Mannheim Remembered


A Tribute to Robert Kahn and All
Holocaust Survivors from Mannheim

Commissioned by The Holocaust Education Committee
of Sinclair Community College


Mannheim Remembered is a song poem inspired by my friendship with Robert Kahn and my experience assisting him with his book Reflections of Jewish Survivors from Mannheim. Since I was a teenager, Bob has impressed and motivated me with his positive attitude toward life after the Holocaust. His tireless energy and commitment to issues of the Jewish people helped inspire this composition, begun initially in 1993. Over the course of four years I recorded many variations, the final of which was  commissioned by the Holocaust Education Committee.


Meet Robert Kahn…

One day, about ten years ago in Dayton, Ohio, Robert Kahn sat down to have breakfast while CBS This Morning aired on TV. When he looked up and saw who they were interviewing, he couldn’t believe it. There on his TV screen was his closest childhood friend from Mannheim, Germany whom he hadn’t seen since the Holocaust 50 years earlier and had presumed dead. Overjoyed, he contacted the network. His best friend had also feared Bob had not survived and was likewise elated. CBS then arranged an all-expense paid reunion for the two friends and their wives in New York City and filmed the meeting for TV, which later aired on CBS This Morning. The two boyhood friends were united at last and shared many bittersweet memories about life before and after the Holocaust, their children, grandchildren and many other blessings.

This chance meeting inspired Bob to wonder if any other friends from Mannheim had survived the concentration camps during the war. He then took on the ambitious task of forming the Mannheim Holocaust Reunion Committee, a group dedicated to locating and reuniting former Jewish inhabitants of Mannheim, Germany. Letters were sent all over the world throughout the Jewish Diaspora and an astounding number of responses came back! Throughout North America, Israel, Europe, Australia, Brazil and many other places, former Mannheimers were alive and well and their voices could still be heard. A very poignant reunion was held in Dayton, Ohio with over 100 participants.

Bob has always been a shining star where Jewish affairs are concerned and has dedicated much of his life to Holocaust Education. He is particularly effective at explaining the Holocaust to diverse audiences including school children and non-Jews alike. His kindness, gentle sense of humor, and ability to stress the positive message of survival and tolerance, rather than the misery of genocide and hate, make him one of the most inspiring individuals I have ever known. Bob also took on another ambitious task recently and was instrumental in the formation of a Holocaust Wing at the National Air Force Museum located at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio



There are several movements to this piece representing passages of time with different emotions. These are some of the mental images that guided me in my composition.

Mannheim Remembered
Looking Back on the Bittersweet Past
Everyday Life in Mannheim Before the War
Things Taken for Granted
Early Tender Childhood Memories Ended Abruptly
Running to Find Refuge From the Nazis
Disillusionment and Mud
Judaism Trampled: The Synagogue and Town in Ruins
Sadness and Whispers of Mannheim
The Good Days of Mannheim Over Forever
Turmoil, Anger and Desperation
Instability, Horror and Death
The Future of Judaism?
To Safety: The Miracle and Gift of Survival
The Nightmare is Over
Rebirth: A New Life in America
Comfort, Love and Family
Grandchildren and Simchas
Success and Peace
Judaism Endures
Life Goes On: Living in Modern Times
Shaping a Brighter Future


–Listen to Mannheim Remembered in MP3 format.

–View the video of Laura’s performance of
Mannheim Remembered. [28.8] [ISDN]


I hope others will be able to identify somehow with this piece and will join me in honoring Bob Kahn and other survivors of Mannheim, Germany to thank them for the legacy of strength and survival they have courageously shared with us and future generations of the Jewish people.

Laura Kessler
April 1997, Dayton, Ohio