In May 2022, 3CLJC member Eva Mendelsson was in Germany to receive an award, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany with ribbon bar. The 90-year-old Offenburg native was being honoured for her 30 years of commitment to reconciliation.
Eva spent only the first nine years of her life in her hometown. In October 1940 she was deported to an internment camp in southwest France with her mother and sister Myriam where she fell prey to the Shoah which she was ultimately lucky to survive. However, her mother Sylvia and eldest sister Esther did not.
A generous work of reconciliation
In 1987 the cultural office in Offenburg initiated contact with Jewish residents of Offenburg who had fled the Nazis. This started Eva’s momentous work of reconciliation. She regularly visited schools in Offenburg and the Ortenau region and taught two generations of pupils about the state terror of the Nazi regime with her contemporary witness accounts. In the meantime she had already reached out to the children of the first pupils, to whom she conveyed her message that something so monstrous must never be repeated.
Eva Mendelsson describes the award as an honour, as something beautiful, and at the same time refers to the irony of the fact that the German heraldic symbol, the eagle, has moved into her comfortable home.