Birth Announcement

Newspaper clipping
Newspaper clipping

This newspaper clipping from March of 1933 reads, “Siegfried Heilbrunn / Der 2. Junge ist da!” ["The 2nd boy is here!"]. Siegfried, my great-grandfather, was announcing the birth of my grandfather, my Opa, and decided to use the opportunity to ridicule the Nazis by putting in bold print “Sieg Heil,” the Nazi salute, which happened to be contained in his name. My Opa, Karl Heilbrunn, was born in Eisenach, Germany on March 7, 1933, just six weeks after Hitler was elected chancellor, and, as was to be expected, a Jewish man mocking the Nazis in such a public way caused an uproar: several national publications picked up the story of the birth announcement, including the antisemitic newspaper Der Stürmer, which called it “Jewish audacity in the hinterland.” The birth announcement set off the series of events that ultimately led to my family immigrating to the United States in 1937. In this way, it contains the stories of everything that followed its publication. I think that for myself and many of my relatives, my family’s experience of fleeing Nazi Germany feels astoundingly close and far away at the very same time. The birth announcement provides us with a material object that helps us process and grapple with the overwhelming magnitude of the circumstances of our family’s immigration and the horrors of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust. The birth announcement contains the narrative that connects us to our family history, to our Jewish identity, and to each other. It also reminds us that taking action to stand up against injustices remains a vital responsibility of ours.

Place(s): Eisenach, Germany
Year: 1937

– Bryley Williams

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant