.

Finally, the Red Army was able to break the siege in crossing the frozen Neva River; the battle began with an orchestra playing the “International.”

Diorama of the battle of Leningrad

This point held the hardest battles.

And then the shock came.

This land saw the hardest battle. It was here where they broke the siege. Every piece of land saw so much blood and gunpowder.

It is still full of remains, and it is being dug. Everywhere you go, you see war items, such as gas masks, shoes, etc. At one point, we saw human bones that were discovered.

German shoe (with nails) and Russian (glue)

Human remains

Human remains

Nazi shoe.

Not far away from there, Russian soldiers buried the remains that were found.


It is amazing to see, that until today, we still haven’t covered out everything from that war.

The tour was given by Alexander, a private tour guide. I highly recommend him. It was a fascinating day, with stories that are not told enough in the west.

For the bravery of the people of Saint Petersburg, and the brave people that defended them.

Save Neuendorf – Future for the History of the Hachshara Movement in Germany

I came to know Neuendorf as a part of the family history research.  Neuendorf was the last Zionist Hachshara camp where Rulf, the brother of my grandmother stayed, before he was deported to Auschwitz. The importance of this camp is huge. Very little is known about the role of the Hachshara camps in the Zionist movement in Germany, and now we have a chance to save it, with the help of dear friends, Stella and Benno:

Neuendorf Estate, near Fürstenwalde (Spree), 60 km East of central Berlin

© Written by Stella Hindemith & Benno Plassmann 

Historic considerations

Set in the East-German countryside half-way between Berlin and the Polish border is Neuendorf. From the late 1920s Neuendorf was an important center of Jewish self-organisation, mutual support, and resistance at first in times of economic hardship, and then of persecution by the German authorities.

Before the onset of Nazi dictatorship in 1933 there were about 30 Jewish youth education centers throughout Germany. There is hardly any research into their history, however, it is clear that not all of them served as places to prepare young people for emigration or Aliyah. They also served as places where young unemployed Jews had a chance to learn useful skills in economically difficult times, be it after World War I or during the Great Depression. They were run not only by either religious or overtly Zionist organisations, but also by the Jewish boy scout movement or philanthropic foundations such as the Jewish gardening school in Ahlem near Hanover founded by Moritz Simon in 1893. After 1933 these education centers were transferred to the responsibility of the so-called Palestine office in the Reichsvereinigung der Juden (the federation of all Jewish organisations in the Reich enforced by the Nazi Government). From then on, in the spirit of the Zionist Hachsharah movement, all these Jewish youth education centers worked to teach young people skills important for emigration; many of them were able to reach Palestine, England, Sweden, or South America. In 1936 there were 139 Hachsharah centers in Germany with more than 5.000 people working and learning there. By 1938 these numbers had fallen to 32 centers with about 1.300 people. In 1941 also the last available forms of training for Jews were forbidden by the Nazi authorities, and the centers had to close down.

Neuendorf is a typical example for these developments and central for the history of Zionist youth movements in Germany. After its philanthropic Jewish owner Hermann Müller had passed management of the Estate to the Berlin-based Jewish workers support association in the early 1930s, mainly unemployed young men could live, work and learn there. In 1937 Neuendorf also officially became a Hachshara center. Neuendorf continued as a place of Jewish self-organisation even after 1941, however, the situation transformed into that of a forced labor camp. Neuendorf remained under the directorship of Martin Gerson, and it turned into the central location where young people from other Hachshara centers were sent to when theirs were closed. By then entire families lived in Neuendorf whose children were looked after, others, by the famous educationalist and Montessori-pioneer Clara Grunwald. In 1943 the last inhabitants/inmates were deported from Neuendorf to Auschwitz.

In Neuendorf, 2015

Despite the important role the Zionist youth movements (and people from Neuendorf, in particular) played in the organisation of resistance to and survival of Nazi-persecution, as well as in the period directly after the Shoah, and then during the establishment of the State of Israel, there is very little research and hardly any literature about the Hachshara in Germany, nor is there any memorial place in Germany. Indeed, outside Jewish museums in Germany there is nothing much that can be found about the history of Zionism in Germany. Neuendorf is important because of its historically central role for the Zionist youth movements in Germany, and on top of that today it is the only Hachshara place in Germany the buildings of which remain in their entirety.

In Neuendorf, 2015

The situation today: Neuendorf Estate for sale

Today Neuendorf is owned by BIMA (federal agency for real estate) as trustees of the German Federal Government. According to the competent German authorities there are no compensation claims pending. However, it has not been possible to verify independently whether possible claims by the descendants of Hermann Mueller, (Jewish) owner of Neuendorf in the 1920s and 1930s, were indeed settled, or not. Fundraising is ongoing to pay for the necessary historic research in archives in Germany, Israel and the USA.

BIMA has put up Neuendorf for sale on 17 May 2017. BIMA is an independent agency of the Federal Government with the primary task of creating value for money for the federal ministry of finance. However, BIMA’s structure does allow for political influence to affect decisions of sale.

Binding offers have to be made by 31 August 2017, starting with a minimum of 290.000 EUR. The estate has a size of 365.000 m². The sale comprises 8 buildings with living quarters (split into 26 apartments, 9 of which are currently empty) and 9 other buildings (outhouses, garages, agricultural working spaces, etc.). The rentals currently generate a yearly income of 35.000 EUR; however, the yearly minimum running costs stand at about 45.000 EUR. In addition, it is clear that the estate requires serious infrastructural investment in the near future including roofing, heating systems and electrical systems (latest renovations seem to date back to the 1960s, East German standards). From a historical and heritage-protection perspective this lack of investment over the past six decades constitutes a grave danger to the historic fabric of the estate. In case of particularly difficult business situations German heritage protection law can allow for the demolition even of listed buildings. Thus, even though a protection order has been placed on the estate because of its historic importance it depends on future owners if the buildings’ fabric itself will survive, or not.

A future for Neuendorf?

In this situation it is clear that action is required to ensure a future for Neuendorf as a place of practical commemoration, translating the inspirations and actions of the 1930s to meet the challenges of today’s world. If you have advice and see possibilities of helping to fund raise for this goal (including potentially a purchase, or the renovation of parts of the location, as well as the development of activities in or around Neuendorf / the history of Hachshara in Germany) please be in touch.

Stella Hindemith, Benno Plassmann

In Neuendorf, 2015

In Neuendorf, 2015

The story of the Altona mall, built on a Jewish cemetery

Mercado shopping mall – Plate with the names of the buried

I love this picture, taken in the Mercado mall in Altona, Hamburg.
The three layers that you see here are: one floor with an “Arab belly-dance”.
One “floor” is a Jewish cemetery.
One floor is a shopping mall.

This picture is a great symbol, of the present, in Germany, diversity, people might call it.

So why is there a mall on top of an old Jewish cemetery?
It is complicated, here is the (short) story:

Hamburg was a home of thriving Jewish community before the Nazi era.
Many of the Jews of Hamburg moved over the years to its neighbor town Altona, that was more open and acceptable to Jews.
Altona is a town near Hamburg, From 1640 to 1864 Altona was under the administration of the Danish monarchy, then, as a part of Germany, and in 1937 became a part of Hamburg.
The Jewish cemetery of Ottensen, Altona, was opened in 1663 and was active until 1934.

Altona Jewish Cemetery- Salomon Goldschmidt, from “Der jüdische Friedhof in Ottensen” – Ulla Hinnenberg. Stadtteilarchiv Ottensen.

Soon after, Nazi authorities confiscated it and destroyed it.

At the end of ww2, the site, known as belonging to the Jewish community, was returned to the only two Jews who lived in Hamburg. Nobody knew or could tell that it was a cemetery. The Nazis dug two bunkers inside the cemetery, mixed the ground through, with, the bodies and gravestones. The two Jews sold the property to a real-estate company.


In 1988 the land was bought by a company that planned to build a mall on the ground.
When construction started, a group of left activists, began series of protests. The reason was that the area was poor, and they protested against a “temple of capitalism” that will raise the rent.

They did not succeed in their protest but after some research, they discovered that the land was once a Jewish cemetery. That came handy – The German authorities and people will not dare to deal with a Jewish cemetery.
They tipped an ultra-orthodox Jewish group from Jerusalem, and that was enough to ignite the fire they needed.

A group named “Athra Kadisha” came to Hamburg and started to demonstrate and protest. They stopped the work. Blocked the tractors. Blocked the streets of Altona near the construction site, made noise and spread guilt.

The city of Hamburg did not agree to buy the land from the private company. 50 million marks worth, was too much.
Hamburg’s Jewish community was pissed, they did not want these people here, the visitors from Jerusalem, talking on their behalf. Other solutions could be found.

Demonstrations in Altona, against the Mercado mall, to be built on top of an old Jewish cemetery.
Hamburger Abentblatt 2.5.1992

Eventually, with the intervention of the chief Rabbi of Israel, they acted by the main Jewish rule in this case – do not disturb the deads (who laid near a noisy train station). Do not move them.
The mall will be built on top of the cemetery.

Demonstrations in Altona, against the Mercado mall, to be built on top of an old Jewish cemetery

And this is how the big shopping mall of Altona, the Mercado is a bit high at some points, and this plate with the names of the buried Jewish residents of Altona in placed.

Mercado shopping mall – Plate with the names of the buried

Information "Der jüdische Friedhof in Ottensen" - Ulla Hinnenberg. Stadtteilarchiv Ottensen.

Tokyo in 10 Days

Presenting our plan for 10 days in Tokyo (and around) minus two days of the flights.

About the bars – Those are metal bars only.

One should pay attention to the hotel rooms. Even with an expensive hotel, the rooms are ridiculously small, so if this is an issue for you, try to search for “American hotels”, they should provide a human size room.

Note that I do not extend about each location, please google it, enough information is on the internet, the purpose of this list is to help with planning and give ideas.

The “sleep” pauses are because I like to split the day into two, and have a one hour sleep at the hotel, wake up fresh for the rest of the day. Really recommended, it makes your trip feels twice longer.

Following the daily list, a list ordered by areas, this list helped us to prepare the day list, so we will not run across the city. It is a huge city.

Check out my album from Tokyo here.


Day 1 – Shinjuku

  • Skyscraper District Restaurants: Hours vary but are typically from 11:00 to 23:00. The area west of Shinjuku Station is home to a large number of skyscrapers including the
  • Tokyo Metropolitan + Government Building – Best view on the city, great to understand on the first day what you are standing against. Several of the skyscrapers have shops and restaurants on their ground floors and additional restaurants with great views of the city on their top floors.
  • Shinjuku Gyoen – Also visit the largest and most popular park
  • 100 yen shops


  • Omoide Yokocho Restaurants: Typically from 17:00 to 24:00 (some are open for lunch) (lit. memory lane), also known under its more colorful nickname Piss Alley.
  • robot restaurant
  • Kabukicho Restaurants
  • Red lights district – Golden gay – Bars:
    • ANTIKNOCK – live music
    • GODZ
    • BAR PSY  – Best metal bar.

Day 2 – Harajuku

  • Yoyogi Park
    • meiji (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū)
  • Shops
    • Daiso Harajuku – 100 Yen Shop Hours: 10:00 to 21:00
    • Oriental Bazaar Hours: 10:00 to 19:00 Closed: Thursdays
    • Kiddy Land Hours: 11:00 to 21:00
    • Takeshita Dori


  • North
    • Nakano Broadway
    • New Rock corner Suginami
    • The Terrace
    • Drink

Day 3 – Shibuya

  • kaway monster cafe
  • Big famous cross – watch from Starbucks
  • Pokemon cafe
  • Shopping
    • Center Gai
    • Spain Slope
    • Shibuya 109
    • Shibuya Mark City
    • Koen Dori


  • Yebisu garden – Lights
  • bars
    • Rock Bar CHACK

Day 4 – China Town!

  • Yokohama – see the end of the area where the harbor is.


  • Ginza
    • Sony building
    • Drink Roppongi

Day 5 – Center

  • Imperial palace – Check opening months
  • jimbocho
  • yasukuni shrine
  • akihabra
    • Don Quijote
    • Yamada Denki
    • Otaku Goods


  • Dom lights

Day 6 – North

  • Ueno park
    • National museum
    • National science museum
  • Ameyoko street
  • Sugamo (?)


  • Free time

Day 7 – North / Odaiba

  • Asakusa
    • Senso ji
    • Nakamise street
  • Water bus to odaiba
  • Odaiba:
    • The port area
    • Venus Fort is a shopping mall in the style of a 18th century South European town – Really recommended!
    • Telecom Center Observation Deck:
    • Oedo Onsen Monogatari – is a hot spring theme park
    • science emerging museum
    • Rainbow bridge – Only after dark!

Day 8 – Mt. Fugi all transport tour

By Area:



Electronic shops
100 yen shops
Don Quijote
Yamada Denki
Otaku Goods

Tokyo Imperial Palace
Jimbocho Book Town
Yasukuni Shrine- war memorial
Tsukishima (月島, lit. moon island)
Koishikawa Botanical Garden (小石川植物園, Koishikawa Shokubutsuen)
Yurakucho Gado-shita 
Ginza Wako Shops
Koishikawa Korakuen 

Night: Tokyo Dome City Winter Illumination


Roppongi – Also night life
Tokyo Midtown is a city within the city in the center of Tokyo‘s Roppongi district
Zojoji Temple (増上寺, Zōjōji)
Senso Ji next to Tokyo Tower

Odaiba お台場
The port area
Venus Fort – Very recommended!
Telecom Center Observation Deck
Oedo Onsen Monogatari is a hot spring theme park
Science emerging museum – A bit childish. 


Shibuya: Great and fascinating shopping / viewing area.
Pokemon cafe
Center Gai
Koen Dori
Spain Slope
Shibuya 109
Shibuya Mark City

Love Hotel Hill
kaway monster cafe- shibuya-

GU, Shibuya

harajuku 原宿
Daiso Harajuku
Oriental Bazaar
Kiddy Land

Takeshita Dori
Yoyogi Park
meiji (明治神宮, Meiji Jingū)
Treasure House
Inner Garden

Shibuya (Night)
Rock Bar CHACK
Nakano Broadway (中野ブロードウェイ)

Shinjuku Gyoen 新宿御苑
Omoide Yokocho
Kabukicho Restaurants:
Shinjuku Skyscraper District Restaurants:
Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building
Robot restaurant

Kabukicho, Japan’s largest red light district,

Metal bars:
Rock bar mother


Asakusa (浅草)
Sensō-ji 浅草寺
Nakamise Shopping Street
Shin-Nakamise Shopping Street
Ameyoko (アメ横)Ueno Park (上野公園, Ueno Kōen)

Tokyo National Museum
National Museum for Western Art
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum
National Science Museum
Ueno Zoo

Sugamo (巣鴨)Jizo Dori shopping street


The Center of the Tokyo Raid and War Damages


The Story of Max Plaut- Head of the Jewish Community of Hamburg During WW2

“German by culture, Jewish by religion and origin”.

Max Plaut became the chairman of the Hamburg Jewish community, North Germany’s free Hanseatic city, in 1938. During these years the count of the Jews in Hamburg was approx 17,000, and few thousand more in the cities around.

Max was born in 1901, son of a school teacher. He was seriously injured in WW1, was a banker in his education and member of the freemasonry.

He was an anti-Zionist, the Founder of the anti-Zionist Jewish Youth in Germany. A German nationalist, as he defined: “German by culture, Jewish by religion and origin”.

The essence of Max’s role, in these impossible times, was to ensure the safety and well-being of the Jews (including financial management of the community, raising money outside of Germany to help Jews with emigration) and at the same time to fulfill, transfer and execute the orders of the Nazi government, through the Gestapo.

He wasn’t the only leader of the Hamburg community. With him managed and led the community’s life: Leo Lippmann, Joseph Carlebach and Max Warburg who owned theWarburg bank.

Each did whatever they can do and hoped, that with careful planning and navigation of the ship, they could help take the community through the storm of those days.

Max had an excellent diplomatic talent and an even better sense of humor. With the help of those qualities, he stayed in a positive though not an equal relationship with the Gestapo officers, and mainly with the Hamburg police chief in charge of Jewish affairs, Klaus Gottche. They respected each other. He often used manipulations, without fear, with great courage, with black humor and great audacity.
It didn’t always help him and Plaut was arrested and even beaten a few times by Gottche’s subordinates:

For example, in 1938, many Jews from the community were arrested. Plaut was among them. He was held in a cell for a day and a half with no food and water.

Since he didn’t want to die like that, he called the guard. The guard asked him why does he dare to call him, and noted that 1200 Jews were sent to camps from that same prison. Max rudely asked: “so what happens now?”

-“I will go to check” answered the guard.

Not long after Max was released from his cell and transferred to his “friend” Gottche’s office. Gottche scolds him “where have you been? We’ve been looking for you.”

-“You’re supposed to know, you picked me up from the cell”, said Plaut.

-“I don’t know what to do with you”, said Gottche.

-“you better think about it while I’m waiting at my house” Plaut answered him rudely, and so it was. He was sent to his house and was obligated to report to the police station twice a day.

Max’s connections with the Gestapo created serious unjust allegations towards Plaut after the war, of collaborating with the Nazis – It is now possible to understand that Max didn’t actually “collaborated”, he did follow orders. Made lists, but not agreeing to do that wouldn’t have stopped the Nazi plan, at least by acting, he softened the blow until the last moment and sometimes he even saved Jews, as will be described later.

The Jewish brothel

On his role and his special management ways, in those times, we can learn from these few examples:

Because of the Nuremberg Laws, Jews were forbidden to have sex with Germans. The Gestapo and Plaut had to question what will happen when a prostitute reports a Jewish customer.

The solution was to open a Jewish brothel, with Jewish women, for Jews. It indeed opened, outside the red light district of Hamburg.

After a few months, the brothel was closed since no customers arrived.

Brilliant banker 

Usually, as the head of the community and the one in charge of its assets, Plaut had to deal with the situation with brilliant ways:
The synagogue in Grindel neighborhood was burned following the Kristallnacht. The Nazis wanted to build a college for teachers there, and Jews weren’t allowed to rebuild the synagogue anyway.

Against their will, the Jewish community had to negotiate about selling the place. The negotiations were forced but the talks themselves handled as between equals and it took place between Lipman and the municipality.

Since the Jews were obligated to remove the ruins of the synagogue, Lipman suggested to receive a fifth of the property’s value, and with that money, the eviction will be done. That was the agreement – So the community stayed with nothing from the property. That was Max’s plan.

He sold many assets of the community in ridicules prices, intentionally, knowing he had no other choice, but he also lowered the price even more. He did that because of the knowledge he gathered in banking and law. He stated that in any case, with the ridiculous prices, it could have only been sold to the regime by force, he could prove that these assets were taking from the community by force and he could get them back once the Nazis were gone.


The immigration of the Jews – organization

After the Pogrom Night (Kristallnacht) while many Jews were arrested and shipped to camps all over the Reich, Max was able to free and rescue most of Hamburg’s Jews with negotiations, and got them visas and money to emigrate, mostly to south American states.

After the visas to south America started to end Max started, with the help of the Gestapo to fake forging visas to those countries.

The Nazis used the forced escape of the Jews to bring in foreign money in the country: a Jew could only leave if he paid in foreign money, which helped the economy greatly, and imprisoned those who had money but couldn’t get foreign money (the family of the person writing these lines, was a wealthy family from Hamburg, and couldn’t leave the country because the money needed for it was asked from my grandmother in Palestina, she didn’t have it as an emigrant, and that’s how they found their death at the camps).

The Nazis did everything to make the Jews leave. The law didn’t interest them and they mostly ignored border rules when someone without a visa left.

Adolf Eichmann’s travel agency

Adolf Eichmann went even further and established the “Travel Agency” of the Reich to coordinate and hold the cruise line from Germany to Palestina, even during the war when the borders were closed.

After a while and after saving many Jews, the German shipping company accused him of its entanglements overseas due to illegal passengers. He was tried in Germany, but the main Gestapo headquarters in Berlin asked for the charges against him to be dropped. As a result, he was asked by the headquarters in Berlin to stop forging visas and Plaut told them that this is the only way to save Jews from the camps and everything was done with the approval of the Gestapo headquarters in Hamburg.

The war

The beginning of the war was confusing for Plaut and the Jews. A number of months earlier, in a speech he gave, Hitler promised that the Jews will suffer if a war will be “forced” on Germany. Also, his ties inside the SS told him “If there will be a war, the Jews will be the first to lose” and “initially, the older Jews will be taken to forced labor camps”.

Max Plaut in a testimonial from the Eichmann trial:

“June 1939 I came back to Germany from London. I was in the main office of the Gestapo in Hamburg. I was questioned by the Jewish department because I came from abroad. There was a war psychosis and the topic came up immediately and the man said that if there would be a war the Jews would be the first to lose. “you’ll see miracles and wonders” he said.

…and what happened in November 1938 is a dress rehearsal only.” The Gestapo officials and the Nazi party every time they had good news they said their thinking about making detention and concentration camp for all the Jews.”

But when the war started everything stayed as it always was, at least in Hamburg. At the beginning, though, mostly in small villages, activists from the Nazi party took the law into their own hands but were ordered to stop very quickly by the Gestapo.
Jews received the same food stamps, gas masks and stayed in the same bonkers as the rest of the Reich. The promises seemed like idle threats.

Later, as we know, things developed int he worst matter possible, Max describes:

“…(They) specifying the new rules every time, mostly on the rules to hand over the radios delivered on Yom Kippur. Later he said it became unsurprising very quickly that holidays and Saturdays were elected by the Nazis for anti-Jews actions. In a diabolical and vicious way, they looked at the Jewish calendar. We expected that something will happen on the Jewish holidays. We were always afraid before every holiday and could breathe again as they passed with only short whims. I remember that on Sukot evening the Gestapo demanded from me that within two days I’ll create a referendum stamped by all the Jews. And when I mentioned the holiday and if it can be postponed and I was denied. I was always told “sorry, orders from above” and then he came to me personally and said “ya, those in Berlin think about everything, so you don’t have to think too much.”


In 1940, the first event of mass deportation happened an area close to Plaut.

Plaut was in Berlin when 1200 of the Stettin Jews were banished to Lublin, Poland. The ones that could work of course.
In the city remained the old and the ill without anyone to take care of them. All of their “strong” relatives were banished.
Plaut knew that something had to be done. The Berlin rabbi, Ravi Black, asked Plaut to go there.

-“why me?” asked Plaut.

“Stettin is in the Baltic sea, that’s not my area”, said the rabbi and added: “and you’re the only one without family.”

When he arrived in Stettin managed Plaut to convince the Gestapo that the Jewish community will buy back the property that was confiscated from them in the deportation, and so, he could get back meds, beds and more equipment that was needed for relief of the helpless community.

Clues for mass murder:

In September 1940, the German’s second attempt at gas killing was made. 100 of the Jews in the hospital in Langhorne were transferred to “another hospital”.

Max who was responsible for one of the girls in the institution, suddenly received a letter saying she will be transferred tomorrow to the “other” hospital. He arrived there and understood that all the patients are being transferred. With great effort he managed to arrange for some of the patients to be released to their homes, the others were allowed a visit from their families to say goodbye.

At the train station, doctors and nurses from the Red Cross stood there, allegedly financed by the railway company “Columbus” where it was written that the patients will be taken to a modern facility in Poland. It’s unclear what was the purpose of bringing the doctors to the train station, and who they were trying to convince that being transferred was good – the patient’s families or the Germans who witnessed the first deportation of Jewish Germans in Hamburg.

The full understanding of the fate of these Jews, at the beginning of the extermination program of the European Judaism finally seeped into Plaut’s head after this event.

The Gestapo encouraged him to write to the older people that were sent to Lublin to visit the patients that were just sent there. But answers that he received from there indicated that this sort of institute did not exist there, and the people he noted never arrived there.

When a death certificate of one of the patients arrived, that only one day before the deportation was released to his home alive and well, Plaut realized that none of the patients even made it to the Poland boarded. He writes:

“Ever since that moment, we realized that the purpose of the concentration camps is the death of the worst kind. We now understand the most important point in Hitler’s and his party’s plan, the solution to the Jewish problem, which is the extermination of all Jews within the Reich’s territory. We now understand. Our reaction can not be despair; it should be to stand tall.”

Only when hidden messages started to arrive from Minsk camp, Plaut learned about the conditions in the camps, about the fact that even if they don’t kill Jews there, surviving in those conditions for a few more years was unreasonable.

Joseph Carlebach

In 1941 the same happened to the heads of the Jewish community, Joseph Carlebach who was well respected by the Gestapo officers, was sent with his family to a concentration camp.

Carlebach sent a letter of encouragement to heads of communities in concentration camps and said that someday they will be released and the sun will rise again. this spread with the Germans as a premonition that the Nazi state will collapse soon. At the Gestapo headquarters in Berlin, they were furious and instructed the Hamburg headquarters to send Carlebach to the worst of the camps, Auschwitz, that at the time was not used to house Jews outside of Poland and Russia, but Jews of special interest were sent there individually from Germany.

Plaut arrived at the Gestapo headquarters and begged for his release. “why did that idiot have to write that letter?” asked the head of the Gestapo in Hamburg. “I can’t do anything about the orders from Berlin,” he said.

Plaut asked that Carlebach will be brought to the headquarters to beg for his life. Eventually, he was able to convince them to send him on the train that was supposed to departure the next day with the town Jews to Riga camp.

He went on the train with his family, and when he arrived at the camp he was murdered in the forest. Only one member of the Carlebach family survived the camp.

The “Hamburg Today” newspaper reported Carlibach’s death as natural causes. It was a rear occasion that a newspaper was interested in a Jew who died.

Beginning of the deportation in Hamburg

After the war, Max insisted that his office had no control or ability to change the deportation manifest. He would get a list of Jews that need to be prepared for deportation – and so he did. He did everything in his power to help those people towards their journey and rarely he could delay sending them for a short while. We can learn from the lists that those who received a decoration from World War I was sent later on, but nothing else. The community office that Plaut was the head of was obligated to give the Gestapo every information that they asked – marriage, profession, the number of children and so on.

What he could have done, he probably did. Every shipment was escorted before boarding the trains by voluntaries from the community that provided warm food and beddings for those who were sent to the unknown. Something to make the journey a little bit better. Rarely, depending on which camp they were deported to, you could communicate with them by mail after they arrived at the camp, for a short while, and ensure their well-being and give them letters from those left behind.

Differently from other cities, shipments were not accompanied by violence by the Gestapo. Plaut’s good relations (and obedience of the community) had a lot to do with that.

Most of the Jews who were sent from Hamburg in 1942 were sent to Theresienstadt camp.  From Theresienstadt eventually, the Jews were sent to Auschwitz.

Every family was allowed to receive one package per month. Plaut arranged huge shipments from Hamburg to the families. Once he even shipped a piano. He filled it with meds and groceries. The mail that arrived from Theresienstadt provided a false picture. No one dared to write about the real situation in the camp, the Gestapo would open the letters.

Plaut’s office was also known as the center for information on the deported ones, information that their relatives demanded. The letters that arrived from the camps, when they arrived, arrived at Plaut’s office, and he was in charge of delivering the information to the recipients.

Max also had to answer to the “Aryan” relatives of the deported people, that just like the Jews, knew nothing about the fate of those.

In one case, Max correspondent with an “Aryan” resident that his Jewish wife was sent to a camp. That man tried to contact the Gestapo and they always gave him the answer that she will soon be released. He asked Plaut what he thought of that and he responded that he hopes they are right. After that Plaut re-writes to that same person, that he received word that his wife is at Birkenau camp. He asked what type of camp is that and if he could send her packages.

Plaut responded that it’s a work camp, and he will help with the packages, and he hopes again that his wife will be released as the Gestapo promised him.

In the last letter, that same person announced he received his wife’s death certificate. He asked for Plaut’s opinion, and if he should notify the Hamburg authorities of course.

In that time Plaut already knew much more, and he also knew what Gestapo promises about the residents of the camps were worth. But what would help besides comforting or raising hope for that person? Maybe if “Aryans” like him knew more about the fate of their loved ones they would have stood up against the regime? after all, even those who opposed were sent to camps. It was hopeless and it was an impossible task and so hard for Plaut.

After he was deported. A Jew’s property would be sold in a public auction. The public could make an offer, but such an offer was officially prioritized lower than Gestapo and Government Office offers. Plaut had an interesting trick. Plaut didn’t know or imagined what will happen after the war, that Germany will take responsibility and compensate anyone whose property was looted, but that was his plan. He tried to make sure that the property of Jews would be sold at ridicules prices and sometimes even without cost (once a piece of furniture was sold for a song) that was in order to have legal basis to sue and claim the property after the war, and the ridicules prices will be proof that the property was sold under duress and not willingly.

The Gestapo in Hamburg managed to seize property worth 58 million from Lion Reichsmark, the money was transferred to a bank account in Berlin.


The end

Eventually, on the first of August 1942, 500 Jews remained in Hamburg, that were not protected due to Intermarriage. Plaut’s mission to fill all the shipments was completed.

A year later, on June 10, 1943, the Gestapo announced on the closer of the Jewish Community Offices. The shipments were over. There were almost no Jews left in Hamburg to take care of. For the benefit of the employees of the institution, they were sent to Theresienstadt, a camp that wasn’t a death camp and that there was a connection with.

Plaut himself wasn’t sent to a camp but was placed under house arrest. He lived there with his mother. In that house, he still had an Aryan housekeeper. He would get groceries beyond what he was allowed to keep from Aryan friends he had. It was a weird time, life went on, but outside everything was collapsing. He helped 22 other Jews that stayed in the city and their houses were ruined from the bombings. During the bombings, they would sit in the same bunker.

On January 24th, 1944 managed Dr. Max Plaut to leave. Paritz Warburg managed to arrange his “release” from Germany in exchange for Germans (the Templars) that were staying in Palestina under the British Regime. Such exchange of citizens saved several Jews with contacts.

He was placed in Bergen-Belsen, where he was transferred to Bavaria and from there to France, where, together with a number of Jews who were fortunate, passed through the Balkans and from there to the Middle East until he reached the boat, along with his mother, to the port of Haifa.

Max could have emigrated during the whole war and before that. His connections and his status allowed it. He decided to stay and help the community, even if it was by working with the Gestapo.

When arrived in Israel, there were few who blamed him with cooperating with the Nazis. But Max knew what will happen if he will resist – It won’t help anyone. The terror regime of the Nazis would use this to arrest, torture and kill more of his family and community, and will find a way to complete the mission he refused to carry.

A lot of the German Jews in Israel knew that he helped, and they thanked him for that. He spent many months in updating and answering to people who asked about the faith of their loved ones.

People in Israel knew very little about what is going on in Europe, and lots of rumors were around. He brought with him his lists, and answer to each person about that last place he knows about his relatives, usually, confirming that the person was deported to a camp, and no news since.

The German Jews community in Haifa even collected money for him to stay there and tell about the fate of the Jews of Hamburg.

Plaut lived in Israel for a few years but returned to Germany in 1950, he has a family and he died in the year 1974.

The Eichman trial testimonies
The book: The Jews and Germans of Hamburg: The Destruction of a Civilization
The profile of Max Plaut: Moshe Ilon
Leo Beck Institute Archive

For my family, not everything is fixed, here in my beautiful Hamburg.

UPDATE, 2019:

In summer 2019 I finally got the citizenship back, with an approval to keep my Israeli one. It was not done fairly by article 116 by the federal government, but by a special right that the state of Hamburg has, to give citizenship.
At the end also Hamburg agreed not on base of the historical reasons but by recommendation from the culture minister Senator Dr. Carsten Brosda, regarding for my educational activities in Hamburg, that are contributing the to research, dialog and telling the story, of these once Hamburg citizens.

I can assume that that gave a legal way to do what they’ve new that is right.

For my family, the battle is not over yet.

I would like to share a personal problem, a part of history that me and my family are waiting to be fixed. It’s about our history in Hamburg, and our status, because of cold bureaucracy.

[Explenation of the bureaucratic situation in German added to the end of this post**]

My father’s parents, Helga and Bernard, fled Hamburg and went to Palestine because of the Nazi government in 1936.
My Grandmother Helga was born in 17.1.1915 in Hamburg. Her father Georg was a wealthy man, also her mother. The family lived in Hamburg for several generations. Not Quiddjes at all.

The story is long and interesting. A book was written on Helga’s brother this year (sommer in Brandenburg by Urs Faes), and we are about to publish a book about her sister.

The story can be found in my blog:

The story of the Baruch family in Hamburg, and we have many documents and evidence about their life in Hamburg. I will be happy to expand.

Today 7 Stolpersteine for members of the family are embedded in the asphalt here in Hamburg.

My grandmother married my grandfather at 1936 to get a certificate to go to Palestine, escaping from the Nazis.
Her father Georg, sister Marion and brother Rolf, were murdered in Auschwitz and Minsk.
My grandmother gave birth to six children (One for each million, she used to say). One of them is my father.

Helga Baruch

Her husband, Bernhard came as a child from Poland to Hamburg and lived here for more than 10 years.

Both – Helga and Bernard came back to Hamburg:

After the establishment of the diplomatic relations between Israel and Germany, they came back to live in Hamburg. As an active community member, Helga she wrote in Stern Magazine and participated in many projects.

In 1967, Helga tried to get back her German citizenship based on Article 116 II GG.

She found out that she was not entitled to get back her citizenship because of law § 17 Nr. 6 of the Reichs- und Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz (RuStAG) of 22.07.1913.

Karl-Heinz Karch from the Green party Hamburg wrote me:

This old law states in § 4, that a child that is born in a marriage,
gets the German citizenship, only if its father is a German citizen.
And § 17 states, that a German woman looses her citizenship, if she marries an alien

This discriminatory law claims that a woman who married a non-German cannot get back her citizenship.

The authorities claim that she does not deserve to get back her citizenship according to Article 116 II GG. as they claim that the Nazi regime in Germany was not the reason for revoking her citizenship.

Finally, the authorities agreed to give her citizenship on a special term that she was not able to pass this citizenship to her offspring. (12 of Erstes Gesetz zur Regelung von Fragen der Staatsangehörigkeit (1. StARegG) from 22.02.1955).

My father’s request for a German passport, as given to all sons of German citizens after taken from them by the Nazis, was declined by the German embassy.
This is, as I understand, because of a racist and women discriminating law, that was abolished after the Nazi-Era, declaring that if the mother married a non-German, her children are not eligible for German citizenship.

My grandfather lived in Germany for years and ran away, like my grandmother, from the Nazis.
When the war was over and the Nazis were gone – they both got back their German citizenship.

We applied for German citizenship as allowed by law to families that lost theirs because of the Nazi-Era.
at the German embassy in Tel Aviv the request was approved, and then suddenly after few weeks, they send us a detailed answer about canceling the given approval, documents are attached. (The request was for one of my grandmother’s sons, and they are replying to him).

As I see it, this answer does not go hand in hand with the need to fix the wrongdoings of the past. German citizenship was taken from the descendants of a family with very long roots in this city.
It was taken from us because of an antisemitic Nazi-law.

From what I see in their answer, three points are problematic:

“since your mother got married to a Polish man in 1936, she automatically lost her German citizenship.“
So her citizenship was taken from her, during the Nazi-Era. The fact that a German citizen is losing her citizenship because she is marrying a non-German is a discriminating law that was already canceled, but for some reason, the law allows to discriminate you by the old law, if you were born or married a non-German in the wrong year.

She lost her citizenship because of a Nazi, “Arian blood” law.
She married before going to Palestina, and that was the only way to go to Palestina (As a couple) – Partially, they were married because of the Nazi anti-Jewish laws. They had to. To flee the genocide.
My grandfather lived in Germany for 13 years (before the war). Enough time to get a citizenship. He never got one (this is what they say) and it pretty much makes sense, as a Jew, he would never get one from the Nazis.

But last, is the overall point:

My family lived in Hamburg for hundreds of years. They were respectable people. One escaped, and everything he had including his nationality was taken from him. All the others were killed in the camps.

How, an erasing of a family, cannot entitle their direct descendants to get back what was taken from them – their right to be a citizen in their original Heimat.

I currently live in Hamburg. Working and in love with this city, their city, my city. But there is something missing, and I believe that its need to be corrected. I believe that this is a fight worth taking, to convince the Hamburg Senate to change their decision and give back what was taken from the family.

The Israeli lawyer that is handling German citizenships didn’t want to take this case because he “Needs my good relations with the German authorities”.
So, I am looking for a person who is not afraid, who see’s the justice in this case, and is willing to give it a good fight.

I will be thankful for any help and will be happy to add any more information.

Until then, me and my dog, in Hamburg, waiting.

Thanks for reading.

Lior Oren.


The opposition is trying fight this partially:

Opposition verlangt Neuregelung
Den Nachkommen vom im NS verfolgten Frauen, die im Exil einen Ausländer geheiratet haben, wird die deutsche Staatsbürgerschaft verweigert.!5561481/

Thanks Volker Beck, and good luck to us!

* After posting, I learned from Karl-Heinz Karch that the law is actually older than the Nazi era, and it is even more problematic:

“The problem you and your father are very probably dealing with,
concerning getting German citizenship, is not a racist Nazi-law, but
twenty years older, the “Reichs- und Staatsangehörigkeitsgesetz” of
the German Empire, of July 22, 1913, which is in clear contradiction
of the legal equality of women and men.

This old law states in § 4, that a child that is born in a marriage,
gets the German citizenship, only if its father is a German citizen.
And § 17 states, that a German woman looses her citizenship, if she
marries an alien” 

** Some context for those proficient in German by Matthias Grimm:

“Butterfields Antrag auf Einbürgerung wurde abgelehnt. Der Grund: Ihre Großmutter hatte im falschen Jahr geheiratet und im falschen Jahr eine Tochter, Caseys Mutter, bekommen: 1947. Auch das steht im Grundgesetz: Frauen, die bis 1953 einen Nichtdeutschen heirateten und mit ihm Kinder bekamen, können ihre deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit nicht vererben.

Artikel 117, der auch auf von den Nationalsozialisten ausgebürgerte Jüdinnen angewandt wird, schreibt ein antiquiertes Recht fort: Väter durften ihre deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit an ehelich geborene binationale Kinder vererben. Deutsche Mütter durften das nicht. Das geht auf das Reichsstaatsangehörigkeitsgesetz von 1913 zurück, das Frauen als bloße Anhängsel ihrer Männer sah.

Mit anderen Worten: Wäre Caseys Großvater deutscher Jude gewesen, könnten die Kinder und Enkel Deutsche werden. Da ihre Großmutter deutsche Jüdin ist und im falschen Jahr heiratete, wird der Enkelin, die sich als Deutsche fühlt, der deutsche Pass verwehrt.”

Photos copyrights:

HAMBURG / 30.04.2015

Der junge Israeli Lior Oren an seinem Lieblingsplatz im “Park Fiction” oberhalb der Landungsbrücken – 30.04.2015 – Hamburg . Er arbeitet in Hamburg und kam mit seinem Hund “Schwitzi” aus Tel Aviv nach Hamburg . Teile seiner Familie wurden in Hamburg deportiert .

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Dresden: World War 2 Tour and Jewish History

I was about to go to Dresden for a small vacation, and did as I always do before I go to any European city – Research for my “hobby” – world war two history of the city.
It’s a hobby I carry for a long time, no cure known to science.
I was very much surprised to find out that Dresden has a black hole in its memory, and it’s like the whole story of WW2 is only the bombing of the city and nothing before.
I tried to look for WW2 tours and Holocaust tour – Nothing.
I promised myself, that I will write a small guide with as much information as possible for whom will look for the same information that I couldn’t find on the Internet before visiting.


1. Kurt Vonnegut (Slaughterhouse 5) tour.
If you don’t know the book, it is a short and easy read. It’s based on true events that occurred while the author of this book served as an American soldier in WW2, imprisoned and jailed in Dresden during the allied bombing of Dresden.
The guide, Danilo, is a very smart and informative person with lots of knowledge about Dresden during the war. Try to take from him as many details that you can on this subject, the tour is following the book, but Danilo holds much more information.


2. The Jews of Dresden during the war – Free map and audio tour.
On the place where once stood the old synagogue now standing two landmarks – one is an active synagogue and one is the communities management house (On the right side), there, you can get a free map called: “Audioscript: on the persecution and annihilation of the Jews in Dresden 1933 – 1945”.
With this map, you can go to their website ( and stream a guided tour (If you don’t have sufficient cellular internet, you can also download the mp3 files before from any wifi (home, hotel) network.


3. The deportation point of the Jews of Dresden.
On the Neu Bahnhof, there is a sign saying that from there went trough the deportation trains of the Jews of Dresden. This information is false.
The real point is 200 meters from there, behind a wall, in what looks to be a private parking area, half on the street.
This area behind the station is not nice, so come there during the daytime.

Deportation Place Of Jews Of Dresden

Deportation Place Of Jews Of Dresden

You can see the old rail where the wagons stopped. The wooden end of the rail is still the original one.
The building on the side is a mystery to me. I think that its a synagogue because of the Star of David and thecrown like metals above it.  I couldn’t find any information about it (I added this entry to Google maps), but it looks like they were deported in front of the synagogue?
Information  given by Lydia Wellmann (thanks!)

Hey Lior, the building on the side that was a mystery to you is the old main entrance of station Leipziger Bahnhof in Dresden (station from 1857) ( The maagen david was made by someone out of some piece of string or something…maybe to remember the deportations? I don’t know. It’s nice though that you made it a synagogue ? there should be more of them over here in saxony.

The building is now abandoned, and homeless and drunk people live there.
I hope to get more information about WW2 in Dresden and really hope that this city will stop hiding and denying these times in its history, invest in rebuilding the more modern history part than just the ancient ones.
I will be happy to get any more information on this subject if you have – please write me!

Getting a German Driver’s License for English speaking Residents

This is what I know so far from my current experience as I am going trough this process right now, I wish I had all this information when I looked for it before, hope it will help others in the same situation.

  • You need a first aid course and an eye test. I wont expend on these because there is enough information on this subject.
  • Theory (about 250 Euros inc registration).
    • You have to have 14 lessons. All in the Fahrschule. Each 90 minutes, with a break (in my case).
    • 2 lessons are a must, but all the others – you can do some twice and it will count: Since the schools will give every day / few days one / two classes, they teach from 1 to 14. Because most of the people cannot come to every class, they might waste time on waiting for the lesson they missed to be given again. So you can skip lesson 3 and do lesson 1 twice – It will count. You cannot do that with lessons 13 and 14.
    • You can do the test in English.
    • The lessons are in German. I heard only once on a school that gives English Theory lessons (in Munich), but for us in Hamburg – you have none. Some schools offer help with questions after the lesson. 
    • Most of the apps are in Germans, and the English apps got only the questions in English (1000). There is no learning material in English in these app. Also explanations for the English questions – are the German explanations. 
    • The only learning-book in English costs 90 Euros (!).
    • The English of the questions in the test is horrible, it takes few times to read and understand them, be prepared for the weirdest English.
    • If you fail the test, you can take another one two weeks after. 

​So 14 lessons, 2 of them a must, the others can be repeated, lessons are in German, test is in awful English, The only English book is expensive and NO app gives you English learning material, just English questions.  

  • Practical (about 38 Euros per lesson). 
    • Few must lessons like: night driving, autobahn…​
    • You can learn in English.
    • The test is in German, but once the tester know that you are an English speaker – He will use only certain words that the teacher will train you with them. (simple, nothing to worry about).

You get a one year time between the theory test and the time that you can take the practical test.

Good luck!


* This information is based on personal experience and is not professional advisory. Please check with the Fahrschule for changes of the above information.

Why I will never fly with Turkish Airlines again

I used to fly with the star alliance company Turkish airlines a lot. People told me that cheap tickets will be expensive later, I still don’t agree. I fly low and normal cost companies, and sometimes, as it may happen, problems occur – The question is how good is the service and response of the company to these events.

The story is long, you can skip to the end but I promise an escalating chain of events where Turkish Airlines failed to give a service, response and continued to ignore and hope that everything will go away. Well – you won, Turkish Airlines, this is my final act, for what happened to me in Ataturk airport.
But at least this story will stay on the Internet forever, so that everybody will be able to google your name and read that deciding to fly Turkish Airlines, is wrong.

My main suggestion is – never fly with a company that is not a member of a modern country / commercial zone. The Europian laws are protecting you, also the American, and more countries like Israel, Australia etc… But no one has control over Turkey, and Turkish Airlines know that, and they are using it to avoid giving you the expected service.

PART 1 – The flight.

I went on the flight back to my home in Hamburg, from Tel-Aviv to Istanbul (TK0811), and had a connection of two hours, waiting for my flight to Hamburg (TK1665).
The boarding to flight 1665 was suppose to start at 11:05. I came to gate 222 on time, sat and read a book.
As people continue boarding, I waited for my group – D – to be called. At the gate, there were lots of people waiting.

At 11:40, I noticed that a woman is yelling, I asked an officer what is going on. He said that she missed the flight.
I asked how come – and he said that the gate was closed quick.

Then it hit me – I also missed the flight. No one called group D (this woman was also in this group) and no one called my name.
Why should someone call me? They shouldn’t, but, I always hear that they call people’s name at airports. I was at the gate, and the minimum that they should do when closing gate before time is to try to make sure that all the people are on the flight. They do that even when people are late.

I asked the officer what can I do, and he directed me to the Turkish Airlines office at another gate – here is when everything in Turkish Airline’s service went wrong:

PART 2 – The Turkish Airlines Airport tour:

I ran, got to the service point and explained to them the situation. They said that they can’t help me and I need to go to the transfer office. He said that there is a new flight at 14 (it was 12) and I should hurry. I begged for him to issue a new ticket at his desk, I didn’t care to pay a fee – He did not agree to help

I ran to the first floor, before transfer flights security point, to the transfer office.
I explained to the situation, They said that they can’t help me and I need to go to the ticketing service. outside (!) after passport control.
The guy at the transfer service told me that I will need to pay a “penalty fee”.

I ran to passport control, to the other side of the terminal, incoming flights, almost outside.
I needed to wait to my turn although I explained to the women in the booth that it is urgent. She didn’t want to help.
When my turn finally came, she said that I need to pay 1000 (!!!) Euros (From Istanbul to Hamburg – while the ticket from Hamburg to Tel-Aviv and back costed 460) for a new ticket.
I told her that it’s impossible, and I just need a change, and the transfer office told me just to pay a penalty and not for a new ticket. She didn’t care. She told me to go to check in area and talk to the supervisor.

Again I needed to run, knowing that the next flight is leaving soon.
At checking B-15, the supervisor of Turkish Airlines in the Ataturk airport told me that he is not allowed to issue new tickets. He told me to pay her and “maybe” I will get a refund from Turkish Airlines “Or stay in Turkey”.

I had no other choice. I needed to get on this flight (And they knew it and took advantage of it).
I went to one of the private flight ticket offices and asked how much is a ticket to Hamburg.
For the same flight, he gave me a ticket in 450 Euros. For the flight that Turkish Airlines, which I needed help after a gate failure, wanted me to pay 1000 Euros.

I bought the ticket. went through checking again, passport control, security…

They didn’t have the special meal I ordered for the original flight, so I also didn’t eat the whole flight after everything that happened.
when arrived in Hamburg, they lost my luggage. Took another day to get it back.

PART 3 – The customer service:

So I sent a letter to Turkish Airlines, with the above chain of events.
I got a letter that the flight from Tel Aviv came on time. Completely ignoring my complaint, that was not about it at all.

Since then, I am calling each week, asking on twitter, updating the tickets, each time promised that I will get an answer, but nothing, no one is calling / emailing back.

So after two months I decided to write to the CEO&President of Turkish airlines Mr. Temel Kotil.
The answer I got was again from the service center, but this time at least I got an answer:

“We received your message which was addressed to our CEO&President Mr. Temel Kotil, Ph. D.
According to our investigation referring to your message, it was determined that you had applied late to the check-in counter for the related flight and the check-in staff tried to assist you and had printed your boarding card. However, as you did not apply to the boarding gate for the related flight, the late application procedures have been implemented and your ticket was changed according to the ticket’s rules.”

Now, it’s not even a “my version vs theirs” – They don’t even know what flight I am talking about:

1. “you had applied late to the check-in counter for the related flight” LIE – The check in was in Tel Aviv, the problem was with the connection in Turkey – This is a generic message that they send to anyone, but its not fit with connections. Even if I came late to the flight in Tel Aviv (I didn’t) it has nothing to do with the connection to Hamburg since I landed on time with the ticket – in Turkey.

2. “the check-in staff tried to assist you and had printed your boarding card.” – in Tel Aviv, it has nothing to do with that.

3. “you did not apply to the boarding gate for the related flight” – ignoring that the gate closed before time.

4. “the late application procedures have been implemented” – this peocedure is about trying to locate the passenger – They didnt implement any.

5. “your ticket was changed according to the ticket’s rules.” I think that this is a joke, If you read my letter, you can understand clearly, that the whole problem is, that NO ONE CHANGED OR HELPED ME TO CHANGE MY TICKET. I needed to buy a new one from an external agent at the airport.
So, I wrote them back that they ignored my complaines. They wrote me back something the same as the first letter.

I tried to talk with so official organistions, in Europe and in Israel – None can help because it happened in Turkey.
So my advise to you, even if it a well known star aliance company, avoide flying companies that dont have to apply to commercial flights costumers rules. It doesnt worth it.

The github code review problem / Product before code

The remote / GitHub code review problem:

A part of any developer’s workflow is the code review, the main tool these days to do that in a team is the great feature of the code review with GitHub. (Usually, with the pull request).
The feature is amazing. Code comparison view, line by line comments, tagging, mentioning – it’s like fucking developer’s social media. It’s great, but we have lost an important part in this new workflow tool – we lost the product.

We have three well-known methods to review a code:

  1. Not to review a code.


2.   The pair programming:
Our code is great, and we know how it can be even better, when having a second eye on it in a pair programming session. It is really the best way. Some love it, some hate it (I personally, know that it will achieve the best results, but most of the time still prefer to fire keyboard signals with my headphones, in my “zone”).
It is also known that it’s something that not all companies or developers will accept. Most of them won’t. It’s costing more money on dev-time and does not save the same 50% of fewer bugs.
It is also not comfortable. You need to sync time. Sometimes somebody is sick. Sometimes you’re better alone. It’s perfectly fine. I am sure that most of the beautiful pieces of code in the world were written first by a lonely developer. (I hope that he/she was sitting in an airplane, avoiding screaming children, noises with earphones full with Volbeat music, which is exactly what I am doing now).

3.  The code review:
The middle way, between the pair programming and the no review, is the good old code review.
In this way, you don’t waste money on double dev-time. You get your “zone”, but you still get a second eye on your code.
You both look at the branch / PR, but also look at the feature, as it is already open in the developer’s browser. You try it, and play with it to understand what the code should do. You have immediate communication with the developer so you can ask/react to the feature and get a reaction back immediately.
Reviewing a code without seeing the feature/bugfix at work, is just testing a car only by its blueprint. No practical test before passing it to QA or even – pushing toward an acceptance test.

Now we got lazy. We check the pull request, we don’t sit together and explain. It is rare for people to actually pull the branch to their computer. They don’t need to anymore, so they won’t try the feature. This is how we lose the best power of the review – deploying a great, working feature. A beautiful code is great, but worth nothing without a working product.
I see this change and how it hurt us. Open source projects and private projects, getting more and more bugs that would never happen with a real feature review. It costs money, and it’s a downgrade to a dev-process that advanced so well in the last years. We have such great tools – don’t let them lead the human brain. They are just tools.

I say – review, with your locale tool. Try the feature, or a feature that uses this piece of code.
We should not become just coders, masters of beautiful abstractions and a code that looks like a poem. We should also never forget the reason we write it – the product is paying our salary – the final result of our masterpiece.

3 lessons learned from the establishing of an in-house growth hacking team

3 lessons learned from the establishing of an in-house growth hacking team

In this article I’m going to talk about the “hacking” part, too many posts are there for the growth:

After doing some research on this new buzzword – “Growth Hacking”, we agreed this was something we needed. The problem was, that most of the articles and experienced guidebooks about building this kind of a team were directed at content centered companies, blogs, shops etc. We needed a growth team for a well-established product, big and full of features – We needed something between an onboarding team and a marketing team.

Looking back, once we established the team, gained some losses and earned some wins, I can summarize my conclusions of the process into 3 main lessons that focus on the ideas and developing part of the growth hacking team:

“Hacking” is not about code. It isn’t code you are hacking. I repeat – hacking, is not code hacking.

We know that a crucial part of this type of a team is the existence of a well-experienced developer who knows the code – but this doesn’t mean he hacks code.

What he does, is hack the product.

You find a hack to the user journey. You “hack” through the everyday thought process of your product team who define “what is our product”. You hack thought processes, you take an idea and put a “what if” after it.

Your code, as a proud developer, as an expert, senior, veteran or a superhero developer – should always be perfect.

The implementation process can have shortcuts, they’re even necessary. You don’t need instructions, controllers and angular philosophy kind of code for each new testing feature, but your code should be perfect.

No need for “doSomthing()” named functions please, but this is necessary for EVERY feature that you haven’t tried yet. Every new feature is a test. And building huge perfect architecture for something you don’t even know how will behave, is a waste of time and money.

A growth hacking company is a company that thinks of a feature -> hacks it -> tests it -> builds it -> and improves its features. But that’s an entire different subject for a different post.

Growth isn’t marketing, its product.

This is extremely important. Especially when you “sell” the idea and need of this team to management:

A good amount of money is spent on this team, and it’s expected to bring quick results. Easy money. And where is the best place to look for this money? At the cashier’s table.

Our natural go-to strategy is the checkout pages, homepage and the packages pages, all and all – they’re just versions of landing pages and should be tested by marketing teams. If your marketing teams are busy with acquiring traffic for landing pages via facebook, twitter and Linkedin campaigns but don’t test internal pages on your website as a testing ground, your hacking team can do some tests there to inspire them – but this is not where you can help.

You also don’t need developers to create blog posts.

Your hackers are product people, not marketing:

  • They should be looking for ways to make the user convert, after using the product, but first – make the user use the product.
  • Make the user understand that he might get more if he pays, but while using it.
  • Create the WOW moment a paying moment also.
  • Look at the graphs of user behaviors while using the product and assume things they can try.
  • Go back to the graph. Make it grow, use unconventional ideas to do that.
  • The team should fail. fail and fail again.

When we just bootstrapped the team, one of our first tests, was a simple, stupid “share your results on facebook / twitter”. It is not a new, or brilliant idea.  But we needed to test it ourselves. It was fast and easy.

The success we got from this “in product” non-designed test, was better than any result we got from similar tests we ran on checkout pages than our growth hacking team did. The added value of more traffic, branding awareness, and user satisfaction is just a side dish to the sales.

We didn’t use the traffic we already had and try to convert it – we brought more, gave them good onboarding, invited their friends.

Growth hacking is not online marketing – Test the product.

Create a test, not products. A growth hacker shall not maintain a feature

Here is the tricky part for a developer:

A developer in a growth hacking team is a product enthusiast guy or a girl. Seriously, it’s the developer who will give up some dev happiness (e.g. – building some nonstandard stuff), for the sake of a great product.

But as long as a growth hacking team doesn’t have a clone team that will continue maintaining their work, it cannot assume that its features will be maintained. They should be built in the easiest way to plug out of the system once the test is over. After that, maintaining a good test that should become a feature is a company decision.

It is tragic to see something you worked on go down. Especially when it shows good results, but that’s something you need to accept, and wave goodbye to it, giving it to somebody else and just hoping he / she will treat your feature with respect and love as you did.

There are some exceptions to the above. If a test performs really well, if it’s a really simple and non-maintainable code (does that exist?) or if it is your domain (no one should have only one job in a company, narrow responsibilities are narrow-minded) – all the above can be maintained features after testing.

All in all, it is important to know that even the goals and the ways of the growth hacking team is, in fact, a hack. A good one, an out of the box thinking to do things differently than the company has been doing until now. And that’s all it is – an out of the box team, and so should be each one of its members.

And remember: First rule of growth hacking – always talk about growth hacking.

CSS nesting html elements limitation – ~~useless info

It appears that different browsers are limiting the number of nesting elements in an HTML page that a single CSS rule can use.
It looks like each browser has its very own different limitation.

While testing performance I tried to nest big amount of divs, 1000 of them. I gave each a following number (yeah, produced with javascript i++ and copied the result from the devtool), and tried to apply a single rule to it.

div .div998 { color: blue;}

It didn’t work. I tried to debug the HTML, thinking that I might have some problems with not closing elements or a wrong class, then began to change the class in the CSS rule to a higher container.I reached to the point from which the CSS won’t apply, the browser limitation.

Look at the following jsfiddler (looks like this is too heavy for embedding, so I removed the embedded code, please use the url).
Please leave a clean playground:

You can play with the class number to find your browser’s limitation.

With chrome (chrome OS version 41.0.2272.41) the limit is 509. With my Firefox 30 the limit is 198. If you change the rule to 510 or higher, you will see that the rule won’t apply. change it back to a lower class, and it will apply.

I am afraid to check IE’s limitation.

You can play with that on different browsers, there is no standard defined that I could find in the specs, and each browser has its very different limitation.

As its a bad use to have so many nested elements, it is still good to know, since lots of markup today is generated aoutomagically, by js or magic backend and sometimes we won’t notice that its so big, and try to understand, frustrating, why our style rules won’t work.