The concept for this exhibit came to me a year ago. It felt like God just sort of dropped it into my consciousness. I carried it with me for about a year – although I was only able to work on it sporadically until about three months before the exhibit date.
The concept came to fruition at the exhibit opening on Saturday, October 16. The title of the exhibit was Wurzeln, which is German for “roots.” And roots were the symbol I wanted to use to express how my father-in-law Lee Liebmann was uprooted as a fourteen-year-old boy in Germany.
To express this idea, I wanted real roots from the town where Lee grew up. A family friend was willing to dig up some roots from Lee’s hometown of Limburg – as well as the village of Ellar where previous generations of Liebmanns had lived for centuries before. Since roots are considered agricultural goods, our friend was not able to mail them to me. So my friend gave them to another friend, who I met when I went to Germany myself in September. I took the roots across the border to Switzerland when I drove there to visit my Mom – and then packed them into my suitcase and brought them with me to the US. The path the roots took actually re-traced the path many Jews took to freedom during WWII.
In the exhibit, the roots are simply laying on a glass table. They symbolize the lost past of the Jewish communities in Limburg and Ellar. A single red thread represents the divinely preserved connection from the roots to the family Lee started in the United States.
About the exhibit
This exhibit is a celebration of the life of Lee Liebmann, a Jewish American who was born in Limburg, Germany and was forced to flee for his life when he was only 14 years old. By celebrating this life, this exhibit also honors the larger story of Europe’s Jews—who, in addition to perishing by the millions in Nazi concentration camps, were also compelled by the destruction of their historic communities to make entirely new lives for themselves in new lands.