Köln Deutz Bahnhof, An old postcard | Source: ansichtskartenversand

Sometimes the past seems shadowy, unreal,  disconnected to the present.

Last October I landed with both feet on solid ground back at the place where I began.

We were in Germany to film my story, beginning with the first 7 years and engaging with my parents’ lives after our sudden parting on July 24, 1939.

Now, back in Phoenix, listening and looking  at the footage, absorbed in the conversations and places, I’m gaining  fresh insights on the past.

Julian and I | Photograph by Wandaline Joassin

Julian and I are standing on the platform at Köln Deutz railway station, shadowed by the deportation of his grandparents and my parents. The four of them were forced into the same train, on the same day, not knowing their destination.

Their journey’s end, Litzmannstadt (Lodz), Kulmhof (Chelmno) | Source: EL-DE-Haus Köln

A heavy place that platform, both of us feel the weight of the past and yet we hold the wonder of finding each other and standing together at the place of our families’ departure, so many years later.

Ernst and I | Photograph by Ryan Thurman

We are sitting in the Garden Room of the St. Maria Home for Elderly, in Köln, Ernst’s new home, reminiscing how we met. How he introduced me to Walter, the retired Chief of the Criminal Police for the city of Köln.

Five Germans at the Müngersdorf memorial in 2010, remembering  the interned Jews of Köln. Walter on the far left.

Walter took us on a tour of Jewish sites like Müngersdorf where Jews were kept and then herded to their deportation. He led us over the cobblestones that my parents and Julian’s grandparents had trod leading to the platform at Köln Deutz railway station.

Now the three of us Julian, Ernst and I, are back in Köln, London and Phoenix, linked by a Hidden Hand.