Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Das Haus: in East Berlin: Can two families -- one Jewish, one not -- find peace in a clash that started in Nazi Germany? Paperback – September 15, 2013
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently Bought Together
Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought
Hendersonville Times-News: We've often heard that true stories -- the drama in our real lives -- surpasses fiction. "Das Haus" (in East Berlin) is the real story that surpasses any fiction for drama and for heart-warming resolution. The book is written by J. Arthur Heise...and Melanie Kuhr...This non-fiction work traces the history of Das Haus, a home that housed Mr. Heise and his family for a period of time and also housed Ms Kuhr's great-grandparents, grandmother and mother. Each chapter of the book is written by one of the authors and weaves into the story of the house, their families and the history of World War II... [T]he event that caught [Heise] by surprise was the day the Berlin Wall tumbled... With the opportunity to reclaim Das Haus, Heise started a challenging journey. During the same period, Kuhr's grandmother started her own journey to reclaim the house... Suddenly two families are claiming the same property. The story unfolds as Heise, who believed success to reclaim the house rested in building and alliance with the heir of the former Jewish owners, arranged to meet Kuhr [who pursued the claim after her grandmother's death]. The interwoven chapters tell from both points of view the suspicion and challenges of trying to build a partnership between two people whose family histories through the war years were so treacherous. Heise said, "It was the most chilling moment in the quest...when I realized that the couple from whom my father had bought the house perished in a concentration camp within two years of the sale." In the end, together they gain the house. But they gain so much more in their understanding of their families and their own friendship. Throughout the story, each author allows us into the privacy of the families. They share personal tragedies and, in the end, help us all understand the strength and courage of all those who survive war.
Texas Jewish Post: “Das Haus in East Berlin” is the true story that answers the question of whether a Jewish family and a Gentile family can find peace after a clash that began in Nazi Germany. Helene and Theodor Simonsohn [Melanie Kuhr’s] great-grandparents built Das Haus in Karlshorst, a Berlin suburb. After Kristallnacht , in November 1938, it was clear that the family had to leave … to survive. Ruth went to England as a housekeeper and Susanne, Kuhr’s mother, was on one of the last Kindertransports out of Germany… [T]he Simonsohns sold their house to the Heise family. “I had heard my family’s stories while I was growing up. I knew it was dark and sad and frightening, but I didn’t know the depth,” said Kuhr, a second-generation survivor. Susanne and grandmother Ruth ultimately escaped the horror of the Holocaust. A phone call from J Arthur Heise in 1998 changed Kuhr’s world… “We started as antagonists of sorts,” said Kuhr, speaking about the earliest days of coming together with Heise… “But we built a relationship, ultimately selling the home together, and finding a way – through this book – to profile our shared history. Ours is a story of exploration, of forgiveness and of understanding…” Heise, who lived in the Simonsohns’ former home as a young child, was inspired after the fall of the Berlin Wall to reclaim his family’s home. In doing this he met Kuhr… Many who have read “Das Haus” have approached Kuhr with an appreciation for her value of forgiveness. “The writing of the book has been a journey in itself. For Art, he learned much more about his father’s Nazi connections and that is not at all an easy thing. I have come closer to my Judaism by all that I have learned, and that has been positive,” said Kuhr… “I feel at peace with my truth, and that only the people who know what happened have all passed away. It was up to Art and I to put the past behind us and make peace with it; and we wanted to finish our families’ work,” said Kuhr
In East Berlin chronicles the long and arduous journey of two individuals forever connected to the Holocaust. In a joint writing effort, J. Arthur Heise and Melanie Kuhr recall their memories of growing up in German-American families, and the events that led to a legal battle for control of a deteriorating, East German home. While the immigrant Heise became a successful reporter and founding dean of Florida International’s school of journalism, the dark memories of his childhood home cast a spell over his conscious, especially when rumors of his father’s past threatened the family legacy. On the other hand, American-born Melanie Kuhr knew little about her family’s German past but ultimately rediscovered her Jewish heritage while learning about her relatives who may or may not have sold their home to the father of J. Arthur Heise.
The legalities of this harrowing story may initially appear cumbersome to some readers, however the text is presented in a highly accessible vignette style. Each writer establishes the historical context for their eventual meeting, and the heart-breaking details remind of a time when daily survival trumped future plans. The investigation by Heise into both his father and brother’s past will challenge any reader’s tear ducts, while Kuhr’s descriptions of her misgivings set the tone for a heart-warming conclusion. The occasional use of bold text and italics seems unnecessary, but it’s only a minor critique for two strong-willed individuals who overcame differences to find a mutual truth. Das Haus not only provides a valuable history lesson for old and young readers alike, but also reinforces the fact that mutual respect always makes life easier. Despite their initial clash, Heise and Kuhr collaborated once again for a poignant story of familial bonds.
Top Customer Reviews
For Heise, this journey will be painful as he does not know where it leads. Among other things, he needs to prove that his father did not obtain the house from its Jewish owners illegally. He must enlist the cooperation of Melanie Kuhr, great-granddaughter of Theodore and Helene Simonsohn. The eventual willingness of Melanie to coauthor the book is short of miraculous. In the final analysis, the Haus itself becomes the symbol of what perhaps J. Arthur Heise may not have realized when he began this journey: that it is the human spirit that prevails. As the journey continues, the reader witnesses the process of how a Gentile and a Jew overcome fear and mistrust, to cooperate in reclaiming the house and sharing in the profits if they succeed. As they proceed, will Arthur Heise learn whether his father had culpability? Will Melanie be able to find closure and a realization that her great-grandparents triumphed in the end?
DAS HAUS is a riveting story, but one that gives hope in this age during which religious, ethnic, and political divisions are again tearing the world apart. The authors of DAS HAUS illustrate how fear can be converted into courage, mistrust to trust, and defeat into triumph. Kudos to Heise and Kuhr.
Arthur's skill in outlining the difficult process in solving ownership with Melanie, is fascinating to understand.
An insightful outline of conditions facing the German and Jewish population in Hitler's Reich.
Das Haus:: Can two families -- one Jewish, one Gentile -- find peace in a clash that started in Nazi Germany brings to print the journey Melanie Kuhr and J, Arthur Heise traveled as they first argured over the house, reconciled and finally became fast friends. It follows Ms. Kuhr as she discovers things about her Jewish family and turned to her Jewish roots to rekindle her desire to live a Jewish life. For Dr. Heise it closed a painful chapter in his life that began when Soviet soldiers banged on the front door of Das Haus and gave the six-year-old and his family less than 24 hours to get out of the house. Hitler's persecution of the Jews in the Holocaust plays a key role in Das Haus. In fact the book is written in memory of Ms. Kuhr's Great-Grandparents, Theodor and Helene Simonsohn, Holocaust victims.
I have known this story for many years. I was among a group of friends who encouraged Dr. Heise to tell this saga to a wider audience The intrigue, pathos, fear and joy demanded it be told. Dr. Heise was in Costa Rica when the Berlin Wall fell and he realized he might have a chance to recover the family home in what was then East Berlin. He had no idea where that quest would lead him over the next 10 years, Nor did Ms.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I loved reading this book. Reading about their different perspectives and how they were able to come to a great compromise. It was definitely an interesting read!! Read morePublished 14 days ago by Sheila
Easy to read with emotive passages and memories
I highly recommend it for young and mature readers.
Excellent for book club discussion
This was a very interesting book showing how 1st mistrust and then trust work in this world. Not much has changed since this terrible time in history!Published 8 months ago by Sharon Bregman
I thought it was a good read. I learned something.
I am however wondering why the Haus did not get sold to a nicer person/ family. Read more
Art Heise is a academic gentleman who is truly unique and refined. He loves life an all it has to offer. It is my honor to know this gentleman.Published 21 months ago by WayneJNC
ordered this book because of all the excellent reviews. went to start reading and there was only a front cover and a back cover. and it looked so promising. what a shame.Published 21 months ago by drm719
Can't really give a review for this book as I never finished it at the time & can't finish it as the web sight will not let me go back.Published on August 22, 2014 by wilma morrison
Two families from World War II come together to have a house that was paramount in the war returned to the rightful owners. Read morePublished on July 6, 2014 by C. Yates
Great read, non fiction book that read like a novel. I finished it in one sitting as I found it hard to put down. I was awed by the author's persistence and perseverance!Published on June 12, 2014 by Queenbee